Love Letters: Should You Date Someone For Their Potential?


Fellas, y’all better move easy in these streets, Cardi B is out here druggin’ n’ robbin’ brothers during booty calls.

See, that’s why I consider this column a public service. Holla at me so I can protect your heart and your wallets.

Here’s how.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on Twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname. 

Here’s today’s question:

When people say fall in love with a man’s potential what does that mean? Could you break it down for me?


Oh yes, I’ve heard the “potential” debate many times and while I think it’s a great thing on the surface, it can get you into some sticky situations.


First, “potential” can be defined as a brother who doesn’t quite have it all together (newsflash, none of us do) but is working very hard to reach that next level. That potential isn’t always defined by money, either – it could be a incredible work ethic, someone who is pursuing higher education, maybe looking to strengthen spiritual connections or be a better son, father or friend.

Essentially, it’s a brother who is visibly trying to better himself.

Now, as I alluded to earlier, some of the shadier among us see potential as a chance for a come-up, to literally cash in on some brother with a steadily increasing bank account.


Y’all might want to start blocking Cardi’s calls.

There’s nothing wrong with supporting a brother has he looks to better himself. We all should be works in progress and it’s unfair to expect your next dude to HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER before y’all link up.

Because I guarantee that YOU don’t.

But I want y’all to pay close attention to the second half of this sentence:

First, “potential” can be defined as a brother who doesn’t quite have it all together (newsflash, none of us do) but is working very hard to reach that next level.

Without hard work, “potential” is just empty promises. You can’t pay a light bill with potential, playa.

So don’t get stuck in a position where you see potential but none of the work to fulfill it.

Your next partner should have potential. And they should be given room to build upon that potential. But if that potential is being wasted, it’s not doing either of you any favors.

And we’ll wrap up with this question:

I have been off and on boo’d up with a young man I went to high school with. He’s had me dangling for years. My gf said that I’m his ‘spare.’ I need to know from a male’s point of view what a ‘spare’ means.


In the trunk of my car, under the little carpet thingy, I have a spare tire. Most days I’m driving around town I forget it’s even back there. MAYBE once every 9 months or so I’ll check on it to make sure it hasn’t deflated, but otherwise it sits all alone, lonely and forgotten. But the second I get a flat, I’ll remember it exists – I’ll get that donut out of the trunk, slap it on as a temporary replacement until I get the original fixed.

If you’re this guy’s “spare,” that means you’re the backup that’s ignored until you’re absolutely needed. And once he gets to ride for a day or two (ahem), back in the darkness you go.

Don’t be some dude’s spare.


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