You Can’t Date A Person’s Potential


How many times have you done this? You meet a new guy, things are like, 60% good (which, I understand, happens about as often as Lena Dunham keeps her clothes on in an episode of Girls) and you’re 100% committed to making this work.

He’s fairly attractive, nothing a daylong shopping trip couldn’t fix (you hope). He makes you laugh, sometimes (but you don’t really need to laugh ALL the time, do you? I’m sure you could help him with his comedic timing.). He’s in between jobs but he’s actually really smart and he has a lot of “opportunities in the works” and you just KNOW one of them is going to come through. Once he gets his life together and moves out of his mom’s basement, he’s going to be the best dad and husband EVER. And even though he’s 35 and his idea of weekend fun is a 48-hour World of Warcraft bender, you’re sure that once he’s settled down, he would drop the games. He has a wife, but they’re separated and he really doesn’t like her and it’s going to end any day now, he swears. But, at least he’s not a crack addict, right? (Nothing against crack addicts. You guys rock.)

So, things are going well enough. And if you just put in your time, they’re going to get so much better. You just know it.

No. Stop that. Stop it right now.

I may be exaggerating and being a wee dramatic for effect (or I may be hitting all the nails on the head—if so, yikes on bikes, girl. Yikes. On. Bikes.), but this happens on a much subtler level as well.

Anytime you’re saying: “He will be great when he just [fill in the blank] and I know he could get there. Some time. Swears.” - we have a problem.

Sound familiar?

Listen up: You cannot, should not and will not (if you know what’s good for you) date a guy’s potential. You’re basically—if not exactly—asking someone to change who they are. C’mon, you can’t be with that guy! You should be with someone because you love him for who he is. Even the crap you hate about him, you should love-hate it. You know, we’re striving for that whole unconditional love thing. You deserve it. He deserves it.

Plus, there’s way too much riding on that nonexistent outcome. It’s a lot of pressure for the dude, and we all know they don’t perform well when put in an emotional vice.

(For the naysayers:) Sure, it’s possible that a guy could change (and that Manti Te’o has a real girlfriend), but that doesn’t negate the fact that he’s just not there right now—and you should seriously note that.

Super-long side story acting as an exemplary anecdote in 3…2…1…

I’ve had someone be interested in me for my “potential.” My potential to shift my fundamental belief system. I know, big stuff and omgsomuchPRESSURE. I told him to kick rocks, that he can’t date this girl’s infinitely profound potential.

(Ok, ok, it wasn’t that clean (he was very, very attractive. Unnervingly so... And now I’m having a moment…). But still, the point was (eventually) made.)

Interestingly enough, my transformation did happen as hoped (because I was already headed in that direction before he dropped his big request bomb—KEY detail), but on my own time. In this game of life, it’s all about timing. The timing wasn’t there when it started. Had we gotten together then, it would have been an utter clusterf*ck. It would have derailed both of our personal progress and emotional development, kept us from learning essential life lessons and it would have impeded us from growing into the people we needed to become. At least on my end, because today, let me tell you, I am KILLING it at life right now (read: I’m just really happy to be who and where I am). And I wouldn’t have gotten here without him passing up on my potential. Are you getting all of this?

There are no guarantees, and while it’s entirely possible that your figuring-it-out fella could morph into the must-have man you’re envisioning and trying desperately to manifest, all you have to work with is what and who’s in front of you. You met him now, at this very moment, for a very specific reason. There’s something you have to learn from this beautiful example of poor (or perfect?) timing. Why would you want to waste your precious time, energy and self on the exhausting task of holding out for what could (or most likely, could never) be? And risk missing the life lesson, no less.

When meeting a new guy, let’s shoot for 90% good, shall we?

A raise of hands (i.e. comments): Which of you are holding out for that future perfection (or, more accurately, just that future normalcy?)?



RelationshipsJulia1 Comment