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He's a great boyfriend but he has no motivation!

Tagged as: Dating, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (12 February 2009) 13 Answers - (Newest, 10 October 2013)
A female United States age 30-35, anonymous writes:

I am 27 years old and my boyfriend is the same age. We have been dating almost two years. We laugh, have great chemistry, share some common interests and get along great with eachother's friends and family. The problem is that he has very little direction in his life (un-motivated), is always going from low-paying job to job (currently laid off) and after two attempts to start attending college it hasn't worked out for various reasons (difficulty getting financial aid etc.) I on the other hand am almost finished with my 2nd bachelor's degree, and have three years of experience in my previous field. I also have all of these dreams and goals, like owning a home, traveling more, and having a family.

He is the sweetest person i've ever met, and is completely loyal to me, his life pretty much revolves around me. To top it off the chemistry is amazing even after two years, and he is extremely attentive to my emotional needs. I however feel I've "found" myself and am ready to settle down and pursue a true partnership, while he barely knows who is and is really struggling both personally and financially. The only thing he seems to know is that he wants to be committed to me. I find myself feeling suffocated and longing for someone who is more mature and has more direction in life. I'm sure he will get there eventually, but I'm tired of waiting. What should I do?

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A female reader, miyavp United States +, writes (10 October 2013):

Oh my goodness, I'm having the same problem with my boyfriend of going on three years. But he's only 17 right now so maybe he'll grow out of it? Man I sure hope so. I am super motivated and driven. I hope to have a career in business and to eventually get my masters. My boyfriend on the other hand wants to play major league baseball or get a Doctorate in Physiology. Not to say he couldn't if he really wanted too because he's totally smart enough but I have to help him with his history homework for college that he waits until the very last minute to do. This isnt real reassuring. He was suppose to call me when he got home tonight. That was over an hour ago. My mom says thats how "men" are but I dont want a man like that. I love ky but I HATE how unreliable and late he always is. It drives me insane. If things dont start to get better soon I might honestly think of breaking up with him. He said he'd get me an 18th birthday present. That was in june. I am EXAUSTED of waiting on him and I dont have the energy to be picking up after him. He'd better get his stuff together soon because I am tired of it.

Hope your's gets better, if not you might have to end it. You dont want to live your whole life wondering what might've been.

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A female reader, keeksb United Kingdom +, writes (24 April 2013):

Ok so reading thois I was thinking pretty much the same as what all the replies have said...yeah I'm in the same situation but I love him and I don't know what to!

I am 30 now, I am about to finish a degree in a medical related profession. I was brought up in a close family with a strong work ethic. Since the age of 12 I have been working at least part time. I have pretty much supported myself since the age of 17, travelled the world, built a good career in hospitality and now I am ready to move on into health care. I have worked my butt off for this degree and am now looking forward to a more stable future.

My boyfriend is only 18 months younger, comes from a very wealthy but disjointed family (as nice as they are). He was discouraged from working most of his life, in fact told he must not or they wouldn't pay for his education. Now he needs to find work but had no resume, no experience and completely unrealistic goals. He wants to work in the movies, not on screen bit still unrealistic. He recently got a part time job in a restaurant and says he's so tired after 3 days of working he needs an entire day of sleeping o get over it rather than working on his portfolio.

I really want a family and I realise turning 31 this year I need to start to think about how this might happen. Not that it needs to happen right now but his plan is looking like 10 years away of ever. I have tried to explain the biology to him in that I may not be able to wait that long and he gets angry saying I am putting pressure on him.

Really my point is, why? If we are all such strong minded focussed women are we letting these very nice, possibly attentive but lazy lay about guys hold us back. I mean no offence but reading these comments really reminded me of myself and made me realise how pathetic I have sounded for the last 4 1/2 years. If you ask me it's time to stop kicking them up the ass and start to do it to ourselves. Easier said than done after a few vinos but life is too short for all this. We all make the same excuses, but love like this only comes around once in a lifetime, it's so rare...B****cks, of that was the case why is every one saying the same thing?

This may sound harsh but I think we all (myself most definitely included) need a good sharp shock to make us wake up to reality.

Any one agree or is it just me?

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A female reader, Lilly08 United Kingdom +, writes (9 January 2013):

I am also in an all too similar situation with my boyfriend of 2 years. I have a degree and Im currently earning a half decent wage in a good job. He has been through a string of crap jobs with no real career prospects, since we started dating. I love and care for him so much and I know that he feels the same and would be loyal and faithful to me always...But it's just not enough!

