I used to believe in fairy tales, I used to be in love with the idea of love itself. Shit, maybe I still do. They say a princess is going to have to kiss a few frogs to find her Prince Charming anyway, and maybe that’s what love is all about. Practicing or falling for the wrong kinds of people so when you find the one, you know why everybody else didn’t work out.

Finding your soul mate means you have to become an enchantress with foolproof fuckboy repellent when searching for the one. So, I guess I’m going to have to start working on practicing real alchemy, magic or practical magic (one of my favorite movies by the way) or just pray one day someone likes me for who I am. It just seems so hard to find a real relationship with a genuinely good guy these days. I know they’re out there, however, I think as women we’re beginning to do ourselves a disservice by giving too much of the benefit of the doubt and falling in love with potential.

I want to blame my failed relationships on the dreams sold by all those Disney movies I watched as a little girl who grew up fatherless. The little girl who romanticized the idea about a woman being saved by a man, loved by a man, and cared for by a man. In hoping to be saved, I’ve been blindly chasing toxicity naively believing that it was, in fact, love, when it actually wasn’t. So, I can’t blame those Disney movies for all my failed relationships; instead, I have to blame myself. I’m taking responsibility for all the times, I become inebriated with the idea of someone’s potential instead of the person I’m actually in a relationship with.

How many times have we’ve found ourselves thinking, “If I date you, my goal is to marry you, to grow with you, see the potential in you.” That’s the problem. It’s perfectly fine to see the potential in someone and motivate him or her to achieve their best selves. Unfortunately, we often ONLY see the potential and nothing else. We become the only ones striving or chasing it for our partners and not themselves. Ultimately this leads to resentment; friction and turbulence in relationships because the person we’re with can’t understand why we aren’t accepting of them, just as they are. We start to feel like we’re both weren’t in the same relationship because we’ve been blinded by their potential the entire time.

We’re constantly chasing lofty goals and ideals of the future, including our future selves and our future partner. Sorry to break it to you, but not everybody you date is marriage material. Not everybody is ready for marriage, ready for love, your love or even your right fit. I admit, it’s a hard learning curve to comprehend as a hopeless romantic who believes in soul mates but it’s time to face the reality of our romantic situationships.

When a love interest catches us off-guard, we’re open, we’re vulnerable and swept off our feet, just like every Disney princess we’ve immortalized as ideal romantic goals. Fairy tales of what could be, what should be, what would be, if we were ever lucky enough to find our prince after all.

However, potential can be misleading. Seeing the potential in someone who doesn’t see it for him or she is probably 80% of the reason relationships don’t work, at least I know that’s exactly why my last relationship didn’t work. Just imagine, finding someone and falling for him or her, but the whole time you’re with him or her they’re constantly pushing you to lose weight. Every day, they’re telling you to be a better you, by losing weight and eat healthier. Sure, everyone should strive for wellness but at the end of the day, you’re going to begin to question why this person you’re with can’t just accept you at the weight you’re at now. There becomes indirect pressure placed on your partners when you only can see their potential. Another example could be, dating your boyfriend who says he wants a new job, but after you spend weeks reworking his resume and helping him apply to jobs, he gives up and continues his self-loathing to not putting forth any actual effort to change his situation. When we date for the potential we realize it’s mostly us putting in all the work, instead of our partners.

You can’t help other people unless they’re ready and willing to help themselves. If a guy tells you he isn’t ready for a commitment at this time, don’t get your hopes up thinking you’re special and you’ll change his mind. It’s not to say you’re not special or you don’t have anything to offer, it's just sometimes people aren’t ready for all the glory we’re willing to give.

This is why we can’t date everyone picturing a marriage and a baby carriage. You can only date and decided to love someone for who they are, right in front of you. You can do this simply by accepting them as they are or don’t waste your time or theirs. This is why dating for potential and falling in love with someone’s potential is dangerous. You’re not in love with the person standing in front of you, you’re actually in love with the image you’ve created in your head, the idea of what this person can be after shaping and molding them to better suit your own selfish needs, and that isn’t fair.

We have to start dating men and women as they present themselves. We have to start dating in the present. Taking each relationship day by day instead of picturing our entire lives with this person we barely even know. By taking things slow, we can save ourselves a lot of heartache and disappointments.