Potential Isn’t Everything: When The Feelings Are There, But The Actions Aren’t

“Aaw, if only I could afford to feed you…”

“If you truly want something, you’ll go for it.” Well, have you ever fallen in love with a pair of shoes or a piece of clothing, but didn’t buy it?

Ever gush and go gaga over those cute little puppies or kittens that are up for adoption, but didn’t take any home? Or how about that new vehicle, piece of technology, jewelry, anything that really sent your senses into overdrive but for one unfortunate reason or another, you just had to pass up?

Well, sometimes relationships work the exact same way.

We make sacrifices almost every day for so many very good reasons: We can’t afford it, we don’t have the space, we don’t have the time, we don’t have all the information we need to believe that what we’re getting is truly what’s advertised so we’re afraid to take a risk, and so forth. But, just because we choose not to take responsibility or ownership in no way means that we don’t want it, like it, or even love it!

Sometimes, a sacrifice is genuinely selfless: “I want to be a foster parent so badly, but I’m not home enough,” or, “Wow, I’d really love a dog, but there’s just simply not enough room for him/her to run around and play.”  This kind of reasoning indicates that we’re acting for the highest good and actually demonstrates a tremendous character, not weakness.

The same principle also applies to matters of the heart: “I really care about her, but I just got out of a really abusive situation and I’m not completely over my ex.”

 “I met this guy and he’s really sweet. But, the last time I opened up to someone, he just dumped me for no reason and I’m afraid it’ll happen again.”

“She’s pretty and a really neat woman, but I’m too into doing my own thing to worry about someone else.”

 “God, he’s so handsome and wonderful, but he wants to be intimate and I’m terrified for anyone to see me without my clothes on!”

“I’d love to be in a relationship with him/her, but I’m on medication for a mental illness and I don’t want to subject them to my problems.”

When a client asks me, “How does he/she feel about me?” they’re usually under the impression that if the feelings are there, the potential for a relationship is also there, which is not unreasonable. Most of us, when we want something, we’ll try to find a way to connect with it – put it on layaway, try to make the space, or make that phone call. But, almost always I have to lovingly remind them that just because the feelings are there, doesn’t necessarily mean that the availability is, too.

“Hey, alright! You love me – Come to daddy!”

Some people, no matter how much they may want one, just simply can not afford a relationship, either emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, or even monetarily. (“I’m too broke to take her out.”)

This is incredibly difficult when there’s a genuine, mutual attraction. Unlike a car or a pair of shoes, there are feelings, energy, and hormones involved. When nature brings two parties together properly, but that connection is not made complete on all levels, it brings confusion, uneasiness, and worst of all, self-doubt. It’s like the water on the earth evaporates and creates condensation, but doesn’t rain — creating darkness and uncomfortable pressure in the air.

“What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t he/she want me?” 

A lot of people would say that the excuse, “It’s not you, it’s me” is a bunch of crap, but frankly, that’s not always the case. There are times when we can meet someone so wonderful, so radiant, so everything but we just don’t have the inner strength, trust, confidence, health, or environment to sustain a healthy partnership. Sometimes, we may want the person, but not want to share our space. Sometimes, we’ve experienced such a horrible loss in one way or another, we don’t have the energy to grieve and give the proper attention to another person, especially when we need so much attention, ourselves.

Feelings and actions don’t always coincide.

If you’re truly attracted to someone special but not sure if you can make a relationship work, the best thing you can do is talk about it. Nine times out of ten, if someone truly cares, they will be willing to compromise and exercise patience so they can be with you. Don’t run away, cut off communication, or be unkind. Show them respect and compassion they deserve with your truth.

However, if you’re on the other end, and someone you care about tells you how wonderful you are, but they’re just not ready – take their word for it! Don’t read into it. Don’t take this as a “maybe someday.” Regardless of how they feel about you, if they are unwilling to compromise and are very sure of what they want, then “I’m not ready” means “No.” And no matter how much it hurts or how disappointing, the best thing you can do for yourself is to just take their lead, wish them love and peace and not invest any more time, energy, or hope in starting a relationship with them. They have made their choice and waiting for them to change their mind will only accomplish putting your own needs on hold for no reason.

Letting go is merciful.

But, most importantly: Be sad, grieve, feel the frustration, heartache, whatever emotions you feel but no matter what, do not allow rejection to affect your self-worth! Do not believe for one minute that you’re a failure, doomed to be alone for the rest of your life, and not good enough – never!! Because guess what? Believe it or not, rejection always means we’re meant for something better! Everyone falls in love once and then again. This is Nature. This is fact.

