How to Be With a Boyfriend Who Isn’t Ambitious or Motivated


You love your boyfriend, but he has no goals or motivation for his future. Here’s how to be in a relationship with a guy who isn’t ambitious about work, school, or anything important in life. I was inspired to share my tips for a reader who asked for advice about her boyfriend. He isn’t ambitious or interested in his future job or plans. 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.”

If you and your boyfriend have different goals in life (or he has no goals and you’re ambitious about your future!), then you may see yourself in Delana’s relationship. She 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 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.”

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.

How to Be With a Boyfriend Who Isn’t Ambitious or Motivated

The more you push your boyfriend towards what you think he should be doing with his life, the more stress you create in your relationship. And it’s not productive or helpful stress; your “encouragement” will backfire.

Instead, there is only one thing you can do that might possibly motivate your boyfriend to grow or succeed…and that one thing is to accept him exactly the way he is.

Accept your boyfriend for who he is right now; don’t expect him to change

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, perserverence, and motivation. It also requires emotional, spiritual, and intellectual energy – and you have to really want to change.

boyfriend isn't ambitious

How to Be With a Boyfriend Who Isn’t Ambitious or Motivated

So if it’s that hard to change yourself when you’re motivated and you want to change, think how hard it would be to change your unmotivated 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 unambitious or uncaring about his 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 journey, and allow your boyfriend to walk his own path. If he isn’t ambitious or motivated now, you don’t have to abandon all hope for the future. If your boyfriend doesn’t have goals, you don’t necessarily have to end the relationship – unless you’re angry and frustrated because your boyfriend doesn’t have time for you because he’s focused on unhealthy or foolish friends and activities.



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Know how important compatible life goals are in a relationship

One of the most important elements to 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.

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 some bad 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.

Remember that you absorb your boyfriend’s traits

You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.

unmotivated boyfriend no goalsIf I wouldn’t stayed with my boyfriend who had vague dreams but no specific plans to achieve them, I believe I would’ve sunk low with him. 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.

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.

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. What will that effect be? It depends on you and how determined you are to achieve your own goals and plans for your life.

Listen to that still small voice, your gut instincts

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 anbitious, read How to Stop Playing Mind Games in Your Relationship.

What do you think – can you have a happy relationship with a boyfriend who isn’t ambitious and has no life goals or plans? I welcome your comments, but I can’t offer advice. If you haven’t written about your boyfriend’s lack of ambition before, I encourage you to start writing! Writing about your relationship will help you process your thoughts and emotions.







Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books

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Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.








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How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.









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When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.







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32 thoughts on “How to Be With a Boyfriend Who Isn’t Ambitious or Motivated

  • UK Girl

    I am 35 years old and am in a ldr with my boyfriend who is 26. We met online while playing videogames on the PS4 in April 2017. It is my first relationship and I honestly wasn’t looking for love, as I’ve had a difficult life growing up with an over-protective and controlling father who wouldn’t let me go out very much. Also, my dad grieved for 10 years over the loss of his brother (my uncle), making life very hard for my mother and my siblings and me.

    I am educated and have master’s degree but I still live with my parents. I was ambitious and had dreams such as wanting to have a career and buy a house and then have a family. However, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia in 2010 and that changed everything. I’ve had to rethink my career many times. This year I even completed an accounting course, hoping to improve my prospects but realised it would not be suitable due to no part-time positions being available. So, currently, I am unemployed.
    My boyfriend dropped out of school due to his father becoming very ill with cancer and passing away when he was 16. He never had any counselling as the GP just told him to get over it. So, I often feel that he had a difficult start and it’s not his fault, as he hasn’t had the support that I’ve had. He lives in a flat and is also unemployed.

    At first I was very uncomfortable with our age gap and when we first exchanged photos I wasn’t sure if I felt any attraction. He is aware of my medical conditions and has accepted them and my OCD. He was more sure of me than I was of him and it made me feel bad. I told him how I felt which made us both cry. I told him I was sorry and tried to have some time away, but I missed him so much and so we started talking again.
    Last year, after knowing him for about 5 months, I asked for some space, because we are in a party chat everyday through the PlayStation from morning to late evening. He’d expect me to stay in the chat even if we weren’t talking or doing different things, such as when I was watching TV with my Mum. After having some doubts after some disagreements, I needed to see how I felt and reflect. We agreed on how long, but he broke that agreement when he saw I was playing a game with another friend I met online. Maybe it was jealousy. I’m not really sure. Anyway, a few alarm bells rang. Then before the time was up for me to have space he messaged me to say he’s worried about his mum and she is having a test to check if she may have an illness. Worrying that his mum may be seriously ill, because he had told me that family members on his mum’s side also had cancer, I joined a party chat with him to see if she was okay. Apparently she was fine and didn’t have her result yet. The strangest thing is he never really brought it up again after that. So I did ask him once and he said it came back fine. Anyway, I told him that maybe we needed to take things slower and stay as friends to see how things went. He told me it’s too late and we’re past that. Scared of losing his friendship and being unsure if he was right for me, we continued as before.

