7 Ways To Tell If You're A Hopeful Romantic Vs. A Hopeless Romantic

They approach love quite differently.

by Kristine Fellizar
Originally Published: 
What is a hopeless romantic?
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Are you a hopeless romantic or a hopeful romantic? As Dr. Krystal White, psychologist and author, tells Bustle, "On the surface, there's not much difference between the two." Both types see their partners through rose-colored glasses, and the two fall for new partners fairly quickly. But according to relationship experts, there are a few key differences between what it means to be a hopeful versus hopeless romantic.

You may be familiar with the meaning of a hopeless romantic. This is the type of person who loves being in love, and has fairytale-esque expectations for what a relationship should be. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing — 2016 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that being a hopeless romantic can actually be really good for your love life.

According to Dr. White, hopeless romantics believe that love is the "ultimate answer, the most prized and valuable destination, and the meaning of life." It's not a dysfunctional way of thinking, she says — instead, it's all about choosing to love someone in an unconditional way.

Hopeful romantics, on the other hand, have a slightly different way of thinking about love. With that in mind, here are some things that happen when you're a hopeful romantic, according to experts.


You're Genuinely Optimistic About Love

When you’re a hopeful romantic, you believe that there’s someone out there for you, and at some point, you two will meet. Most importantly, you’re always wishing for the best. As Kevon Owen, relationship counselor and licensed clinical psychotherapist, tells Bustle, "A hopeful romantic is optimistic, which will help a lot of the unknowns in a relationship be framed in a positive way.” They're positive things will work out, and they have the mindset that relationships take a little work. But unlike hopeless romantics, Owen says, they don't create unrealistic expectations for the relationship.


You Value The Small Things

Relationships aren’t just about big romantic gestures. If you’re a hopeless romantic, those big displays of affection tend to matter a lot, as it feeds into the fantasy of having a fairytale romance. Hopeful romantics celebrate the small things, such as checking in throughout the day. As therapist Montigus Jackson, LMHC previously told Bustle, “It shows genuine concern for one another.” Sending a quick, “Hope you’re doing well” text may not seem like a big deal to everyone, but hopeful romantics will appreciate it. To them, small everyday acts signify unwavering dedication and commitment.


The Post-Honeymoon Phase Period Doesn't Scare You

Relationships always feel great the beginning. You’re still getting to know each other and you can’t keep your hands off each other. But as time goes on, it’s natural for things to slow down a bit. Hopeful romantics recognize this, and aren’t scared of that post-honeymoon period.

"A hopeless romantic will enjoy the relationship until work is necessary, but once time passes and the couple becomes settled, it requires compromise and proper communication for the relationship to evolve," Mayla Green, sex and relationship expert, tells Bustle. According to her, a hopeful romantic is more likely to maintain interest once the honeymoon phase ends. They look forward to learning more about their partner and growing a closer bond. Hopeless romantics, on the other hand, have a tendency to get bored once the spark fades.


You Don't Leave Your Love Life Up To Fate

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You may hear stories all the time of people finding love when they finally stopped looking. They deleted their dating apps, declined their friends’ attempts at setting them up, left it up to fate, and suddenly, they bumped into the soulmate on the street. But for hopeful romantics, finding love isn’t about destiny.

"A hopeful romantic is someone who believes that love is to be had in the world, but there is a curious mix of being active about it too," therapist Richard Brouillette, LCSW, tells Bustle. In other words, they don't wait around for love to fall in their lap. They look for opportunities to both give and receive love.


You're Clear About What You Want In A Partner

Hopeful romantics are sure of who they are and what they need in a relationship. Unlike hopeless romantics, who have a long list of traits for their ideal partner, hopeful romantics have a short list of must-haves.

"They remain optimistic that their person is out there despite the fact they have yet to meet them," Kevin Darné, relationship expert and author of My Cat Won't Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany), tells Bustle. Most importantly, they won't try to force a relationship to work with someone who isn't meeting their needs.


You Don't Romanticize Drama

A little bit of theatrics can make a TV relationship seem a lot more interesting, but it’s a different story in real life. Hopeless romantics tend to project their romantic ideals on their relationship or potential partner. "Although things may not be going as they wish they'll adjust their rose-tinted glasses and see what they want to see," Darné says. "Drama, obstacles, and jealousy, are all milestones on the road to happily ever after."

If their partner isn’t jealous of them being flirty with someone else, they’ll take it to mean they don’t really care. Experts say this is the type of thinking that can prevent a hopeless romantic from having the kind of relationship they truly want.


You Never Settle For Less Than You Deserve

Hopeful romantics may not have as many expectations as a hopeless romantic, but there are some things they won’t ever tolerate. According to Brouillette, hopeful romantics will never put the relationship before their own dignity. They believe in compromise, but they don't believe that sacrifice is necessary for love to work. They set boundaries for themselves and aren’t afraid to leave a relationship that isn't making them feel safe, secure, and loved. They have no problem fighting for a relationship, but they won’t stay in one that’s not right for them in the long run.


You Understand The Value Of Good Communication

In order to have a successful relationship, open and honest dialogue is key. In fact, Dr. Connie Omari, clinician and owner of Tech Talk Therapy, previously told Bustle, "Communication is important in relationships because it's the single most useful way for partners to connect.”

Hopeful romantics don’t shy away from uncomfortable conversations. They trust their partner won’t love them any less if they say something their partner won’t like. Hopeless romantics tend to believe their relationship is perfect even when it’s not. Because of this, they’re less likely to express how they truly feel in an effort to keep the peace. They’d rather let things slide than risk losing their partner.


You’re Not Waiting For A Specific Person To Be Ready

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Many times, hopeless romantics will set their sights on people who aren’t looking for a relationship at that time, they’re in one already, or have a lot of growing up to do. Although it may seem harmless, and even romantic, to wait for someone to be ready for a relationship, it can end up being a big waste of time.

As relationship psychologist Kelsey M. Latimer, PhD, CEDS-S, previously told Bustle, “You're settling for less than you deserve and you'll very likely feel like a sense of regret in losing the time that could have been invested in something else." Hopeful romantics will wait for the right partner for them — not for a specific person to eventually become the right partner for them.

Study referenced

Vannier, S.A. & Sullivan, L.F. (2016) Passion, connection, and destiny: How romantic expectations help predict satisfaction and commitment in young adults’ dating relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,

Experts & Sources

Dr. Krystal White, psychologist and author of The Letter Code

Kevon Owen, relationship counselor and licensed clinical psychotherapist

Montigus Jackson, LMHC, therapist

Mayla Green, sex and relationship expert

Richard Brouillette, LCSW, therapist

Kevin Darné, relationship expert and author of My Cat Won't Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany)

Melody Li, LMFT, couples specialist

Kelsey M. Latimer, PhD, CEDS-S, relationship psychologist

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