10 Tips for Thinking Like a Hopeful Romantic (Not a Hopeless One)

We’ve all heard of the phrase “hopeless romantic,” but what does that really mean? The dictionary describes a hopeless romantic as “a person who holds sentimental and idealistic views on love” which to be honest sounds great in theory, but in reality can pose a lot of problems. Having overly sentimental and idealistic views about love and relationships can be detrimental to a relationship when it’s not based in reality. Many people like the drama of self-describing as a helpless romantic, and others fear that they are one after getting a little too caught up in the plot of a romcom. But, not to worry these things don’t necessarily make you a helpless romantic. So you may be asking yourself, what are some of the signs of being a hopeless romantic? Hopeless romantics often spend time thinking about their ‘ideal partner,’ creating a standard that is virtually impossible to meet.

Hopeless romantics expect to get completely swept off of their feet by love, ignoring the fact that a lot of romantic relationships start off as friendships. They also believe in fairy-tale notions of love at first sight (don’t get us wrong, this can totally happen), which is not always the case. Hopeless romantics also believe in happily-ever-after stories that overlook the difficult realities and highs and lows of all healthy relationships! If you are a romantic person, there are ways to channel this romantic energy to be hopeful about love, rather than hopeless! There is nothing wrong with being a romantic person, as long as you are setting realistic expectations for your relationships and your loved ones. Even if you find that you are a helpless romantic, there are things that you can do to tweak your mindset and set yourself up for healthier and more fulfilling relationships. Instead of falling into the trap of being a hopeless romantic, use these tips to be a hopeful romantic.

Here are 10 tips for thinking like a hopeful romantic:

1. Be optimistic and realistic about love

Okay, so if you are a true romantic, it will be pretty easy to be optimistic about love. But in addition to being optimistic, it’s also important to be realistic about love. When you do find love, it’s important to recognize that both you and your partner are human and that no one and nothing is going to be perfect. Instead of setting yourself up for heartbreak by being too optimistic about love, set yourself up for success by reigning in your expectations and being kind to yourself and your partner. Real love will be messy and you might not always know if you are doing the right thing. You may even want to run from it at times when the going gets tough. Accepting these realities from the beginning will help you manage the peaks and valleys of the relationship.

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2. Don’t leave your love life to fate

If you really are looking for love, it’s important to be intentional when you are dating. You probably aren’t going to run into the love of your life in line at a coffee shop, meet your future boo in the seat next to you on a plane or bump into them on the bus. Instead of waiting for a happenstance situation that some may call fate, take charge of your love life! Get on dating apps, join a sand volleyball team in your city, join a book club, let your friends know that you are on the market! Taking the reins will empower you to take your love life into your own hands. Finding your person can take a lot of trial and error, which means that you should put yourself out there if you are serious about finding your partner. Serial dating isn’t the most romantic thing in the world, but sometimes that is what it takes to find your person!

3. Be clear about what you want in a partner

When you are putting yourself on the market and actively looking for love instead of letting fate take over, it’s important that you are clear about what you want in a future partner. Again, it’s important that you set realistic expectations. Yes, everyone would love to date Chris Hemsworth, but that’s not realistic for most people. Think about the characteristics that are really important to you. Do you want someone smart? Or super reliable? Or insanely funny? Do you want someone who is interested in having kids? Or wants to move around the world with you? Thinning about what you want in a partner will make it easier when you do start to date.

4. Don’t romanticize drama

The courtship phase of any relationship is bound to be filled with some drama. Waiting for a text back, choosing the first date spot, sleeping together for the first time. These are all things that are inherently a little dramatic. But it’s important not to let the drama overshadow the importance of these events. In addition to there being drama in the courtship stage, there is also bound to drama during conflicts in every relationship. And while this is often a natural part of courtship and conflict, it’s important not to romanticize the dramatic aspect of these things. Focusing on the drama instead of the events of the problems at hand will make things more heightened than they need to be. Focusing on the drama may also lead you to look for a dramatic reconciliation like you see in the movies. But this probably won’t happen which could leave you disappointed, even after the conflict is resolved.