    Time went by and things got better between us, even though I had tried to be cautious. We started talking about the future, him moving to be with me, getting married, going to Disneyland for our honeymoon, having a family. Then I realised he didn’t have a passport or a birth certificate. My mum, wanting me to be happy, phoned the passport office and the registry to help my boyfriend and even offered to pay for his birth certificate, but he got stressed out and said he’ll sort it out before he comes over. With regards to making a passport, I even offered to fill the form for him online if it helped. All he needed to do was give me the information and get two passport photos taken and signed. When we talked about the fact he needed them signed by people who’d known him for two years and were professionals. He said there wasn’t really anyone. I suggested he could ask his doctor and/or dentist. He told me he doesn’t really go to the dentist because there’s nothing wrong with his teeth and he hasn’t been to the doctor since he got told to get over his dad’s death.Then he told me it’s not that important, we can just go somewhere in London and he’ll get one later. I was disappointed, but then I thought that he was right and as long as we were together it didn’t matter, right?

    This year, in August, I made the effort to visit him in person. I thought we would have the best time and my mum and brother came with me. I paid for my boyfriend’s hotel room and we picked him up from where he lived. He had never stayed in a hotel before and because it was my idea and I was in a better financial position as I still lived at home, I didn’t mind paying for it. Especially, because this was the person I loved and would potentially spend my life with if it all worked out. I also bought him a holdall so that he would have something to put a change of clothes in and some toiletries, which I packed in my suitcase. Once we got to the town he lived, he met us in a random street as he did not want us picking him up from his flat. I did have a conversation with him about this a month before we were due to visit. I asked for his address so we could pick him up. His response was he’ll meet us somewhere else. I asked why and he got really defensive. I also had asked if I could send him a birhday card and he just said bring it when you come to visit, as the date of our visit was a few days after his birthday. Again I asked for a reason why he didn’t want us to come to where he lived and told him we wouldn’t come inside and just wait outside. Then, I started thinking he was embarrassed of me. That’s when he got angry. Still he couldn’t give me an answer. Then I asked if it was because the area wasn’t good. He said yes and started to say he was just trying to protect me. In my mind, I kept wondering why he didn’t just say that. Anyway, I let it go. I even ordered him a birthday cake and took presents for his 26th birthday.
    However, when we met it was so different to what I imagined. He was socially awkward and quiet. It was nothing like I imagined. It felt like we were strangers. He looked a bit different to his photo. He was a lot skinnier and he had started losing his hair and turned up in joggers that looked too big for him and a hoody. My mum and brother thought he hadn’t made much of an effort, as they said he could have at least trimmed his beard. I overlooked these things, thinking that it didn’t matter because I fell in love with his personality and he just didn’t have the support I did. This was the same guy who sent me ‘good morning’ and ‘goodnight’ messages, asked me if I had taken my medicine and said ‘I love you’. However, I tried so hard to talk to him, just as we’ve talked many times before, but he didn’t say much. I couldn’t understand.

    On our first outing together, at the Giant’s Causeway, my mum and brother even left us alone to talk. Even then he wouldn’t really say much. There was a tour bus and I just said that there was enough space for him to walk on the path next to me and he just replied that it wasn’t going to hit him. Also, when a man asked us if we were with the tour, I replied ‘no, sorry, we’re not’. When the man left us, my boyfriend said ‘do we look like ******* tour guides?’. I just told him that the man was probably looking for the rest of his tour group. I was really surprised at my boyfriend’s reaction though. The man wasn’t rude and just asked a question. When we visited the Causeway I also slipped on the stones and even that wasn’t enough for my boyfriend to check if I was okay. My mum was the first to notice and help me. Then my boyfriend asked if I was okay once my mum was a few yards away. The next day, when we were alone, he told me his heart had stopped when I fell. I felt confused. If he was that worried why didn’t he come to see if I was okay and help me up. I asked him about this when I got home as it bothered me. He just said he didn’t know if he was allowed to touch me. Throughout the rest of the trip, I felt like I was the one trying to start a conversation. He would never really make eye contact and when he answered it would be a really short response.

