We can seem awfully needy, compared to men. Not many guys write advice columnists to complain when they don't get a call the day after the hookup.
Here's Marguerite Fields in that inaugural piece for the "Modern Love" feature in the New York Times, explaining her valiant efforts to be strong, and live in the present like the guys in her life:
"I tried to remember that I was actively seeking to practice some Zenlike form of nonattachment. I tried to remember that no one is my property and neither am I theirs, and so I should just enjoy the time we spend together, because in the end it’s our collected experiences that add up to a rich and fulfilling life."
Jane Austen was keenly aware of what we might call the "attachment gap" between the sexes.
Mr. Darcy: "A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment."
Jane Austen's heroines become "attached" more easily than her heroes. Marianne thinks that Willoughby "did feel the same way" as she did. Only apparently it was easier for him to quit feeling that way--maybe because in order to enjoy the present he didn't need to freight their love with expectations about the future the way she did.
But Jane Austen didn't see this attachment gap--or our typically greater emotional intelligence, verbal facility, and talent for relationship dynamics--as a defect. She would not have approved of Marguerite Fields' attempt to train herself to be less subject to "woman's feelings"--to care less, and to live more in the present. In Persuasion, Anne Elliot actually calls women's longer-lasting fidelity in love "a privilege I claim for my own sex."
And isn't it in fact a strength, not a weakness? In other areas of our lives--education, career, finances--which do we respect more: The people who freight their present actions and experiences with hopes and plans for the future? Or the people who live blithely in the moment?
We need to learn from Jane Austen to see women's longer time horizon in love as a valuable resource--for the happiness of both sexes.