Katie Powell
July 19, 2013 4:00 pm

It’s hard to say when exactly it was that I realized I was dating the wrong guy.  The funny thing is that I remember exactly when I knew why I was dating the wrong guy. There was so much love-spurred dysfunction between us that I could have plead temporary insanity at any time – ask any of my friends and no doubt they would agree. We had similar interests. He made me laugh. He paid for things. I pretended not to like that he called me “champ” and when he sang Jack White unbelievably loud in the car because he knew it drove me crazy. There was no question about it – we always had fun when we were together and we always wanted to be together.

Until I started to pay attention.

Truths came out and pieces of his heavy baggage started to show up everywhere and without warning. All of our fun started to be sprinkled by questions that he would never really answer and the more I pieced together, the more curious I got. The more curious I got, the more he pushed me away. You know the drill.

It wasn’t until months later, while I was at dinner eating mass amounts of chips and salsa with friends, that I finally figured it out. I heard myself say the words out loud “He just has so much potential” – and that was it. I was done. I saw the looks on the faces of my best girlfriends and I wanted to crawl under the table. They had known all along and per the norm, it took me a little longer to figure out. I had dated a guy for his potential, not who he actually was. No, I didn’t make excuses; instead, I filed all of his shady and ubiquitous behavior in a distant corner of my brain, telling myself what a great man he could be. Coulda shoulda woulda, right?

That’s why I stopped dating potential.

A year or so later and here I am, still dating and still learning how to spot a good guy from the pack of potential good guys. Does this mean I’m growing up? One can only hope! All I know is that I will no longer allow myself to say any of the following:

  • He just needs to grow up a little, give him 3-5 years and he’ll be great!
  • With a little counseling he’ll be in great shape!
  • If I could just get him back to how he was before she messed him up…

So what have we learned today? Ladies, when a guy tells you or shows who they are for the first time, believe them. Trust your gut. Stop dreaming up who you think he is or worse, who you want him to be. Pay attention to who he is right now. See the potential in everyone but don’t date someone solely on the potential you see. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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