    When I returned home and we spoke in a party chat, he was back to his normal self. Apparently, the reason he didn’t speak much was he was just shy. So, since coming back home from my trip, I’ve felt more and more confused. He didn’t make the best impression on my mum and brother, as they think he didn’t make much of an effort and so they felt he wasn’t right for me. Especially, because he was socially awkward, they wondered how he would be able to get a job. Also, my mum is worried that I haven’t had the easiest life and feels like I’ll end up having to look after my boyfriend. At the same time though, they did say it was my decision.

    I did try to ask him about work and what sort of jobs he has done. He just said there aren’t many opportunities where he lives. I even asked how he felt about going back to college to get GCSE English and Maths to improve his prospects and that I’d support him. His response was why, he wasn’t going to become a doctor anytime soon. I was taking driving lessons so I suggested maybe he could learn too. Then we could talk about it and help each other. He told me he couldn’t learn to drive because he doesn’t like being told what to do. This also made me question our future together. I realised that he didn’t have much motivation. He said he wanted kids with me but all I could think was what sort of future would we be giving them? Did I know about his education and work situation before? Yes, but I thought money wasn’t everything and if we loved each other we’d be able to support and motivate each other and get through anything.

    Everything kept going round in my head, that is, how my mum and brother felt, how my boyfriend was in person and before. I couldn’t understand if we were right for each other. Although, my mum did say if I felt he was right for me, it wouldn’t bother me what anyone else thought.

    I did talk to my boyfriend about not being 100% sure about my feelings for him and that I didn’t want to lead him on. I also suggested that maybe we could take some time apart so that I could see how I felt. His response was ‘No, you’ve already had it before’. As for not being 100% sure, he said ‘you’ll never be 100% sure’ and ‘why can’t you just be happy…. ?’. Then when I explained that it’s not fair on him if I’m not 100% sure like he is about me, his response was ‘you’ll regret it’. I think he meant if I ended things with him, I wouldn’t be happy. Then he said he’s fine with me not being sure and somehow, things just carried on like before, although I didn’t say ‘I love you’ as much as before and I couldn’t stop thinking about this situation not being fair on him and that I needed to make a decision. I started to feel stressed out and ill thinking about it everyday. Then my mum suggested to pray to and trust in God and just enjoy each day and see what happens. So that’s what I did.

    Then, the other day, I was watching a movie and my boyfriend was playing his game. We were in a party chat as usual. Towards the end of my movie, he started playing music on his phone. I told him I was going to take my headphones off whilst I finished watching the movie. When I put them back, I told him that I felt he didn’t respect that I was watching a movie and that he could have listened to his music on YouTube without disturbing me. He said ‘you’ve seen it before. You could write the script’ and ‘it wasn’t even that loud’. I told him that he knew how I find it hard to concentrate and I was just trying to enjoy the movie. He started saying ‘well, you shouldn’t have rushed your game, then you wouldn’t be bored’. I told him I wasn’t bored. He kept on at me like this for five minutes saying that I shouldn’t have rushed my game and that what does it matter if he played music because I’d seen it before. I told him that he’s the one who always tells me to stay in the chat. He responded with that I was throwing that in his face. Apparently, he was just teasing me, but I ended up saying ‘it’s okay for you. If you’re not playing, you just watch YouTube or go to sleep. I need more than that’. At that point, he told me he was joking and that I could be very mean at times. I felt so terrible and cried. I don’t wish to hurt anyone. 🙁 I apologised and he said he wasn’t upset but then he said if that’s what I really thought, he didn’t really care.
    The truth is, that’s what my boyfriend does. He plays, watches YouTube and even naps while we are in a party chat together. He takes each day by day and seems content with life, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but maybe he’s too laid back. Also, lately, it’s felt like he doesn’t even listen to what I am saying when I talk to him. If I ask, if he’s listening, he’ll say yes, you were talking about… When I realise he has no idea, I tell him not to worry. Then he keeps asking until I tell him. I confronted him about this and he said it’s my headset that’s the problem and he doesn’t hear me. I also told him how it feels like he doesn’t make much of an effort with me anymore. I know the distance makes it difficult but we used to watch movies together. He said it’s because there hasn’t been much on and he doesn’t usually watch TV and that he was the one who suggested we watch the last two films we watched. The thing is, we only recorded them to watch because I suggested it. Then every time I’ve asked if we should watch a movie, he tells me maybe tomorrow because he’s watching YouTube. So he asked me if I wanted to watch something right then just to make a point. I said no because we were trying to talk things out and I was upset. Then, my mum asked if I wanted to watch something with her. I said okay. So my boyfriend got upset with me over that. He told me he wasn’t upset, but I could tell. He had his mic muted and usually he always told me when he was going away from the chat to get food or go to the bathroom just as I would tell him. This time there was nothing not even a message. When the movie finished and my mum went to bed, I tried to speak to him but thought maybe he was upset so he didn’t respond. I left the chat and decided I was tired anyway. Also, my mum had noticed I was upset earlier and said maybe that we just both needed a bit of time away from each other. Then he messaged me to say he hadn’t heard me because he was eating. I replied saying ‘it’s okay, please don’t worry. I’m tired. Going to get some sleep. See you tomorrow. xxx’. He responded with ‘this isn’t fair how you are treating me i have done nothing i went to get food and come back and said hello but you left’. I didn’t reply thinking that it was late and that we would probably end up saying things we’d regret. I considered talking to him the next day, but I remembered what he said to me when we had a disagreement before. He said ‘I’m not going to come running after you.’

