I am going to put it out there right away that I am an idealist deep to the core.
I characterize an idealist as someone who is a catalyst for change. They see injustice in the world and they work toward ideal solutions. They believe that the ideal solution—no matter how difficult—can be achieved through education, kindness, love, and hard work. They have an altruistic view of the world.
I classify a realist as someone who has a negative view of the world. They believe life is unfair—that’s reality—and we can’t do anything about it. Realists look for “realistic” solutions to problems which in most cases means doing nothing at all. They look out for themselves and trust no one. They think “nice guys finish last”.
My husband who I love and adore is a realist. He would define idealism and realism much differently than I.
His definition of an idealist is a dreamer who has a warped sense of reality. They don’t understand how the “real” world works. Their solutions to problems are so unrealistic that they get in the way of realistic solutions. People take advantage of idealists because they are too trusting.
His definition of a realist is someone who see’s the world as it is and understands that things will never be perfect. They look at the world in terms of black and white.
You’re probably thinking, “how the heck are you still married?” Here is the idealistic reality of our relationship.
My definition of a realist is not who I consider my husband to be. Even though he may be slightly negative at times and often neglects to consider solutions outside of the norm he has more idealism in him than he would care to admit.
I would also doubt that my husband’s definition of an idealist is how he sees me. At least not entirely. I will admit that my sense of reality may be warped at times and my trusting nature has been taken advantage of a time or two, but in the end I am pretty grounded in the decisions I make for myself and my family. After all, look who I married.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Are you an idealist or a realist? How do you see those different from you? How do you communicate with those different from you? Please leave your comments below.
Hello Kristen! Finally, I feel like I can think clearly, so am responding to your definition of an idealist and realist which I just reread. Upon a second reading, I was reminded of a play I taught for many years titled AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE by Henrik Ibsen, a Swedish playwright, who used realism as his style of writing.
Anyway, the protagonist is a famous doctor, who has been asked and courted to return to his hometown, which he does. The town’s main source of income are the baths, much like our hot springs. He discovers the water is not healthy and sets off to save the town from his scientific discovery. He being an idealist, assumes the town will call him a hero. On the contrary, the townspeople, who are realist, turn on him and label him “an enemy of the people” for trying to ruin the town’s main source of income. There is a lot more to the plot, however, it makes me think of the friction and conflict when it comes to an idealist and realist. They do co-exist, but often with one trying to pull the other into their camp.
I truly believe that I am a little of both, but primarily would title myself an optimist.
I tend to think there is a silver lining, that all things will work out, given time. I have been called ‘Polly Anna’, a dreamer, and naive. I hum the song, “Imagine” in my head all of the time and I struggle with those who are negative. When I use to act, I really struggled with a character that was ignorant or chose to be stubborn even when they knew they were wrong. (Much like many of our politicians today). So, I feel like I am 80% optimist, 15% idealist and 5% realist. My flaw would be that often I don’t have a solution, but I will listen if one is shared.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mary Jo. I enjoyed the example you used because it really demonstrates how our perceptions about people’s actions and or comments can be completely opposite of their true intentions. If we would all make an effort to understand other people’s points of view the world would be a better place.
I dont agree with your view on realists. Idealist are people living in a world of idealism where everything “should be” when reality is absolutely different. Those people have high expectations in life and usually end up disappointed due to their UNREALISTIC expectations. being more grounded and realistic helps you cope better with life and bumpy roads. Idealist look at the “should’ve” rather than the “what is”. I can say those people are always heartbroken and disappointed.
I hear where you’re coming from and my husband would agree with you. As an idealist I’ve experienced some disappointment in my lifetime. He is always telling me, “Don’t get too high and don’t get too low. Just stay even keeled.” Honestly, staying even keeled makes me complacent, bored, and depressed. It’s not me. The reality is that pain and disappointment are a part of life. And yes, as a passionate idealist I experience pain and disappointment more deeply than most. But I also experience a deep abundance of love, joy, and excitement.
Thank you for opening up this topic. I got goose bumps as I was reading it. Your thoughts ring true to my relationship with my husband of 25 years as well. Almost a mirror reflection. I would add: As long as WE KNOW THYSELF and understand who we married and NOT try to change or fix the other person, the relationship through life’s trials and tribulations will work. Mutual respect of our differences. It’s when one person thinks the other one is “right-over” the other person that struggles begin. The “black-and-white” realist can have a tendenacy to smother the idealist. Not good. I too am a IDEALIST, and I’m OK.
All my best,