When it comes to my sensibilities as both a writer and a reader, I don't consider myself much of a romantic. In fact, you might call me something of an anti-romantic. I have trouble with a lot of common romance tropes, whether it be simple dislike or blank disbelief. Personally:
I'm very suspicious of love at first sight. I don't think it's a reliable foundation for a relationship. Does it work out sometimes? Absolutely, but for me, it's a matter of chance; that instant spark isn't some magical signal. For me to be convinced, the first-sight attraction has to be followed up quickly by genuine signs of compatibility.
Obviously, as a fiction writer, sometimes I've had to fudge this, because it's very hard to write a short story with any kind of romance that isn't relatively rapid. But I do like to play with the opposite: when the "love at first sight" turns out to be built over quicksand, and one of the partners is something much darker than they seem.
I don't care much for Alpha heroes ... unless they're paired with equally Alpha females who don't take direction. In fact, I had a long string of projects where the main romantic interest (male) was mild-mannered and quiet - the virtual opposite of the assertive heroine.
Does love conquer all? Maybe. Sometimes. Should it? Maybe not. There's a point at which sacrificing for love becomes selfish, even destructive to the world around you. In fact, in of one of my potential novel projects, one of the main plotlines is based around the villain's (very genuine) romance story, and how everything else starts going off the rails around it.
If there's one romantic plot point that makes me cringe every time, it's when one of the lovers has to give up a cherished career or even their whole world to be with their beloved. (Portal fiction is particularly guilty of this. Outlander, I'm looking at you.) Maybe it's because I am a compulsively creative person, but if you told me that the only way I could be with a significant other was to give up writing, well ... there's plenty of fish in the sea, thank you.
When it comes to people who pine after an unrequited love, continuing to pursue your would-be love interest doesn't mean you're "not giving up." It means you're stalking them. And what if you succeed? Do you really want to be loved by someone who had to be convinced? To me, that's a really depressing thought.
But beyond all this doom and gloom, what do I like in a love story?
Friends whose long-term commitment and understanding deepens into something more. I am a sucker for this kind of story, where the romance is based on a deep trust and connection between the characters ... where love is the very last piece of the puzzle.
Love that is truly selfless ... even beyond the love itself. Characters who will walk away if that's what is needed to preserve the other person. "I love you enough to let you go."
Banter. Characters who battle wits and even might seem as if they're fighting from the outside ... but they do it from a position of deep security and trust in each other.
Characters who know that love means sharing secrets. This may clue you into the fact that I hate the tired old romantic comedy trope of the hero/ine who has a secret she's afraid to share, causing strifle and turmoil when it comes out prematurely. It's why I cheer every time I see a character steel his or her nerve and tell the object of their affection. Can you really love a person without loving all of them?
So maybe I am a romantic, after all - just a very particular type of romantic.