• Nayana Sen

Reformed Hopeless Romantic

Updated: Jul 4, 2021

Are you a hopeless romantic? Actually, do you even know what this means? I had heard the term many times in my life, and I identified with it. It defines someone who sees the world through the lenses of love. Everything is about finding their soulmate and the notion of this idealized version of love supersedes all else in their lives. I used to work at a wedding catering hall in college as a server. I used to cry at every wedding during the couple's first dance. One time, a colleague asked me if I knew the couple. I said no, am I supposed to in order to think it’s beautiful they found each other? Imagine the sound of crickets as their response.

Life has changed me a lot, and I'm no longer that young girl that believes in a fairytale version of love or am I? Actually, I think for me the concept of love has evolved. I'm not a hopeless romantic, but a healed and hopeful believer in authentic and real love. Romance for me means being fully loved as the person I am and the person I will become. It is trusting that if and when I'm ready to be in a relationship again, it will be on my own terms. Full disclosure, I'm a Libra, and yes everything you have read about us is true. We love everything love, and I am officially single. That makes it even funnier.

Let's talk openly about love, being a hopeless romantic, and why changing your perspective on what love is will be crucial for the next phase of your life. My goal by the end of this post is to convince you that

  • You must love yourself first before you can ever love someone else fully.

  • Romance is all about loving your partner the way they need to be loved.

  • Somewhere out there the right person is working on themselves and you will meet when the time is right.

Learn to love who you are before loving someone else.

When your biological clock is ticking, and you want children, you tend to settle for the person to have the lifestyle. This probably feels like I'm personally attacking you, but I'm not. There just comes a point in life where you want to settle-down. There is nothing wrong with that and actually many things right with it. In my vision of life, I knew I wanted to be a mom. I used to think about the names of my kids and what they would look like. I actually wanted to have cute little babies. I do in fact have one cute baby, but he is hardly a baby anymore. I never gave much thought to who I wanted to share my life with or how I wanted that relationship to look or feel like.

The word settle is such a loaded word, isn't it? On one hand it implies stability and normalcy, and on the other hand it implies perhaps there is something more out there. I encourage you to be happy where you are, and give your relationships a fair shot. I am at the point in my life that I don’t want to have any other biological children and my life goals are very important. That will breed a relationship of fulfillment and growth, rather than dependency and resentment. I am able to finally focus on myself and take my own happiness seriously. If you don't, who should?

Some people figure out themselves and what makes them happy earlier in life. Others, like me search for it in others. That is the unfortunate part of being a hopeless romantic; you are constantly looking for that ever elusive missing element of your happiness. The idea of romance was more smoke and mirrors like flowers on Valentine's day, rather than a real understanding of love. I thought these basic acts were the quintessential acts of love. I wish the term basic existed when I was growing up, but it didn't.

I watched The Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts sometime in the late 90s or early 2000s. The running joke was she was always the bride and never the bridesmaid, because she had been either married or almost married several times. In the movie, she always adopts her favorite style of eggs based on what her boyfriend at the moment liked. In the end, she discovered her favorite style of eggs. Ironically, my favorite style of eggs are the same as hers in the end, but I won't disclose that here in case I'm spoiling the movie for anyone. Also, I just want to clarify that I liked that before I ever watched that movie.

It sounds simple, just figure out who you are and what you love, then you can experience real love. Actually, a hopeful romantic would probably hear that as a love spell or a way to meet their love. You don't join a photography class because you hope to meet someone who loves photography. You take a photography class because you enjoy taking pictures of wildlife and you want to improve your skills. The only reason for taking that class must be it brings you joy. There isn't anything to chase, just the experience needs to be enough. Little by little you will find that you're so busy doing the things that make you happy, you no longer have to hunt for it in others. The love that you're so desperate to find shows up as self love.

Romance is not love, but a necessary component of demonstrating love.

