How To Stop Falling For A Guy’s “Potential” And Get Real About Who He Is Now

Relationship hindsight is almost always 20/20, isn’t it? The guy you thought was on track to be “The One” dropped hints here and there about his true character, but your grip on hope left your hands too full to pick them up. It’s time to stop breaking your own heart and learn how to see people for who they are before your emotions get ahead of you. Here are 9 tips on how to protect yourself from dating disillusionment.

  1. Tune out what he says. Talk is nice and all, but will he fulfill his promises? Is he being fully transparent? Is he just a smooth-talker? Is he totally delusional and whole-heartedly believes everything he’s saying? At the end of the day, you have no idea. Take words for what they are- strings of letters and sound utterances put together- and leave them there. A man of action with few words is better than a man of many empty words with no follow-through.
  2. Record everything that makes you pause. If you’re screenshotting his texts and asking your friends for their take on “what he meant” or having side-convos with your besties about potential inconsistencies in the vibe, you may need to do a serious gut check. Write down every single instance that leaves you confused, doesn’t seem to add up, or was even mildly weird because more than likely your intuition was picking up on something your heart didn’t want to dwell on at the moment. Don’t let your enthusiasm for “what could be” or “what you want to happen” cloud judgment of questionable behavior. You don’t want overlooked red flags to turn into reasons for your future heartbreak you “should’ve seen coming.”
  3. Two strikes you’re out. We’ve always heard 3, but why should you keep giving someone chances to do you dirty? There’s a meme floating around that says to stop being so forgiving because people know exactly what they’re doing, and this is almost always 100% true. The more times you let things go, the more advantage they will take of you. The sad truth is sometimes guys do crappy things on purpose to test if you will allow it. We all make mistakes or things come up that are out of our control, but if it happens more than once I’d take it as intentional and let him go.
  4. Confront everything right away. If you’re unsure, confused, or slightly put off by something, no matter how small, just speak up. Stop dismissing something that could easily be discussed because you don’t want to “come off as crazy” or “be annoying.” The easiest way to poke a hole in any relationship (family, friend, dating) and cause it to sink fast is a lack of proper communication. Make sure you understand him and that you’re understood as well. If seeking clarity is a turn-off to him, then he’s not the right guy for you.
  5. Stop making excuses for him. I’m not saying to be entirely cold-hearted and throw empathy out the window, but there’s a difference between consoling him after a bad day and “understanding” his inconsistencies might come from growing up with an absent parent (for example). We’re adults. He’s responsible for filling in that information for you. If he can’t tell you why he’s lacking or treating you improperly in some way, you don’t need to invent that reason or suppose it on his behalf. And just because you know why he might be a certain way doesn’t mean you should allow it. Complacency is also a red flag.
  6. Stick to your boundaries. Set firm standards for your dealbreakers before starting a new dating relationship with someone. And don’t backpedal because “you really like this guy,” “I can live without that because he offers this instead,” or “but at least he [fill in the blank].” It’s OK to be absolute about your wants and needs.
  7. Speak up. People don’t think the same way you do, and he may be failing you because he just doesn’t know something. If you don’t like what he’s doing (or not doing) then let him know. Give him a chance to correct it and if he doesn’t you will see where he really stands.
  8. Don’t applaud the bare minimum. Some of us are so used to being treated like trash that the first person who just covers the basics seems like a dream. Don’t hype up basic respect and baseline effort as extra. There are people out there who happily do more than expected for someone they like and want to be with.
  9. Never do it alone. Your partner should bring your closer to friends and family, not pull you away. Keep someone in the loop of your relationship so they can offer a clear perspective without the rose-colored glasses you may have on because you’re emotionally invested.
I’m Cara, not to be confused with Carrie, although you could say I’m a Millennial Bradshaw of sorts. Pop culture connoisseur. Lover of all things creative and passionate about health and personal well-being. Follow me on IG @cara_vale_writer