    Anyway, sorry for the long message Laurie. I just needed to get this out somewhere. As for your article, my story is relevant, as my mum and brother both feel that my boyfriend will drag me down due to his lack of motivation, but sometimes I feel they are too close to the situation. I thought loving me would motivate him to want to do something to make us have a better life together. I’ve tried to accept a lot of things but it’s starting to feel like he doesn’t want to meet me halfway and he’s happy with how his life is. Also, since I got back from meeting him, before we had our disagreement, I can’t stop thinking that if he did move to be with me, how could he get a job if he doesn’t like being told what to do, gets annoyed if you ask him something he’s already told you and has no ambition…?

    May God bless you Laurie and thank you. I think you’re doing an amazing thing by helping people.

    • Caroline

      Wow, UK Girl, you need to think long and hard about your values. You sound like such a kind person but, to me, come off as completely naive. The guy has “loser” written all over him! I understand that your family hasn’t conceptualized their values either, so it’s not something you would have learned from them. In fact, our whole culture is clueless these days, (I’m from the US but it’s the same decay going on.). But Life will teach you these things, eventually—if you really want to understand what is weak and what is strong. Go with strong—always. Number one, nurture it in yourself and distance yourself from those that don’t because only internal strength is able to confer love & true loyalty to another.

  • Laurie Post author

    It’s important to be in a relationship with a guy whose goals and values are compatible with yours. If you see your boyfriend as unmotivated, undisciplined, lazy or unambitious, then you may not have respect for him. If you don’t have respect, your relationship will deteriorate.

    If your boyfriend isn’t ambitious or motivated, take time to look at your own expectations. What do you need in a relationship? What type of man and future are you looking for? This isn’t about judging or criticizing your boyfriend…it’s about determining what’s important to you, and filling your life with things and people that feed your spirit, soul, and mind.

    You can’t change your boyfriend. Can you accept him for who he is right now?

  • Guy

    work and school is whats important? I think most people miss the point of life, and realize on their death bed… Love and company is whats important… Silly humans

  • Amsterdam

    I am 20 years old and my boyfriend is 24. We’ve been together for 2 years and I really feel like he has no ambition at all in his life. He doesnt even know what he likes. He plays video games the whole day and he says he doesnt even know why he plays cause he doesnt like the games. He just has no ambition, no motivation. It really bothers me because Im a Psychology student at the University and I am really passionate about it. I have hobbies and I know exactly what I like and I like to meet new people and discover new things. And he is a little anti social, he says no to everyyyyyy new ideas that I bring to the table. He doesnt even think about it. It bothers me. And he doesnt have friends that can mean something to him. All his friends do is smoke weed and play video games. He works as a telemarketeer and he wants to do something else. I helped him but it Im doing all his applications while he plays video games.

    At the other hand, he is a very nice guy and veeeery generous. He saves his money and spend it very clever. He buys me nice things. He treats me so well and he is very faithfull. We share common norms and values and we have our own jokes and funny stuff. So, we have a very deep and unique connenction on that matter. We share everything with eachother. And I find him veeeery beautiful, his green eyes (he’s dutch, Im from the carribbean). And our sex live is very good too, I can’t complain.

    I dont know what would be best for me. I dont want to take the risk of leaving him. But I really need someone with ambition and a porpose of life. Someone with the need to explore life and live life to the fullest. I feel kinda bad after writing his good qualities. I really dont know what to do.

