Monday, July 16, 2012

MEMO TO MEN: The potential paradox

TO: Men all over the planet
FROM: Melissa
RE: The allure of potential
DATE: July 16, 2012
I came across that quote over the weekend, boys. And just like clockwork, the romantic in me shouted, "Yes, that's it. That's exactly what you want in a relationship, Melissa. In one short and sweet sentence, that's what you want in another person. That's who you want to fall in love with."

But reader Elsa also left this comment recently, which struck me as so wise and true and, frankly, realistic: "You can't fall in love with someone's potential."

Well, Elsa's right about that too. Falling in love with someone's potential is, well, just that. Falling in love with someone's potential. You're falling in love with the person, sure, but not the real person. Not who the other person truly is, anyway. Not the person they are inside. Because in your mind, someone's potential could be anything; you could build up this person so much in your head that the potential soon eclipses everything else in sight.
And, falling for the potential sort of implies that you're going to work your magic change the person into your own version of who you think they should be. I'm a bit weary of anyone wanting to change another person, and I know, boys, that you may have the best of intentions. But I don't foresee us changing each other; I'd prefer to look at it more along the lines of being a positive influence on each other's lives. That sounds much better, don't you think?

All the while, though, I can't help but wonder: Isn't someone's potential a pretty subjective thing? What's labeled as potential to one person may be labeled as unattainable to another. So maybe falling in love with your supposed potential -- and you falling in love with mine -- isn't the way to go here, boys. Something tells me that route will only lead to confusion, hurt feelings and broken hearts. I know neither of us wants that for each other, do we? So what exactly do we women want? If I personally don't want to be wooed by your potential, what is it that will ultimately make me fall head-over-heels, can't-live-without-you love? Well, check out Wednesday's Love Lounge for the answer, boys... xoxo

[Photos via Le Love]


  1. Everyone has potential, or else we wouldn't feel a sense of "lack" occasionally.

    What defines a staying relationship to me is:
    1. The decision to be committed to that person, no matter how he/she disappoints you because they are human.

    2. If they are worth staying around for after disappointments. Everyone will hurt you/let you down; not everyone is worth it the pain.

    If you find both, take that person and RUN. Never look back wondering if there's 'someone else.' Of course there will always be others; the world is full of them! But no other is for you.

    Does that make [a bit] of sense?

  2. It's hard for me to remember what it was like dating Mr. Branflake, but his potential to me was obvious: He would be a great husband because he was already a great man. I think I was too in love to see anything else, though. I read this knowing I am lucky.
    Can't wait for Wednesday!

  3. Wow, Melissa...thanks SO much for mentioning me! I loved HiLLJo and DB comments. Also, I would like to elaborate a bit more on my 'potential' theory. I guess that, when u love someone, it's about loving who that person is, accepting what she/he is not and embracing the potential, or as YOU brilliantly said 'becoming a positive influence.' DB said she believed on Mr. B potential of becoming a great husband because he already was a great man. So, she definitely was falling in love with Mr.B's qualities as a man. To be honest, and based on my personal experience, I need to fall in love with the virtues of the person (kindness, values, sense of commitment...), and accept and learn to live with that that person is not...the rest, it's kind of a bonus! Again Melissa, you said the magic words 'positive influence.' Besos!

  4. I also loved HiLLjo's break down. But I guess that when someone dissapoints you -we are humans after all!- you have to hold onto the good/real things that made u fall in love with the person and not the potential...You can't pretend to change or -ever worse- rescue a person.

  5. That's a lot to think on.

    True, I think its the idea that might draw you in. But its good to sort it out..what you can and can not put up with...or the comfortable with.

    I've been reading Susane Colasanti's Keep Holding On. The main character is Noelle.. her self worth is so low. She is bullied at school. Her home life is hard with her single Mom. And just when she might have met someone who can make her totally happy, she thinks he'd be better off not knowing her.

    Anyway, friendships..romances..the like..we have to nurture them. Daily.

  6. I think you use "weary" when you mean "wary" or " leery."

  7. This is sort of an impossible question, isn't it? You never meet a truly finished human product, so we all have potential, but I think our interest in our own potential, or our willingness to explore it, will really determine if we rise to our abilities.

    Also, Anon, please go suck a lemon.

  8. I think you do need to take potential into consideration when dating. Someone may have potential to be a great mate; but is it potential that is in the present-sense, or ten years down the line? :/

  9. I also like DB's comment about her husband. I hear a lot of friends talk about marriage as though it's this magical line you cross where suddenly all previous issues are fixed. If you think someone has the potential to be a good husband/father it needs to be based on something solid like trust, respect, and dependability that's demonstrated on a daily basis.

  10. Melissa.. Falling in love with someone's past and potential has been the story of the past four years. I loved someone for who they used to be and then hoped they would go back to who they were...Sometimes I wonder what would've happened if I hadn't let him go. Loving someone for exactly who they are is truly love... But, it might not be the right love for you. It wasn't for me.

  11. I love these comments -- they are so true. i think of potential as what someone could be, and i never want to be that girl who falls in love with someone based on who they could be as opposed to who they are.

    Does that make sense?

  12. and thanks again to Elsa for inspiring this post!

  13. Thanks, Anon!! And Kore, so sorry to hear about your experience! :(


Your lovely comments make my day so much sweeter! Thanks for stopping by and saying hello!


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