I Thought I Loved Him But I Really Just Loved His Potential

I thought I loved him but I constantly had to justify why I was dating him, why I was waiting on him to be anything other than who he was then and there. Turns out, I didn’t love my ex; I only loved the potential I saw in him. It’s only in hindsight that I recognize the difference. Here are the warning signs I missed and you should watch out for:

  1. You’d rather daydream about him than spend time with him. This sounds terrible and stupid. If you love your guy, you should want to spend quality time with him. Making a deep connection with him should be the ultimate goal. It took me over three years to realize that I was happiest in our relationship when he was away because as long as he was gone, he couldn’t make rude comments about my weight or the way I fixed my hair. As beautiful as he was, I was perfectly content when I didn’t have to look at him.
  2. Your mind always wanders to the future. He’s going to be so patient… when we have kids. He’ll understand how to budget… when we buy a house. While my ex has an adorable niece and while he has tons of family money, he never bothered to work on his patience or his budgeting skills. Marrying me and starting a family with me was never going to change him. He’s responsible for his own character-building.
  3. You feel stupid trying to defend him. One minute, you’re lying to your friends about why he bailed on your double date; the next, you’re thinking of ways to explain to your mother that he’s not coming over for family dinner. You feel like a pretty little fool for covering for him, too. My ex is sarcastically hilarious and would totally steal the show at a dinner date with friends; he loves football just as much as my dad so they could really hit it off over some homemade pasta. But he never cared about me enough to invest in the lives of the people I love.
  4. You’re never able to find a healthy balance of expectations. My ex was a too-ripped policeman who enjoyed the flashy badge more than protecting the public. I felt like Lois Lane dating a Superman who was too vain to put away the bright, “look at me” leotard. Should you watch for him to fly off and save the day? Should you look down the road and expect to see him flexing his biceps in the nearest store window? There’s never an answer to any of these questions because he has never committed himself to you or anything else in life.
  5. Your inner-conscious constantly tells you to walk away. This is the subtle voice of common sense. Listen to it. That Hallmark side of you will show you how happy he could make you but the realistic side of you will remind you how unhappy he makes you in the here and now. Don’t argue with the quiet voice that keeps reminding you just how unsatisfied you are with him. Too many times I would force myself to smile and laugh, thinking that things would get better once he tapped into his potential. Don’t wait; just walk away.
  6. You find yourself comparing him to other guys. Not that you’ll want to sneak around behind his back and cheat on him, but you’ll see pieces of who he could be in other men and that’ll only make things worse. I would watch the way my friend’s boyfriend sacrificed his personal time to sit up with her while she was sick, and I would stop and think of how nice it would be if my boyfriend did that. I envied the way my dad would look at my mom. You’ll keep waiting for a longing look like that one, but he’ll never take the time to glance your way.
  7. Your mood swings can’t be blamed on PMS anymore. He cancels dinner here or forgets about your movie date there, and you reach a point where you’re sick and tired of making excuses for him. Time has dragged on and each time you hang out, or fail to hang out, you get more and more frustrated. Your emotions are out of control and your mood swings are worse than PMS. I kept waiting to bring out the best in him, but he slowly began bringing out the worst in me.
  8. Your relationship with him drains you. Not only was I ill and moody all the time but I was constantly tired too. Let down after let down wore on me emotionally and physically. If you are the only one carrying the weight of the relationship, you’re going to feel drained. When you’re the one banking on someone else changing, you become exhausted.
  9. You begin compromising your potential for his. I had incredible job opportunities that I turned down, friendships that I let fall through the cracks—all so I could wait and see if he would make big lifetime decisions for the two of us. He had big dreams but he never went after them and he definitely never included me in them. I passed up so many chances to pursue my passions just in case he finally woke up and decided to make his life count. What a serious waste of time.
Peyton Garland is a boy mama and Tennessee farmer who loves sharing her heart on OCD, postpartum life, and hope in the messy places.