Dating Don’t: ‘He’s Got So Much Potential. And I Can Help Him.’


I was listening to Oprah on Sirius satellite radio on the way into work this morning. On her show, a woman was justifying why she wanted to stay with her cheating husband (paraphrasing here…), “But he’s got so much potential. I know I can help him get over his fears of responsibility and commitment and he will then be a great guy.”  

First thought I had, “Is she serious!?!”

Second thought: “How many times have I heard this before from friends and people in my own life?”

Third thought: “I need to blog about this today.”

Why do we think we have the power to change someone for the better? Why do we not get that we have to accept people for who they are  — and  that they are very unlikely to change core character traits? Why can’t we live in the reality of “what is”?

I don’t have the answers. I like to ask the questions and get the conversation started.

What I do think is that we (especially us women!) need to stop fooling ourselves into thinking that we are so powerful we can alter another person’s character. If your guy is not ambitious, he just isn’t. The real question is can you accept that about him and love him and be happy with that? If the answer is no, then you have to move on, and you learn (hopefully!) that ambition is on your list of must-haves for a future partner.

If you are with a guy who isn’t ready to be a responsible husband and father — you are certainly not going to change that, no matter how spectacular you may be. If that is what you are ready for in your own life, find a man who has arrived in that space. It will be a lot less painful in the long run.

What has your experience been like in the “hanging onto guys with potential” arena? Would love to hear how it worked out…

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