Romance was an integral part of the celebrated Edwardian era historical drama Downton Abbey. Hearts were broken, partners cheated, long-lost loves turned up on the doorstep and happy matches were made in the end. Love was very much in the air as the upstairs and downstairs folks at Downton struggled to cope with changing times.
Almost every character on the show had a tryst with romance, and most of them at some point or other made some rather questionable decisions when it came to their love lives. From getting engaged for all the wrong reasons to letting themselves be manipulated easily, characters on Downton Abbey weren’t known for making the best choices when it came to romance.
10Considering A Loveless Marriage With A Haughty Man To Prevent Scandal
Mary Crawley wasn’t a woman who’d give her heart away easily. She was more accustomed to being practical, which is what led her to consider marrying Sir Richard Carlisle, the arrogant editor of a London newspaper.
Carlisle had accumulated a lot of wealth, but he was brash and disrespectful and the worst possible match for Mary. She believed she could hush up her scandal concerning the Turkish attaché Kemal Pamuk by coming to an arrangement with Carlisle but thankfully, in the end, Robert was able to change her mind. And Mary was saved from a potentially disastrous, loveless marriage.
9Trying To Woo The Person You Love By Letting Them Get Hurt
When the pretty Ivy arrived as a kitchen maid at Downton, there developed a love triangle of sorts. The footman, Alfred, was in love with Ivy, and Daisy in love with him. The other footman, James, floated in and out of the triangle as a callous fourth angle whose main interest was in finding someone to sleep with.
However, young Daisy made a questionable choice when she tried to draw Alfred to herself by causing him to get hurt. She tried to demean Ivy in Alfred’s eyes and sent him into the boot room where Ivy was alone with James. Unfortunately, her half-baked tactics didn’t do her much good, as Alfred left soon after when Ivy didn’t reciprocate his feelings.
8Starting A Romance To Get Back At Their Mother
The sprightly young Rose was a fan-favorite, fun, and relatable who found the rigid lifestyle of the English aristocracy stifling. Rose was something of a rebel in her own way, especially when it came to her mother Lady Susan Flintshire, who spent much of her time fussing over and criticizing her only daughter.
Rose tried to punish her mother for her constant nagging by getting romantically involved with the jazz singer, Jack Ross. Ross was a fine young man and he adored Rose, and the latter seemed to be fond of him too. However, the romance, at least from Rose’s perspective, was more a way of getting back at her mother who wouldn’t have approved of her alliance with a black singer, classism and racism being at their height at the time. This wasn’t at any rate an honest reason for a relationship.
7Being Persuaded By A Nefarious, Manipulative Woman
Fans have been in love with and have rooted for Tom Branson, the cute Irish chauffeur-turned-youngest-son-in-law of the Granthams, ever since he showed up chirpily in the Earl’s library as a well-read young rebel.
Tom stayed alone for a long time after Sybil’s untimely death, but he did have brushes with potential romances. One of them, which fans would have absolutely loathed had it culminated into anything, was his one-night stand with the manipulative lady’s maid, Edna. The latter wished to become Mrs. Tom Branson by hook or by crook, and took advantage of him while he was drunk. She then blackmailed him into believing that she might be pregnant, given which she wanted the assurance of marriage. Had Mrs. Hughes not come to his aid, Tom would have been knee-deep in trouble due to a severe lapse of judgment.
6Prioritizing Rank Over Love
Lady Mary liked to weigh her options when it came to matrimony. Whether it was Matthew, Tony Gillingham, Charles Blake, or Henry Talbot, Mary always put considerations of rank and social status above matters of the heart.
Now, as the oldest daughter of the Earl of Grantham, it made sense that she needed to secure a match that was good in terms of finances and social standing. However, she seemed to go overboard when she thought of almost nothing else every time a suitor turned up, especially with Matthew, who was perfect for her in every way except that he wasn’t from the aristocracy, and Henry, where she was clearly prioritizing rank even though she had feelings for him.
5Waiting Until The Altar To Say No
Sir Anthony Strallan might not have been a bad egg, but he certainly waited too long to realize that marrying Edith wouldn’t be in the latter’s best interest.
Strallan did take the hint from Lord Grantham at first, and left Edith alone for a while. But he came back into her life again, and it wasn’t until the couple was at the altar that good sense prevailed, and he told Edith he couldn’t go through with the wedding. Of course, it was better late than never, but Edith was hurt all the same.
4Cheating With The Housemaid
Lord Grantham made a very rash and questionable decision when he cheated on his wife by kissing the housemaid Jane.
The Earl of Grantham was feeling ignored and a tad left out as Cora got more and more involved in the affairs of the hospital, but sharing a kiss with the maid might not have been the best way to solve his insecurities. Jane was a war widow with a son, and Robert started talking to her as he often ended up having no one to speak to. The two had a steamy moment, in a terrible lapse of judgment on Robert’s part which Cora never found out about.
3An Extra-Marital Affair Culminating In A Near Elopement
The redoubtable Dowager Countess was revealed to have had quite an intriguing love life when Prince Kuragin of Russia turned up as a refugee in England.
The young Violet had had almost a fairy tale romance with the Prince when she had visited Russia with her husband decades ago. The Prince and Violet had even been on the verge of eloping on the Prince’s yacht when his wife had arrived and sent Violet back to her husband. As much as she clung to tradition, Violet had had some pretty dubious shenanigans of her own.
2Leaving Your Pregnant Wife Alone In Chaos While Fleeing For Your Life
Tom’s love story with Sybil was a beloved storyline and ended in a devastating tragedy with Sybil’s shocking death.
However, the one extremely dubious decision that Tom had taken when it came to Sybil was leaving her alone in Ireland. A manhunt had ensued after Irish rebels had set fire to an aristocrat’s house and Tom was very much on the police’s radar. He thus fled Ireland leaving a pregnant Sybil to follow later on– a decision even fans could never quite agree with.
1Dancing With Old Flame In Front Of The Fianceé
One of the most questionable romantic decisions made by the adorable Matthew Crawley was showing clear signs of affection for Mary in the presence of Lavinia Swire, who was also in love with him.
Matthew and Mary were of course always meant to be together, and it was Mary’s hesitation that had set the wheels in motion for the two to grow apart. Matthew was then severely injured in the war and had for all intents and purposes lost the use of his legs. At this time, it was Lavinia who tended to him, and the two were even engaged. But soon after Matthew was able to walk again, he seemed to think that dancing romantically with his old flame while Lavinia was very much in the house, was reasonable. Unfortunately, Lavinia saw the two together, their mutual feelings weren’t lost on her, and she died almost immediately with a broken heart aggravating the Spanish Flu.