Have you ever wondered if you’re a hopeless romantic?
If so, I know the feeling. I’ve been labeled as a hopeless romantic by friends, family, and even myself!
But here’s the thing: there isn’t much clarity on what, exactly, a hopeless romantic is.
Is it someone who believes in love, no matter what? Is it someone who struggles in the modern dating world, losing faith with each disappointing date? Is it someone who has such high standards, that no relationship will ever satisfy them?
Is a hopeless romantic, well, you? And if so, how can you best find — and keep — love?
Let’s find out.
What Is a Hopeless Romantic?
A hopeless romantic believes love is the most important thing in this world. Love gives meaning to life.
Accordingly, a hopeless romantic will prioritize the pursuit of love. And when they find love, they’ll do everything in their power to keep it.
Hopeless romantics tend to have a rosy outlook on life. They’re considered to be optimistic and even idealistic. They’re often very expressive, wearing their heart on their sleeves.
The only problem?
The “hopeless” part of being a hopeless romantic.
People often use the term “hopeless romantic” to describe people who are looking for love in the wrong places.
These romantics might be pursuing people who don’t meet them where they are. They might be in non-committal arrangements that don’t satisfy them. They might even be in unhealthy relationships.
On the flip side, these romantics might feel hopeless in their ability to find love at all!
They might have a very clear idea on who they want, and no one quite measures up. Their standards might even be so high that the romance they seek is unattainable.
In sum, there are both pros and cons to being a hopeless romantic.
So let’s cut to the chase: what are some signs you’re a hopeless romantic?
How Do You Know If You Are a Hopeless Romantic?
Before we talk about the “hopeless” part of hopeless romantic, let’s talk about some signs that you’re a romantic:
• You cry during romantic movies like The Notebook (guilty . . . multiple times).
• Romantic gestures melt your heart. Whether it’s surprise flowers, a proclamation of love, or a nice dinner date, you feel full of gratitude and love.
• You dream about meeting the love of your life, building a life with them, making memories, and so on. You might even believe in “the one” — the idea that there is only one person on this Earth for you.
• People tell you that you’re a hopeless romantic! Sometimes, this label surprises you. Doesn’t everyone believe wholeheartedly in true love? In speaking with others, you realize you have more faith than your average person in love.
• You believe love is one of the most powerful forces out there. With love, you feel you can overcome any obstacle. You prize love above all else.
• When you believe you have a chance at love, you give it everything you’ve got. You put in 110%. And if things don’t work out, you’re especially hard on yourself. It takes a greater toll on you than it would for most people.
• That said, even if you don’t find love at first, your remarkable spirit will pick you up. Sooner or later, you’ll put yourself back out there, because you know true love is worth it.
Now let’s get to the “hopeless” part of hopeless romantic. Here are some signs:
• You’re investing time into someone who isn’t investing in you. You’re so determined to make things work, but it feels like you’re pushing a boulder uphill. While your heart is in the right place, so to speak, you’re putting it into the wrong hands.
• No one is good enough. As badly as you want to find love, no one ever measures up. You won’t settle for anything less than a 100% match. (Note: while you’re entirely justified in having standards and not wanting to settle, ensure you’re not chasing perfection.)
• You’ve had so many disappointments in dating, and you’ve given up inside. You feel you have nothing left to give. That said, the romantic in you causes you to keep trying (which is good!). But now, each time you give love a chance, you’re battling two parts of yourself: the cynic that says you won’t find love, and the romantic that says you will. This internal battle makes it tougher to find and keep love.
With that said, is it overall good to be a hopeless romantic?
Is It Good to Be a Hopeless Romantic?
It’s good to be a romantic because:
• You have to know how to dream to live the dream. Love often does not fall into our laps, and so we have to believe in it. We have to know that it’s out there, somewhere. And we have to stay positive in our pursuit, even if things get tough. The world needs dreamers, and romantics are just that.
• Romantics’ faith in love lifts others up. Even the ones who most doubt they’ll find love. Perhaps it’s the romantic in me, but I believe even those who have lost faith in love still have, deep down, a glimmer of hope. And the more light romantics can give others through their faith, the better.
• Romantics are often great romantic partners. They express their love and are appreciative of others’ efforts to express it. They’re not ashamed to share their feelings and be vulnerable. This approach often encourages those around them to open up, too, allowing for deeper, richer relationships.
• Romantics celebrate love. They’re supportive, rather than jealous, of others who find it. And their support means so much to those they give it to, especially when it comes to the people they love.
