Did you fall for his potential? Were you looking for yours?

Every girl has done it. We see what we want to see in others. We see their best. We put on our rose-colored glasses. Then we fall in love with their best, future self.  

  • We fall in love with the amount of love we know they could give one day.
  • We fall for the romance and amazing dates we know he could plan one day.
  • We fall for the career, house, car, success he could have one day.
  • We fall for the tender side they show us when they tell us all their current or past struggles.
  • We fall for the way they make us feel. We think because we are feeling a certain way, that must mean they have earned it, will act upon it, or that we will be together one day.
  • We fall for their dreams, their potential, and their promises.

Why do we do it?

Somewhere along the line we’ve been taught that believing in the best in others is virtuous.

We think finding a diamond in the rough is somehow better than finding a polished certified, diamond at the jewelry store. Apparently it speaks volume about our character and the sacrifices we are willing to make to help someone achieve their potential. (As a side note, this is wonderful attitude to have towards children. Please get out there and volunteer with children who need someone to see the best in them. You can make a real difference in their lives.)

But as we know, or you are finding out, falling for a man’s potential is a one way ticket to frustration and heart ache.

Often these men will stick around long enough for you to heal, help, and baby them. Then as soon as they decide to grow up and change, they will leave or dump you, likely for someone who likes them just as they are.

You are left frustrated, no further along in your life, or your own personal development.

Signs you have fallen for his potential:

  • You have to make excuses to your friends as to why he does or doesn’t do certain things.
  • You hide the fact that he does or doesn’t do certain things from your friends.
  • You find yourself researching jobs, therapist, colleges, weight-loss programs, etc for him.
  • You sign him up for activities, classes, interviews, or “play dates” he never asked you to.
  • The “relationship” is based on hope that he will change something major about himself.
  • You are his constant cheerleader, camp counselor, resting post, or shoulder to cry on. 
  • You find yourself waiting for him to change so you can move forward with life decisions. (he needs to make more money, get a car then you’ll move in together, etc)
  • He is a recovering addict of any kind. He needs to heal on his own.
  • You feel like his therapist. You aren’t. You are hurting him more by keeping him getting real help.
  • You talk mostly about his problems. You analyze them with your mom and friends.
  • You are waiting for him to decide if he is ready for the next level in the relationship.
  • You are hoping he will change his mind and want commitment.
  • He had a worse childhood or traumatic dating history than you.
  • He rarely helps you with your problems. When he does he puts in a fraction of the effort that you put into his.
  • He isn’t committing, taking you on dates, or only wants a friends with benefits arrangement and you are okay with waiting for him.
  • You think he just needs a little more reassurance from you to go to the next level.
  • You describe him as a fixer upper, a diamond in the rough, or just needs a little convincing.
  • You are waiting for him to go back to how he used to be at the beginning of the relationship.  
  • You want him to be anything but what he is right this very moment.

Why can’t they change?

Maybe he agrees with you that he could get a better job or set better boundaries with his mother. But why doesn’t he follow your advice or do something about it? Maybe he isn’t ready for change or maybe he feels resentful you are telling him where and how to do it so he’d rather do nothing at all. We all have things we want to change about ourselves but the timing has to be right. When we are ready to lose weight, we will seek out the best way to do it for ourselves. It’s impossible to make lasting changes when you aren’t ready.

Masculine men don’t want to be mothered, coached, or mentored by their lover. They want to tell the story how they pulled themselves out from a hard place. They want to earn your love by showing you how they can provide for you and protect you. They want your respect and trust.

Wanting a man to change or “be better” is not respecting them.

Men, like all humans, want to be loved and accepted for who they are. What if your friends constantly said “yeah that outfit is okay, but those kinds of dresses make you look fat.” You feel rejected for your choice. How long are you likely to hang out with friends who want you to change?

Men are not projects.

If you find yourself with a history of fixer uppers or man babies, you have a pattern.

Why do you fall for their potential?

  • There is a fear that there aren’t enough available, stable men.
  • You don’t have a list. Make your list of what your ideal guy would be like. Follow it. I doubt it includes unemployed, unhealthy, or non-committal. 
  • You are somehow not living up to your own potential. You are playing small. You aren’t in a career you love. You are downplaying your talents. You aren’t taking risks in certain areas of your life. You let others ignore you, use you, or taken advantage of you.  

  • You attract someone with the same level of self-esteem as yours.
  • You hide behind their problems so you don’t have to address yours.
  • You find someone with worse problems than yours, so your problems seem not so bad.
  • You had to earn the love of a parent, or you had to emotionally take care of a parent. Someone who needs your help will feel good to you.
  • You are giving him the things you really want. Encouragement, someone to notice you, really listen to you, support you, or care about you. You might want someone to see the best in you.  
  • You love helping, seeing others change, or are naturally nurturing.

How to change so you stop falling for Mr. Potentials.

  • Live the life you have always wanted. Don’t play small or burry your talents. Be brave, bold, and take risks.
  • Live up to your potential in all areas of your life. – Career, friends, hobbies, money, etc.
  • Get friends and hobbies you actually like.
  • Find an appropriate outlet for helping and nurturing. Gardening, volunteering, babysitting, tutoring etc.
  • Work on yourself as hard as you work on your Mr. Potential – therapy, workshops, self-help books, travel, meditation, etc
  • Address your lingering past issues.
  • Address even the “little stuff/kinks”- weight issues, shyness, fear of being judged, comparing yourself to others, and fearing rejection.

If you do all these things, you will start to notice that Mr. Potentials aren’t attracted to women who don’t have time or energy to take care of them. Be so busy putting energy into yourself, you don’t have left to fill someone else’s voids. You will also start drawing in men that are also bold, brave, and well-rounded.


Dr. Karin Anderson http://www.match.com/cp.aspx?cpp=/cppp/magazine/article0.html&articleid=12953

Nathaniel Brendan 

Do you attract fixer uppers? Is it hard not to take in the stray cats? 

Have an embarrassing story of taking care of a guy?