    • JAR

      Hi. I completely relate to you 100%. I’d say we are going through the same exact thing. I’m 22 and my boyfriend is 21. We are only 6 months apart. We have been together for 3 years now. I’m a nursing student with 4 months left in the program and he works a regular minimum wage job. He has no ambition, no drive, no passion for anything in life. He’s still “confused” about what he wants to become. I think about our future a lot and what’s important to me. I want us to be able to save and build so that one day we can live comfortably, to buy a house and raise children in. I talk with him about this all the time and all he does is plays video games all day and lives life day by day without thinking about the future. I want a guy that is a provider and protector. Someone who wants to take care of me and make sure that I’m good. In my opinion it seems like he wants me to be the caretaker. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice guy. Just like you, we have a great connection, we share similar interests and laugh all the time but just this part of this relationship is worrying me and I’m afraid that this will cause us to break up.
      Your not alone!
      I say we should have a talk with our guys and have a personal time limit for ourselves. If he cannot meet that personal time limit after having a talk then it might just be time to go separate ways. Being happy within yourself is important and you can’t just stay in a relationship just because!

      I hope we find the best solution for our relationship

      • Guy

        Ever considered that maybe his family yourself and friends are enough to be content? Why does it matter what stupid career someone does, it’s not what really matters in life… Yet people only seem to realize this in their death bed… There is nothing wrong with being content with less, in fact quite the contrary.

  • J

    I am madly in love with my boyfriend we have known each other since we were kids. I am 24 and he just turned 27 he is an extremely hard worker but lacks all motivation. We have been together for 3 years going on 4 in May. I am a nurse studying for my board exam and he works for a warehouse, however he has so much more potential. He started the requirements for the police academy but it does not seem as he is even close to being motivated as much as I am for him. I have plans and goals to achieve in the future and I am afraid his lack of ambition will hold me back. We have had several of arguments regarding his lack of ambition and he said he will get it done, but my mentality is if you want to achieve something in life you will do anything possible to do so. It just doesn’t seem like he doesn’t strive for success! What do I do? Do I stay with him or do I break up ?

    • kyanna anderson

      Im in the same boat as you! Been with my man for 3 going on 4 yrs. I am an engineer and he’s a cook (not certified might i add). He have a lot of potential and we argue a lot about his lack of ambition. I am a very motivated and determined woman. Anything i want i work to get it. If i don’t have it i will put in time and work to have it. I do not know what to do but i feel we are on two different paths. I need some advice bad because i am at my breaking point where i am ready to give up. I been trying to get him to want better for himself for almost 2 years now.

  • bb

    I’m so in love with my guy. He would marry me anytime. We christians, under 40 & have both been divorced & had children. He became a christian after while incarceration, & is one of the most Spirit Filled, joyous, trusting person I know. I can’t imagine him being the way he used to. Due to the felony charge it’s more difficult to get a job. He settled for the first (& only position he applied for). He went back to college (with a full scholarship), & dropped with an A+. He is very intelligent & gets bored easily. He is open & will to help at church & in the community, he teaches bible classes several hours a week, & is always eager to study the bible (what he is interested in) & share with others. With all of this he is not motivated to go obtain work training, or ever consider looking for a another job. He lives with his parents & pays the utility bill. He pays restitution, child support & after that he can’t support himself (and I’m not sure he could if he didn’t have those obligations). I’m educated, not in debt, buys my vehicles in cash, have owned a house on my own etc., but now I’m legally disabled, so often I will be out of work several weeks a year do to physical challenges. We are both frugal & good with money. I let him know I feel hurt he has never said he wants to support himself, his child or me. I don’t want to be on the system, & he doesn’t even care if we were eligible to receive assistance. I feel like he should get another job (he works one job less then 40 hrs a week, but he does have decent benefits & loves his job – he loves people). I didn’t want to be mean, but I finally told him bluntly that we can’t get married until he can support us. I mean he can’t even support himself. Once I marry I will loose Medicaid, partially Medicare (he would be even worse off if he had to put me on his health insurance. I feel stuck, I’m legitimately disabled, but if a little more income is coming in I will losses it all, & on top of that WIC, Food Stamps & another else. My family is angry about this too, we love him, but he won’t even try to earn more for himself & his child. I broke up with him briefly, I can’t imagine my life with out him. Also he is a classic Aries, an altimatum won’t work, if he is nagged or urged to do something he doesn’t want to it’s really not going to happen. I’m thankful to have fun him, & that he is able, & that he makes a little more than minimum wage, he never talks about how he will support if a car blows, I am unable to work at all etc. I feel like I would always have to be picking up the slack. There is not much “room for growth” where he is.
    Should I just break it off for good?