I actually resent the fact that his whole life revolves around me and our relationship. I wish that sometimes he was motivated enough to want to change his life and make a career for himself, he has a passion and he has experience now but he is yet to do anything positive to sort his life out. We regularly discuss our future and he seems to want the same things as me but I'm starting to feel his words are empty and that his lack of ambition will never allow us to have the life we want. How long does a person wait?? I have spent a lot of time trying up motivate him, trying to help him get himself together but I feel that it's wasted. I constantly ask him if he has started to apply for jobs or if anything is going up change and all I get is him breaking down and getting upset, I hate to see him like this but I can't bare not knowing if things will ever change. A real battle over heart and head but which one to listen to?

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A male reader, sausalito United States +, writes (8 December 2011):

Hello,

So, I'm writing from a guy's point of view, but more for a need for perspective than anything else. So you see, I was dating a girl with a pretty similar personality. Motivated by work, has a high paying job and though open minded, comes from a background where career and education and the advancement of both are paramount to many things. Though things were rocky at first (misunderstandings and trying to articulate what our relationship would be like through the obvious attraction we had for each other), though it eventually got better, much better. At the same time, her primary concern seemed to be about my career. I am part of a family business in real estate investment and development, and she didn't know what exactly owning one's own business meant. eventually she came around. i then decided after much back and forth that I would in fact apply to business school because i wanted to change my career and explore new territory. i started studying for the GMAT, but then stopped as i got disheartened by how long it will take me to get a higher score, and thus I won't be able to apply in time. she got really disappointed in this, and was upset to see me upset with myself for the situation. The issue subsided, but still flared up every now and then. I told her to try and be patient while i figure out my next steps, but she got increasingly concerned about what my direction was actually going to be. Eventually i became so frustrated that I had to break it off with her, though we did keep in touch. Then we started to spend time together, but not intimately. I asked her at that point where she saw this going. She said she was not able to get over me, but she wanted someone with direction who had a plan and went aggressively after it. she said she didn't expect me to make a million bucks, and wasn't asking for a laundry list. i admit my ego/pride was not able to handle it at first, and again told her that i wanted her to understand and stand with me while i figured this out. this issue came to a head. she told me she was in love with me but she was starting to have trust issues and was being driven to just give up. I told her I was more motivated now to pursue my MBA than I ever have been, and have been studying for it, but I also wanted to explore the idea of owning my own business (coming from an entrepreneur background, this has always been a desire of mine). It didnt' seem like she welcomed that idea, as she saw that again I was hedging my bets between careers and didn't have the conviction needed to sincerely go after one thing. She said it wasn't that I lacked ambition, but that at any time I had multiple things going on, and that because i divided my energies, everything moved very slowly. Ultimately, it was about career pacing. her pace was different from mine. one thing that seemed to have defined a good part of our relationship was when she applied to business school, she went after it very, very aggressively. she would point to that and say she went through one of the most ambitious times in her life, while i seemed to be unsure and moving slowly. She eventually started to say that she wanted to explore elsewhere, and that she wasn't saying this to hurt me but it's just something she wanted right now and that she wanted me to let it go, let it be. I pulled out all the stops in trying to convince her otherwise, but it seemed she didn't want to budge. I finally told her the rest of what I was holding back, that during all this time, when talking about career differences, etc, that i loved her, and that i've been in love with her for a while. perhaps i didn't make it very official earlier, but i wanted to let her know that i realize that. She asked why tell her all this now after it's over, that she's not in that place any more, and she doesn't want to think back to that time because she doesn't want to ruin the sanctity of our time spent together. since then i've kept in touch with her about once a week. We met for dinner before she went on a trip over seas, and it was nice - she said ti was nice to see me, got a little misty eyed when i comforted her about something, and in the end she said she had a nice time. we have kept in touch via email since she came back, and she called to wish me a happy birthday recently. just a note throughout this entire relationship - i care about her...a lot. that may or may not seem obvious but i have done things for her in the past that have blown her way from that have come from this loving feeling, if for no other reason than the urge to express my love. i hand made a card recently for a very big holiday in our culture, where i basically made the shape of a lamp on the front of a card using colorful threading we use as part of the holiday's ritual. so, when she came back, she had a cold. i sent her a link to an over the counter medication she can use to help. she replied saying thanks and that she had been on the same thing for some time. i told her i hope her day was going ok, and that she's here, and when she feels better, it would be nice to meet. the next day, i made her ginger tea and left it at her building. i texted her letting her know i made some tea for her fever, and that she should add honey, and to be careful, might be hot. she called back, taken a back, saying i really didn't have to , and that i should stop doing things like that. i heard an amused/charmed tone over the phone, but i acknowledged what she was saying. i asked her how she was feeling, she said she was at her girl friend's place, and would go pick up the tea. she asked why i did it, i said i didn't think much else would work for her fever. i asked her if she could meet, and she muttered something about having to meet a friend's friend, and then was going to go home and sleep. she said she didn't think she was in the condition to meet, and that we would meet in some time. i said okay, i would get back to my studying, and that i would talk to her later. the next day, while texting back and forth, she said she wanted me to stop doing things like that. i said i cared for her and did it, really wasn't much else to it. i told her i wasnt' sorry i made it, but if it makes her feel uncomfortable, then i want to respect that and i will not do it again. she said thank you,that she didn't want to hhurt me but she thought it was the right thing to do. i called her after and left a message saying sorry, and to call me back. she later texted that night saying she will call me today morning, but nothing as yet.

