- possible, as opposed to actual:
the potential uses of nuclear energy.
- capable of being or becoming:
a potential danger to safety.
I think I probably thought it on the very first date and I know damn well I thought it many many times in the 10 years I was with James. “He has so much potential if only ………..” or if my ego was speaking; “He has so much potential all he needs is a good woman (me) to encourage him, steer him on the right course, believe in him”.
Potential is fine when someone is 16, THEN they have potential, but when they are adults and still have nothing and it is always someone else’s fault; then it becomes P.O.T.E.N.T.I.A.L which spells L.O.S.E.R. with big red flags waving on either side.
One of the drawbacks of being a successful, independent woman is the fact that we don’t need a man to support us, we tend to think we can help a person out because we know we are capable. Our ego takes over and we think we are more capable than other people to overcome obstacles, recoup losses, and we want to help other people to be successful and reach their full potential.
If you find yourself wanting to “help him be all that he can be” join a mentoring program at your local high school, but puleeze! do not base a relationship on a man’s potential.
Money isn’t everything, I know that, I have always been one of the least materialistic people I know. I never judged a guy by what kind of car he drove, his address, or what kind of job he had. I judged a man by if he was a hard worker, honest, did he treat me well, was he respectful, law abiding, well liked, intelligent, have a sense of humor and when I met James, he had all that plus good looks and he oozed charm and sex appeal. To top it all off…………. he “needed a good woman” and he thought I was perfect, I was everything he had never gotten from a woman. I was nothing like all his exs, I was calm and rational, I made sense, I appreciated him, I believed in him like no other woman ever had.
It is hard to admit now because I know the truth and it gives your ego a real kick in the teeth when you discover that you are not all that and a bag of chips. It doesn’t matter how confident you were going in, how beautiful you were or that any man would have been thrilled to have a chance with you; you swallowed the poison, you believed him when he told you that you were the woman he had been waiting for his whole life, and he was lying.
If you really believed you weren’t an exceptional woman and worthy of his love and attention, it would be easier to accept he was lying, but you knew he was right. You are a wonderful homemaker, loving partner, independent yet nurturing, you are a desirable woman, you are kind, giving, loving and damned attractive and that is why you believed him.
When his true colors first start to show, you are afraid there is something wrong with him, he is stressed, sick, (in my case I thought James might have a brain tumor), it can’t be you because you haven’t done anything wrong. Then as time goes on you know that you can fix it, he has just misunderstood, you will explain it in a way he understands and things will go back to the way they were, because you are always capable of fixing anything. men have always thought you were great but HE loved you like no one ever had, even when you weren’t at your best.
Women these days are burdened with a lot of pressure from society, as much as “women’s lib” has benefitted women, I think it has been a curse in many ways. Whereas they used to be expected to maintain the home and have supper on the table when the man, the breadwinner; came home from work NOW she is expected to work full-time AND have dinner on the table when her “better half” walks through the door. Is it any wonder she feels she is falling short somehow in the relationship?
Personally, I met James when I was in my 40’s, with several relationships under my belt, I was used to having to ask for what I wanted (no one is a mind reader) and being the one to organize the house and assign duties as far as maintaining the house. I was proud of my ability to discuss issues calmly and state my needs without blaming or pointing fingers. I went into the relationship with James eager to put all my “lessons learned” into practice and have a true partnership with the man I loved. I think many young women expect a man to “just know” what she wants and needs, 3 marriages had taught me to express my needs and relationships are built on compromise and open communication. I told James I felt it was unfair for the woman to continue to work after putting in an 8-9 hour day and that the duties in the home should be shared equally. He, of course agreed, he gave lip service without the actions to back it up but I ignored it for the most part because I didn’t want to give up my dream relationship. He might as well have been reading me a fairytale from a book about a princess who meets her prince charming. It’s a great story, but you know it isn’t true. Just like the narcissist is a great character but he isn’t real. It is easy to decipher fantasy from reality when you are reading a book, much harder when the person is in flesh and blood right in front of you.
I remember early in the relationship, long before infidelity or abuse became evident; going to James in tears and telling him that I just could not continue to do it all. I was commuting to work an hour each way, up at 5, on the road by 6, and not home until after 6 most nights because I would stop for groceries. I would walk through the door at 7-8 and start supper (after cleaning up the mess he had made in the kitchen while I was at work), I was exhausted. He got this empathetic look on his face, pulled me close said, “Don’t be so hard on yourself, I love you just the way you are. Promise me you’ll never change.”
I didn’t change, I never pretended to be something I wasn’t, I did set boundaries, I did voice my unhappiness over things he did or didn’t do, and I always saw his potential.
He didn’t change either, just his story changed; he stopped reading me the fairytale but really, his actions never changed; he never had any intention of living up to his potential, he never has and he never will. His potential is what you see is what you get; like he said, he is successful now. (because he found a wealthy widow to feed off of) THAT is James’s potential.