  • Virginia

    This is my exact situation. I’m 21 and my boyfriend is 34. We have a 6 month old together who is my whole world. He works for his parents construction company so he will literally sleep in until 12 pm before going to work. Of course this means he gets a smaller paycheck and we sometimes can’t buy the things we need but obviously he has no incentive to show up for work on time because his parents aren’t going to fire him or anything. I have two retail jobs (AEO and VS) but if he was working more I would have time to go back and finish school! I feel like if I got my own place and got back in school I could make my dreams come true. I feel like he’s really holding me back because every dream I have he has a reason for me why it’s unrealistic. (I say “I feel” because who knows maybe I’m wrong and it’s just feels like I’m being dragged down.) I did a little bit of modeling and he told me that it would never work because would have to travel. Then I was interested in journalism and he told me it would never happen because I would have to move to a big city. I just feel so stagnant in life and I’m trying to be successful but I almost feel like since he’s a 34 year old high school drop out he doesn’t want me to have the chance of success because that may mean leaving him behind. Any advice on what to do or any observations would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Kristen

      It sounds lke you already know the answer. The best advice I can give is to listen to your gut, even though it’s painful! That little voice inside that nags at you, telling you things you don’t want to hear, things you rationalize away, but that keeps coming back – in my experience, that voice is ALWAYS right. Unfortunately. I’ve been in a few long-term relationships that I knew, way deep down, were holding me back, but there were so many great things about the relationship that it was easy to ignore my gut. Those guys were good people, treated me well, we had fun together, etc. But each time, after about two years, the doubts kept returning more often, and I couldn’t ignore them anymore. After the painful process of breaking it off, I was able to grow as a person and pursue my dreams… which led to meeting people who also had dreams. 🙂 If your partner is holding you back, even if he doesn’t mean to, you have a responsibility to yourself and your child to do what’s best for you. And you are responsible for standing up for yourself and your dreams! If you listen to him when he says you can’t do something, that’s on you. Maybe that means having a serious talk and letting him know that you are going to pursue certain goals, and you need his support, or working on your own assertiveness, whatever you need to do. Life is short, don’t waste it living other people’s expectations! Good luck!

  • Rachel

    My boyfriend and I are both medical students. He wants a more laid back lifestyle, thinking about specializing in family medicine, while I want to achieve the best that I can achieve whether I to go to a surgical specialty or something else. He has been the most loving and supportive person, yet when it comes to work ethic he is not as ambitious as I am. I have a lot of tasks to do, yet when I spend time with him the norm is for us to sleep and lay in bed all day, which is fine, but then I become irritated I do not get things done.
    Is this a concern?

  • Destiney

    I’m going through this exact situation with the father of my child. We’re both young and I have so many goals I want to achieve in life, but he on the other hand will SAY he has goals and not even make one attempt to conquer one of them. When we first met I’ll admit we moved really fast, so I was getting to know him (at least I thought) and taking him for his word since I didn’t know him. But now looking back I can really see that the introduction stage was nothing but a cover up. He’s like a 5 year old kid and every week he has a new career goal. One day he wants to go to school then the next he doesn’t. It’s no consistency with him. Then I got pregnant right around the time I found out he was a fraud, so I stuck it out hoping the baby would change his perspective of life, but honestly the baby had no affect on his lack of motivation. You can only imagine a person like this will also suck with emotional and finical support. I’m always there when he needs me. Sending job apps to him, taking him to and from places, trying to help get him his permit REPEATEDLY with no success for very odd reasons and motivating him he can do better; then on my end I don’t receive none of this. No motivation to do what I really want but just would like to hear that he cares and he really doesn’t. No help far as the baby or even my gas tank when he clearly sees it’s on E. never call and ask what the baby needs and when I tell him he takes weeks to months to get it but buy then I got it. He misses job interviews and quits them it’s like he purposely wants to be a bum. I can’t do it anymore. Lately we argue a lot and I’m at a point where I’m verbally abusive due to my unhappiness and I lash out on him. We break up for literally anything and I know for a fact the relationship is not gonna get no better if he doesn’t make no effort to step up to be a better man for himself and our son. I’m so unhappy waiting out this year with no progress from him and I’m being dragged along with his laziness now so should I try to wait a few more months to see change or should I leave now????

    • Kristen

      Don’t wait! It sounds like you already know it’s not going to work. The longer you wait, the more painful it’ll be. There is no “better time,” it will never get easier, in my experience. Waiting to end it only wastes your time, and his too. You owe it to yourself and to him to move on so you can both move past this and grow!

