8 Timeless Lessons In Dating From The Female Characters Of 'Downton Abbey'

In the old days, dating was a completely different matter.

Essentially, it didn't really exist -- only the act of courtship was present, which included batting eyelashes, supervised visits and hopefully one or two secret meetings away from the chaperones. And when you truly liked a guy, you usually ended up married to him.

Now, of course, this doesn't fly with Millennials. Gen-Y women know and love the fact that they can date many men, often with no strings attached. But along with our contemporary dating rules, we have lost some of the tricks our grandmothers and great grandmothers used to bag their men and keep them.

It’s time to revive some of these principles to find a new form of success in our relationships. The eligible bachelorettes of "Downton Abbey" each have their own way of approaching men. Each strategy is something that should be implemented in our contemporary lives. Thus, we journey into early 20th century England and examine the single women of "Downton Abbey."


Lady Mary

Lady Mary is the absolute queen of not giving too much away. Sure, technically, she gave “it” away before she was married (can you blame her?), but she never revealed too much of her true self. Mary always leaves her suitors, and everyone else around her, guessing as to what she is thinking and feeling.

While Mary’s withholding may be a bit extreme, she constantly carries an air of mystery about her that causes men to want her even more. They are intrigued by what they’re not seeing and they secretly want to be the one to crack her impenetrable wall.

Restraining ourselves and withholding even a fraction of what Mary hides could help gain and keep guys interest in a world where women have a tendency to give away too much too quickly, in every sense of the word. Mystery will keep your relationships more exciting and will keep your beau committed.

Takeaway: Keep mystery in your relationships, no matter what stage they're in.


Daisy, Daisy, Daisy. What ever will we do with you? She is meek and probably has the worst luck with picking men; they're either gay or straight up not interested. Even when they are interested in her, she could hardly care less about them. (Sounds like me in middle school... I digress.)

Good possibilities like William and the cute valet from America in the last episode of season four come her way, but she can't open herself up to see how good they could be for her. She is stuck on guys she can't have.

Sound familiar? Almost every single woman has had a major thing for a guy she can't have; it's inevitable. Where we go wrong is when we get stuck in this cycle, however. It's ultimately self-sabotage and makes it impossible to have the healthy relationships we so greatly desire.

Takeaway: In this case, don't do as Daisy does. Don't get in your own way and prevent yourself from being open to the men who will be good for you in the long run, even if they don't seem right for you at first.

Lady Edith

Poor Edith. She has the absolute worst luck. First, the man she loves is engaged to her sister and then dies on the Titanic. Then, she gets left by Sir Anthony Strallan... TWICE! Then, Gregson disappears to Germany while she is left in England with his unborn child. Her romantic life is not exactly ideal.

Still, what Edith does have is resilience. She has seriously kept trying and trying, hoping that one day, she'll be happy with a man she loves who loves her in return.

Takeaway: Stay resilient and keep going after what you want, whatever the cost.

Lady Sybil

Sybil and Branson's romance is one for the ages. It is one that all women fantasize about. But how did Sybil snag such an adorable, outspoken chauffeur? By being willing to cast off all expectations that were set for her.

As a Lady, she was expected to marry equal or higher than her rank. While Sybil understood these expectations, she also knew her own wants and desires. Sure, it wasn't easy for her to shake up the family and marry below her, but ultimately she followed her heart to find the man of her dreams.

Contemporary women often allow societal and even familial pressures to push them towards a certain type of man who can give them a certain type of life. Deep down, this may not be what is actually desired.

Take control of your dating life, don't listen to what others think and trust your own judgment. That way, if it doesn't work out, there is no one to blame. All there is to be had is an experience to learn from and better yourself and future relationships.

Takeaway: Don't let society, family or friends dictate who you should love or what type of relationships you should be in. Be a rebel. Break the mold and follow your heart.

Mrs. Hughes

Can we talk about how impressive the still budding, but painfully obvious relationship of Mrs. Hughes and Carson is? I mean, the two of them are the epitome of friends-turned-lovers.

Over decades, they ran the Abbey side by side and grew to love and care for each other. With the end of the fourth series, we finally see a spark of something more from them, and it's long overdue. Their years of friendship proves to make the perfect base for the truest love.

Takeaway: Put the friendship first, romance second.

Mrs. Patmore

Darling Mrs. Patmore is the ultimate single lady. There has been one instance of possible romance for her: when the new food supplier invites her to the fair.

She is so into his compliments and the attention of a male, she fails to realize he's flirting with other women at the fair. Thankfully, she realizes before it's too late that he was more into her cooking and less into her.

A lot of guys in their 20s are often basing relationships off of sex or other "important" elements. Sometimes, there are truly no feelings there, but they are using women to get what they want. Women need to be like Mrs. Patmore, see the signs and shut it down before it gets too far.

Takeaway: Women need to be open to finding love, but strong enough to end something when it's not right, no matter the reason. Don't be so blinded by love (or lust), that you can't properly assess whether someone is right for you or not.

Don't let a smooth talker (or a hot body) distract you from who a person really is, good or bad.

Lady Rose

Rose is undoubtably the wild child. She represents the new way of thinking and living brought about by the 1920s. She is practically as much of a flapper as one can be while still being part of the elite British society.

She loves men and loves scandal (mostly to upset her mother). In turn, men love Rose for her excitement and joie de vivre.

Rose reminds us that the search for a husband doesn’t have to be a serious one. Even when the pressure of family, society or your biological clock is pushing you to find your one and only, there can still be some fun and enjoyment in the matter. Rose never turns down a good party and a good snog.

Takeaway: Always have fun in your relationships, long-term or not. The men will adore you for it and it’ll make the path to finding the “one” more enjoyable.


Anna is an amazing example of patience in a relationship. Anna was in love with Bates from the get-go, but due to his unfortunate situation of still being married, he could not express his adoration for her.

Once they finally got together, the two of them went through so many obstacles to be together. Anna was patient and had faith that everything would work out in due time.

Nowadays, we are so caught up in wanting everything to be perfect immediately. When we find someone we genuinely like, we want everything to be wonderful in an instant, when often, great relationships take time.

Takeaway: In an age of instant gratification, we need to remember that patience is key in relationships.

Bonus: Cousin Isobel

Cousin Isobel is pretty much the best. Why, you ask? She is absolutely fine with being single. She is firm in the idea that she doesn't need a man in her life to be happy.

She has had love in the past, but is content with where she is in life and doesn't need a man to define her. Even when poor, sweet Doctor Clarkson pursued her, she friend-zoned him immediately.

Twenty-something women have a bad habit of basing their self-worth in who they are dating. They define themselves based on their relationships rather than who they are as people.

This can lead to strained relationships and loss of self-confidence. By taking a page out of Isobel's book, Gen-Y women can find strength and comfort in being single, knowing that it'll have a longer lasting effect on our relationships and quality of life as we grow older.

Takeaway: Sometimes, it's okay to be single. Often, it's for the best because when we're alone, we can take the time to truly understand what we want. The better we know ourselves, the more secure and healthy our relationships in the future will be.