What It Means To Be A Hopeless Romantic + How It Can Affect Your Dating Life
The feeling of romantic love is unmatched. For some, the desire to have it is so strong that they're compelled to create it in their minds and with people with whom it doesn't exist. But not just any ordinary old love. The storybook-worthy version is much more alluring to a hopeless romantic. You might be one of them if you find yourself dreaming about grand declarations of adoration and a butterfly-inducing relationship that rivals your favorite fictional couple. Here's what that means and how it can affect your dating life.
What is a hopeless romantic?
A hopeless romantic maintains a utopian, sentimental perspective on love regardless of negative past experiences or contrasting information. Against all odds, this person loves love and thinks of it as a blissful experience, even when it's not. The term "hopeless" signifies their defiant willingness to hold this view no matter what contradicting circumstances arise.
"Hopeless romantics often fall in love with the idea of someone and not the actual person," says Shanta Jackson, LPC. They've already committed to being in love and just kind of slide a partner into the spot they've reserved for them. There is emotional investment from day one.
It may sound wonderful to fall in love with ease and always have a favorable view of relationships. That's certainly more productive than a negative approach. However, reality rarely matches our fantasies, which is where hopeless romantics may struggle.
Signs you might be a hopeless romantic.
To address the situation, you first need to identify yourself as belonging to this group of eternal optimists. Here are a few things to look for in making that assessment:
You don't notice red flags until well into a relationship.
Breakup coach Kendra Allen explains that because hopeless romantics get swept up by the notion of love, you tend to "fly right past glaring red flags." Signs that maybe this person isn't the best mate for you are always there. You just overlook potential issues until the euphoria dissipates enough for you to see a clearer picture. It's hard to spot red flags through rose-colored glasses.
Early on, "you're hyper-focused on the traits that made you fall in love," Jackson adds. So even if you see the red flag, you likely ignore it or reject the notion altogether—convincing yourself it's not what it appears to be. But ignoring a problem doesn't make it disappear. Soon you're unable to look the other way.
You fall for people fast and hard.
If you develop feelings in the beginning stages of all your relationships, chances are you're drawn more to an idea than to your partner. It could be almost anyone on the other side of the equation; the results would be the same because it's not about them. It's about adding the missing piece to your predetermined puzzle. (You can read more about the difference between infatuation and real love here.)
When you idealize your significant other, you don't see them as they are. You see them as you want them to be. Aside from ignoring red flags, you establish impractical expectations of a partner because you're measuring them against the image in your mind.
You daydream (a lot) about love and marriage.
Many people might anticipate where they'd like to get married or their potential wedding song. It's when these thoughts become frequent and detailed without imminent cause (i.e., getting engaged) that you may be venturing into fantasy land, according to Jackson: "If you have your wedding planned, how you want everything to be, and are just waiting to *insert partner*," you're a textbook hopeless romantic.
Love bombing is a frequent occurrence.
Hopeless romantics are prone to finding themselves in toxic relationships. "This is because the beginning of a toxic relationship often involves love bombing," Allen says. "It feels like a dream at the start and isn't until later that the reality of the other person sets in."
Sometimes you're the bomber, doing everything in your power to make someone love you and being exactly who you think they want. That is until you realize you're not in the relationship you imagined and bounce. Once the spark is gone, so are you. Other times, you're the one who's bombed. It's easy for you to fall for early false promises and manipulative demonstrations of devotion because the rapid progression follows your fairy-tale script.
You find yourself in one-sided relationships.
Relationships aren't always a 50/50 give and take. Sometimes it's 60/40 or 70/30. But if you always seem to be on the heavier side of the giving scale, it's likely because your partners aren't as invested. That could mean your feelings and subsequent actions are a bit hasty. Or you're trying too hard to materialize your vision. (Here's how to know if you're in a one-sided relationship, FYI.)
Nothing else matters.
Hopeless romantics pursue their happily-ever-after with reckless abandon. "They tend to invest everything into the person they're dating," Allen comments. "To the point where they start to neglect their friends and even their own interests or hobbies." You dedicate all of your time, energy, and effort to chasing an emotional high, so much so that you lose yourself along the way.
Is it always bad to be a hopeless romantic?
"There's nothing wrong with being a hopeless romantic, someone who believes in true love, appreciates romance, and wants the fairy-tale type of relationship," Allen says. "The problem with being a hopeless romantic comes from a lack of awareness of being one. If you're someone who falls hard for whoever you're dating, meaning you're planning and fantasizing about the future from the beginning, and you don't have the awareness that you're doing that, it can get you into trouble."
Allen also believes that hopeless romantics are prone to challenging breakups because they invest so much into the relationship so fast. "It feels like they're losing a big part of themselves during the breakup. And they're more likely to keep going back to their ex or jump into a new relationship really quickly." The split is a far fall from idealistic love they may wish to avoid.
Jackson adds that the situation becomes a serious issue when hopeless romantics struggle with navigating conflict. "As soon as there is evidence that this isn't the fairy tale that they envision, they typically leave the relationship prematurely, feeling like it isn't meant to be." But they don't alter their concept of love. So the cycle continues to repeat itself.
In other words, hopeless romantics can set themselves up for disappointment. But that isn't to say that hopeless romantics can't eventually find what they're looking for. Level of cognizance is the key factor in determining whether this outlook on love renders negative or positive results.
And importantly, you can be a romantic without being hopeless. If there's no pattern in your life of the above behaviors or situations, you may only be a hopeful, intentional lover.
The bottom line.
Being a hopeless romantic isn't an innate shortcoming. It's what you do with the knowledge that makes all the difference. If you allow your emotions to get away from you and ignore reality in favor of your romanticized version of a relationship, you may have a tough time in the dating world. However, if you're aware of your default mindset and can keep it in check enough to let things naturally unfold, you should be fine. Dream on.
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Acamea Deadwiler, M.S., is a freelancer writer, speaker, and the critically acclaimed author of Single That: Dispelling the Top 10 Myths of the Single Woman. She has a bachelor's degree in public and environmental affairs from Indiana University Northwest and a master's degree in marketing and communications from Valparaiso University. She's a former Top 100 Contributor on Yahoo! with more than one million page views, and her work has been featured at New York Post, Blavity, FOX, and elsewhere.