At some point we’ve all found ourselves holding on to a relationship because we know what it COULD be (never mind what it is in the moment). Potential—the most dangerous motivation to stay in a relationship. So, here’s how it happens… we get with a guy and he’s a little rough around the edges, but he shows effort. He’s working on perfecting his craft, starting a business, getting his credit right, or just turning his life around in general… and it’s music to our romantic little ears. As he shows signs of effort and follow-through, we start to make plans in our heads to compliment his potential. If he has plans to open a store, we’re merchandising the sales floor in our heads. It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy to get caught in the future and ignore issues that are staring at us in the present. Here are 5 ways you can determine if you’re merely in love with potential and not your guy in his current state.
You’re more concerned with your future needs being met than your current needs. While patience is a virtue, disregarding your current needs isn’t the way to go. You can’t get so caught up in what your relationship is going to be like that you forget those things that are needed for you to feel valued and emotionally cared for in the relationship currently. He may be busy trying to get his business off the ground, but you should be a priority too. Writing off your immediate feelings won’t make for a solid future with him at all. In fact, just creates a shaky foundation for what you assume will be a functional relationship in the future. This is literally like spending all of your build money investing in stocks because "they're sure to make you rich in the future". The current needs have to be met or there will be no future to dream of.
The highlights of your relationship are times spent “dreaming” with him. It’s the best when you can dream with your partner, but if the bulk of your relationship is spent dreaming, there’s something missing in the present that’s not being addressed. Why is the dream version of him so appealing and can he be translated into the present version? If it can be easily implemented, it’s pertinent that you communicate that. For example, if you love the future version of him because he’s successful and available, both of you can find ways to currently tap into that to meet your current needs. If his availability is currently impossible, don’t expect a drastic change if he does reach a level where he’s wildly successful.
You make excuses for his lack of accountability in the relationship. This can be paired with point number one. Once you make excuses for his lack of accountability, you write it off as necessary discomfort for future luxury. This invalidates your feelings and creates a larger problem. The problem is that when excuses are made on any level, problematic behavior will continue and you will either have to continue excusing obvious offences or cut ties to think about your own needs. Excuses are pacifiers for lovers of potential. Justifying all his faults could indicate you love his potential enough to ignore his current offenses.
He’s nowhere near being on your level. This is not to say you should think you’re better than him. This applies to mentality as well. If he’s not thinking marriage and you’re quietly planning your wedding, it just won’t work. The same applies if he has no ambition and you’re pushing him to be more than he wants to be. If this is the case, his potential is eclipsing your assessment of him and/or your relationship.
You spend more time pushing him toward his dream than he spends chasing it. You’re motivated to push him where you know he can be, but his level of motivation defies your goal of getting him there. If you're more concerned about him reaching his potential than he is, it's a problem.This could be an indicator that you’re in love with potential and not addressing your actual relationship in its true form.
While it’s romantic to have hope for what a man could be, you can end up doing this to your own demise. Some people just won’t realize their potential. Some people aren’t even interested in trying to realize their potential. If either case ends up being your reality, don’t get caught up loving what he could be. Focus on what he is and what he is putting effort into. Focus on the facts.