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Dating For Potential & When To Say When

People show us who they are long before we choose to see it.

Love & Relationships

When it comes to matters of the heart, I've found that in many cases, people show us who they are long before we, ourselves, choose to see it.

Before we're ever blinded by love. Before we even see the prospect of love coming, we're overwhelmed by thoughts of potential and even more so, overwhelmed by our ability to unearth this potential from the next person. This, potential, is typically the thing that allows us to ignore the blood-red flags that come at us like darts in the beginning of relationships that we eventually convince ourselves became shaky overnight, when in reality they were never built on solid ground. Just on potential.

However, for every couple of horror stories we've heard about choosing a mate based on potential we've heard a fairytale or two. You've heard about the woman who stayed down while her man was down and out, and eventually reaped the benefits of this unrelenting loyalty. The other side to this story and the part that we all fear, is being the woman who stays down and ends up with a do-nothing type of man. Shamyra Howard, a licensed therapist specializing in sex and relationships confirms that it's not uncommon for women to feel pressure to remain with a partner who has "potential" in order to prove her loyalty and support. And, none of us want the latter.

Leaving me to wonder, can dating a person solely based on charm or any other stunning characteristic combined with potential ever lead us to the promise lands of a healthy, symbiotic relationship?

To bluntly answer these questions, Howard reminds us of one major fact: most humans possess potential.

She further elaborates, explaining, "Potential is great, but how a person uses their potential is way more important than just possessing it. Potential is having the will and skill to be effective. Reality is actionable proof of how will and skill is executed. My family would never eat if they solely relied on my potential to cook everyday!"

Her advice? Well, really it's simple: "Don't fall in love with someone's potential, fall in love with their reality." She along with several other relationship experts warn us against dating on the merit of potential that hasn't been backed by action.

However, should you try your hand at choosing a mate on the strength of potential, make sure that it's flourishable. In other words, certified relationship coach J.L. Kirkwood, suggests that you get out the moment a person's potential isn't paired with actions that lead to growth.

"If you are with a person who says they are going to do something and doesn't keep their word — has a lack of consistency, cannot find self-motivation, isn't interested in taking his career or relationship to the next level, doesn't have direction, then you may have to begin looking elsewhere."

Kirkwood adds, "This is especially true if you're leveling up. In the end, this person could begin to bring you down. It's draining trying to keep pulling the train along with no help."

As far as potential is concerned, it seems that there's really only one thing to be said about it: actions speak louder than words — a universal truth that we should hold onto. For better or worse.

Featured image by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

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