When we are younger, with our lives yet to be determined, we can fall in love with someone’s potential, not who they are at the moment. I know I have.
A pal wrote today, “I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a woman, rather than with the woman herself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the woman to ascend to her own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.”
Which makes me wonder: Are we just seeing them as we think they can be? Or are we projecting our desires onto them when they have no inclination to become what we see?
When we see them as “bigger” (more successful, fulfilling a future we see they can have), are we tapping into the best we see for them? This can be empowering (“I believe in you, baby,” “I know you can do it”) or demeaning (“I know you didn’t do your best,” “If you only did what I suggested you’d be more successful”).
But if our beloved doesn’t share our vision for him and has no desire for what we think is possible for him, both become unhappy. You are constantly disappointed by his lack of progress toward what you see as his greatness, and he feels a constant environment of disapproval and failure.
At this point in our lives, most of us have achieved something — yet not all that we imagined for ourselves. So seeing your sweetheart’s potential can be a marvelous gift to someone who may feel they are treading water toward retirement but had hoped to accomplish more. They’ve just become burnt out at how hard it has been to accomplish what they desired. Some people have abandoned their dreams and a cheerleader may be just what they need.
However, if your snookems is content to glide by at their current state and not aspire to more, your prodding him to reach his potential will be irksome.
When starting to date someone, I think it’s important within the first few months to discuss each of your visions for the future as well as dreams. If you are an achiever who believes in constantly improving and striving, you’re probably not going to be happy with someone who sees no need to change the status quo.
It can be sad to realize you see someone’s greater potential and your sweetie doesn’t see himself similarly. But if this is important to you, best to move on as otherwise you’ll be doomed for decades of disappointment.
I guess it shouldn’t be “love is blind” but perhaps “love sees the other as they may never see themselves.”
Want more information on determining the characteristics you want in a man? Get In Search of King Charming: Who Do I Want to Share My Throne.