Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mixed Signals : Why Girls (sometimes) Stupefy Guys

I had a day off from work this week and I squandered it shameless on re-watching North and South. On second thoughts though, I don't think that counts as squandering. After all, this is only my second time watching the series. When I first watched it in its glorious entirety, I was so drunk with amazement that I solemnly made a pact with myself to watch the series at least once a month to refresh my aging memory.

Note to self: Pacts are obviously disregarded by a certain girl named Marie.

Anyway. I forced invited two of my Jane Austen and BBC- loving friends over to watch with me. After all, it's much more fun to have partners who can swoon on cue with you whenever John Thornton walks across the screen. Which, I'm happy to note, was pretty often.

But my friend raised an interesting point. We were having a friendly tiff because she claimed she didn't like Margaret, while I did. After wondering briefly which planet she was from, I asked her why she didn't like Margaret.
" Because she gives mixed signals!" came the prompt reply.
Mixed signals?
Oh yes. Of course Margaret heartily detests John Thornton at first sight. That is the way of all True Romance stories. But the fact that she is undeniably attracted to this just as undeniably hot mill owner throws a shining spanner in the works rather. Margaret intends to snub John Thornton for the rest of her life. Yet, by the end of Episode 2, he proposes to her. Why? Well, not because the screenwriter dictated that he must, if you're going to throw the literal answer at me.
We all understand that Thornton is a businessman. He weighs the pros and cons carefully. He is not the sort to go charging where fools fear to tread. He despises dubious activities such as speculation. Yet he proposes to Margaret, a girl who the viewers know cares nothing for him (yet).
So what is the reason for such reckless behaviour?
Mixed Signals.
Margaret declares to her family that she does not find JT ( yes, I've dared to abbreviate his name) a gentleman ( in other words, attractive). She makes sure he knows it too. And yet, he asks her to marry him??
Well, there is that dinner where Margaret appears in a dress that makes her look like a boiled cabbage. She actually shakes hands with him (gasp) and smiles at him ( greater gasp). She then throws him one or two interested looks.
Ye-es. There is something there all right.
Then, at the scene where the strikers are rioting, Margaret screams at him for being a coward, and tells him to go face the strikers like a man. Ouch. The next second, however, she adds ," Take care."
No wonder Thornton was a tad befuddled. Especially after she runs after him and tries to "save" him. Or at least that's how it looks like to everyone but her. After all, Margaret's probably the queen of impulsiveness who likes to act on her feelings. And if her feelings are mixed, then so are her actions. Which result in-
Mixed Signals.

Let's move on to another confused couple. Guy of Gisbourne and Marian. My friend also didn't like Marian because she said Marian was guilty of the same crime as Margaret.
Yup, the dreaded Mixed Signals.
Marian is in love with Robin. That's an undisputed point. But what's also undisputed is that her feelings for Guy are not all straightforward and above board. Real Life rarely is, and while I am in no way saying that Robin Hood resembles real life (feel free to disagree with me), I am saying that it's understandable that Marian is attracted to and cares for Guy.

While Marian can defend herself by saying that she's leading Guy on while helping Robin, I don't think she regards Guy the same way as she does the Sheriff. After all, the Sheriff knows she detests him. No confusion there. Is it any wonder that Guy thinks she's falling for him, despite the fact that she unceremoniously jilted him at the altar?

Which brings me to the point of this whole post (at last!). Mixed Signals are dangerous little fireworks, ready to explode. We must be very careful about the impression we as girls are leaving on guys. I myself am guilty of sending off mixed signals, and I sincerely pity those poor perplexed boys who probably spent many a half-hour wondering what I was up to. Well, let me not flatter myself. They probably only spent a minute in wonder. But why did I do it?

Past experience has taught me that guys who show interest in me generally lose that interest once I tell them the truth i.e that I'm not into romantic relationships at the moment and am concentrating on my relationship with God rather than focusing on guys. I myself would like to remain friends, but I've realised that my stance is not going to earn me any brownie points with them. Hence I shamefully resorted to Mixed Signals to keep their interest. I think a bit of pride was thrown in too.

However, now that I know the danger of mixed signals, I've decided that such actions are not Christian. After all, Jesus was always transparent with everyone he met. Such transparency resulted in many of his followers deserting him, and some were annoyed at his gentle but firm stating of the facts. If this is a WWJD question, then I know the answer.

Henceforth I will be as transparent and as truthful as I can in my words and actions. It will obviously not be easy, but the Christian life, as Jesus warned, is not easy. However, it will be much more worthwhile and rewarding. And I will not trade my relationship with God for a relationship with any guy in the world, even if the guy happens to be John Thornton. :)

* Screencaps from RichardArmitageNet.


  1. What a fine post this is, Marie! You have captured the essence of these relationships and pinpointed their difficulties. A good example of constancy may be found in Jane Austen's "Persuasion," I think. Though Frederick and Anne allow themselves to be separated by others, their love is true and endures an eight-year absence. Their love is tested, and it passes with flying colors. My favorite film version of this book is the 2007 ITV one. If you haven't seen it yet, you would do well to look for it since you are a fellow Jane Austen fan. :-) May God bless you, and may He give you the joy of true love which remains constant no matter what.

  2. @ Kindred Spirit

    Thanks for the compliment! And yes, I have watched both the 1995 and 2007 versions of Persuasion and read the book. My favourite (apart from the book) is the 1995 version, though I think that the actors in the 2007 version are closer to the ages in the book.
    I agree that Anne and Frederick are models of constancy, which seems to be an unheard-of virtue in much of the "love" that takes place in our society today. And maybe I'll never find my Frederick, but I hope that my love for God will always remain passionate and constant, despite my waywardly ways.

  3. Yes, Marie. If we love God first and best everything will be the way that it should be. Thank you for writing back, and may God bless you

  4. Great post, Marie!!!

    I have always disliked Marian (to a degree) for the very reasons you spoke of. I've never really felt that way about Margaret, and I think it's because the mixed signals Margaret sends to JT (:-D) were completely unintentional - like Lizzy's were towards Darcy. But Marian was more intentional and downright manipulative in the mixed signals she gives Gisborne and the way she uses his feelings for her to help Robin, etc.

    Anyway. . . good post! Oops, I've already said that. . .

    And the themes you talk about here reminded me of this blog post that I read yesterday. It's long, but well worth reading!


  5. Thanks Elise! Heheh, I think I'm the only person who likes Marian. You're right in saying that Margaret and Lizzy's mixed signals are unintentional. The intentional ones like Marian's are far more dangerous and have lasting repercussions. As a Christian, I shouldn't be intentionally sending them out, something I (sadly) used to do in the past.
    And thanks for linking to that wonderful post, it provided me with more delicious food for thought!

    As an afterthought, it's not only girls who send mixed signals; guys are guilty of doing the same as well. Think Robin and Isabella in Season 3.


  6. Hmm, very interesting thoughts! I didn't notice it so much in Margaret, but Marian? Ugh, I couldn't stand her specifically *because* she is trying to stay strong and honorable and yet is constantly using her feminine wiles on Guy. That's not honorable, IMO - it's taking the easy way out.

    Now that I've had that little rant, lol. ;)

  7. @ Nina,

    Marian's mixed signals were totally intentional, while Margaret's weren't, as Elise pointed out. However, mixed signals whether intended or not are very confusing, which was what I was trying to point out. And am I really the only person who still likes Marian? lol


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