You love him, but your boyfriend has no goals, ambitions or even motivation for the future. You have your own career and life goals, but you’re wondering if your boyfriend’s lack of ambition and motivation might drag you down. His perspective is bound to affect your relationship eventually – as well your feelings for him. How do you love and respect a boyfriend who isn’t ambitious about work, school, or anything meaningful in life?
These tips are inspired by a reader who asked for relationship advice about her boyfriend. He isn’t ambitious or interested in a future, career, goals or even more than a part-time job. She wonders if her boyfriend’s lack of ambition and motivation will drag her down. She says:
“I am deeply in love and in a relationship with a man who is ten years older than me,” she says on How to Respond When Your Boyfriend Makes No Effort. “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! My boyfriend says he is past the age of dreaming and now he just wants to pay the bills.”
Maybe you see you and your boyfriend in her relationship. Maybe your boyfriend isn’t ambitious or motivated about life — much less his future — and you worry that he’ll drag you down. This reader also says:
“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 my boyfriend’s lack of ambition for life going to drag me down? I understand paying the bills is important, but following your dreams with passion and living life fully is (I feel) is way more important.”
How Do You Love a Guy Who Has No Ambition or Motivation?
The most important thing to remember is that you can’t change your boyfriend. You can’t motivate him to get a better job or make more money or stop playing video games and start getting serious about life. You can’t create goals for him, or encourage him to be ambitious about his life or education.
There is only one thing you can do that might possibly motivate your boyfriend to grow or become more ambitious…and that one thing is to accept him exactly the way he is right now.
1. Examine your expectations of your boyfriend (and don’t expect him to change)
The more you push your boyfriend toward what you think he should be doing with his life, the more stress you create in your relationship. It’s important to be honest, to tell your boyfriend that you’re uncomfortable with his lack of ambition and motivation. But it’s not productive or helpful to keep telling him that life is meant to be an adventure! You want to motivate your boyfriend, not alienate him.
Change is hard! Your boyfriend won’t suddenly become ambitious or motivated, no matter how much you talk, hope, or pray.
Think about it this way: What was the last thing you tried to change about yourself? I bet it wasn’t easy; personal change is rarely swift and simple. There are probably lots of things you want to change about yourself, but you can’t or won’t or don’t know how. Change takes time, effort, perseverence, and motivation. It also requires emotional, spiritual, and intellectual energy – and you have to really want to change.
If it’s that hard to change yourself when you’re motivated and want to change, think how hard it would be to change your unmotivated, unambitious boyfriend! Impossible. Maybe you’ll motivate him to get a job, but you won’t change the fundamental aspect of his personality or character that makes him lack ambition or motivation for future.
You can’t change your boyfriend. You have enough on your hands with your own life! You have your path, goals, plans, hopes and dreams. Focus your energy and attention on your own journey, and allow your boyfriend to walk his own path. Reflect and even pray about your future with him…is he the right partner for you, for a long-term commitment? If your boyfriend doesn’t have goals and you have exciting plans for your life, you may need to rethink your relationship.
Do you think your boyfriend is depressed? Read Is Your Boyfriend Depressed?
2. Be aware of how incompatible or opposite life goals affect relationships
One of the most important parts of a successful, healthy, happy 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 ambitious dreams and goals but your boyfriend just wants to live a quiet boring 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 stop you from living life fully. Don’t let your boyfriend’s lack of ambition change the trajectory of your life! One day, you’ll regret it.
3. Ask yourself if this relationship is the best fit for you
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 bad relationship advice: she said to stay with that boyfriend even though he had no ambition at all. She said he was like a wall in a swimming pool and I was a swimmer; I could “push off” him to achieve my own goals and dreams. He could be my stabilizing force and I could be the star!
But it didn’t work out that way.
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 undergraduate 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.
Is your relationship the best fit for you? f you’re thinking of breaking up with your boyfriend because he doesn’t have any goals and isn’t ambitious, read When to Give Up on a Relationship.
4. Decide that you will not absorb your boyfriend’s traits
You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. If I stayed with my boyfriend who had vague dreams but no specific plans to achieve them, I believe I would’ve sunk low. I wouldn’t have achieved half the things I did – because we absorb the traits and values of the people we spend the most time with.
Will 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. 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 affect on you. What will that effect be? It depends on you and how determined you are to achieve your own goals and plans for your life.
If you don’t know what to do, read How to Make a Difficult Decision in Your Life.
5. Listen to that still small voice inside — your intuition
You need to listen to your inner voice. 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.
If you’re finding yourself trying to manipulate or “trick” your boyfriend into setting goals or being more ambitious, read How to Stop Being a Controlling Girlfriend.
Be there for your boyfriend. Encourage and support him. But don’t let your boyfriend’s lack of motivation or ambition in life detract from your own passions, interests, and excitement for the future!
What do you think – can you have a good, healthy relationship with a boyfriend who isn’t ambitious and has no life goals or plans? Your thoughts are welcome below! If you haven’t written about your boyfriend’s lack of ambition or motivation before, I encourage you to write right now. Writing about your relationship will help you process your thoughts and emotions, and perhaps even help you decide what to do in your relationship.