Hopeful After Heartbreak: Why Hopeless Romantics Are Strong, Not Weak

I have a confession to make: I know this may come as a surprise, but I’m what some would call a "hopeless romantic." I’m in love with love.

Phew! That felt good to get off my chest.

In all seriousness, I don’t like the term. Why "hopeless"? Am I inadequate in some way? Incompetent? Needing of help or saving? Maybe I’m just delusional? Or maybe I’m not a hopeless romantic after all. Maybe I’m a hopeful romantic.

Technically, you could say that I’m a hopeless romantic who has a bit of experience and an inclination for self-understanding through logical reasoning. I love the idea of love, but I’m not an idiot.

I know better than to believe in the fairytale version of love. I understand that love can be as ugly as it is beautiful.

It makes people say and do things that shouldn't be said or done. It turns good people into less-than-good people -- sometimes even horrible people.

Some will argue that love itself always remains pure. It is the people in love who blame love for their bad behavior. People -- not love -- are flawed.

But I have to argue that point. How can love not be flawed if the people doing the loving are flawed? This idea of love's purity seems silly to me.

In reality, love is whatever we make of it. No, I don’t think that I am what some might call a "traditional" hopeless romantic. But I still love love.

If we call everybody in love a "hopeless romantic," we need to distinguish between what it means to have delusions of grandeur and what it means to understand that love is about creating. Some hopeless romantics have delusions of grandeur, yes. But others understand that love can become ugly, and they know what it takes to keep it beautiful and alive.

I won’t lie to you: Hopeless romantics break our hearts. They hold love to impossible standards, and when reality is different from their expectations, they run, taking our hearts with them.

At the same time, it's only hopeless, delusional romantics who can become hopeless, realistic romantics -- or hopeful romantics.

It’s only when we understand and cherish love in all its complexity that we find what we’re looking for.

Hopeless romantics aren’t necessarily weaker than anybody else. They might even be stronger. Hopeless romantics who have seen their pure definitions of love get shattered can redefine what love is to them and become incredibly and emotionally strong people in the process.

You understand love's lightness and darkness, and you still want nothing more than to call it your own.

In fact, unless you can do this, you’ll never manage to make your relationships work. And I mean ever. If you continue to hold love to impossible standards, you’ll never be happy.

The more extravagant and pure we believe love to be, the more disappointed we'll become. People -- our partners and ourselves -- will make mistakes. Emotions will fluctuate. Mystery will dissolve. Things may become stagnant.

The purists would tell us that these are signs of a failing relationship. But those who know better understand that they're simply signs to step up and put a little more effort into the relationship.

People are flawed, love is flawed, and relationships are flawed. Thankfully, we can still make it work.

We can still love each other and make each other incredibly happy. Unless you understand all aspects of love, you’ll end up drawing the wrong conclusions -- which may very well end the relationship.

Perfect things don't have to be worked on. But love isn't perfect.

Try not working on your love, and see how long it'll last.

Love is a living, breathing thing. It requires attention and maintenance. Love depends almost entirely on how we perceive it. The way you look at the one you love, the way you see your relationship -- it all defines what love means to you.

It's easy to be in love in the beginning of a relationship, when things are still novel and mysterious. But as time goes by, we fall into a routine. Routine turns into a chore, and no one loves doing chores.

When things start to feel stagnant in a relationship -- when the excitement dwindles -- inexperienced, hopeless romantics will think that love itself is dissolving. They will begin to worry and stress. They'll put stress on the relationship itself until it inevitably ends.

Most hopeless romantics believe that love is the end goal. To them, it's the pile of gold at the end of the rainbow. Love should be easy and seamless and require zero effort -- or so they think.

I'm telling you that these hopeless romantics are doomed for heartbreak. Their conception of love is too flawed to hold. Or, I guess you could say that it's not flawed enough.

But if you can find a hopeless romantic who's suffered heartbreak -- who has once hated love, but managed to love it again despite all its flaws -- then you have an incredibly strong partner.

You have a good chance of making things work. The only thing standing in your way is you.

Are you still a delusional hopeless romantic? Or are you a hopeful one -- one who understands love in all its imperfections and loves it anyway?

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