Forgive me for the corny science joke there in the title. I couldn’t help myself… But it’s still a valid question, I think, and one that has been on my mind lately. For one thing, I’m thinking about my own potential and how to achieve it; with no set plans for next school year, I am in a very unique position in which I can make some massive changes in my life. Also, in my social life, the question of “potential” comes up quite a bit, and thus also requires some looking into.
It’s the latter that I want to look at today.
My friend the Olde Man, whom I’ve mentioned on here a time or three, has often told me that my biggest problem in finding a mate (or partner, or lover, or whatever term you prefer) is that I often see the potential of the person instead of the reality. I see the best in them: the things they can accomplish, the future that they could have, or the future that I could have with that person.
The Olde Man tells me this is a problem because seeing the potential means that I don’t see the bad things. But isn’t that the point? Aren’t we supposed to see the best in our partners and grow with them into the best possible selves we can be?
Or have I been thinking about love the wrong way all this time?
Admittedly, I do have a habit of turning a blind eye to some really serious negatives in my exes. Most notably, I overlook it when they obviously lose interest in me. I tend to hold on because I still see the potential.
This never ends well. The way things blew up with Superman immediately comes to mind. But there were other negatives that I overlooked in his case as well.
Superman was one who wanted to be seen, but had no real drive to succeed. He liked to party and shmooze. He was always posting pics on Instagram and Facebook to make himself seem more important than he actually was.
I was intrigued by the illusion of passion he had for his job and for making a name for himself. What I saw from him was someone who wasn’t particularly socially awkward, and thus could actually get ahead like he wanted. I assumed he had a great passion for his work based on a handful of conversations, particularly the ones in which he talked about education and his pride in his degrees (multiple).
I overlooked his age (too young) and his need to party. That was my folly.
I made a similiar mistake with the Artist. I overlooked his inability to finish what he starts because I was in awe of his talent. The man can draw! He has a dream of becoming a comic book artist, and he’s got the talent to succeed at that.
But it requires him to actually finish something.
There were several occasions in which he canceled or postponed dates with me in order to work on his art…only to not finish whatever project he’d been working on.
I also overlooked some of the harsh ways he spoke to me because it’s fairly well known that artistic people have to give up something for their greatness, and usually it’s their social skills.
Actually, I usually overlook this particular negative in most of my exes because I accept that greatness of any sort comes at the expense of social skills… Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory is a great example.
Since I’m seeking someone who is intellectual, there’s a degree of social awkwardness to be expected from that. I’m willing to put up with a great deal of things (usually seen as disrespect by my friends) because I assume that the people I date are going to be socially awkward.
It’s happened on a number of occasions with the Boy. While he and I are decidedly not dating, the disrespectful behavior still happens from time to time, and I try not to notice because I assume it’s because he’s socially awkward. Recently, he and I discussed this very thing…to a point. He accidentally hurt my feelings by asking me to leave in a not nice way. It was a socially awkward situation that he and I were able to discuss and come to some sort of agreement about.
The more recent incident of him telling me that he thinks I’m high maintenance because I was trying to let him schedule our next outing, was less pleasant and was not discussed to the same degree.
I’m trying to give him a pass because I do believe he’s going through his own drama at the moment, but why do I keep giving him such leeway? There is no potential there, no future. He consistently reminds me of this when there is no need to do so.
So why do I keep allowing him to dump on my feelings?
It must be because I still want to help him achieve the potential future I see for him, even if it doesn’t include me.
But this desire of mine to help others achieve their potential is often seen as me attempting to change them. Before, with the Boy (when we were dating… or at least in my opinion), there were times when he would tell me I was asking awkward questions, or would insinuate that I was judging or trying to change him, when that was never my intention. My intention was to help him understand my point of view so we could communicate and avoid those socially awkward moments when he would hurt my feelings by (as he has since tried to explain) asserting his alpha maleness.
So, is it wrong to try and help your lover to achieve their potential? Or to help them see what they are capable of? Or, more importantly, to help them see what you can accomplish together as a unit?
It is my belief that the goal of entering into a relationship is to work together to make each other better. To support one another so that both partners can achieve their goals, goals which (hopefully) align with one another. You should be a united front, you and your partner versus the world, if it comes to that. You should be able to lean on each other in your time of need.
I know that this is seen, for traditional alpha males, as a weakness, but it is far from that. Acknowledging your faults and being able to ask for help so that you can overcome them is a sign of true strength, an evolved strength above and beyond the basic kill or be killed mentality of the traditional alpha male.
What I want is a man who strives to reach his potential…without needing my help, but who is willing to accept my help if he is veering off course.
Like with the Artist, I was willing to keep him company while he worked on his art, to keep him motivated. But he found ways to blame me for him not completing things the one time he did let me keep him company. He accused me of not being able to keep my hands to myself, which may have been true…after it became obvious to me that he would do anything to keep from getting the project done. He watched movies, played some video games, took me out to eat when I wasn’t actually hungry… all to procrastinate. And then later, it was my fault he didn’t finish his project.
One of many reasons why he is no longer in my life, and why I denied him when he tried to reconnect the last time.
I want a man who wants to make himself better. Like the Boy, who told me that self improvement is one of the things that motivates him. It is what drives him, in his words…
Yet, my attempts to help him achieve that goal are not appreciated. He tells me I’m manipulating him or that I’m high maintenance or any other number of negative things that feel like gaslighting.
I want a man who I can lean on when things get tough, and who is willing to lean on me as well.
And that is probably why I keep the Boy around. Lately things have been bad, and he’s been the one I lean on. Not as much as I would if he were my partner, but more than anyone else of late. Even my roommate feels like I don’t share enough with her, yet the Boy gets to hear it all.
So, while he’s not what I’m looking for (and I’m not what he wants, as he keeps pointing out to me), he’ll do until what I really need/want shows up in my life.
I was beginning to lose hope that I’d ever find someone, but it seems that whenever I reach that point of hopelessness, the universe brings me what I need. I’ve got a feeling that’s happening now…
But that’s a story for another day.