date potential

Most people have done it. They dated someone for a long time despite many red flags (laziness, immaturity, commitment issues, baggage from an ex-girlfriend, living with his parents, etc.). Why? He had potential. There’s that word. It’s a great word for mentors and coaches, but not when it comes to dating.

You should banish the word ‘potential’ from your dating vocabulary, and here is why:

1.     You’re Not Doing Him a Favor

Women believe they are doing a man a favor by seeing the good in him and helping him improve. But think of the flip side. Would you like it if you were dating someone that said you’d be practically perfect if you lost weight, got a better job, moved, stopped hanging out with certain friends, etc? Absolutely not. Yet, women convince themselves they’ve found a fixer-upper who is the lucky recipient of their renovations. First, men aren’t houses to flip. Second, when you date potential, you aren’t dating reality. Who you are dating right now, is who they are. Not some perfect (ahem, mythical) version you see in your future.

2.     You’re Cheating Yourself

When you date a guy with great potential, you are really cheating yourself. Why aren’t you dating someone you think is wonderful just the way they are? Of course, every relationship requires compromise – he’s a night owl and you’re an early riser, he’s a slob and you’re a neat freak, he’s an extrovert and you’re an introvert. That’s normal. However, if you’re dating someone who you are actively trying to ‘whip into shape’ or want to love the man you think he’s supposed to become, the only one missing out is you. Just because a guy could be wonderful doesn’t mean he will be wonderful.

3.     It Rarely Works

Everyone grows in their own time and for their own reasons. Loving a man yet wanting him to change is really imposing your own set of values on another person. You’ve decided you know who or what he should be better than he does, but trying to force change often brings resentment or feelings of guilt. Neither of which are good for building a solid relationship foundation.

Unfortunately, time travel is not an option when it comes to dating. You can’t see someone and try and date who they might become. You have to date who they are today. So avoid dating his potential, and enjoy dating his reality.

Claudia Maittlen-Harris is a writer and comedian. She's written for The Huffington Post, The Frisky, XOJane, Yahoo! and numerous online publications. Her articles on dating and relationships have sparked heated debate on The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda and Good Afternoon America. (Katie Lee agreed with Claudia but Lara Spencer did not!) She's appeared on MTV and CMT, and performed at The Groundlings and Upright Citizens Brigade. Claudia has performed stand-up at The World Famous Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory, The Improv, New York City’s Gotham Comedy Club, in clubs across the country, and has been showcased at the New York Comedy Underground Festival and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Claudia can be seen at numerous storytelling shows around Los Angeles and is a winner of The Moth StorySLAM. She hosts and produces the comedy pop culture podcast That’s Debatable! Follow her @ClaudiaTalking and be sure to like her Facebook page.

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