Please let me know at your earliest convenience that I am not alone in my excitement over Lady Whistledown’s announcement that Bridgerton, the Netflix romantic drama set in the Regency era, is renewed for a second season.
This period drama, created by Chris Van Dusen and produced by Shonda Rhimes, centers on high society’s debutantes entering the social season to find husbands. It’s a splendid watch to indulge and get lost in; who doesn’t want to be courted by countless suitors and go to endless balls right now? Until then, I’ll go over the best sex and relationship lessons that Bridgerton gracefully bestowed upon us. Beware, dear reader, spoilers ahead.
1. Let’s bring back courting.
There’s nothing better than a partner who woos and charms you, regardless of what stage of the relationship you are at. What better way to win over someone than showing little acts of love and attentiveness? Especially during these days, it’s romantic to take time to learn about someone and slow down the pace. We don’t have the pressure to jump into marriage like before, so why not savor the start of a relationship?
A token of affection every so often, like flowers or even a handwritten letter, shows your partner or potential lover that you care and want to give them something to keep you top of mind. Let’s ditch the chaperoned dates, but promenading and fancy picnics sound marvelous.
2. A lack of communication (about expectations) is detrimental to relationships.
I know that the Duke of Hastings and Daphne Bridgerton seem like total relationship goals–many great relationships start as beautiful friendships–but I must address the elephant in the room. Even if Simon told Daphne that he “couldn’t” bear children, it’s still discourteous to not tell her explicitly it is a personal choice. Setting marital or overall relationship expectations is key to a good relationship.
It’s also a shame that when Daphne attends Lady Danbury’s party with other married women, they also express their detachment from their own husbands. I know marriage isn’t the smoothest carriage ride, but separate bedrooms and even manors? Each person within a relationship is still their own person; respecting your partner’s individuality and values should be at the forefront of your decisions and actions. Setting a time and place to talk about your expectations should be a reoccurring event to keep the relationship growing, healthy, and full of trust. I truly thought Simon and Daphne were going separate ways, but I’m glad they had the proper time to talk about it: after a beautiful ball and under the rain is the best, of course. You don’t have to catch a cold to talk to your partner, but how about doing it during a romantic dinner? If there’s one lesson to take from their relationship, it is to normalize relationship check-ins.
3. Let’s leave the pull-out method in the past.
I will never get over Simon and Daphne having a sex montage with a violin instrumental of Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams. But I’ve got to say this: the pull-out method should never be your go-to method of birth control. That was the Regency era, people! They didn’t have proper sex ed lessons or plumbing, for that matter. For every 100 people that pull out, 4 will become pregnant; not to mention, it does not protect from STDs or STIs. Both–or all–parties should be enjoying it and in a safe way! This leads me to…
4. Consent is sexy AF.
Ensuring your partner is comfortable with what you’re doing should always be a priority. The Duke constantly checks in with Daphne about what she wants and how she feels when they make love. It’s really sexy to have a partner lookout for what you want and feel–and it’s especially hot to see the Duke focus on Daphne’s pleasure. Even in the 21rst century, I’ve had guys tell me they never go down on women. Whether it’s playing out a kink (say voyeurism, like having sex by the pond) or agreeing to have sex in general, you and your partner should discuss it beforehand to come to a mutual understanding and be comfortable with it.
Thus, let’s call something by its name in this lesson: Daphne rapes Simon to prove that he can have children. I feel like if the situation was turned around, and Daphne was uncomfortable with Simon finishing inside of her, it would be clearer that it’s nonconsensual and wrong. Any and every sexual act should be practiced with consent–an enthusiastic and clear agreement. It’s often hard to say “no” when your partner is in the moment, especially during sex. Nonetheless, consent can be taken back even in the middle of sex. It’s important to be aware of any change in body language, tone, and even if they say something like “Wait,” “Let’s pause,” “I’m not into it right now.”
5. Sex education is necessary before being in a serious relationship—regardless of your age.
Eloise Bridgerton was asking the right questions, despite her older sister Daphne being the first to marry: How does a woman come to be with child? It’s crazy to imagine a time where the only thing women were taught about relationships was to enjoy their wedding night, without any context or hints as to how. I felt Daphne’s pain as she expressed to her mother the confusion from the lack of guidance on how lovemaking works. I at least grew up with the media and the internet to answer some of my questions, but it goes to show we all need proper guidance on such a vital part of our lives. It’s also a shame that Daphne had not learned about her own pleasure until a man told her to explore it; even nowadays we see so often that women focus on getting lessons on pleasure from others rather than enjoying themselves. Comprehensive sex education not only empowers our youth but also leads to them making better choices for their sex lives. Not to mention, it leads to safer sex, fewer unwanted pregnancies, and increased use of protection.
6. “It takes courage to live outside the traditional expectations of society.” –Sir Henry Granville, Ep. 7
I know this is a period piece and a lot of the societal standards are products of the time, but there are so many parallels to our own modern principles. The women of the ton must protect their virtues, whereas men can have premarital relations with no consequences. Rings a bell? In modern dating settings, why is it that men having a higher “body count” is positive and signifies bedroom experience, but women are reprimanded and their partners solely see it as a point of jealousy or concern? Likewise, we see glimpses of proto-feminism with Eloise expressing her disinterest in becoming a mother and a wife. An accomplished person can be a family-oriented parent, and they can also be someone who wants to be independent and driven by their own aspirations.
Likewise, sometimes a two-person relationship, specifically a male/female one, isn’t the most suitable or desirable arrangement for all of us. For instance, Sir Henry Granville and his wife have a totally open relationship–in the 1800s! It’s a shame that he can’t be out with his love Lord Wetherby, another man of society. Wanting to lead our own lives shouldn’t be a point of discussion or shame, especially nowadays. Let’s take away this lesson from Eloise, Daphne, Granville, and all the people choosing their own lives: we should all have a choice in the lives we want to lead.
Whether we’re the ones being courted or doing the courting, I think romance and respect should always go hand in hand. Bridgerton imparts many practical and essential lessons to incorporate into our modern dating world and relationships. Like, rumors and miscommunication will always lead to the downfall of relationships. Nobody should force you into a relationship or sexual act that you don’t want to be involved with. And, everything under the rain is ten times sexier and more authentic. Trust me.
María Lysandra Hernández is a writer and book lover from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. She received her BA degree in Writing, Literature and Publishing with a minor in Global and Post-Colonial Studies at Emerson College. She now lives in Los Angeles, and her work has been published in Anomaly, Raíz Magazine and Are We Okay? A Memoir. Follow her on Instagram for more.