8 differences between romanticism and classicism you probably don’t know

You may have stumbled upon the common dilemma of following your heart versus following your mind when it comes to decision-making.

Some people would follow their minds, as they would say that it is the more logical thing to do—they’re the Classics. Others would follow their hearts because it’s the only way to express one’s true desires—they’re the Romantics.

Which is better? Well, let’s compare the two.

In this article, I will present you with eight differences between the two that you probably didn’t know.

1) The Heart and the Mind

As I mentioned earlier, Romantic people let their hearts guide their decisions. They follow their instincts and let them guide their actions, trusting that their heart knows what’s best for them.

And if their heart already knows what they should do, why burden themselves with needless deliberation and risk overthinking things?

Romantics are more willing to take risks so long as they have a good feeling about it.

Classicists, on the other hand, prefer to think more deeply and trust their mind. They don’t trust their feelings, and some might even consider ‘faith’ to be synonymous with folly.

Because of that, they’re not inclined to take any leaps of faith and would rather think things through and trust their experiences before taking action.

If you’ve ever found yourself relating to songs that talk of growing wiser and stronger after betrayals and disappointment, that’s Classicism waving right at you.

2) Spontaneity and Preparation

Romantics believe that actions taken in the spur of the moment are more dilute than those that have been diluted by too much thought.

They might even go as far as to be suspicious of someone who doesn’t ever act spontaneously, because that is simply telling them that the person isn’t genuine.

Have you ever seen someone—a stranger, perhaps—and felt such a rush of emotion that you thought it must be “love at first sight”? That is the very essence of Romanticism in action.

People who follow a more Classicist philosophy, on the other hand, believe that it is better to plan ahead.

They think that it’s folly to ‘follow your heart’ and take actions without thinking.

Our actions have the potential to cause a lot of good or a lot of harm, and the Classicist believes it’s wiser to think things through…to think of the reasons why you might be tempted to do something, as well as the consequences of your actions and the best ways you can do them.

A Classicist who hates their job wouldn’t just ditch their old one unless they’re sure they have another job they can switch to and have tied up all loose ends at their current workplace.

A Romantic would just leave their job and trust that they’ll find a new one in time because they are just sure they’ll find another one.

3) Candidness and Restraint

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For Romantic people, talking straight is the name of the game. They speak whatever’s in their mind, without worrying too much about how their words may make others feel.

What they do care about is that their thoughts are not suppressed and restricted. If someone thinks they’re being too harsh or abrasive, then that’s just who they are. If others don’t like what they say, or the way they talk, then that’s not their problem.

On the other hand, Classical people frown on straight talk. It’s not that they’re afraid of talking straight, but they would rather take the time to be more thoughtful with their words.

They’re more willing to make white lies and keep secrets, as well as being more delicate when talking to other people in general. There’s so much harm a single word—carelessly uttered—can cause.

The Classic kind of person you’d turn to if you’re having a hard time and you know you have issues that need fixing… but also need a tender touch, or else you’ll fall apart like glass. But also, because they think their words through, the Classic can also make their words hurt a lot more than they should if that is what they want.

Meanwhile, the Romantic probably won’t be the best person to turn to for reassurance or trust to keep your secrets. But when they try to hurt, their bark is worse than their bite… most of the time.

4) Idealism and Realism

Romantic people tend to see things from an idealistic point of view, and might see the current situation as dire and in need of improvement. It’s normal for them to be outraged over injustices and struggles of power, and with that also comes their desire to protest and challenge authority.

Simply put, they’re the go-to guys if we want to talk about utopia and radical change.

Classicists on the other hand, are far less inclined to take to the streets and protest because they ground themselves firmly in reality. They might see the issues that have Romantics rising up in arms and even wish to see those issues fixed as well.

But they will also understand that as flawed as the system might be, it does offer stability. There are too many systems in place and carelessness can easily make things worse.

Both Romantics and Classics may desire change for the better, but their approaches differ. The Classic would prefer to keep the system in place and instead try to change it for the better, while the Romantic would rather remove it completely and then put something new in its place.

