Warning…SPOILER ALERT! If you have not watched Season 4 Episode 3, do NOT read this. Go watch, then read.
Okay okay, I’m being a little harsh in the title. If I’m being honest, we’re all potentially something. We all have things within us that haven’t been fully manifested so let me put this into context. This week’s episode of Insecure was fire. I was thoroughly entertained from beginning until the end, plus this episode was special to me. It was special because Issa Rae finally confessed something that I’ve been waiting for since last season. She finally admitted that she felt like the next woman was getting a version of Lawrence that she helped to prepare. Issa was with Lawrence when he was basically a bum. He didn’t have a job and she carried them both financially. He didn’t take her on dates. He didn’t say sweet thoughtful things to her. He didn’t even get haircuts! She was there for that. I know she messed up because she cheated but that doesn’t negate feeling like she got the short end of the stick after carrying this man to his full potential finish line. But how many faithful women does this happen to everyday? How many women put up with a man’s crap and help him get to where he’s going just for him to leave her or cheat?! Yawl saw Waiting to Exhale. Bernadine was his lover and his secretary, and he still left her! So what’s the moral of the story?
Simple, stop dating potential.
Let me break it down even more. I wrote a post a while back called The Problem With Dating Potential that explains how people waste time dating folks they think will eventually be this ideal image they’ve created in their head. You see, the biggest issue with potential is we want people to meet our potential, not theirs. We create these ideas on how a person will be if they can just do this or that but who says that’s what that person even wants? Who says that’s how they even want to be? We can’t build imaginary people in our heads and expect them to fit the mold we created. The world is too subjective for that. My idea of “a thoughtful and kind man that spoils me” can look totally different to another woman. That’s why we have to see a person for who they are, examine if they meet our basic characteristic criteria, then see if they even want what we want romantically. (I explain this process in my post Date With High Standards, Not High Expectations.) Because let’s be honest, bad timing kills more relationships than bad character flaws. And no, I’m not talking about Lawrence and Issa here guys, just saying this is generally what happens when we meet people and fall for their “potential”.
Another issue with dating potential is knowing who is actually willing to do the hard work to reach it. It’s a lot of grown children walking this earth. Their drivers license says they’re old enough but their mentality says something totally different. Everyone has the potential to be a great romantic partner but few want to do the work. My motto is don’t date potential, date progress. Back to Issa and Lawrence. Lawrence definitely had potential but depression stunted his growth. Issa helped him through that by carrying the weight emotionally and financially until it finally clicked for Lawrence. She moved him from potential to progress. Progress was Lawrence in season 1 saying I’m gonna work at Best Buy until I can get to where I want to be. Progress was Lawrence saying let me cook dinner since I can’t afford to take Issa out. Progress was Lawrence working out to get back right because he realized he had fallen off physically. Progress was Lawrence taking Issa ring shopping even though he couldn’t afford the ring just yet but he was setting his intention. You see the difference? (Let’s set the record straight. You can’t just do one or two of these things and think you’re progressing. No, all of these things combined over time shows effort. Choosing to do one or two because you think it’ll make him or her think you’re trying is manipulation.) If you meet someone and they’re all talk but you don’t see clear and concrete progress, they’re just potential and you should really not even chance it. You risk trying to force them to be great and losing yourself in the process. Yes there are success stories like Gucci and Keyshia that yawl love to bring up but that’s an exception. If this is hitting home for you, you’re not Keyshia, you’re Ashanti. Ashanti dated Nelly secretly for years and wouldn’t claim her just for him to leave her and get engaged publicly to Ms.Jackson. All I’m saying is, don’t waste your time. If you don’t see that potential turn into progress in the first month, don’t even waste your energy. And I know most of you will say “How will I know that soon?” Tuh, we all see red flags we choose to ignore.
Lastly, when I say don’t date potential, I mean just that. Do not DATE potential. If you meet someone that’s cool, what’s wrong with just getting to know them on a friend level then seeing what’s up? If you’re just their friend, you won’t invest as much time and energy but you’ll still be in the picture. Now if you stay in the picture for over 6 months and you still don’t see any progress, I hope that turns you off enough to not even want them. But if you see that person starting to make moves, then start inserting yourself a little bit more and see where it goes. If they’re interested, something will come to fruition. If not, you still got a cool friend. Aht aht, don’t start that negative “but what if I wait and miss out on a good thing?” Well what if you don’t wait and he ends up being a bum for years while you carry the weight and he pushes you to cheat then you regret it then he finds out and leaves you after he gets a good new job then ends up dating the girl you’ve just gotten close to? Then what? All my Insecure fans know I’m talking about Issa and Lawrence. Everybody else just thinks I like run-on sentences but who cares. The point is, what’s meant for you is for you. If they’re not crazy about you, you don’t need them anyway. You need their thirst to match your thirst because if not, the other person will just get dehydrated and the relationship won’t survive. I hope you caught that analogy. If not, oh well I liked it. But I hope this freed somebody today.