The Problem of Seeing Potential vs. Reality

I’ve made a lot of really bad choices when it comes to men. I used to love a good fixer-upper with a lot of “potential” and would always go after those kinds of men for two reasons.

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I’ve made a lot of really bad choices when it comes to men. I used to love a good fixer-upper with a lot of “potential” and would always go after those kinds of men for two reasons. The first is that I knew who they could turn into and second, it was always a chase. A chase to see if I could get the man inside to emerge from the boyish behaviors that were always at the forefront of each relationship. 

Almost two years ago, I got burned really bad. It took a lot of work to grow in my independence and realize that no one is worth sacrificing the important things for. I also realized that unless I like being with someone more than being alone, it wasn’t worth it for me. That doesn’t mean it’s easy and it doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely; some days are really hard. 

I’d like to say that my self-control has always been perfect in waiting for my person, and I’ve tried to get around my own “rules”. In all honesty, you have to do what’s best for you. One of my favorite quotes says that if you find yourself regressing, you shouldn’t feel bad because that means your baseline is farther down the road than it used to be. For me, this turned into a long term on and off relationship with someone who I let consistently hurt me through inconsistency because it was comfortable and felt familiar. I told myself it was okay because I wasn’t ready for something serious, or because we only got together once or twice a month; it wasn’t a big deal. As time went on and I started growing into who I am now, it got easier. Every time we argued and “ended it” I was less upset than the time before. 

What I want to tell you is that eventually, I grew out of it. That at the time, it was exactly what I needed because it taught me independence, gave me what I felt like I needed every once in a while and thickened my skin. But what actually happened is that every time he told me he wasn’t in love with me, I wanted to vomit. How could he act so interested, support me through random aspects of my life and then cut it off in a matter of days? 

There’s a book by Rachel Hollis called “Girl Wash Your Face” where she talks about her journey with her husband. In the beginning, her relationship was a lot like mine was, until one day she finally cut it off, only to find him at her door the next morning. From that point forward, he changed. Part of me held onto this hope that I too would have a relationship like this if I just held on long enough.

The worst part of this entire thing was that he wasn’t even a 10/10 for me, his potential was. He was set in his ways, and his humor wasn’t the same as mine. While I did love him and saw his potential, potential without action is never enough. He was a game and I wanted to win his love. There I was again, thinking this time was different because it wasn’t structured like any of my past relationships when in all reality it was exactly the same game as before.

Relationships in this day in age aren’t easy, and they aren’t as straightforward as they used to be. I often wonder if the struggles I’ve gone through in recent years existed when I was a kid, or if I was just blind to them because I hadn’t walked through enough of life yet to know about them. The reality is, you are the only one who knows what you want and what is best for you. No one else can decide what is “worth it” to you, or has the power to change your behaviors for the life you want to live or the relationships you want to have.

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