As far as the “hopeless” part of hopeless romantic goes, it’s of course much better to be hopeful!
A hopeful romantic has the above qualities of a romantic, but they love with their eyes wide open.
They know themselves well, and what kinds of people are most compatible with them. They have values that won’t be compromised, even for love’s sake. They know how to set healthy boundaries.
They also understand people are human. While they have standards and expectations, they keep them “realistic,” meaning they account for imperfection. No one is perfect.
So how can we all be hopeful — not hopeless — romantics? How can we celebrate all that love has to offer, but love wisely?
Here are a few ways:
On Finding, and Keeping, Love
Keep the Faith
I haven’t met a single person who hasn’t doubted their ability to find or keep love, at one point or another. That includes hopeless romantics.
Having an unyielding faith in love is hard.
The “modern dating era” hasn’t made it easy for romantics. While online dating apps have made dating more accessible than ever, the end goal for romantics — love — has become harder to find.
If a first date doesn’t absolutely wow someone, they need only pick up their phone and start swiping. And at a time when there are so many options, why should any first date that’s not a 10/10 be okay?
That’s the thinking, at least for some. And that makes it difficult to relax on a first date, and plant merely the seeds that can turn into love one day.
We’re given less and less time for those seeds to bear fruit, especially when many people date multiple people at once. What if someone beats you to the punch?
So the question becomes: with the dating scene operating at warp speed, how can you make an impression that’s strong enough, and fast enough?
Hopeless romantics will be plagued by this question. They may even compromise themselves in an attempt to answer it. And so, it is often a trail of hopeless romantics that daters leave in their wake.
But even a hopeless romantic can turn into a hopeful one. And for the hopeful romantics out there, stay that way. Keep the faith.
Love is out there. You might find it tomorrow, or years from now. And while you can and should put yourself out there, you can’t rush the process.
Keep your eyes and heart open. Date different kinds of people, ask questions, share stories, and grow as an individual. If disappointments happen, don’t let them shake your faith.
Dating can come with its fair share of bumps and bruises, but trust you can tend to your wounds. You can keep yourself strong. And one day, you’ll find someone that only makes you stronger.
Don’t Force It
We all want a happy ending.
Most of us want that “ending” as soon as possible. For romantics, that ending is, in fact, the beginning. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said:
“I love her, and that’s the beginning and end of everything.”
For a hopeless romantic, the desire for a happy ending can become so strong that it takes precedence over other relationship needs.
You may have seen this in someone who stays in a relationship for a sense of security, even when their heart isn’t fully in it. Or someone who allows themselves to be undervalued or mistreated in a relationship, because they don’t feel they deserve better.
In cases like this, the happy ending becomes anything but.
So, if you’re a romantic, be careful to not rush your happy ending. Take the time, early on, to understand what truly makes you happy.
Do you want a life with more predictability or spontaneity? Do you get along best with people on the quieter or louder side? What goals do you want to achieve in life? What are your values?
There are all kinds of questions you can ask to better know yourself. And the answers may even change, over time. Stay in tune with yourself and the people you spend time with.
If you come across a square peg, don’t try to fit it into a round hole. In other words, don’t try to change someone to fit the image of who you want them to be.
Hopeless romantics especially will have crafted the perfect partner in their head.
And if they cling to their image too tightly, it’s akin to a runaway train headed to nowhere. The hopeless romantic will never win.
Hopeful romantics, in contrast, will not start with an ideal and ask someone to fit that mold.
They’ll take a look at a potential partner first. They’ll then decide if this person, along with their strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and so on, is compatible with the kind of happy life they’d like to lead.
They’ll take their time at this stage. And while they won’t demand perfection, they won’t settle for the sake of having a happy ending.
Because they know that, sooner or later, they’ll have it.
Let Go of the Fantasy
Do I want someone to write me 365 letters, every day for a year? Sure!
Do I want someone to show up at my front door with cue cards expressing their love for me? Sounds romantic (maybe).
Does my heart leap when I witness grand romantic gestures? You bet.
But hopeful romantics don’t need to be the next Rachel McAdams or Keira Knightley to feel romance. The real love stories are often far different from fantasy. But that doesn’t make them any less special.
Your partner might show love by washing the dishes one night. Or by complimenting you. Or by simply being there for you each day, no matter what.
It’s two peoples’ commitment to not only the fireworks, the honeymoon phase, and the exciting moments, but also to the mundane that marks real love.
