The GREAT Debate of Dating “Potential”

Intentions aren’t everything

I’ve had many a day’s discussion with friends (male & female) regarding the role of potential in dating.  I’ve seen and heard examples of love interests having  potential in where they work, what they make, how they behave, how they look, what they drive, and a host of other things. It’s as if dating has an EDIT button so we’ve convinced ourselves of a person’s compatibility in the Present because updates/upgrades will be made in the future. Paul C. Brunson challenged the notion of dating potential in his blog, “Falling in Love with Potential is a Big Mistake” (read here). I’ve thought about Paul’s perspective along with examples from my past and those around me and concluded that dating potential isn’t necessarily bad. However, we’ve become a bit unclear as to what potential really means.

Potential is defined as: having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

As I’ve dated and watched the romantic interests of my friends come and go, I’ve noticed two distinct types of potential. One relies on what’s possible while one is planted securely in what’s probable. Here’s how to tell the difference and why it is okay to use a person’s past to determine their future.

Dating Potential A: Mr/Ms. The World is my Oyster 

In my not-so-distant past, I dated someone that fell squarely in this bucket. He was charming, chivalrous, and dedicated to the task of pursuing me. During our first week of dating, he revealed professional goals of being a governor or Fortune 500 CEO, personal goals of traveling the world, and family goals of being a faithful husband and loving father. Over time, I realized how disconnected his reasonable goals were from his life’s reality. He wasn’t involved in politics (at all), had completed only one semester of college, had no passport, had only secured minimum wage jobs, and already had three children by two women. I’m not saying it’s impossible for this 30-year-old to one day achieve the lofty goals that so easily fell from his lips. However, learning more about his past demonstrated his lack of commitment, consistency, and capacity. His ideas sounded great but that’s all they were – ideas. There was no evidence he would one day evolve into the accomplished man he’d created in his imagination.

Key Lesson: There is nothing wrong with dating someone that doesn’t have it all quite figured out and is still climbing towards his/her goals. But don’t allow words to overshadow actions.  A person’s current circumstances are based on their choices and decisions, which reveal their capacity.  Capacity’s all about ability or power to DO something. If their current status doesn’t clearly demonstrate a propensity for DOING things that will enable them to accomplish their goals, walk away now!

Dating Potential B: Mr/Ms. Look Back at It

This dating potential refers to someone with a proven track record of success, a documented history of consistent actions, and a solid idea of where they’ve been and where they’re going. I consider this potential worth dating. This person still has goals which are yet to be realized but similar to Paul’s analysis of the POTUS, they’re already well beyond what most would deem as accomplished. Remember potential is about one’s capacity to be/do in the future. If you want an idea of what someone will do in the future, take a peek at what they’ve already done in their past. In order to consider what’s to come, you must evaluate what has already happened. Go-getters are easily identified. They rarely need to spout off every point on their resume or life goal on the list.  Their actions tell you much more than words ever could.

Key Lesson: Perseverance, diligence, determination, and hard work pay off because they are rooted in action and not simply words. Dreamers dream… doers do!

What’s your take on Dating Potential? Write your comments below!


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