What is a Hopeless Romantic? The Meaning Explained By Experts

The lowdown on being in love with love.
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Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
The Knot Contributor
  • Dina writes for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in food, travel and relationships.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in service journalism, she also pens articles and recipes for publications, such as Good Housekeeping, Parents, SELF, Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Fine Cooking, Weight Watchers and Diabetic Living.
  • Dina graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and The Institute of Cul...
Updated Mar 07, 2023

Daydreamers, romantic comedy adorers and idealists. Whether these descriptors sound like people you know or yourself, they embody a hopeless romantic. To pinpoint a "hopeless romantic" by definition, we spoke with two experts: Dr. Alexandra H. Solomon is a licensed clinical psychologist on the faculty at Northwestern University and the host of the podcast, Reimagining Love. Dr. Marisa T. Cohen is a relationship scientist and marriage and family therapist, running her practice, Embracing Change Marriage and Family Therapy, PLLC. A former psychology professor, she studies relationships from both the clinical and academic perspective.

"Hopeless Romantic" Meaning

A hopeless romantic is someone with an endless faith in the power of love, says Dr. Solomon. Despite any difficulties they may have faced or witnessed on the relationship front, they cling to the possibility of creating a loving partnership, adds Dr. Cohen. Lovers of being in love, hopeless romantics place value on romance and want a storybook ending.

The 10 Traits of a Hopeless Romantic

Drs. Solomon and Cohen provide insight on how to tell if you're a hopeless romantic. For telltale signs of this type of idealist, look out for these traits–some positive and others to indicate warning signs.

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They Think Love Should Always Be Easy

Hopeless romantics often have unrealistic expectations, believing that if love is right, it's easy-breezy, says Dr. Solomon. They figure they just need to keep dating until they find someone who won't hurt, frustrate, or disappoint them. Hopeless romantics use the word "should" all the time, she adds. "They probably have a low tolerance for frustration and will say things like, 'if you really loved me, you wouldn't be five minutes late…' or 'you wouldn't challenge my ideas.' They argue about the realities of real-life love."

They Emphasize Romance

Hopeless romantics can be resistant to the idea that romance might mean playing a word game side by side on the couch, says Dr. Solomon. They might feel it requires rose petals and big sweeping gestures to be legitimate. On the positive side, though, since hopeless romantics value romance so much, they frequently make gestures to let their partners know they are special and appreciated, adds Dr. Cohen.

They Overlook Red Flags

Being a hopeless romantic can mean viewing the world through rose-tinted glasses, says Dr. Cohen. This may prevent them from seeing the red flags in a relationship, keeping them in a potentially problematic partnership. In some cases, a person who wants nothing more than a storybook romance may do anything to keep the illusion alive, even when presented with information to the contrary.

They Believe They Need to Feel Butterflies

Hopeless romantics might feel they must feel butterflies on a first date, says Dr. Solomon. They believe in the rom-com version, where they'll know from the first moment that someone is the one, she adds. "A hopeless romantic will keep going on first dates until they have that feeling." The truth is, not everyone will experience love in this way—especially if they have a history of trauma or frequent heartbreak, she adds. Some might instead step carefully into love, with their eyes wide open.

They Fall in Love Easily

"Some people are wide open-hearted and fall in love with everyone, including the barista," jokes Dr. Solomon. "They're easily able to feel love for lots of people." Because they can jump into new relationships very quickly, they tend to get their heart broken more often—when the reality of love doesn't match up with their hope of love."

They Want to Stay in the First Phase of Love

"Love stories have chapters, and hopeless romantics can get hooked on the early chapters," says Dr. Solomon. In these early chapters, people present the most idealized versions of themselves, and their partners get hooked on them. "So, when reality starts to set in and people leave their socks in the middle of the floor, a hopeless romantic might break up with them. They'll feel like their soulmate shouldn't frustrate them."

They're Often Serial Daters

Hopeless romantics enjoy the process of falling in love, says Dr. Cohen. They may leave relationships quickly once the romance dies down, she adds. If they're looking for relationships with zero disappointment, there could be lots of turnover, says Dr. Solomon. "Because people are imperfect, there's a constant cycle of hope, then disappointment, then trying again."

They Neglect Other Parts of their Lives

Frequently, hopeless romantics become totally absorbed in their relationships at the expense of their individual hobbies, goals, interests, and relationships with family and friends. Life becomes all about their love.

They Might Curate Their Relationship

Hopeless romantics may put a lot of focus on the presentation of their relationship, theorizes Dr. Solomon. They might have a desire to curate and share images on social media. Instead of turning to each other with their emotional challenges and building a deep friendship, they focus on the idea that a relationship looks a certain way. "The truth is, good relationships don't translate well to Instagram," she adds.

They Can Be Dangerous

There's a spectrum of hopeless romantics, explains Dr. Solomon—from more normative to more extreme versions. On the normative end, some are drawn to sappy movies. In extreme cases, though, people can come on very strong with flowers, gifts, and proclamations—to the point of being highly controlling or even stalking. They might justify their behavior by saying, 'But, I just love you. We are meant to be together.' This so-called love-bombing can put a lot of pressure on the other person, Dr. Solomon explains.

Is a Relationship With a Hopeless Romantic Healthy?

Being with a hopeless romantic can be healthy—so long as your partner makes you feel safe and secure and you share similar values and goals for the future of the relationship, says Dr. Cohen. If you're in a relationship with a hopeless romantic, boost the chances of success by encouraging your partner to do the following, urge Drs. Solomon and Cohen:

Unpack Their Idealized Notions of Love

Did they watch their mom get cheated on or abandoned by their dad? Do they think their beliefs will help them avoid getting hurt? Maybe they feel that a 'knight in shining armor' will save them from life's difficulties.

Appreciate All the Ways They Love

This goes well beyond the grand romantic gestures. Did they load the dishwasher last night? Did they rub your feet as you fell asleep? In these smaller ways, they're showing you that they care.

Cultivate Their Individual Identity

That way, they don't lean solely on you for happiness. Otherwise, your relationship could become codependent, and they might be tempted to break-up once the romance starts to wane.

Expect Conflict

Relationships exist in cycles of connection, disconnection, and repair, says Dr. Solomon. Know that issues will arise—which is no cause for alarm. Then, tackle those challenges together.

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