Potential. It’s such a simple word. According to Webster’s Dictionary it means “something that can develop or become actual.” Sounds innocent and harmless doesn’t it? Wrong. In dating, this word is sabotage, deceptive, and a set up for disaster. Why you ask? I could rant about this forever! I really mean forever. I’m going to show you some mercy and just give the short version. What brings me to this topic? I was watching the Nightline Faceoff: Why Can’t a Succesful Black Woman Find a Man. There was a segment where Hill Harper went on and on about potential. Potential has a place, but it has historically not worked out well for black women, possibly other women or men also.
Let me break it down. The issue with potential is that it sets up false expectations. This guy has potential. He’ll be great if he gets this type of job, starts acting the way I want, et cetera, et cetera. This woman has potential. She’ll be great if she can get her finances together, not hang out so much, go back to school. You get my drift. The entire relationship becomes hinged on this man or woman becoming all of these things that you set up expectations for. What makes it even more complicated is these “potential” related goals may not even be something the other person is dedicated to. He or she may not really want this other career, to move to a new city, to be more sensitive, to be less crass, to have a house in the suburbs, to get different clothes, to change their hair, yada yada yada. The biggest issue with potential is about the pursuit of a fantasy…a fantasy that may never happen. Potential isn’t a bad word if you can accept a person as they already are. My mom taught me that most people don’t change, so any change is a bonus. I think we need to bury the word potential right alongside of the N word. The key is managing expectations and having realistic expectations. If you don’t like something about someone you have two healthy choices. You can accept that it most likely won’t change or leave.
Dating isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Men and women both need to start accepting people for who they are at the moment. If you can’t accept them without a bunch of conditions, this may not be the time to be with them or they may not be the right person. Remember: realistic expectations! It’s a whole lot less stress, too!
Much nub and health,
April 24, 2010 at 5:57 am
Erika, I agree with you whole heartedly. You can’t make someone be who they are not. The best gift you can give someone you respect and like as a person, but not as a husband or wife, is to let go so that not only you can find the right person but they can too. Life can seem so long with the wrong person, but with the right partner time flies by. So no need to waste anyone’s time. Better easy said than done. But it is something to keep in mind. Also, I’ve read that even if you love someone but it may not be right, your body will tell you, even your gut. So trust your gut and intuition. Your mom is right, people don’t change very often. We all are who we are, that is the beauty of being individuals! Have a blessed day!
April 24, 2010 at 7:20 am
Great work, Ericka! Everyone needs to stop obsessing over these fantasy ideals (women AND men both do it) and love the one you’re with. But before you can do that, you have to be honest with yourself about what you want and what you can accept in addition to that to get it (i.e. all that other baggage and nonsense that comes with the things you want).
April 25, 2010 at 9:39 am
Great thoughts, Jenny and Joy. Thanks for taking the time to comment:) Trusting your intuition is a great point. The effort of fighting your intuition can also cause stress that manifests in emotional and physical symptoms. You have to be comfortable and happy with yourself to truly be happy and comfortable with someone else. Realistic expectations and being honest with oneself is critical.