Anyway, the smaller back and forth apart. I realize that i need to have a higher standard for myself, ad be able to go after what i want to regardless of what her standards are for me. it hurts that she isn't here with me while i go for it, but i've got to take it in stride and go after it anyway. Part of me realizes that I'm afraid I wont measure up to her standard, and that whatever chance i might have will be lost if i don't get into business school this year. I am developing a longer term view of things, looking at plan B and making phone calls to heads of small companies I know, and getting their feedback. If I re-apply, it will need to be with better career experience either in the family business or elsewhere to show a progression in career. To the ladies here...you all sound lovely. I am reminded of her when I read about the hurt you have been going through, of your guy not being at the place you are, when you are trying to go forward, and at some point feeling like he is holding you back, and that there might be better elsewhere. I understand that feeling now much more clearly. I just wonder if you ever broke up with this guy, if he had slowly but surely began to shape his future and went after it (note: not just talked about it, but demonstrated steps he has taken to get there), how would you look at that? I wonder also, what thoughts you have on what I wrote above, if you have any questions I can clarify, I'd be happy to. And thank you for reading...

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A female reader, bunny6 United Kingdom +, writes (27 January 2010):

Hey ladies,

Boy, seems we're all in similar situations here. Without boring you with all the details, my boyf is to a wonderful man and I love him dearly. I know he will make a wonderful father and all he wants to do is settle down, so why is this not enough for me? He too is on a low income salary and has been in and out of jobs for years. Although he has always contributed every month to the running costs of my home, he has no real scope for any salary increase soon. Even with training and years of experience he'll be lucky to earn the national average salary.

I've have a career in sales which offers a very competitive salary however it does not make me happy or challenge me in the way that I need (I would love to retrain in a creative career one day but this does not pay well). With his request to start a family in the next few years (he is 7 yrs older than me) I feel that I need to aim for an even higher salary/more pressure to afford the necessitates that go along with having a baby.

I have also been working towards a goal of owning a beautiful family home with room for my children to play. He seems to think our tiny 2 bed home is big enough and that babies don't take up much room but I feel my goal will be harder to achieve if we have a child before I reach it and am finding this difficult to do on my own. I love him dearly but do I have to forfeit my dreams to be with him?

I think the common denominator here is that we all earn substantially more than our partners. My mother always said it would be a problem but I never thought it would. It seems that as soon as things start to get more serious in the relationship it becomes a bigger issue. But should we just feel fortunate that we have wonderful men at our sides, regardless of their pay packet? Perhaps we should just feel fortunate that in the current economic climate at least one of us has a well paid job and for some the other is working. I really don't know the answer. It'll break my heart to see my dreams never realised and I can't help feeling I would live to regret it. Plus, the thought of never seeing my children as a result of a demanding job doesn't fill me with joy. I suppose at the end of the day, the strength of your love will be the deciding factor.

Good Luck ladies. Would like to hear how you get on and the decisions you've made.

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A female reader, LucyBurns United States +, writes (12 December 2009):

This is wild--an utter phenomenon...

I too am in the same situation: fantastic-stay-at-home-boyfriend. He's a great artist...but his plans are not big enough for me to feel comfortable about our future.

He's totally unrealistic!

