On dating men with “potential”

I struggled with how to respond to your article, and whether to respond at all. There are so many thoughts spurred by it. I feel almost as though I’ve read a two-part article, with a different author responsible for each part. Your self-reflective, growth-minded conclusion stands in stark contrast to the premise of complete human disregard built by the title and the majority of the article.

Since perspective matters, I am somewhere in between your definition of a “real man” and a “loser”. I haven’t acquired the boats, I haven’t started immensely successful companies. I’ve started nine small companies, three having moderate success, the rest crashing and burning in various ways. I’ve had money, I’ve been broke, but I’ve never stopped chasing what I wanted (which doesn’t include needless yachts or condos). I’ve always loved fully. And when I didn’t feel I had the bandwidth, I stayed single.

I’ve gone through periods where I was pursuing someone else’s dream, or hopelessly trying to help someone get on track — both in business and in love. I’ve gotten better at realizing when I’m not going in a direction I want to go, and acting on it. I have had extended relationships with women who you would call losers. I don’t call them losers, nor would I ever. I think of them as women who weren’t [yet] on my wavelength. People, who were inspiring in some ways and wonderful in their own regard, but not a fit for me at the time. They didn’t want something greater for themselves. Or, they did want it but weren’t taking any action to get there. I hope they figure it out, but they don’t owe me anything. We each take our own paths, and some of us meander more than others.

I wonder: If these men who you deemed successful were to write the exact words you wrote, about you, how would that affect you? Presumably, in your words, you were a “woman with potential”, e.g. a “loser”, for 25 years. I’m not trying to be inflammatory, but it seems you might have reflected on this, if you really mean your last paragraphs. That kind of self-reflection, to me, seems mutually exclusive to the type of disregard you express in the rest of the article.

Based on your refusal to pursue your potential in writing, they could write such an article, calling you a loser. Or perhaps, they could just say — “She hadn’t figured things out yet when I knew her, but I hope she does someday. She deserves to live a full life. I just couldn’t be along for that ride.” Wouldn’t that be grand, if we all realized that other people weren’t made to fit into our own boxes, where we want them and when we want them there?

I’m taking longer than I had hoped to “reach my potential”. To even say that, I have to suspend my own beliefs. I don’t believe that we reach a potential, rather that the journey is our potential. Our potential is reached when we play the cards we’re dealt to the best of our abilities. Our character is shown when we pull through the hard times and continue to play our cards. When the deck gets ruined, we do what it takes to get a new one. Being with a partner who is mature and aware can make a world of difference in those times. That partner realizes that someday they may need help pulling through, also.

I do hope that when I do reach a more consistent pattern of financial success, I’ll have found a woman who understands that character comes first. She would understand and appreciate that I struggled and persevered as a “man of potential” to get to wherever I am. Perhaps, during that time, she was there with me. If so, there’s a chance she even gave me one more reason to get back up again and to go the extra mile that it required.

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