Hopeless Romantic

If I play my cards right, I’ll get a pearl of wisdom. 

The term “hopeless romantic” has always bothered me, and like most things that bother me sat ruminating in the back of my head until I figured out why exactly it’s been on my mind. The process is just like how oysters make pearls from grains of sand or other irritants, with the end result in my case being some shred of wisdom. Actually, how pearls are formed seems painful, and the oysters involved are definitely doubly wronged: they get to be annoyed to death (if you’re curious, click here to get a better idea of the pearl process). It’s a lot of work to get just one pearl, and I suppose this is why it’s never been easy to be a philosopher, either: wisdom is always a work in progress.

The phrase “hopeless romantic” can only be understood by me as an oxymoron. Love as I know it is anything but hopeless – in fact, love is all about hope. Hope and trust go hand in hand, and from the very beginning of any relationship you have to trust the other person, otherwise the relationship will fall apart. Without this baseline of trust, what basis would you have to believe what the person tells you about them? Until you get to know someone, which usually takes time, you have to trust that they are not actively lying to you about everything.

Let’s say you meet someone at your local coffee shop. In the process of making small talk to discover what you have in common, you determine where they went to school, where they work, whether they have any pets, and so on. Based upon what they’ve told you, you will likely think to yourself one of the following:

  1. Wow, this person is awesome and I totally want to talk to them again;
  2. Meh, they are kind of interesting, I may or may not want to see them; or
  3. That was painful, I am glad that this bit of social interaction has ended.
    The sky is not less blue because the blind man does not see it.    

    Photo: Rose Colored Glasses

If you happen to find yourself thinking the other person was amazing, the next time you see them they will hopefully continue to build upon the foundation of awesome that their first impression left on you. However, love, trust, and relationships are built over time (as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day). It’s definitely possible to erode them, but if you know what questions to initially ask you won’t be disappointed by people because you’ll learn to see them as they are, as opposed to version of the person they are trying to sell you. Almost everyone you meet is trying to put their best foot forward – because generally we’re social creatures and we care about how others see us.

Disappointment is the result of a mismatch between our expectations and reality. We are only disappointed in others when we fail to see that we were seeing them as we wished they could be, as opposed to the person that they actually are, and when we do that it’s a recipe for disaster. This is why people who are labeled as “hopeless romantics” are accused of viewing the world through rose-colored glasses, because the belief is that they are dreamers idealizing everything, snagging the heart they wear their sleeves until it’s ripped to shreds.

However, just because one has had disappointing relationships in the past is not an excuse to go ahead and turn a blind eye towards the possibility of a good relationship in the future. You are always in control of the path you’re on, and although it’s difficult to change yourself, it’s not impossible. It’s always within you to become the best version of you, but you have to be cognizant of that fact and be willing to move towards it. If you really want to see a sunset and it’s only noon, you’re going to have to be patient – even more so if you find yourself wanting to watch it at midnight. Nonetheless, the world will keep spinning, and tomorrow will offer you the same chance to catch a glimpse of both sunrise, sunset, and countless other marvels if you let it.

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