· By Case Kenny
Are you dating in potential or reality?
It goes without saying that the whole point of dating in the beginning is potential. You have to see potential, explore potential and then confirm it's there.
But if we ONLY look for potential, then we totally disregard reality.
That's the reality of a relationship as it is TODAY.
When we do that, we ignore red flags, we slowly talk ourselves out of what we actually want and deserve, and we find ways to rationalize more time and more hope that something will change.
And then you open your eyes and you’ve given way too much time to someone or something that frankly was never good enough for you in the first place - all because you let your eagerness for potential outweigh the need to get real about reality.
We can’t rely on the idea of potential to escape reality.
How do we look at a relationship for what it is rather than what we want it to be? How do we differentiate between what it is and what we project it to be?
The point of dating, early on is to answer questions - do you complement each other, do you understand each other, are you both on the same page, do you offer each other what you're looking for?
The problem here is the second we think yes, we tend lose sight of reality and we jump to potential.
We stop looking for clarity.
But the way to snap back to reality is to come back to those questions and actually examine if we’ve answered them.
What separates potential from reality is ACTION.
Specifically what separates potential from reality is EFFORT - your effort and their effort and the ACTION that comes from it We find clarity when we focus on how they show up in the relationship vs. how you wish they would. We find clarity when we focus on how we show up in the reality vs. how we wish we would.
Referencing the things you're looking for in a partner… I’d encourage you to write them down.
"I want a partner who is kind, honest, motivated, and understanding."
Now let's change them to verbs.
What verbs do they do that support them being kind? What verbs do they do that support them being honest? Motivated, understanding? Turn those adjectives to verbs and audit. It's the only way to break through the divide between potential and reality.
It’s the only way to break the way you’ve projecting potential onto a reality that might not support it.
What are the verbs they DO? Do they listen to you? Do they show up for you? Are they motivated in their career? Do they share how they feel with you? Do they talk about the future? Do they own up when they’re wrong?
What VERBS align with the adjectives that you say you want in a partner?
I hope you’ll find a nice long list for each or moments where you can say they genuinely are trying to VERB. Great! To me that sounds like you’ve found a reality that supports your vision. Or at least a reality that is heading in the direction you want. Great!
The flip side, though, might be an indication that you’ve been locked in on only potential.
You should also do this exercise for yourself.
Make a list of adjectives for the things you know you’re capable of being in a relationship - the things you’d say are the things you’d truly and energetically do when you know someone is right for you. That’s you being supportive, present, honest, selfless, etc.
Now, what verbs are you doing that support that you’re that way and not just projecting a day when you’ll be that way?
I hope you’ll find all kinds of verbs to support what you’re trying.
But if you don’t find that coming easily, perhaps that’s a sign you’re not there as much as you’re projecting yourself to be or that you’ve been projecting a future “in love” version of yourself?
That can be quite eye opening, don’t you think?
We could very well be holding ourselves back. We can play a large role in buying into potential... our potential.
Our potential to finally give everything we have. Our potential to be all in eagerly and without constraints.
Find the verbs. Or find the lack of verbs and I think you’ll find the clarity you need to be looking for.
You deserve a relationship that makes you and your partner feel the way you both want because of effort. That's effort that makes you feel loved, supported, understood. That's effort that proves that YOU'RE in, that you’re willing to try and willing to fail.