18 Men Reveal How They Found Love When They Were 100% Convinced All Hope Was Gone

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Finding true love is rarely an easy thing for either men or women. In fact, dating and relationships can be so brutal that many people experience moments when they give up on the hope of figuring out how to find love with their soulmate full-stop.  

I myself have given up on the whole idea of love three times in my life thus far, and let me tell you, each and every time I did, I meant it 100 percent.

I remember throwing myself down on my twin bed at the tender age of 15, sobbing my heart out after the first boy I loved rejected me.

I couldn't imagine things would ever get better. I couldn't imagine a reality in which love would find me again. It did, of course, but it took a very long time. And I have to be honest. I, like other people have been and will be, was willing to give up on love forever.

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It's an easy mindset to get into, particularly when you've gone through a terrible heartbreak.

When you meet someone, connect with them, and show them all of your weaknesses and vulnerabilities, it's an exhilarating experience ... which is why ending a relationship with that person is incredibly painful. It's like you showed them everything that makes you who you are and then they were like, "Nah, I'm cool."

Going through that even once is understandably more than enough for some people to decide that searching for true love just isn't worth it anymore.

But here's the thing about love. Like its cousin hope, when it's ready to blossom, it refuses to be held back by past negative experiences.

You might think that when love walked straight out the door, leaving you in a pile of charred ash on the floor, you were done with that foolish emotion forever. The thing is, love doesn't agree. Love is there waiting in the wings, and it often shows up when you least expect it.

Sure, sometimes love arrives at exactly the perfect moment, just when you're about to lose hope, but this isn't the movies. Sometimes love arrives long after you've already given up completely. Frankly, if you want my opinion, that's exactly when it's sweetest.

If you're in a place where hope seems lost and love seems like something destined only for other people, I am here to tell you that just isn't so.

You can hit the depths of despair. You can watch your ex parade around on social media as though you meant nothing. You can swear off love up and down the block.

But the truth is that you have no say in when love is done with YOU.

Luckily for you, you don't even have to take my word for it.

Here are 18 of the most romantic stories about how to find love shared on Reddit when one brave Redditor asked guys on the AskMen forum, "Men who found love after giving up on the idea of ever finding someone, what's your story?"

Get your hankies ready and reactivate your dating apps, ladies, because love is gonna get you one way or another!

Here is how 18 men found love when they were 100% convinced all hope was gone:

1. The one who went from caterpillar to butterfly

"I'm a pretty ugly guy and also messed up my body further by being obese through puberty. Being bullied in school and seeing my parents destroy themselves in their unhappy marriages probably didn't help either. By my mid-twenties I had exhausted all possible venues for improving my attractiveness — I was at my best and my best was objectively unattractive. So I gave up and started just focusing on enjoying life and avoiding being depressed about loneliness — it didn't always work and sometimes I would get bouts of crippling sadness several days long.

And then a little over a year ago, I met someone through a friend. We had a lot of common interests and views, which was normal enough, but then it turned out she also finds me very attractive. So, I lost my virginity to her at 32 years old. We've been happily together ever since."

2. It was kind of like The Brady Bunch, but different

"3 emotionally abusive relationships in my late teens and early 20s, the last one involving a child. I decided that my 2-year-old daughter would be better off if I could show her what a household looked like without emotional abuse. I’d completely given up on being in a relationship, was pretty convinced that behind every happy couple was a private life filled with abuse and hatred for each other, and was focused on just being a good dad and nothing more.

Nine months later, I met an incredible woman who had endured almost the same experiences as me (except she was married with a son). Our kids were the same age and she was recently divorced. We fell completely in love really quickly, happy to have found someone else who understood where we’d come from.

That was almost 9 years ago. We’ve had 2 kids together to add to the mix, and we’ve never imagined life could be this good. After we’d both given up on having what we do, we’re both pretty thankful for the family we’ve made."

3. Yo quiero true love

"My sister's friend saw a picture of me and used my sister's phone to invite me to come hang out (they were at a bar). It was pretty late and I'd spent all day working and all evening studying and exercising. But I had zero social life and my sister said, 'There are tons of women here,' so I agreed.

I met like 20 dudes, 2 girls, stayed for about half an hour, then left to get Taco Bell. On my way back home that girl that had originally pretended to be my sister called me. We texted all night. Last week was our 4-year anniversary."

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4. Sometimes it happens randomly

"'Give up' might be a little extreme, but I was definitely getting to the point where I was losing faith that I would ever end up with a woman I wanted to marry (and who wanted to marry me).

Part of what made me start to lose faith is that I was struggling with dating at a time when I should have been doing my best: I was in my best shape and most financially successful. Lo and behold, I met my fiancee when I was definitely not at the apex of either of those categories.

So one of the things I feel like I learned is that, to a large degree, finding a successful long-term relationship is largely random, because your personalities need to click. That being said, you can drastically increase the chances of it happening by meeting new women and not giving up hope."

5. A widower starts again

"This is probably not what you're really looking for but it's a good story that needs to be told. I met a girl, we got married, had five kids, and then she died of ovarian cancer. Eight months later a friend asks me if I ever think about remarrying. I respond, 'I'm a 41-year-old widower with five kids that range in age from 15 to 3. Who's going to have me?'

A month later I met this woman through a mutual friend. She is not interested in me at all. A week later we meet up and I have the kids along. She falls in love with the kids, I get a second look, and 3 months later we were married. That was twenty years ago. Life is good."

6. There's nothing as loving as kindness after surviving abuse

"I was in a relationship with someone who was emotionally abusive. After a while, she started to become physically abusive. I left but I was a mess. I met someone who showed me a lot of kindness and a godlike amount of patience."

