The Parable of the Hopeless Romantic will help you see the difference between fooling yourself about your relationship versus being a hopeless romantic. If you’re fooling yourself, it’s time to let go.
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Are you wondering if you’re fooling yourself in your relationship? You’re not alone. In why women stay in bad relationships, a reader shared how his girlfriend cheated on him over and over. Every time, she apologized and asked for forgiveness – and he kept taking her back. Why did he stay with a woman who was so unhealthy and destructive? “I invested so much energy in this relationship, it would be a mistake to throw it away,” he said. “I can’t break up with her because of all the time, love, and even money I put into being with her.”
This is known as the “sunk costs fallacy” in the fields of psychology, finance, and even relationships. I wrote a parable – The Parable of the Hopeless Romantic – that illustrates how the sunk costs fallacy works in relationships. If you think you’re a hopeless romantic, you may find out that you’re simply fooling yourself.
The Parable of the Hopeless Romantic
Once upon a time, a girl called Hope met a boy called Nope. Hope was young, happy, and adventurous. Her friends teased her about being a “hopeless romantic” because she was always daydreaming about meeting her soulmate, settling into a comfy little cottage, and having happy children. Her mom said she was a fool for love, but Hope didn’t care. She just wanted to be happy.
Hope met Nope at sweethearts’ dance. He swept her off her feet, dancing her ‘round the floor, offering her punch from the punchbowl, and finding her a chair when she needed to rest from all the dancing they did. Hope’s friends didn’t like Nope because they saw and heard things about him that she didn’t. Hope ignored their warnings. Maybe he had a rough edge or two, but Hope overlooked his issues because she was in love. For instance, he called her “hopeless” almost all the time in a voice that wasn’t kind or loving. Hope shrugged it off, thinking he would change.
“Will you marry me, Hope?” asked Nope after they had been dating for two months. “Maybe I’ll buy the cottage you dream of, you silly ninny. But first I have to pay off my debts.”
Hope felt both exhilarated that her dreams of marrying the boy she loved were finally coming true and alarmed that Nope was proposing so soon. But, she thought, we love each other, so why wait? And we’ve already been together for two months. I may be a hopeless romantic, but I’m not fooling myself about this relationship.
“Yes, I will marry you,” said Hope. “But can we set our wedding date for a year from now, so my sister can be my maid of honor? She’ll be back from college then.”
“Sure,” said Nope. “Anything for you!”
As the wedding plans progressed, Nope became increasingly grumpy and critical. But he always apologized and told Hope how much he loved her. He said he would be happier and more romantic after the wedding.
Then one day, Nope told Hope that they had to get married sooner than they planned. “I don’t want to wait any longer,” he said. “Let’s run away and get married, like the most hopelessly romantic couples do!”
“But we’ve invested so much time, energy, and money planning the wedding,” Hope said. “We can’t let all that go to waste.”
“Ok, I love you, so we won’t elope,” said Nope. “But we must marry this weekend. It’s such a romantic thing to do! And then I have to go on a business trip – but I’ll be back before you know it.”
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Hope’s heart sank. She knew something wasn’t right and she was having second thoughts about marrying Nope. But how could she tell her friends and family that she was calling off the wedding? She had spent so much time on the wedding plans, so much money on wedding decorations, and so much energy on making sure her wedding day was perfect.
Ignoring the warning signs from both within and without, Hope married Nope.
Dear Reader, this isn’t a fairy tale that ends well. Hope and Nope never bought the cottage because of Nope’s gambling problems. They had four children, and Nope was never around to help care for or even build relationships with them.
The bottom line is that Hope couldn’t leave her husband because she thought she invested too much time, energy, and money in her marriage. Plus, she was scared of the unknown. Where would she go? How would she support herself and her children? Who could she turn to? What would her friends, family, and neighbors say?
Hope let the “sunk costs fallacy” dictate her decisions about her relationship. She may have been a hopeless romantic at the beginning, but she was soon just fooling herself.
Hopeless Romantic or Fooling Yourself About Your Relationship?
If you’re engaged and having second thoughts – like Hope did in The Parable of the Hopeless Romantic – read How to Know if You Should Marry Him.
Here are a few signs you’re fooling yourself about your relationship.
You’re ignoring red flags and your gut instincts
If you have a feeling that something’s not quite right, or you know your partner is unhealthy or bad for you, then you’re fooling yourself about your relationship. You hope he’ll change because you’ve already invested time, energy, and money in him. You don’t want to admit the truth to yourself or others, and you’d rather pretend that you’re a hopeless romantic.
Your friends or family are concerned about your relationship
People who love you want the best for you. They want you to be happy, and it’s unlikely that they’d lie to you or try to break up a good relationship. If your loved ones aren’t supportive of your relationship, then you may be fooling yourself. Relationships that aren’t connected to family or friends aren’t hopelessly romantic. They’re unhealthy. If your loved ones are concerned about your relationship – perhaps they even told you that you’re fooling yourself – then you need to seriously consider their reasons. Don’t shrug them off, and don’t sugar coat your decisions with a strong doses of hopeless romanticism.
Your relationship is moving very fast
It’s not “hopelessly romantic” to get married within weeks or months of meeting. Dating and committing to a relationship or marriage is a huge decision that will affect the rest of your life! Don’t fall into the trap of fooling yourself that a whirlwind romance is romantic. It’s not. Moving quickly and impulsively can destroy your life, and have negative effects on the lives of your loved ones. If you have children, your actions will affect them, too.
You’re staying in your relationship for the wrong reasons
The Parable of the Hopeless Romantic is meant to show you one of the worst reasons for staying in a bad relationship: the fact that you’ve already invested in the relationship for months or years. “But I invested so much time and effort in this marriage,” you might be thinking. “If I leave him now, it would’ve all been for nothing.”
Your relationship or marriage wasn’t a waste of time. You learned valuable lessons about yourself, your partner, and life! You may indeed be a hopeless romantic – but you’re fooling yourself if you think a good reason to stay in a bad relationship is because you invested so much of yourself.
If you know you’re fooling yourself about your relationship, read How to Find Strength to Get Out of a Bad Relationship.
What do you think – are you a hopeless romantic, or are you fooling yourself about your relationship? I welcome your comments, but I can’t give advice or relationship counseling. My prayer for you is that you recognize the difference between being romantic and foolish, and that you find the wisdom and strength you need to move on.
The best time to leave a bad relationship was when you realized it couldn’t be saved. The second best time is now.