And more often than not, it’s really not you.


About T. Ray

Writer, visual artist, student, musician, and "armchair nutritionist." She currently resides in Vegas with her jenday conure and two beloved rescue cockatoos. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Society of Leadership and Success (Sigma Alpha Pi). While pursuing her degree in Journalism/Media Studies at UNLV, she continues to contend that all things come down to food and Star Wars. Contact: verteram@unlv.nevada.edu
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12 Responses to Potential Isn’t Everything: When The Feelings Are There, But The Actions Aren’t

  1. Hope says:

    I like this post A LOT….Definitely something to read more than once…. Thank you for sharing!!


  2. That’s really good advice!


  3. riviera says:

    when the two people have admitted to have feelings for each other but deep inside they both know none want to commit (and both respect each other’s positions), what then?


    • Ms. Ray says:

      If they’ve both admitted to not wanting a committed arrangement, then it’s a non-issue! Both parties are of the same mindset with the same needs, therefore same expectations. No harm, no foul, no problem.

      The problem is when one wants a romance and the other doesn’t, or simply can’t.


  4. Tricia says:

    So comforting! I think that, if some people are not ready, why dating at all, why going half way knowing that people are not robots and develop feelings, especially women. Even if there are reasons that explain their not willingness to commit (economical, lack of job or whatever, which might turn out to be excuses) they can still be upfront instead of getting your heart and hugs and them dumping you because it is too much for them just reciprocating them. .


    • Ms. Ray says:

      Thank you, Tricia!

      Yes, it is an interesting question, “Why date if you’re not ready?” You’d be surprised how many people are not ready and don’t realize it. And sometimes, it takes some dating experience to realize that they’re not ready. They want to be ready, they want love, they may even need love, but instead of working on themselves, they’re searching for a hero to save them from a malady that they’re not even aware, or are in complete denial, of. I discover this in my clients oh too frequently, Goddess bless them.

      It takes a different kind of courage to look in the mirror and say, “I need to be my own hero. I have issues that only I can resolve and they stem from…” Doing your “shadow work” is arduous and painful, but oh so worth it if you’re willing to make your life awesome.

      Many blessings!! )O(


      • Tricia says:

        Thanks for your reply Ray! How sweet of you replying to all the comments!

        I completely agree, As you say, people want love, meaning to be loved, not to give love or even love themselves. My ex was forgot to tell me upfront that I wasn’t his one, and that he know so even before dating me twice, but he mentioned that the was serious about me and looking for something serious not an entertainment, but then I was just something he used. . .

        I do love shadow work!!!! I am convinced that it has to be a guided process and also that some people, especially people with psychological problems should not even try it on their own. For example, my ex despises men who treat women badly (but the did not treat me well!), he believes in being brutally honest (but he got small lies and fantasy lies going on all the time, an I suspect lies at work about us) he hates racists (but he made comments that sound a bit racist to me), he hates manipulation (but he is a manipulator), he hates sexist comments (but made comments that I would consider sexist) he values action over words (but he said one thing and did the contrary). The first time we broke up I pointed to him the fact that he didn’t show me respect as a woman and partner: he was full of shame, he couldn’t not bare it, he told me so. Imagine if he saw his real self in a mirror.

        Many blessings to you, too! And thanks a million for your wisdom.


  5. Musigal says:

    Thank you for posting this. I just went though something like this with a woman I was really into. Her dating profile said nothing about casual sex/relationships, and it never came up in conversation. We had sex on the 3rd date, and the next day, I saw that instead of responding to a message I’d sent her (and knew she received), she was on ok cupid. I spoke with her about how crappy that felt. She apologized, but then said that sex doesn’t equal a relationship and then said she wasn’t ready, and did not want to, commit to anything or anyone serious now.

    It’s hard to process it all because the conversations we had were the kinds you have at the beginning of a relationship. We got along well and had a great time together. It didn’t seem casual to me, but if it’s not serious in her mind, then it is casual.

    I broke things off 2 days later. I feel bad about it (I saw potential) and still confused, but I feel like she left me with no choice.


    • Ms. Ray says:

      Good on you for following the reality and not the fantasy. Those boundaries are very difficult to set.

      You may have done her a favor, as well. Nothing is a better wake up call that something needs to change than when you lose.

      Sounds like she really lost out here. Onward!
      Many blessings! )O(


      • Musigal says:

        Thank you for your comments. It’s hard not to take people’s actions personally sometimes, but I know that what she did probably had nothing to do with me. I hadn’t considered the possibility of having done her a favor here. Thanks again!


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