My Boyfriend is Wonderful, but Not Ambitious or Successful

My Boyfriend is Wonderful, but Not Ambitious or Successful

Hi Evan,

I have been struggling with the fact I have a wonderful man in my life who loves me more than I’ve ever felt loved, but I’m just not satisfied somehow. We have known one another for about ten years dating on and off, taking a four year break at one point. He is VERY persistent and continues to take me back into his life if I let him. We are compatible on many levels, but there is one thing that continues to turn me off (from ten years ago to now) and that is his lack of ambition to be successful professionally. I wouldn’t be picky about his career field of choice but at the rate it’s going I’ll never see him in a 6 o’clock loosened tie… which is a huge turn on for me.

I’m very much that young professional go getter with the high stress job, always moving to the next promotion. I’m busy all the time professionally and personally because I thrive on feeling accomplished. He on the other hand is satisfied with bringing home an okay pay check to put food on his table, not that concerned with finishing college (he’s 31) and rarely has anything interesting to talk about outside of “us”, movies, and other media outlet driven conversation. A full day of freedom in my life does not revolve around TV, 90% of his would.

I can’t let go of wishing he were a stronger, more creative, more successful man who I could look to for experienced life advice. I’m very independent but I’d also like to get some reassurance and empathy from a reliable source from time to time. I know that’s harsh. I would never say those things to him, but it’s how I feel. I find the sexiest thing about a man is his intelligence, and no matter if a person is well read or not, a great deal of intelligence comes from professional life experience. Please tell me I’m being too hard on him and myself.  I should be happy to have a man who loves me and I can trust.

Thanks,
CJ

Thank you, CJ, for writing one of the most self-aware letters I’ve run. I think everyone here can feel your pain. Love is only easy when we’re so whipped that we can’t even think clearly. In such circumstances, there are no decisions to be made. But right now, you’re seeing things quite clearly. Which means the world is grey, not black and white.

Love is only easy when we’re so whipped that we can’t even think clearly.

So before I get into talking about him, let’s talk about you.

You’re not a gold-digger for wanting a guy who is more ambitious.
You’re not snobby for finding intelligence sexy.
You’re not shallow for craving conversation that doesn’t revolve around pop culture.
And you’re not wrong for wishing he were stronger, more creative, and more experienced professionally.

The questions that linger for me are these….

1)    Are compatibility and kindness more important than worldliness and ambition?
2)    Is it realistic to think that you can find a worldly, professional man who is as kind and compatible as your current boyfriend?

This is the calculus of dating. And the same answers don’t apply to everyone. Which is why giving advice on such individual matters is somewhere between impossible and pointless.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t try.

Someone told me recently that women expect men to fulfill ALL of their needs, which sets them up for failure. They want men to fulfill the role of their best girlfriend and their rock solid Marlboro Man simultaneously. As I said in “Men Don’t Go Both Ways” chapter of “Why You’re Still Single”, these are different men and you’ll always be disappointed if you expect a man to cover all bases. Strangely, this is one area in which I think men “get it” more. We can compartmentalize. Which is why we’d rather watch football with only the guys, while you’d like us to come shoe shopping with you.

Point is, it’s a failing proposition to expect one man to be all things to you. Thus, you have to make hard choices. What’s most important to you? And what things can you NOT get from anyone BUT your boyfriend?

I’ve wrestled with that myself, because, like you, I get a rise out of ambition, philosophy, and creativity. Who doesn’t? But I can talk to my business coach about my business, I can talk to my best guy friend about philosophy, and I can experience my own creativity and others’ creativity in 1000 other forms. But I can’t make love to my business coach. I can’t wake up next to my best guy friend. And with all the art and culture out in the world, I don’t need my spouse to be a creator as much as an appreciator.

I get the joy of sophistication. It’s fun to feel like the witty, urbane couple that can break bread with the prime minister if need be. Just know that apart from the spark you feel around a sophisticate, it doesn’t have much inherent value. The ability to quote Proust pales in comparison with the person who will drive you to your chemo treatments in thirty years.

