Boyfriend Puts the "Pot" in "Potential"

Dear Dategirl,

I am a 29-year-old woman with a bachelor's degree, currently enrolled in a master's program. I'm employed full-time, have a nice car, and live on my own. I've never done drugs, I'm smart, and have big plans and goals for my life.

I've been seeing a 44-year-old who says that he has a degree in criminal justice, though he currently does commission-only time-share sales. His car is a wreck, so I have to drive us everywhere, and he lives in a sparsely furnished apartment in a shitty neighborhood. He also smokes weed daily (many times a day), and has had a couple of brushes with the law that he's vague about. He does treat me well and isn't just out for sex.

I guess my question is, how much do you consider someone's past and present circumstances? Or do you envision their potential and what they could become? I feel like someone his age should have more things going on than he does, but he has had a rough past. I am trying to avoid seeming shallow, but something is telling me to let this one go. What do you think?

—Shallow Sal

What do I think? I think you should listen to "something" and throw him back.

Woman, you may have a degree-and-a-half, but where's your common sense? A 44-year-old pothead who lives in a dump furnished with a folding chair and a card table is telling you exactly who he is. There's no ambiguity about who he might become or what he may achieve—he's there, and it ain't pretty (or comfortable).

As for having had a rough time of it, so what? Loads of people have had very bad things happen, yet have managed not only to survive, but thrive. It sounds as if your guy is more comfortable wallowing in this mysterious pain and using it to excuse his loserdom.

Boyfriend has enough money for weed, but none to fix his car or buy a sofa. This tells you exactly where his priorities lay, and they aren't with creature comforts. Great (I guess) that he's not using you for sex, but serious potheads are more into brownie mix than getting down anyway. And for all you know, he's using you for your vehicle, your recliner, or the wide array of delicious snack foods in your refrigerator.

His degree doesn't mean a thing. I have a degree in criminology and I write a dating-advice column, ferchrissakes. All it means is that at one point, he was motivated enough to complete school. That was over 20 years ago! I would say his criminal record probably has a lot to do with his sketchy employment situation. Not to mention—what the hell? Aren't you curious why he was arrested and if he did time? What if it was for beating up or killing an ex? Or child molestation or armed robbery?! If you're going to decide he's paid his debt to society, you need to know what the tab was.

You're nearly 30 and have your shit together, except for the part where you think it's OK to settle for someone whose best quality is that he hasn't pulled a fuck-and-dump. Don't you think you should fix that before you try to fix someone else?

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