I am a bit late to this party, but I have just finished watching Bridgerton Season 2 on Netflix, based on Julia Quinn’s series of novels. The second season is all about Viscount Anthony Bridgerton trying to fulfil his duty by getting married. However, finding a suitable bride doesn’t prove all that easy, as Anthony dimisses lady after lady for the flimsiest of reasons—for not knowing a language, not being a reader, on the basis of the number of children they want or not being able to dance. It seems he is looking for a perfect blend of intellect, exposure, talent, and domesticity.
Kate, a young girl who has just come to Bridgerton from Bombay, seems to have it all. She is also a spirited woman, who charts her own course in a patriarchal society. Through the episodes, it is so obvious that she is in love with Anthony, yet what frustrated me was when Edwina (spoiler alert: Kate’s sister, who ends up being betrothed to Anthony) calls off the wedding as she can see that Kate and he are in love. Kate waits for Anthony to profess his love first.
I found this season of Bridgerton very reflective of the times we live in. The independent woman has an unapologetic clarity on almost all aspects of her life— education, career, finances, passions, and more. Yet she shies from being the first to admit how she feels about a man. My client S is facing a similar conundrum. He is baffled with the signals he is getting from a colleague, which clearly indicate that she likes him. However, she does not say anything. S, is too nervous to bring it up with her due to many factors: he might be misreading these signals; if he says something then she might stop interacting with him altogether; and also one must be conscious and cautious at the workplace. He really believes that they connect, but he wishes she would make the first move.
This is something many of my male clients have mentioned; only if the girl took the lead, things would be so much easier for them. Women, on the other hand, have been fed that a man must make the first move, lest they come across as too eager/ desperate and the guy might lose interest.
The urban society is no longer one where the girl and boy had to follow the dictates of their parents. Both genders have a say in who they will marry or get into a relationship with. Hence both genders also experience the fear of rejection, so why should the burden of taking the first step be on only the man?
My client S and I looked at scenarios that could happen if he did share his feelings with his colleague. There was the happy path of her saying yes or the unhappy path of her saying no, and even one where she makes an issue of it at the workplace. S took his time and eventually felt confident of the intensity of his own feelings and the attention he got from this colleague to finally have an honest chat with her. Turns out that she was equally interested in him and now they are together, after six months of waiting for the other to make a move. By sharing one's true feelings, one can avoid unnecessary heartache and cut short the waiting time for the start of a beautiful relationship.
I have encouraged many of my female clients to initiate the conversation of liking someone romantically. Many of them have acted on this advice. The ones who did not get their feelings reciprocated, found it easier to move on from that person.
At a time when both genders are expected to be treated as equals, it should not matter who says I like/love you first. The important thing is to be perceptive like S. You could look for expressions in behaviour and actions. For example, they take your call every time or make sure to return it if they missed it. They reply to your every text. When you are with them, they are attentive, make eye contact and smile often and can spend hours with you without seeming eager to leave. They make plans to meet you and do not keep rescheduling or cancelling.
Such telling behaviour should give either of you enough confidence to share how you feel. It might seem like a daunting thing to do at that time, but the clarity that will bring will either be the beginning of a beautiful relationship or a timely end to something that will cause you more heartache as time goes by.
This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org