5) Excitement and Contentment

If there is one thing that Romantic people have with what things are around them, it’s their constant search for something better. Romantic people see contentment in circumstances they would consider far from ideal to be akin to resignation, and thus would rather seek better days than deal with what’s on the plate.

On the other hand, Classics desire contentment above all. Hardships might come their way and life might not be perfect, but they’ll accept that life simply is that way. They might even welcome it, believing that what doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.

Because of that, they can understand and endure tough times as they come. They practice optimism and resilience, believing these to be key to living a happy and fruitful life.

Let us say you have a coworker who has been working for the same company for years, and one day another company decides to try to lure him in. It could be that the other company pays better, or it’s less stressful and the work environment is more amiable, or maybe the company’s values are more in line with theirs.

A Romantic would take the opportunity right away, while a Classic would most likely decline it instead.

6) Boredom and Familiarity

Romantic people tend to get bored quite quickly and often exude a sense of restlessness as a result.

They abhor a consistent daily routine and see it as something that can always be done with a little twist. They’d be out there discovering new things, looking for new ways to have fun, and seeking thrills. Novelty is good as gold for them, while popular ideas bore them.

Classics, on the other hand, don’t really care for novelty. They might appreciate having something new every now and then, and a little bit of novelty would be nice to have so long as it doesn’t disrupt what they have.

But they won’t chase after new things or try to disrupt their routine just to spice things up. On the contrary, they will try to keep things as predictable as possible. Their definition of fun would involve appreciating the good things that come their way, no matter how simple or ordinary.

After all, if something isn’t broken, why fix it?

You won’t catch a Romantic listening to the latest, trendiest songs on the radio. They might even avoid things that have become trendy and ‘common’ just for the sake of it. Instead, you’ll find that their playlist would change every week, all filled with songs that would be weird or unknown to most people.

The Classic, on the other hand, will probably have a very predictable list of songs you’ll find them listening to all the time.

7) Absolutism and Compromise

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Romantics tend to see the world in black and white. As far as they are concerned, the moment you are aware of an idea you can either choose to support it or reject it. There are no in-betweens, and claiming that you’re ‘not picking a side’ or are ‘not interested’ is considered support through compliance.

This black and white thinking is also reflected in how completely they act. After all, if there is only ever support or rejection, once you’ve picked a side you might as well go all the way. When they love, they love completely without reservations. When they hate, they hate with all their heart.

In sharp contrast to that is the Classics’ willingness for compromise. They see the world in shades of gray. They acknowledge that one won’t ever get everything they want, and that people can be both good and bad, that an asset can also be a liability.

They are more willing to listen to and see the value in different ideas, even as they disagree with them. They might even make their own idea, taking what they feel are the best traits from what they have been told.

Because of this and their pursuit for the middle ground, they will often get strong opposition from Romantics.

8) Living with the Future and the Past

The Romantic lives in the future—they see and believe that if they discover their potential and seek new perspectives, they can create their idea for a future that will then guide how they act in the present.

And they disregard or even outright challenge tradition and instead try to discover their own ways. This can sometimes lead them to discover something new, and sometimes they will end up rediscovering something that had already been thought of or done in the past.

Meanwhile, the Classic prefers to look back to the past—both their own and others’—for guidance on how to act for the present.

They adhere to established norms and principles and, if they ever deign to challenge any of them, it will only be after long and considerable deliberation where they look into the past and heed the lessons it has to offer. They know that if they ignore the past, they’re bound to repeat mistakes that have already been made.

Last words

The Romantic can be summed up to be an energetic, candid, and explorative person. On the other hand, the Classic is more reserved, careful, and content with what they have.

But one has to keep in mind that these are general overviews, and people are not only complex, they are also ever-changing.

When all is said and done, it is important for us to not get too stuck on labels. They might help us get a general idea of who a person is and the way they think and act, but people are oftentimes more than just mere labels.

With that said, if you want to grow and you consider yourself a firm Classic, you might want to open up your life to a bit of excitement. And if you consider yourself a firm Romantic, you might want to put a bit of structure in your life, settle down, and begin seeing the world in different shades of gray.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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