What Would Jane Austen Do? (Advice)

Esoterica JaneAusten 02 230601

Dear Jane,

I’m planning a trip with my significant other and we have very different travel styles. I love to relax and take it slow, while my partner wants to see and do as much as possible. How can we compromise and plan a trip that accommodates both of our preferences?

Sincerely, Tired of the Travel Treadmill



This is such a common difficulty. As I have said elsewhere, if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad. But while one person may think a half a day’s journey is a very easy distance, another will find it expensive and tiring.

If you’re in a destination where “what to do” choices are many, the answer is simple: each of you should do what you want during the day and reconvene in the evening, when you will no doubt find each other more interesting for the time apart. Or go one step further and take separate vacations every other year. (This modern belief that a couple must do everything together is madness on countless levels.)

But you state you wish to travel together, so this is indeed where compromise and planning come in. Do not pick a fast-paced destination like Tokyo or New York City, where an active traveller would quite rightly be frustrated if asked to slow down. Unless you are rich enough to make the expenses of travelling unimportant, don’t go with your mismatched travel companion to a far-flung “bucket list” destination, where compromising means missing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to climb a mountain (for your partner) or cozy up in an overwater bungalow (for you).

I think an ideal destination for you star-crossed lovers is somewhere like Bath, England, where the vigorous can find museums a-plenty and the less vigorous can soak up the 18th-century atmosphere in the museum tea shops or Assembly Rooms.


Dear Jane,

I recently started dating someone who seems to be perfect in every way. We have amazing chemistry, similar interests, and share a lot of values. However, there’s one thing that’s bothering me. Every time we go out on a date, they insist on paying for everything, even when I offer to split the bill or take turns. While it’s nice to be treated, I feel a bit uncomfortable with this dynamic. How can I address this issue without hurting their feelings or making things awkward between us?

Sincerely, Uneasy with Unequal Payments

Dear Uneasy,

You mention that you “share a lot of values.” But how we manage money is evidence of our values. Someone who wants to split bills likely values equality and independence. Someone who is adamant that they must always pay could simply think it’s the gallant thing to do – especially if they are much wealthier — but they could also value control and dominance. You will only find out by addressing the issue, and I am sorry to say that it could indeed be awkward. I was once in this very situation, and the young gentleman scolded me, claiming that it was wrong for a woman to imply that a man could not afford to treat. Had I proffered my own purse in front of a waiter, I could have ruined his manly masculine male reputation forever! That was the first sign that he was a controlling, sexist idiot.

So, have the conversation as soon as possible, but don’t worry about hurting their feelings–see if they take your desire for a different dynamic seriously. If they act offended, you’d be wise to walk away.

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