Here we go, right? Don't worry there will not be a thousand candles at the end of this post. Some people really need that kind of outwardly expression of love. Whereas, some people need you just to believe in them and encourage them to do better. It's not really a matter of right or wrong. It's not even a matter of preference. It's just a matter of where you are in your life that indicates how you would want someone else to show you they care for you. Perhaps the biggest change you experience once you realize you are no longer a hopeless romantic is that you are more honest in your expectations of others. You are also more open in your expectations of yourself. In other words, stop expecting people to read your mind and don't waste time trying to figure out what someone else wants. It's a lot easier to meet someone's expectations when you understand what they are.

Romance can't just be this imaginary cerebral thing you dream about that makes you feel loved. I bring up the concept of realistic romance because romance is a means of demonstrating love, it isn't love. In my opinion, we often mistake those gestures as love itself. If you are the hopeless romantic, you may find yourself making these grand displays of love in hopes of being loved.

You can't buy your way into being loved.

It is okay to give gifts and try to make your partner feel loved. It is not by any means okay to try to wine and dine someone in hopes of being loved. Do you see the difference? The intention is completely different in both scenarios. Actually, if you are a people pleaser convinced that you need to use romance as your means of earning love, then where else in your life are you trying to earn love? The thing about growth is you also have to be willing to let go of some of the behaviors that are holding you back in order to really grow. The single most efficient way to grow is to know that you are enough and you do not need to earn love.

Nobody wants to hear that overdoing the romance thing isn't going to earn them a place in someone else's heart. It never has and it never will, unfortunately. All you can hope for is to be yourself in a relationship. Let your definition of romance evolve to loving yourself and your partner in a more genuine and honest way. Let it mean that you are both equally committed to helping the other person grow in the relationship and become more of themselves. Ultimately, romance is about doing the things that bring out the best in your partner, rather than trying to make them feel good temporarily. You can also make them feel appreciated, but do not try to earn their affection.

When the soul is ready, it's mate will appear.

I can't take credit for this concept, as I had to learn to be patient myself. I had to learn that being alone doesn't make me a loser or lonely. I had to learn that I have to do the things that bring joy and meaning into my life, not as a means to the end, but an end in itself. I don't know that at the end of my journey I will end up by myself or with a partner. I know for sure that I will be just fine in either case.

You will meet all kinds of people in this journey we call life, but you will never meet someone by accident. When you're in transition, you will not meet permanent people. The problem is we fail to recognize when we are in fact in some kind of transitional phase in our lives, and we want to make people we meet along the way a permanent. We do all kinds of things to make them stay and call it love. Sometimes they stay longer than they should as a result, but in the end, both parties realize that wasn't the love they needed.

Imagine a train ride in a picturesque setting. You are already on the train and at the next stop you see someone very attractive get on the train. They sit next to you and you both feel a great connection. The person says they are getting off at the next stop, while you know that you're destination is a few hours away. You felt a connection, so you convince the person to accompany you to all the way to the end of the trip. They like you and want to please you, so they hang out for a while. The entire time, they are thinking about how they needed to get off at the stop. Eventually, you both get frustrated because you feel like the other person isn't on the same journey. Guess what? They're not on the same journey, even though they share the same vehicle towards the same journey.

Now imagine if you were on the train, met that person, got their number, and let them get off the train at their leisure. Then in this story, you either meet someone at another stop that is also getting off at your destination or you call the person you met first after you arrive at your intended destination. Either way, you have to get to where you set out to go on the journey when you bought the ticket. The point is to enjoy your own journey, isn't it? To enjoy the things you're seeing from your vantage point on this journey. The point is to fall in love with the journey, and not just the journey, but who you are on this journey. You're never the same person at the start of the journey as you are at the end, and nor should you be.

I know what you're thinking - what if I'm on the wrong train? Could I have gotten off with the person at their stop? Can I switch locations? Where exactly is this train going? Where is my ticket? Is there food on this train? Yes, I know welcome to the mid-life crisis train, where there are more existential crisis questions, than there are answers.

Cheers to your growth and mine. 😉🤗🦋

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