We’ve all seen the movies and TV shows – the character who is totally, utterly consumed by love and (inevitably), heartbreak – their heart is totally open and they love without reservation, without fear and without limit. While this was previously framed in a positive light (‘how romantic’!), when we look at it through a more modern lens, we can see that some of this behavior is….not great for anyone, whether it is the object of their affections, or for the person themselves.

While the idea of this all-consuming love is appalling in some ways (‘Wow, I wish someone would love me like that!’), a lot of the time it reflects that something is a bit off. For many hopeless romantics, there is a tendency to idealise a new partner, and ‘love bomb’ them with gifts and attention.

A lot of the time, the love and affection may not necessarily be about the person at all, but more to do with the idealized version of them, or how they make them feel – and when things settle down in the relationship, there can be some major adjustments on both sides – for the hopeless romantic, since they are now aware that the object of their affection is human and flawed – and the object of their affections, since they are now being treated normally by their formerly attentive partner.

That said, we love romance, and there is nothing wrong with taking risks for love and putting ourselves out there – it’s just that sometimes we might need a reminder and perspective about how we want to approach a new relationship, and how we want to show someone our love. Here are some tips to help you move away from the ‘Hopeless Romantic’ perspective, and towards the ‘Hopeful Romantic’ – away from one-dimensional idealization, and towards honesty, communication and authenticity.

1. Be optimistic – but realistic – about love!

Yes – we might feel a huge emotional connection with someone we’ve just met, or someone who is maybe not available to us (e.g., in a relationship, just out of a relationship, not interested in dating) – but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to be our soulmate or the only person for us.

When we look at enduring, happy relationships, we often see more of a ‘slow burn’ rather than full on passion at first – and a major predictor of a good relationship is shared values and good communication. So – that difficult and turbulent relationship you’ve been holding onto for so long MIGHT be the one – but it is just as likely that it is time to move on and look for a partner who is emotionally and physically available.

Remember – be optimistic and give love a chance – but also try and be as realistic as possible (one way to do this is to imagine if a friend was in your situation, and then consider the advice you’d give them). Speaking to a relationship coach, as offered by relationship coaching app Relish, can help you to strike that balance and get to the best course of action for a new relationship.

Winter Blues

2. Don’t leave your love life to fate

It is understandable that you might get hung up on someone you’ve just met, if you actually only meet one or two eligible people a month (a reality, sadly, of COVID times). Remember in the olden days, when there wasn’t much variety in the dating pool, and proximity often determined who you married and settled down with?

These days we have a lot more choice, and even when we are locked down or isolated, online dating is a great way to open up your dating opportunities. Often when we put ourselves out there (and see what dating sites have to offer), it can give us perspective on a relationship – we might realise that, as wonderful as the object of our affections might be, there are also a lot of other wonderful people out there – and that perhaps they are more compatible with us or more available.

3. Be clear and intentional in what you want

Romantic comedies have a lot to answer for. We have somewhere got the idea that we can just meet someone, fall in love, get married and live happily ever after (with some hilarious mishaps and a great wardrobe, of course).

The reality is that our relationship satisfaction is often defined by extremely boring and basic things – for example, whether you share the same values, how you communicate, how you want to raise children (also if you want children), how you divide responsibilities at home, financial security, even things like lifestyle and health.

They don’t tell us that in the romantic comedy – in fact, the ‘opposites attract’ trope is generally what is promoted. That isn’t to say that a relationship with a partner who is from a very different background to you isn’t going to work – it’s just that you do need to share some major values and be able to adapt and compromise. Unfortunately smoldering sexual tension will likely only get you to the 3 month mark, before the cracks are going to show.

With this in mind, it might help to reflect on some questions such as: What do I want in a partner? What might be a dealbreaker for me? What are the three personality attributes that I am looking for? How do I want to spend the next part of my life? What do I want in terms of family, and where do I want to live?

Even if these answers change in the future, the important thing is that you are taking time to consider these questions and will be able to incorporate these thoughts when meeting a prospective partner. For example, if you don’t want children, this is an important factor to determine when dating, since it has major implications for both of your futures.

Remember – being romantic is great, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wandering through life with love goggles on – after all, love is the most wonderful feeling there is. That said, we also need to be somewhat realistic and strategic about who we choose to be with – since love is just one part of being in a relationship.

The more we can be aware of our own needs and preferences before we enter into a relationship with someone, the better off we’ll be – and we can then enjoy the love bubble, as well as the security of knowing that things are likely to work out in the longer term as well.

Speaking to a Relationship Coach with Relish can be helpful for this – after all, it is a great thing to have a trained, compassionate professional whose job it is to offer you advice and support about this area. Relish offers a 7-day free trial which gives you the opportunity to try Coaching, as well as engage with content about self-esteem, trust, intimacy, communication and mental health.