What to Do When Your Boyfriend Isn’t Ambitious

A reader asked for advice about her boyfriend, who isn’t ambitious or interested in his future. She wants to know if he’ll drag her down.

“I am deeply in love and in a relationship with a man who is ten years older than me,” says Delana on How to Deal With a Depressed Boyfriend. “Despite the age difference, we have a great time and lots of fun. My biggest problem with him is that I’m in my 20′s and life is just starting for me, but he has NO goals, NO ambitions, and NO passion. I appreciate that he is a hard worker, but he is constantly stuck in dead end jobs at minimum wage. He also has a culinary degree, but chooses to work small construction jobs here and there to make ends meet. I don’t understand him! He says he is past the age of dreaming and now he just wants to pay the bills.”

She and her boyfriend have different goals in life. “Finishing college and having a career along with a family is my number one priority and something I am working hard for,” she says. “Is his lack of passion for life going to drag me down? I understand paying the bills is important, but following your dreams and personal journey (I feel) is waaaay more important.”

When Your Boyfriend Isn’t Ambitious…

One of the key elements to a successful long-term relationship is compatible life goals. You and you boyfriend need to be on the same page with regard to careers, kids, location, and plans for the future. If you have lofty dreams and goals but your boyfriend just wants to live a quiet life, then yes, your boyfriend will drag you down.

And, you need to remember that your boyfriend’s values, opinions, and character traits will rub off on you. That’s why it’s incredibly important to know who you are and where you intend to go, and not let a relationship prevent you from living life fully.

I was once in love with a guy 11 years older than me, who had no ambition or motivation to do anything but work part-time with the post office. He said he wanted to be a writer, but he never moved ahead with it. My sister gave me some bad advice: she said to stay with that boyfriend even though he had no ambition at all. She likened him to a wall and me to a swimmer – I could push off him to achieve my own goals and dreams.

Fifteen years later, that boyfriend (who I broke up with shortly after my sister gave me that advice) is still doing nothing with his life. He is in the exact same position as he was back then – he hasn’t even taken a vacation outside his city. I’ve earned two university degrees, lived in Africa for three years, started businesses, wrote ebooks, went back to university (I’m pursuing my Master of Social Work at UBC), and gotten married. And traveled, and bought and sold a couple of houses.

Are you thinking of breaking up with your boyfriend? Read When to Give Up on a Relationship.

You “soak up” your boyfriend’s traits

If I wouldn’t stayed with him, I think I wouldn’t have achieved half the things I did – because we soak up the traits and values of the people we spend  the most time with.

boyfriend is not ambitiousWill your boyfriend will drag you down because he’s not ambitious, or will he be your strongest supporter? Many successful men are married to women who aren’t ambitious in their own right, and yet the men are wildly wealthy and powerful. So, being attached to a partner who isn’t ambitious doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be held back…but your boyfriend’s lack of ambition will have an effect on you. I can’t predict what that effect will be.

What is the still small voice telling you?

You need to listen to your gut. What is your gut telling you about your boyfriend’s lack of ambition? Put all thoughts of love and how much fun you have with him aside for a few minutes, and think objectively about your goals for your future. And remember that following your gut can be painful and difficult in the short term, but it’s better in the long run.

While you’re finishing college, start thinking about what you want to do with your life. You have decades to pay bills, have kids, get married, and settle into a boring routine job. Right now is the time to LIVE and follow your heart! Go have adventures – move overseas, meet interesting people, explore the world, challenge yourself, take risks. Live as though this is your last year on earth…because it could be.

For tips on staying “who you are” when you’re in love, read 5 Ways to Find Yourself After Getting Lost in Love.

I welcome your thoughts on what to do if your boyfriend isn’t ambitious. I don’t give advice, but you may find it helpful to share how you feel.

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4 Responses

  1. Lani says:

    so, im in high school, about to graduate. looking at schools, which i have an appointment this week to a trade school. & my boyfriend doesnt go to work, or ever go to school and im in regular school going to get my diploma & hes going to get his GED. He got mad at me when i was talking on the phone with the representative to the school i want to go to for some reason, basically he was trying to tell me that i was trying to rub it in his face, or that im better than him somehow. shouldnt he be proud of me? and motivate me like i do him?
    i told him that he can do anything and i will help, his family isnt there for him, so why should he get mad at me for trying to motivate him and wanting the best for him? im waiting a few months.. but i feel like im waisting my time. & thats not something i want to do. i get my little paychecks save a little and spend the rest mostly on me and him. and i dont want to do that anymore if hes not going to do nothing with his life.
    i give him massages, always giving him the works if you know what i mean! and i just feel like i should be doing those things to a MAN; who works hard for what he gots.
    i dont know what to do.. i feel like it might come together because we had a talk about it and hes going to get his GED. but i cant be with someone who wants to be a bum and live off of everybody else i like expensive things and i dont want to depend on others.
    someone respond, id like to talk, and i need some advice.
    i would appreciate it.

  2. Laurie says:

    I can’t tell you if you should leave your boyfriend because he isn’t ambitious…but you have to remember that he will not change. Well, maybe a miracle will happen and he will suddenly start wanting to achieve the same type of goals as you do, travel, and work overseas! But I wouldn’t count on it.

    He is who he is. You are who you are. The only person you can change is you. Do you want to adjust your goals to suit his lifestyle and future? Or, can you accept him for who he is and still pursue your own goals?

    Also….all relationships get boring. It’s part of getting to know someone really well and building a life together! The thrill leaves. But this doesn’t mean you should leave him.

    It sure does get complicated, doesn’t it? That’s why I always vow never to give advice!

  3. Stacy says:

    I have a boyfriend who works two jobs as a cook and plays video games all the time. He has no motivation to achive a career. I, however have goals to work overseas, travel and live overseas. How can i do that if i stay with my boyfriend? He has no goals of his own and our relationship is boring, he doesn’t excite me anymore so should leave him? We’ve broken up before and got back together. We’ve been together for 4 months now.

  4. Bryan says:

    Yes it does. It is also possible that you will be stagnant if you stay with the no ambition guy. It will give you financial and emotional problem in the future, specially if you two have bigger responsibilities. The suggestion of staying away with that no ambition guy although you love to be rude, but if you have dreams in life, stay away from anything or someone that will pull you back.

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