I’m in love with your potential

I’m a bit of an optimist, I have high hopes. Playing slot machines are slightly dangerous for me because I hold out for a jackpot for quite a long time (and those things are rigged #dontrecommend). This optimism held through the time when I dated as well, when I see someone, I see the most positive things about them and hope that overrides the negative.

This entire thought came to me as I was wondering what made me want to date people when I was 17, when I was a far cry from actually marrying someone. I did date with somewhat intention of marrying but I don’t think I knew what marrying someone actually meant.

So when I was 17 – without much concept of married life other than it being a lifelong partnership, having children eventually and joint resources – I dated optimistically, I loved a person’s potential. The person I projected they might become.

If he was a prefect/counsellor in school he might know how to lead me.

If he had a lot of initiative he might be a hard worker and would provide for the family.

If he was gentle he probably would be able to treat me with respect and care.

Then again, if you’re 17 (or even till early 20s) then you would date mostly on potential because that’s all there is to go with when looking for someone to have a future with. But as this lovely song suggests, it don’t work.

If you just grew up a little more then
You know that you’d be perfect, you’d be perfect
If you just tried harder like I know you could then
You know that it’d be worth it, it’d be worth it

I could tell myself that you’ll get there, you’ll get there
But the more that you don’t, the less blind I am
I could tell myself that you’ll get there, hang in there
But honestly now, I’m beginning to understand

That I’m not in love with you
I’m not in love with you
I’m in love with your potential
I’m in love with your potential

I get fed up and then you show up
You act like I’m so perfect, I’m so perfect
A shot of stronger keeps me longer
And I hope that, I hope it’s worth it, I hope it’s worth it

And it’s alright, but it’s not right for me
No
Maybe one day, but it’s too late
And I can’t wait, but I can’t wait to see
No
I’m not in love with you

In a very Singaporean way, if I saw potential, I didn’t wait to see how it played out in a person’s life, I wanted to ‘chope’ first. And as you guessed it, as time passed and things didn’t pan out the way I imagined it to be, the relationship didn’t quite work out because even if the person might be somewhat suitable, it just wasn’t ripe. Neither of us able to work towards marriage because even I wasn’t sure of who I was/ wanted to be. As I discovered more about who I am and what I wanted to do in my life, things evolved and the hope faded away.

Being in love more with a person’s potential also means you possibly set a very unrealistic expectation of someone. I wanted to be attached to the concept of the ideal man in my head and not have to deal with the brokenness. I would feel like I had to drag him up to be the man I saw him to be instead of walk with him through the hurdles he faced. I couldn’t see my own lack and would blame him for not helping me get there. Arguments and disappointments are commonplace in relationships but these perspectives were a bit too toxic for me then.

Even now, being married, I would still think I dated based on potential because in discerning I would still have to project what kind of husband he would be, how he would father his children and how he will live out his faith. I have to look past his brokenness and hold him to the man God created him to be. The difference now is that I think I am a little more realistic, a little more forgiving and the standard I hold him to is not just mine but God’s. I try to love him as him, not what he could possibly become because you’ll never know how circumstances could change.

So moral of the story is – wait for it – for the right time. God’s timing is worth it.

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