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The Death of the Hopeless Romantic

Originally uploaded: 4th October 2018

If there is one thing you need to know about me it is that I am a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic. See for as long as I can remember I’ve always been in love with love – don’t get it twisted I cringe at PDA and I hate the mushy baby talk type stuff but I’m in love with love. Not to get too disgusting and gross with this kind of stuff but I get butterflies and I can’t help but let out a smile when I see a romantic gesture or see two people falling in love.

According to the Urban Dictionary, a hopeless romantic is an idealist and a sentimental dreamer, they regard love and relationships with rose tinted glasses. A hopeless romantic, such as myself, willingly and excitedly studies the art of love through movies, only seeing the aesthetically pleasing parts of relationships. In thoroughly studying those aspects we hopeless romantics believe that we truly understand what love is. Love is simple, there is no need to look beneath the surface because Disney movies have made us believe that Prince Charming is coming to find me in my ivy tower.

Growing up in the church didn’t help me much either because they also encouraged this fantasy as they would suggest that I didn’t have to do anything. It encouraged the inner damsel in me, he will come and pursue you, and there is nothing for you to do but wait. In waiting you would be rewarded with this amazing perfect Prince.

However, part of growing up is finding out that things don’t come as easy as you want them to. And sometimes we don’t get the things that we want even when we are patient and have worked hard for them. Just because couples in romantic movies fall in love so effortlessly doesn’t mean that they are the definite foundation for a real relationship.

The death of the hopeless romantic was realising that I am a flawed human being and so are others; it was realising that movies are not representative of real life. Going to university started this journey, being recognised, meeting new people, casual hook-ups, experiencing my own heartbreak, watching the people that I love as they went through theirs; all these things helped me to revaluate what I believed about love.

It wasn’t an easy journey but this is what I learnt.

Firstly, the rose tinted glasses: I looked at every (slightly) romantic situation with rose tinted glasses; every guy that showed interest was Romeo and this was the beginning of our adventure together. In addition to that I realised that the concept of love was like a drug to me - I constantly use this metaphor when I write but- I am addicted to the ecstasy of love. When I looked back at past potential relationships (*Side note: I’ve never actually uh… been in a relationship) I found that I chased after certain feelings and emotions rather than fact and truth. By this I mean I wanted to feel the thrill of knowing someone took interest in me rather than actually caring about who was taking interest.

This was and probably still is my greatest issue, chasing after feelings rather than being interested in the person. I basically was attention seeking and getting sort of high off the fact that this attention could be consistent in the form of a relationship - a relationship, which I should add, that was ultimately one sided. I found myself in dangerously stupid situations because I was high on this repetitive cycle of meeting someone, talking to them, it suddenly going wrong and getting heartbroken.

It was a repetitive cycle that had no depth; I was addicted to the thrill and desperation for attention but also and especially the misery of it not working out. I was in a relationship with the roller-coaster of emotions rather than a person. If anything the person was interchangeable. I know this is true because when I look back at how I would describe the person I was with I would use the same words to describe different guys – ‘he’s different, he’s special’ – but there was never anything that was bespoke to them as an individual, nothing that I say I personally was attracted to.

Romeo was a character that I could simply and easily assign and reassign to anyone as long as they showed interest. I imposed my expectations and my perfect fantasy onto this neutral guy. But perfection is lonely because when this guy wearing your façade ultimately goes off script and disappoints, it is heart breaking. I was attracted to the façade I assigned and disappointed when I saw the real person. I say this because Alain de Botton suggested in his essay Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person that ‘everyone we love is going to disappoint us. We start off with idealisation and end up with denigration.’

I had to remove my unrealistic expectations from the equation and be interested in the person for who they are rather than whether they fit my criteria. In removing these controlling and unrealistic expectations I’m now able to discern whether I truly like a person (or so I hope).

The death of the hopeless romantic was a period in my life where my fantasy of love and relationships was crushed by the ultimate reality. To many it seems like an optimist became a pessimist believing that love is dead – which at one point was accurate for me – but really it was realising my problem with control and perfection. It was in being led astray by sweet nothings by people that just wanted to use me that I realised I chased after feelings.

So yes I am still a hopeless romantic, I may deny it but I’m probably watching a rom com while eating a pint of ice cream but I’m less of a control freak. I care less about chasing after fleeting feelings, I care less about the perfect person and cinematic movie moment and more about the connection and the ability to be transparent while building a relationship.

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