  • Laurie Post author

    Thank you for sharing how you feel about your relationship! It’s difficult to know what to do when you’re in a relationship with a boyfriend who isn’t as motivated or ambitious as you are…especially when you love him. You want to be in a relationship with him, but you also want to explore life and life big! I totally get it.

    Here’s one way to decide what to do: what will you regret more, when you look back on your life? You can’t have it all at the same time, so you have to choose. What do you know deep in your heart – what do you need to do, to fulfill your dreams for your life?

    • Sarah

      Thank you! I know my future means more to me than anyone ever will, but it’s just figuring out when to call it quits.
      Like when do I stop thinking ‘this will be a problem’ and leave before it is a problem

  • Sarah

    I have similar problems with my other half. I love him and he’s supportive and we have fun together but he has no motivation at all.
    I’ve spent the last few years going back to education that I missed out on due to being seriously ill when I was younger, and I start university in September. I want to do a placement year, a master’s, and one day a PhD. I want to up and move somewhere new, travel, do everything!
    My boyfriend on the other hand, has had the same dead end job since we met. He has complained about it since we met, but doesn’t try to get another one. He says he wants to design games but won’t go back to education to get the relavent qualifications. He went to uni before we met, and dropped out in the last 3 months of his final year!
    I feel like he’s going to hold me back and I don’t know what to do

  • Tanya

    Being lazy and lacking ambition is completely different. As humans, we work, some of us work harder and being lazy is nice sometimes.
    I’m seeing someone right now that is a hard worker, but not as ambitious as me, but he as other qualities that make up for it. He communicates pretty well.

    • Tanya

      You also have to remember, you can’t get everything out of a relationship! And before you start pointing fingers, look at your own flaws.

  • Philia

    Hi Laurie,

    Thank you for sharing this kind of topic. This is the most realistic writing that I’ve read so far about lazy boyfriend.
    You are right that I can’t change him and I need to accept the way he is. The problem here is I find it hard to accept his lazy character. This is the biggest problem overall 🙁

    Because for me, the lazy character will affect the other aspects of marriage life, for example because you are lazy, you’ll earn little money. And how come we can go for marriage? In my country culture, husband has a bigger responsibility than wife especially in paying bills. So, if you earn a little, how can you pay all the bills? Me? As a wife? I don’t really want. I work to help my husband, not to replace his position with the responsibility too.

    He is smart actually, open minded and has a kind heart. This is why I fell for him. I’m dating with him almost one year by now. If only, he isn’t a lazy man, he is perfect for me 🙁

    He isn’t ambitious too. He is 37. He never go overseas, he doesn’t have bachelor degree, he doesn’t have car or house, just old motorcycle.

    He is also weak and doesn’t have strong will. He sometimes always get headaches. When he get headaches, he doesn’t go to work.
    When he has nothing to do, he will sleep or read novel all day long rather than doing something productive to improve his other skill.
    If he has a lot of work for just one day, he will feel very very very tired, like he has a lot of work for a whole week!! I just don’t understand.

    True, breakup isn’t a solution for me. Ever tried it once, but I came back for him.

    I can’t figure it out right now, what I am supposed to do. I am just unhappy.

  • Liz

    My boyfriend and I are in our 30’s. At this point in life you are way more realistic. And of course, I look at myself to see if I’m the one who wants more then I should or, realistically, can have. My boyfriend is un-moveable. And I love him, he’s comfortable. But un-moveable in that everything is too dangerous, too expensive, and un-attainable. My friends would tell you I’m a gypsy and really not scared of much. I’m a bit of an adventurer having wandered the US and Kenya, and pursued many goals and careers others don’t. He says I need to encourage him, and that is part of the problem from his perspective. But when I see an opportunity for him to pursue what he says he wants. I tell him do it now, let’s get this done, you can do this. But there is always a problem, a reason it was to hard. And, as always he says I didn’t encourage him. I don’t know what he means by encouragement. I just wonder if we are too different. I feel like we fit. I trust him and that is very, very hard for me to find. He wont even enquire about things like opportunities, because he always sees a problem with why it wont work out. He is always unqualified. Even when I know on paper he is. And since everything is too expensive. I can’t even ask him to go on a hiking trip with me, dinner is hard enough, and he never has time. He is exhausted. I love adventure. I like home too. But I want to do and see all the things, and I know he can’t do it with me. Should I just suck it up and learn to be more independent? He’s a good guy. I’m 30 and almost 31. If I can just not let his fear rub off on me, and ignore the negative things he says, then maybe I can still achieve my dreams. He’ll be at home waiting. Maybe that can work too. I just feel like I’m not strong enough to do it “alone” with out him helping me. But is that wrong? The only other thing is, I don’t feel in love with him like I’ve loved others. He’s not a smooth talker; He doesn’t philosophize with me, and make me feel smart and funny and beautiful. But it doesn’t have to be about me. What is it suppose to be about?