Another reality that many romantics face is the fact that they may be “gushier” than their partners. Their partner may not identify as a “hopeless romantic” or as a romantic at all.
If you feel you’re a romantic and your partner isn’t, that’s okay! You don’t have to identify as a romantic to do romantic things, or to love.
That said, if you feel you could use a bit more romance in your relationship, feel free to express that to your partner. You can suggest having a date night, taking a vacation, or even simply talking about how much you mean to each other, for example.
Gently and openly communicating your desire for more romance, while giving your partner the space and freedom to decide how they’d like to express themselves, will go a long way.
Put in the Work
When I was dating, I didn’t believe love would find me when I least expected it.
I believed it would find me when I found it.
I know many are fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time, or come across someone wonderful by chance. And that’s amazing! But for many others, love doesn’t come easy.
For those people, here’s what I say: we often have to work to get the things we want in life. We interview to get the job we want. We exercise to improve our health. We invest in people and things we believe in.
So why should finding love be any different? Why should we expect love to fall into our laps, without offering our time, our energy, and our hearts first?
So here’s my antidote to the problem of not having found love yet: work it.
Send the texts. Set the dates. Say how you feel.
Put yourself out there, let your personality shine, and own who you are — even if it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Because sooner or later, you’ll be exactly what someone is looking for.
I’ve been on so many dates that I’ve lost count, and I say this with neither pride nor shame. I did what I felt I had to do to grow, learn beautiful and painful lessons, and ultimately meet the love of my life. And I have no regrets.
And as far as keeping love? The work continues!
But it’s good work. Like dedicating yourself to a cause you’re passionate about, or improving a skill you’re proud of. In other words, it’s a labour of love.
Hopeless romantics believe love should be found and kept easily. And the minute something feels difficult, they conclude things “aren’t right.” But the hopeful romantics will say they’re wrong.
While many things about love can be easy, that doesn’t mean no effort is required. It takes courage to love someone. Strength. Vulnerability. And to be loved in return? It takes loving yourself, truly and deeply.
For most, these qualities aren’t innate. They need to be cultivated and strengthened over time, like a muscle.
Love brings your deepest insecurities to the surface. It requires you to confront who you are, and all that you want to be. It encourages you to become the best you can be.
At the same time, it lights a fire inside you, making you feel invincible. And with so many thoughts and feelings flooding your being, it can even feel confusing!
But if you put in the work — whether in finding or keeping love — you’ve got this.
Stay True to Yourself
If you’re a romantic, you’re likely passionate, expressive, positive, and commitment-oriented. Don’t lose these things! They’re some of your best qualities, and they’ll help you find and keep love.
That said, ensure your romanticism doesn’t result in naïveté or becoming a hopeless romantic.
If someone you like isn’t investing time or energy in you, don’t double down to try and make things work with that person.
If you experience rejection, whether it’s in dating or a relationship, hold your head high. The people who “reject” you are, in a way, saying they don’t feel they’re a good fit for you.
Listen to them! There is no such thing as someone who’s good for everyone, and rejection gets you closer to your ideal match.
Rejection also helps you build “thick skin,” if you approach it from a place of security. Know your worth, and know that worth is not contingent on what others say about you. Practice speaking your own truths.
And once you find someone you feel is a good match, ensure you don’t lose yourself in the relationship.
Have your own friends, hobbies, and goals. Learn to love spending time with yourself. Build up your sense of independence.
Love is not, as some hopeless romantics believe, two halves of a whole. It’s two “wholes” of a whole.
If you show up to your relationship as a confident, secure, independent person, your happiness and confidence will not hinge on your partner’s actions. They’ll come from within you.
And if both partners take this approach, they’ll not only be stronger as individuals, but also stronger together.
So stay true to yourself, enable your partner to do the same, and relish in the discovery of new truths as a couple.
The Only Guide a Romantic Needs
A hopeless romantic will often conclude their own search for love is hopeless. They feel lost, confused, discouraged, and tired. They may even consider throwing in the towel.
But the hopeful romantic knows better. They know that, while love isn’t always easy to find, they have the ultimate guide to finding it: themselves.
The only guide a romantic needs is their own heart.
As Zelda Fitzgerald said:
“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.”
Romantics’ hearts can hold a lot — far more than they even recognize.
In their hearts, they carry more hope, determination, and passion than most. These things will help them press forward in their search for true, lasting love.
And — so long as they keep the faith, let love evolve naturally, embrace reality, put in the work, and stay true to themselves — they’ll find it.