It's safe to say women are the more compassionate of the two genders. As women, we are also much more in tune with seeing potential, this can be the potential of a person or of an idea. The problem so many women have is that they hone in on the potential of the guy they're dating more than seeing him for who he is at that point in time. Helping a man reach his full potential is an incredible and beautiful thing. However, it can take a toll on you if you let this desire run wild and that is where things get sticky.
For instance, a woman in an abusive relationship may find herself unable to leave because while she knows that this isn't the kind of relationship she wants, and this isn't the way she deserves to be treated, she sees the good guy that he could be and she is unable to let go of this person, even though he doesn't really exist. I think we've all found ourselves in these kinds of situations, even though the cases may not be as extreme as abuse.
Personally speaking, I met a really wonderful, charming, amazing man several years ago and it didn't take long for me to develop really profound feelings. On paper, I probably sounded crazy for having such strong feelings, this guy was broke, job-less, depressed, and completely lacking a sense of direction. However, I wasn't focusing on the fact that he needed to emotionally repair himself and that he wouldn't be able to be an equal in the relationship until he got his life sorted out. All I saw was the man he could be if he got out of the depression, found a job he loved, and didn't feel so guilty for not being able to pay for anything. I really tried to force him to be that guy--I polished up his resume, found jobs for him to apply to, gave him encouragement, but nothing worked. After a few months I should have gotten it through my head that he was unable to be the kind of man I wanted to be with at that point in his life, but I couldn't let it go.
In fact, I felt like a failure for being unable to life him out of his slump. I mean, I saw his potential and he didn't, and it was my job to take off the blinders so he could see it too, wasn't it? The more he retreated, the more I tried to think of something, anything, to get it right and turn him into the man I knew he could be.
Compassion is a wonderful thing and being able to see someone else's potential is a very powerful thing that us women were blessed with, but it has to be kept in its place. Helping someone through difficulties is one thing, staying in a relationship with a man who is incapable of giving you what you need is quite another and it will make him feel like a failure for not being what you want and it will make you feel like a failure for not getting him to see what you see.
In a relationship, you have to accept the person for who they are, as they are and you have to assume they aren't going to change. If it's a healthy relationship where both parties are in stable places emotionally, you will naturally bring out the best in one another. If it's an unhealthy relationship, you will only tear each other down. (More: The Most Important Relationship Advice You Will Ever Receive)
It's important to note that this also applies to a guy who was great in the beginning of the relationship and then completely changed. Having a bad day or a bad week is understandable. That's not what I'm talking about though. What I'm talking about is a continued pattern of unacceptable behavior. A lot of girls trap themselves by staying in the relationship because of how great he used to be. They'll wait around in dead-end relationships for months or even years, and are sustained only by the hope that he will one day be nice and charming again. I don't think I need to explain why this is a terrible, and often devastating, mistake.
So ladies, celebrate the fact that you are compassionate beings. However, remember that while it's one of our greatest strengths, it can also be our greatest weakness so be sure to use it at the right time and in the right situation.