    • Rosa

      Hi Liz… I’ve just found this thread after yet another conversation with my other half, telling me he hates his current job but not looking for a new one. We updated his CV 3 weeks ago after a year of misery and yet not one application sent out!!! What I see to be encouragement – when I say he should have more confidence in his abilities, he says is me picking at his faults… can’t win!!
      We sound like we are in the same boat, both in how we are as people and how our other halfs see the world… except for the being ‘in love’ bit. I really am in love with my other half, he does make me feel special and we do philosophise with each other. I hope in the past few months you’ve come to a decision about your relationship or are happier. I know that the ‘in love’ part is the only think keeping be with my other half, don’t we all deserve to feel like that?

      • Mel

        I feel thesame way as you have just described…my partner is hardworking and does try, but whatever it is he’s missing, self esteem, something…he’s just struggling financially and I am in a similar situation to him-don’t make much but I earn more than he does and am applying for new jobs whereas he makes excuses and says he has to play it safe/wait for bank loan to be paid off before he can leave or his bad work history. He’s been at his current workplace doing difficult split shifts for 2 years-the whole time I have been with him, surely thats long enough for a slightly better job to consider him. when I try to talk about jobs he says he doesn’t want to work at a job for money and will barely talk to me. Ideally I’d like to not have to either, but it takes a lot of work to get to that point and I am not quite sure if he really gets it/is just dreaming. He’s does care I contribute more and trys to help out when he can and gives me rides to work and shows up to his job and works hard while he’s there. . but it makes him tired and moody. I had lots of jobs like that, until 8 months ago where I got into something easier but now I want to shift gears again and start progressing in my career-i’m sick of not having enough money. it’s totally killing the romance and we bicker all the time because im so frustrated as his apparent refusal to deal with reality. part of me feels liem i should leave him, and part of me thinks i need to encourage and inspire him more -which is what he seems to want but i don’t understand…it shouldnt be up to me do get him to do whats necessary in a nice way. he cant even afford to take basic care of himself like afford to eat properly-so i feel sorry for him and compromise my own life! at my wits end. he works split shifts and its hard work so i can see why he hates it which is why i dont see why he wont do anything to leave, like refuse to write cv or look or apply for anything at all.

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Hollie,

    There is nothing you can do to motivate your boyfriend to go to college, get a degree, or figure out what he wants to do with his life. The more you push him, the more pain both you and your boyfriend will feel!

    You can’t change him. If he’s not ambitious now, he may never really care about starting a career or getting a job he’s passionate about. Or…he may discover an interest he can build a career from, or he may decide to get a college degree in something after all!

    If you want to have a peaceful, loving relationship, then you need to accept your boyfriend the way he is. You can’t change him, motivate him, or make him ambitious. Your job is to motivate yourself and make yourself into the woman you want to be — keep pursuing your plans and goals for your life! Focus on your own path, and let your boyfriend find his.

    Here’s a question for you: Is it possible that this relationship isn’t the best fit for you?

    Sometimes we love people who are awesome in many ways, but we’re just not meant to be together because of different or conflicting goals. It’s a difficult decision. You need to decide if you can love your boyfriend for who he is right now — without any ambitions or goals for his life. Don’t try to change him, for you’ll only cause yourself and him stress. You won’t get anywhere, and you can’t force him to be someone he’s not.

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Hollie

    I am still in high school; however, I have a long distance relationship that is going great and I love my boyfreind to death. This boyfreind has been in and out of trouble lately; but in his defence, he does not have anyone to guide him. I am very active in my plan for the future and I am constantly talking about it with him. He motivates me and tells me he is proud of me while pushing me to do my best. Although, he has no plas for himself and says he is not smart enough for college. And to be completely honest, I dont really see him doing anything either other than working in an art or music field. Again, he downs himself about college. He does not see himself being successful in doing anything and I do not know how to motivate him to go to college, get a degree, or even know how to help him figure out what he wants to do. We have been together on and off for 4 years. Help me??!!

  • Lani

    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.

  • Laurie

    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!

  • Stacy

    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.

  • Bryan

    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.