There's a reason why women have swooned over Mr. Darcy for over 200 years. He is the perfect gentleman, the kind we all hope to have in our own love lives. And while no real guy can live up to some aspects of his personality and status, these other traits should be expected in a relationship.
1. He hasn't made a career out of insulting you in public
When Elizabeth Bennett showed up at the Bingley estate to check on Jane, she was muddy and likely sweaty from the exertion. Darcy could have taken a load of pot shots at her. Instead he refrained, even when he was baited by Miss Bingley who declared Mr. Darcy must believe Elizabeth's adventure surely affected his admiration of her fine eyes.
He could have agreed. Insulting Elizabeth would have been the popular thing to say in the moment. But Mr. Darcy declared that her eyes were brightened by the exercise.
If you're dating someone who joins in an insult fest regarding you, or who has a habit of pointing out your faults to others, you will likely want to steer clear. Your significant other should be your greatest champion, not your greatest critic.
We never actually get to see how Mr. Darcy treats his mother, but we do get to see how he treats his sister, and his behavior towards her is unimpeachable. Darcy is excellent to his family; he's even respectful, if direct, to his horrible, old aunt.
So spend some time with your significant other and his family. Pay attention to how he treats his parents and siblings and even how he treats the family dog. People are most unguarded when they're with their families. You can learn a lot about a person by the way he treats others when his guard is down.
3. He owns his own faults
Let's be honest. Owning up to your mistakes is tough to do. We're all human, which means we all make mistakes, but taking responsibility for those mistakes is hard for even the best of us. Sometimes we get defensive, which is a natural response.
Mr. Darcy certainly became defensive when Elizabeth rejected his less-than-adequate marriage proposal, but he later owned his faults. He didn't just take ownership; he worked to become a better man. You want a guy who can recognize his own faults and works to overcome them so he can be his best self.
It's great to get some validation when you look nice, but is that the only validation he offers?
Darcy doesn't hesitate to appreciate the fine figures of Miss Bingley and Elizabeth as they took a turn about the room. And, clearly, Darcy has a fascination with fine eyes, but he also compliments Elizabeth for reading to improve her mind, on her piano playing and for her good conduct that allowed him to see past her unfortunate family relations (though that compliment came with an insult to her family, so ... that maybe wasn't his best moment). The point is, you want someone who isn't as concerned with your surface as he is with who you are, what you think, and how you feel.
He keeps his word
Mr. Darcy is the kind of guy who does what he says he's going to do. It had to be pretty hard for him to give anything to Wickham when Wickham decided he'd rather have a payoff rather than take religious orders which would have given him a respectable income and social standing. But Mr. Darcy tried to comply with the wishes of his late father even though he hated Wickham.
A man who keeps his word is important because it means he won't be making false promises to you, and you will never have to second guess his motives or intentions.
Although it took Elizabeth a little while to figure it out, Mr. Darcy is generous to all those under his care and protection. He is generous to his family, friends, servants, and others he employs.
A guy doesn't have to be as rich as Mr. Darcy to prove he has a charitable, good heart. Just being nice to the waiter when the meal comes to the table wrong is an act of generosity. A man who holds open doors, not just for women, but for people in general, means he respects people and is concerned for the welfare of others. Helping others in need is a sign of someone worth keeping.
He's a hard worker
Again, a guy doesn't have to be raking in the big bucks to be an amazing man, but a work ethic is important. Does he have a way to earn income and does he actively work on improving himself? I'm all for independent women who can pay their own bills, but a smart, independent woman needs a smart, independent man, not a lazy, failure-to-launch burden.
Julie Wright was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and has lived in LA and Boston. She wrote her first book when she was fifteen, and has since written nineteen novels–ten of which are traditionally published. Julie loves writing, reading, traveling, speaking at schools, hiking, playing with her kids, and watching her husband make dinner. Her latest book, Lies Jane Austen Told Me, is a delightful contemporary romance available November 7, 2017.