7. A broken engagement led to true love

"I joined the military for a high school sweetheart who I proposed to after basic training. Two months into technical training I get a call from her sister saying that she cheated on me multiple times during basic but she still wanted to get married( she was in the background of the call telling her what to say).

I called off the engagement and went into a depression that started to affect my fitness and classes. No more than two weeks later I meet the woman whom I'm married to now. We met because I thought her last name sounded funny and I asked her to sit next to me for breakfast. I had completely given up hope on relationships and just wanted a new friend. She helped me through a dark time in my life and I fell in love with her. We've now been married two years and it's the happiest I've ever been!"

8. Online dating works

"After my first wife passed away I dated a few psychos and eventually decided to stop.

But one day I was bored and decided to check my OkCupid account and took a chance and messaged a girl who lived in the next town over. The first date was rough, awkward, and kind of a bust. But ... we tried again and after a couple of months, we couldn't stand being apart. We've been married for six months now, and every day I'm grateful that she's in my life. She's my partner in crime and love and I fully expect and intend on growing old with her."

9. Sometimes you really can trust your family

"I had several relationships with varying degrees of success but a lot of problems too. I eventually got married and then divorced. I took a break from relationships pondering how much of the problems were me. Concluding that it was me, I stopped dating altogether for a bit and figured out some stuff. Still had issues so I stopped again and started dating only when my friends found someone who they thought would work. My sister suggested a woman and I married her in July."

10. Get yourself a mantra

"As someone who has had their heart broken and also having ended relationships myself, I always find myself repeating the same mantra: 'You're going to feel better again.' And then I do. Every time. Sometimes quicker than others, but I've never found myself at the bottom of that woefully depressive, post-break-up hole that people talk about. I'll never give up on the idea of finding someone. Why would you?"

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11. Coming out beautifully

"After being in an abusive relationship with a girl, my second girlfriend ending it when I came out as bisexual, and my friends ostracizing me after coming out ... I was sold on the idea that I needed to get out of the country (homosexuality is illegal here) to someplace like the U.S. where I could be myself and not be judged for it.

I was sold on the idea that I would never find love in this country. And I actually started working towards moving away. That's when it happened. I and an old friend crossed paths at the market, and I still don't know why, but he randomly introduced me to one of his friends. 'Hey, this is my friend Ricky ... He's gay.' It took me years to trust him and he waited for me patiently. It wasn't love at first sight. But we built our love together and I fall deeper in love with him every passing day."

12. Whims can get serious

"Gave up. At 27 I moved from the USA to South Korea. Hated it and wanted to leave so I joined a medical research study to earn money for a plane ticket home. Thought one of the medical assistants was cute and started flirting. Asked her out once the study was over and proposed a year later."

13. Some go from friends to lovers

"I serial dated for half a decade [after] college and never connected well with anyone I met or dated. It sucked. I know I'm strange and I had certain expectations for a life partner I wasn't willing to budge on. I wouldn't say I gave up, but I definitely stopped hunting for the right girl.

Just waited for it to happen naturally. About a year into that, I started dating a friend of 5 years (meaning they came to events but we never 'hung out'). Our two-year anniversary is coming up soon, and I'm gonna marry that chick."

14. Love on the Internet FTW

"I was about a year out of a really bad relationship. If you took the common problems from r/relationships and r/deadbedrooms and tossed in a dash of narcissism and emotional abuse, you'd have my old relationship in a nutshell. I felt I was drawing those kinds of people to myself, so I decided to just give up on romance and just do me. Naturally, this involved drinking a lot and playing Runescape.

I didn't go out for a New Year's Eve party and instead did those two things. I saw somebody online, complimented her on her cape, and just talked to her without any goal in mind. I had absolutely no intention of starting something romantic with her. Four months later, I did anyway.

Two months later, I used the money I got from a bonus at work to visit her in New Zealand. A few months later, she visited me in Tennessee, and I expatriated to New Zealand shortly after to be with her. It's been a little over a year, and we're due to get married next year. Life with her is an adventure and so much more than I had ever hoped for."

15. Meeting a winner

"Oh man, I was fat and ugly and an Asian male. The dating pool was completely shut off to me and I made peace with it. At 21 years old, this girl I used to work with made the first move, asking my name, smiling at me and just being friendly to me. I was still very shy at the time and I think she just wanted to make my life a little better because she knew I wasn't comfortable around women. Then things move forward and we fell in love."

16. His friend's loss was his gain

"I was 23, had never been in a relationship, never kissed, never held hands, and was pretty depressed about the whole thing. Reasoned that since no one found me attractive for the first 23 years of my life, no one would for the rest of my life either. Met a girl at a party, thought 'Hey, she's cute," and so did my friend. I assumed she wouldn't be into me so I stepped aside and let my friend talk to her. He gets shut down but also finds out she thinks I'm cute, so he proceeds to set the two of us up. Now we're married. Best wingman ever."

17. This guy hit the jackpot

"Went into 2010 swearing off women after being played in the final months of 2009. I turned down a call from an ex in mid-January and she told me I’d die sad and lonely. Went to Vegas that following weekend met a girl, chatted online for a couple of months, and went to visit her in Pittsburgh (I lived in LA). Kept things going long distance for a couple of years. Eight years later we are married (4 years this year) with a kid."

18. A YouTube meet-cute

"I was totally content just sinking beers and playing Xbox for the rest of my life, but then I posted a video about my dog on YouTube, which then got shared on Facebook. Girl commented, said, 'I want to marry that guy.' Three months later I picked her up in a hired motor home and drove her and her three dogs back to my home state. We got engaged and had two kids. I miss my Xbox."

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.