I wonder if the solution is to stop trying to make the situation into what we see on TV (the way we think it should be) and go Oprah style. Meaning, we must have separate lives from these men. We must have different homes and bank accounts and only see them for romance on our down time--utilizing what they're good at, right!

But, further more, letting them have the lives they are making for themselves. Us, being their hot career girlfriends/lovers who own their own homes and apartments with duo-degrees etc.... It's their fantasy.

This, perhaps meaning no babies--I can live without...for those whose priorities are in having a family...well, that's were it gets sticky.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (18 November 2009):

Ya know girls, when reading this I too thought it was scary how similar our situations are. Not to all of your responses but to the first and second one. My boyfriend too is a great guy. He is honest, devoted, dead sexy, funny, creative, and my bestfriend. However, like many of you when it comes to a career path is unmotivated. I too have tried being motivated for him, paying for his "companys" insurance and permits. But it drives me crazy that hr will actually miss appointments for jobs people have asked him to do. We have been together for 5 years. I've graduated from college I have a great job and yes, I pay the bills. I used to fight with him about this. But I realize I cannot be his motivation he has to do that on his own. I cannot change him all I can do is choose to either leave him or stay and look at the good things we have. As responsable women one thing we have that women in 1950 didn't have is that we can choose. If we are finacially independent we can be with the man who might not ever be able to buy us a new car for Christmas or take us on Paris vacations but the guy who

is the real love our lives. I know women personally who are with men that

make into the six and seven figures. Many times these couples don't have a fraction of the love for each other that my boyfriend and I share. My boyfriend thinks the world of me. If I gain some weight it doesn't bother him. He has alot of really cool guy friends but he would honestly just rather stay home and watch a movie with me than go out all hours of the night with his buddies. In my professional life I know alot of married men who even after work will go out to the bar and hate going home to their wives. For me, I realize this love I have is rare. Most people never find it a life time. I don't kid myself that I will ever find this pure and beautiful love twice in my life. So, does my boyfriend's lack of motivation bother me. Yes! If it wernt for this he would be the prefect guy. But, I realize that I also am a strong person, and if living my life happy in love means I'm going to have to buy my own dream home someday and fund our Paris vacation. I can live with that. Because Paris with anyone else just wouldn't be worth it.

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A female reader, AtEndOfRope United States +, writes (20 September 2009):

Wow... I read this and for a second, thought I wrote it (and just forgot). I am in the same exact situation - literally it is so close it's scary.

I'm 28, boyfriend is 30, we've been dating for almost 2.5 years now. My boyfriend is the most attractive guy I've met - the chemistry was off the charts for both of us, he is so creative and funny, we get along amazingly (even when stuck together for weeks at a time!) and he is completely and utterly devoted and in love with me. He takes great care of me, is so loving and attentive, would make a fabulous father...our friends and families even get along tremendously well. We've spoken about marriage in the past and I aboslutely thought that he was the one for me...

So what's wrong? Well, he's been out of a job for the last year and a hafl. And there's no sign of him getting one soon - at all. In fact, I don't think he's really done anything productive career-wise for the last year and a half... he got a website up, started a blog... but hasn't improved his skills or even used his skills really at all. He hasn't gone on ONE INTERVIEW!~~ Not a single one in a year and a half.

To top it off, he lives with me... yes I pay the rent, bills, everything - and have not asked him in the past for money while he's 'getting on his feet.'

But I am at the end of my rope now. He's such an amazing guy - but lives in a dream world where he's waiting for his perfect/ideal job, and he's willing to live with me under my roof for as long as that takes... but i'm not.

He's just so disconnected with the 'reality' of being an adult - the world of paying bills, having adult responsibilities, lease/mortgage, managing finances/funds, having goals (professional & professional), a career, being productive in some way shape or form while you're on this planet, a DIRECTION IN LIFE. The only thing he's absolutely sure of is that he's in love with me and wants to be with me.

It is 100% the opposite of who I am - driven, ambitious, trying to accomplish a lot both personally and professionally, having at least a semblence of a plan for life.

What do I do? I can't help him (I've tried - so many times, in so many diferent ways - love, money, encouragement, paying for his website for a year, resume help, networking with my own network on his behalf, helping him research/look). I now think I"m just enabling the situation to continue. We are both going nowhere right now. IT shows no signs of changing.

If he coudl just prove to me he has direction and some ambition, that would be enough. But he will not work until he gets his dream job, and he does not have the experience to get his dream job... so the cycle continues.

