Player, womanizer – whatever you call him, he’s a thorn in the side of single women. Today we're exploring a different method of dealing with him, thanks to a seventeenth-century comedy. Say what? Yep, you read that right.
Picture this – you go out with your gal pals for a fun night on the town. You’re single and ready to mingle. At a bar, you meet some cute guys. You're into one; the chemistry ignites. He’s witty, giving as good as he gets, with a stare that melts your heart like butter in a pan. His charisma is a tidal wave – despite your common sense telling you “Hold it, girl,” you start imagining your future family Christmas card photos.
Just one problem: he’s on the prowl. “Wanna see my place?” His eyebrows raise suggestively: We both know what we’re here for – you want it, I’ve got it. Dang, you think, watching your dreams crumble. You’re a wise girl, but you’re also feeling rather desperate, and the gentle pressure of his hand holding yours is quickly clouding your reason.
- A. Throw back a few more Cosmos and ditch your morals with a “YOLO!”
- B. Give up and walk away.
Is there another option?
In The Rover, a seventeenth-century comedy written by Aphra Behn, the first English woman to earn her living as a writer, the sparky Hellena faces the same problem.
She’s a young Spanish noblewoman living with her older sister and brother in Naples. It’s Carnival time, before Lent, and Hellena hits the streets with her sister and their cousin in search of flirty fun (and hopefully lasting relationships). The three girls encounter a group of English Cavaliers, among whom is the dashing captain Willmore, a life-loving charmer. He and Hellena hit it off – except he keeps trying to get her into bed. She resists, telling him to put a ring on it first.
Mutually attracted, they plan to meet again, and he promises fidelity; shortly afterward, he pursues and sleeps with the stunning courtesan Angelica Bianca. Hellena overhears him bragging to his friends about the fantastic sex, and she confronts him. In the end, he has to choose between the two women; with his heart changed, he proposes to Hellena, declaring, “Thou’rt a brave Girl, and I admire thy Love and Courage.”
Hellena’s secret weapon in her feminine arsenal is her prudence – she wants Willmore but is brave enough to hold back. She rouses his interest and makes advances to him, without acting cheap. By exemplifying steadfast fidelity, she encourages him to become the best version of himself. And it pays off – at the end of the play when she asks his first name, he states: “I am call’d Robert the Constant.” He’s learned her lesson, and she’s won his heart, like a lady, by making her man prove his worth.
The practicality of prudence
Since Hellena doesn’t cave into temptation, she not only gets the guy; she also avoids the emotional issues Angelica experiences when she’s given herself to Willmore and finds herself dumped. She ends up bitter and empty-handed, like so many women today who settle for immediate pleasure instead of waiting for lasting happiness. No one needs or wants that damage, and the easiest way to avoid it is to use your discernment.
She ends up bitter and empty-handed, like so many women today who settle for immediate pleasure instead of waiting for lasting happiness.
Prudence will serve you well not just in love but in all areas of life. If you’re under pressure from a guy (or anyone else, for that matter) to do something you aren’t comfy with, say “no.” You may not be considered “sexy” by the world’s standards, but ultimately that doesn’t matter. True sexiness means knowing when to draw the line, so shrug off others’ scorn, rebel against their ideals, and radiate confidence in your worth as a woman. As one of my favorite pop songs says, “you’re brave,” “honest,” and “beautiful.”
So, to conclude: true romance may take a while, but it’ll come. Don’t settle for lust, no matter how much you’re attracted by a guy’s “loving eyes.” You’ll find a man who respects and adores you precisely for your integrity and dignity.