At least once in your life, you will, without a doubt, encounter that guy — the guy I like to refer to as the “if only” guy. Sometimes he’s the “if only” guy because of timing. He would be your boyfriend if only you were looking for a relationship, or if only he was. Sometimes it’s about logistics–if only you lived in the same city or went to the same school. But more often than not, the issue with the “if only” guy is more about him than it is about you.
I met my “if only” a few years ago. When we were together, he was everything I wanted in a boyfriend: attentive, sweet, sensitive, intelligent, funny, considerate, kind to my friends. We had a great time together, whether we were going on fantastic outings, having great conversation, or indulging in some pretty good sex. But the rest of the time, he was anything but the perfect potential boyfriend. In fact, he was sort of a douchebag. He got blackout drunk way more often than was acceptable (or healthy, really). He slept with random girls and I didn’t feel like I could say anything because we weren’t technically in a relationship. Sometimes, he’d even pick girls up in front of me (and yes, it was as horrible as it sounds). Had he been any other guy, I probably would have run away screaming, but because of the amazing person I saw glimpses of when he let me, I didn’t. Because I saw this potential in him–the potential to be someone I could seriously consider spending the rest of my life with–I hoped and I waited for him to become the great guy I was convinced he could be. The worst part about this “if only” guy was this: I would have been his girlfriend if only he would have made that leap with me. He could have been an amazing boyfriend, if only. Instead, we kept our relationship casual as I waited for the change that I eventually realized would never come.
While I kept sitting around waiting for him to grow up and be the guy I knew he had the potential to be, he continued to take advantage of my hopefulness. He left me waiting in the wings, while I rationalized his behavior: he just needed to get all of the ridiculousness out of his system. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, or maybe it was. Maybe he liked knowing that I would be there, no matter how much he screwed up with me. I don’t know. Either way, after a year and a half, the moment came. The moment when a good friend told me that the night before, the same night he and I had a serious heart-to-heart, he went straight from hanging out with me to see another girl who he was apparently sleeping with. It was in that moment I stopped hoping he was going to change. He wasn’t. Not for me.
Here’s the thing, ladies. It doesn’t matter that you see potential in him. It doesn’t matter how wonderful he could be if he tried. It doesn’t matter if you think he could be the best boyfriend in the world “if only.” If only he grew up a little. If only he stopped drinking so much. If only he stopped being a man-whore. What I’ve learned is that sitting around waiting and hoping for “if only” is a waste of your time.
No one understands how difficult it is to let go of someone who you feel has the potential to be an amazing partner better than I do. There are still moments of weakness when he reaches out, and I still wonder “if only.” I wonder what was wrong with me and why he didn’t want to be that person, why he didn’t care enough about me to want to be that better guy.
The harsh truth of it is this: if he wanted to be that person–and more specifically, if he wanted to be that person for you–he would be. Nothing you do can change that. In fact, it has nothing to do with you at all and everything to do with him and who he is today, right now, in this moment. That doesn’t mean he’s an asshole, even if it’s easier to tell yourself he is. He’s just not ready and he’s just not the right guy for you, and you need to accept that. In my case, I realized that the only person who was getting hurt by keeping him in my life, waiting for him to change, to grow up, to realize that potential I saw, was me. Don’t waste your time waiting for a guy to be someone he’s clearly not ready to be–start looking for someone who already is that guy. You deserve it. And so do I..