He lives with me too. What do I do and how do I do it. I can't take it anymore.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 July 2009):

I have the same issue. I am with a guy I've liked since we were in high school, but we only started dating in out late 20's. I'm in graduate school and make a very respectable wage. He, on the other hand, never went to college. I urged him to start taking classes, but he was too lazy to finish registering. I had ANOTHER conversation with him tonight and told him that I want to be with a guy who makes as much if not more than me, and wants the same things in life that I do. He said that I was living in 1950, and asked what was wrong with a woman supporting a man. I screamed, BECAUSE MEN ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE BREADWINNERS! Seriously, he thinks I am the one person who thinks that. I have tried to get him to move out of my place so many times it's ridiculous. His whole world revolves around me, he has no friends, and is really clingy. He needs to get some self respect and some cajones! I am so turned off by his lack of motivation and we haven't relaly kissed or had sex in over 4 months. I don't understand why he wants to stay with me - oh yeah, now I remember, because I support him. Silly me. Hey, anyone out there looking for a roommate? haha

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (4 March 2009):

i am in the same situation. love my boyfriend, we've been together 6 years, he is my best friend, completely loyal to me, etc. but i am very ambitious with a good job and an advanced degree, while he never even finished high school. he works as a bartender and seems happy with that. he says that he one day wants to start his own business but he hasn't actually made any effort to do that. i believe that he will one day be successful, but it could be 5 or even 10 years before he decides to grow up. the question is, how much longer can you wait? i am going to be 30 in july and as much as i love him, i know i am wasting my time. and my bio clock is ticking. you can't let your heart make your decisions. listen to your head.

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A female reader, whatalife United Kingdom +, writes (3 March 2009):

I am in a very similar situation my partner has no real motivation he works hard but at a job with a low income and no reward he cannot move up in the company and is settling for a teenagers wage in his mid 30's, however this is unacceptable as we have a baby who I stay home to care for and we cannot afford to pay the bills, I run my own small business from home so work hard to bring my son up and try to bring some money in, I sit here stressing about how to pay the rent etc and he just plods along in a dream world, I on the other hand have lost all sexual connection with him and question if I actually love him now. I have direction in my life and I know what I want to achieve career wise and family wise he does not and also revolves his life around me and baby, which is not a bad thing but he needs to focus on who he is, he never goes out with friends...I have confronted him on several ocassion but I get a negative response, I can only guess that deep down he knows this what being uostaged by a female on the career front must be very embarrassing for a man. I think that two adults should be able to have different directions in life and still be able to work together, however when one has motivation and wants to achieve this normally will not work with a person who is completely the opposite.

Although you wont want to hurt him you need to think about yourself, will he change?, or will this continue until you really have had enough. Try to encourage him to discover his interests or ambitions. Good Luck x

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (3 March 2009):

I am in a very similar situation my partner has no real motivation he works hard but at a job with a low income and no reward he cannot move up in the company and is settling for a teenagers wage in his mid 30's, however this is unacceptable as we have a baby who I stay home to care for and we cannot afford to pay the bills, I run my own small business from home so work hard to bring my son up and try to bring some money in, I sit here stressing about how to pay the rent etc and he just plods along in a dream world, I on the other hand have lost all sexual connection with him and question if I actually love him now. I have direction in my life and I know what I want to achieve career wise and family wise he does not and also revolves his life around me and baby, which is not a bad thing but he needs to focus on who he is, he never goes out with friends...I have confronted him on several ocassion but I get a negative response, I can only guess that deep down he knows this what being uostaged by a female on the career front must be very embarrassing for a man. I think that two adults should be able to have different directions in life and still be able to work together, however when one has motivation and wants to achieve this normally will not work with a person who is completely the opposite.

Although you wont want to hurt him you need to think about yourself, will he change?, or will this continue until you really have had enough. Try to encourage him to discover his interests or ambitions. Good Luck x

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A female reader, sappygirl United States +, writes (12 February 2009):

sappygirl agony auntI hate to tell you but this could be a deal breaker.

If you married this guy this is what you're going to get and he's not going to change anytime soon. If you are okay with supporting him, being the breadwinner, then go for it.

But if you absolutely can't stand it, then maybe it's best to end it. It's hard but you have to look at how you want your life to be. It's not selfish it's taking care of yourself. You are on your path, he is on his, and as much as we want our partner to be in sync with us, sometimes it doesn't work out that way.

best of luck

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