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5. Never settle for less than you deserve

Hopeless romantics often become fixated on finding the perfect match, and when this falls short, they end up accepting love from any old person, thinking that if they can’t have their ideal they may as well settle. This is a terrible mindset to have, and will set you up for failure in your relationships. Instead of hitching up with any old person when you can’t find your absolute ideal partner (which you will never be able to do), you should adjust your expectations to be more realistic and look out for a person that meets the criteria you have set (like we talked about above). Hopeful romantics understand that a wide variety of people can actually fit the bill and make a great partner, and they hold out hope until they find that person. As the saying goes, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs!” Make sure that you aren’t settling for a frog just because you are frustrated about dating or can’t find your idealized partner. Instead, stay practical and keep your standards high! A romantic relationship is a relationship in which both partners are well suited and really into one another. This won’t happen unless you end up with someone you really like, which means that it’s imperative not to settle for less than you deserve.

6. Be willing to put in hard work

All relationships take hard work. If you go into a relationship expecting it to be all fun and games, you will be sorely disappointed and surprised. Even if you are super compatible with someone and they are YOUR person, the relationship will not work out if you aren’t willing to put in the hard work. Hopeless romantics often think that the hardest part is finding your partner, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! Once you are in a relationship, both you and your partner are going hard to put in some serious work to keep the relationship alive. This means communicating effectively, compromising when you need to, setting appropriate boundaries and standing up for yourself, none of which is a walk in the park. Hopeful romantics understand the amount of elbow grease that goes into making a relationship go the distance. They not only understand the commitment, but are willing to do what it takes to make the relationship work.

7. Don’t focus on/expect grand gestures

This tip is along the same lines as the tip about not romanticizing drama. Relationships are more about small every day actions than they are about dramatic grand gestures. Sure it’s nice to get a Valentines card or receive a really thoughtful birthday present, but those things don’t define a relationship in the same way as your everyday interactions, communication, trust for one another, or emotional and physical intimacy. Putting too much stock into grand gestures that you hope or expect to receive will cause you to overlook the little things that make your relationship great. On the other hand, allowing grand gestures to excuse poor behavior on a day to day basis is also a recipe for disaster. Hopeless romantics often focus too much on the huge bouquet of flowers or the expensive tie, instead of considering how the everyday actions (positive or negative) actually indicate the health of a relationship. Alternatively, hopeful romantics understand the significance of small, consistent acts of kindness and love. Of course it’s totally okay to appreciate and celebrate grand gestures, as long as you recognize that they are not essential to or indicative of the overall relationship.

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8. Believe in your ability to be a good partner

A relationship takes two people (or more, of course, if you are in polyamorous relationships, but it takes at least two). Everyone knows this. But a lot of hopeless romantics discount the role that they play in relationships because they are so caught up in finding the perfect partner. So in addition to acknowledging that the perfect partner doesn’t exist and that all relationships take work, you need to acknowledge the role that you play in the relationship and believe in your ability to be a good partner. Helpless romantics often focus too much on their partner, honing in on their strengths and their shortcomings and discounting their role in the relationship. Hopeful romantics on the other hand, actively work towards being a good partner to their partner and recognize the vital role they play in the relationship. Hopeful romantics focus more of their energy on what they are bringing to the table in the relationship than focussing on what their partner is doing.

9. Understand that a relationship changes over time

Romantic people (both hopeless and hopeful) often thrive during the honeymoon stage of a relationship, when partners are infatuated with one another and often go out of their way to show their love and adoration. The honeymoon phase is often characterized by romantic gestures large and small that provide affirmation and even butterflies. The thing is, all romantic relationships advance past the honeymoon phase, into phases of contentment, disillusionment and long lasting love (hopefully) that are markedly less romantic than the honeymoon phase. A lot of hopeless romantics have a hard time finding satisfaction in these stages because the lovey dovey-ness of the relationship is over. There are less romantic gestures, partners aren’t getting dressed up for each other or coming home with flowers. While these phases are less overtly romantic, they are still important for long term romantic relationships. A hopeful romantic understands that relationships need to progress past the honeymoon stage. Instead of feeling disappointed about the lack of cheesy romance, find the romance in new things like solving a conflict together, or making a big life decision as a couple.

10. Don’t compare your relationship

A lot of hopeless romantics are looking for the kind of love that you see in romantic comedies. And while to a certain degree everyone knows that rom-com love isn’t real love, it is hard for some people to adjust their expectations of relationships to be realistic. Instead of looking to rom-coms, or even looking to other relationships in your life that are super romantic, try not to compare your relationship to anything else. Each relationship is unique, and every couple expresses their love in different ways. Comparing your relationship or your partner to others will cause you to take things for granted in search of an unattainable relationship.

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