I recently found myself in a situation where I was asked to give an impromptu analysis on the relationship of a friend of mine. He listed out a whole slew of details and qualifications for what I thought was a rather unhealthy relationship, so, when it came for me to give my feedback, I said, in conclusion, “Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to work out.”
The crestfalleness that immediately started circling around in his eyes immediately made me feel like an old curmudgeon and incurable pessimist, because it was with a childlike innocence that he responded, “But, I love her!”
I kicked myself. Fuck. I totally forgot about this breed of human being: the hopeless romantic. Of course, hopeless romanticism is totally beyond me, having long since subscribed to a mentality of cynicism, pessimism and fatalism. I think it takes a lot of not sleeping around with a lot of people in order to maintain a mindset of hopeless romanticism, and it takes a bit of emotional reversion to the state of a six year old in order for me to relate to the mentality of a hopeless romantic. So, I took a deep breath, I summoned some courage, and I took myself there.
What is it like to be a hopeless romantic? Well, on a bad day, I’d say that being a hopeless romantic is about celebrating a lust inspired mass delusion that masks sexuality as emotion, and any emotion as love, and love as something that is easily attainable although only with the right person. Hopeless romantics generally, but not always, believe in love at first sight, long term monogamy, fidelity, long term relationships, relative prudishness, and sex as an expression of love. These are all things that the majority of the people I know have proven to not exist a long time ago, but maybe it’s refreshing to encounter people who think that physical contact of a sexual nature with another person is an automatic admission of love and attraction. Hopeless romantics like to cuddle. On the first date. (Yuck!)
The older and more jaded I get, the more that the reverted childlike mentality of a hopeless romantic seems less like a self delusion and more like a bid for hope in humanity. The rest of us adults having succumbed to the reality that humanity is pretty shitty as it is, perhaps being a hopeless romantic isn’t that bad after all. Hopeless romantics believe in the power of love, and they also believe that something good will come of all of this. They believe in people, but, then again, there are reasons why the rest of us aren’t hopeless romantics, and probably because at what point we believed in people, and we believed in the power of love, and we believed that something good would come of all of this – but then we got hurt. And I wonder how many times it took for you to get hurt before you sacrificed your vision of humanity as a force of good and realized that pursuing a career or sex or money or anything other than hopelessly pursuing romance and love was a much more worthwhile pursuit. For most people it doesn’t take long, at being a hopeless cynic is something that can happen as early as childhood, depending on how abusive your parents are.
While on the one hand, yes, I do believe that my friend is setting himself up for relationship failure by thinking that the warning signs in his relationship are mere hurdles that true love can overcome, and at times I think that’s a pretty stupid mentality, I’ve also come to realize that, yeah, maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe getting hurt by people you love isn’t the worst thing that can happen in the world (although, sometimes it is). I’m really hoping that my cynical assholeishness didn’t plant the damning seed of doubt in his brain, because, you know what, maybe I should take a page out of the book of the hopeless romantic and see if I wind up a total cad.