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Potential can be one of the most dangerous things to depend on in a relationship. Time and again it seems women have gone out on a limb for men they liked who might not have had it all together, simply because she saw the potential for him to eventually have it all together. Life is unpredictable and can be filled with more curves than Amber Rose in a pair of black leggings. While this isn’t the appropriate time to discuss the economic challenges of black folks in general and black men in particular, it’s not unreasonable for a woman to want a man who’s able to handle his financial, as well as his emotional, health. Self-sufficiency is sexy, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting a man who can add to what a woman already brings to the table. With that said, dating a man full of potential isn’t necessarily a bad idea,  but it would behoove women to do a better job of determining what a man’s potential is and if she’s willing to stick with him if he doesn’t fully live up to it.

First, the negatives. Dating a man with potential can be problematic if a woman isn’t able to see past it. Potential can blind a woman to some of the red flags that warn this might not be good partner in the long run. Many men, and people in general, are “on their way.” It can take years for a man to build the proper foundation necessary and many women are fine with working with a man who is working on himself (more on this later). The problem comes then, when women see the potential in men they may not see in themselves. While a man might be smart, charming, and have a plan or two about what he wants to do with his life, he still has to walk through those steps. Women should understand that simply having a plan isn’t enough. Goals without plans are simply dreams and if a man has the potential to do everything he says he wants to do but takes no (or very little) actual steps to achieve those goals, it’s very unlikely he’ll ever get to the finish line. Women often get trapped in these types of situations because it’s also very likely she’s been trying to help him realize his goals and has not only taken an active interest in supporting, but also investing. It’s like working on a slot machine for three hours and never winning much, only for the next person to come in and pull the lever to end up a millionaire. Women get trapped pulling on that same lever because they don’t want someone else to benefit from all the hard work they’ve already put in.

Now for the positive. I mentioned earlier that women like working with men who are working on themselves. The thing is, if a man has the potential to do great things and is actively working to achieve those great things, that suggests a much more stable situation. As a woman, if you can see a man with potential doing the necessary work to make himself into whomever it is he wants to be, there’s a higher chance he’ll be able to fully realize his goals. Potential by itself means nothing as, at some point, one still has to be able to prove they can do whatever they have the potential to do. Seeing a person realize their goals and aspirations is a beautiful thing and I’m sure many women would love to have a hand in a man’s success as women are naturally helpful and take great pride in having great men. Dating a man with  potential who is actually doing something to actualize his potential is what makes this kind of man worthwhile.

I could probably write all day about the pros and cons of potential but here’s the best way to sum it up: Potential means nothing. Potential shouldn’t be judged in a vacuum and it shouldn’t be the only reason to date a man. If a man isn’t doing anything to live up to his potential, it’s an absolutely worthless trait to own. It’s a much smarter decision to date a man who not only has potential, but is actually doing something to realize it.


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