The ability to quote Proust pales in comparison with the person who will drive you to your chemo treatments in thirty years.

So, back to the original question: are compatibility and kindness more important than worldliness and ambition? Well, if it were either kindness OR worldliness, I’d say yes. But there are ambitious people who are kind as well. And it would be easy to tell you to dump your guy and seek one of these guys out. The thing is that most good qualities often come with bad qualities as well. The ambitious guy may work 70 hours a week. The sophisticated guy may be a know-it-all and a snob. You just don’t know until you put yourself out there. There’s a pretty big risk in doing so.

I would encourage you to look long and hard at what really matters, CJ, and how hard it is to find it. For years, I said that I wasn’t jealous of any of my married friends because it’s not like they married MY wife. And I meant it – I never really met anyone with whom I was super-compatible. But now that I have someone with whom I’m super-compatible, my mind succumbs to the temptation – what if there’s someone else? Someone younger. Someone more accomplished. Someone more well-read.

Is there someone like that out there? Maybe. But she wouldn’t have the number one quality that my girlfriend has: she accepts me as I am, and loves me unconditionally. No other girlfriend I’ve ever had has done that. Which is why I’m keeping her and never letting her go.

I can’t say what’s right for you, my friend. Intellectual stimulation matters. Money definitely matters. But if you can get stimulation from other people and you can make money yourself, why not land the one thing you can’t get anywhere else – a partner for life?

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jan

    Evan—this was a GREAT answer to her question!!!!

    1. 1.1
      Dk

      Cj run for your life….. She will be looking for that dude forever… He doesn’t exist

  2. 2
    SJ

    BEST DAMN POST ON ANY DATING SITE…. EVER! BRAVO EVAN!

  3. 3
    Debra

    I have just met a similar kind of guy and I wonder where you draw the line on not wanting to be too success driven and having the “Peter Pan complex”. On the surface he seems super nice, we seem to like some of the same things, etc, but from our conversations it seems that he would like to spend his time doing what he enjoys and not take a job that he would not be happy doing at his age (we are both over 50). I see this as a red flag that the relationship won’t be “equal” and either he intends to mooch off of me or if he has too much pride he will mope about how he has to depend on me. My thoughts are – I can’t afford a husband right now and if I have spare money I would like to do what I enjoy and not just support his hobbies. I think it might fall under the category of having different values and it could be a real deal breaker for me.

  4. 4
    Selena

    I really liked Evan’s reply. I don’t know though how much impact it will have on CJ in the long run. The things she writes that bother her about her bf have been bothering her for 10 YEARS. With a 4 yr. break included. She writes they are compatible on many levels, but obviously not on this one and it would seem as they both get older, this level is becomming more and more important to her.

    I have to wonder if she’s just “settling” until the guy with the “6 o’clock loosened tie” comes her way. Kinda sad all the way around.

  5. 5
    Paul

    Hey, wait a minute…I thought love conquers all? Guess not. Like Evan said, no guy can fulfill all your needs, and it seems that is what CJ is looking for. I never had a big problem with the “settling” issue because I think largely it was taken out of context. If the word “compromise” or “adjust” was used it wouldn’t have been an issue. And we do have to compromise all the time. I think she has a pretty good deal going with this guy, but has she told him how she feels? Maybe he needs someone to “knock him around a bit” (guy talk) to let him know he needs to be more wordly and interesting – that no woman wants a guy who just sits on the couch and watches TV all day. Most guys need a little nudging in that area. Maybe CJ is putting too much emphasis on somehting that may seem important now but may not be in the long run.

  6. 6
    Steve


    But I can talk to my business coach about my business, I can talk to my best guy friend about philosophy, and I can experience my own creativity and others creativity in 1000 other forms. But I can’t make love to my business coach. I can’t wake up next to my best guy friend.

    Sure you can, it would just be very awkward :).

  7. 7
    Steve

    CJ;

    I don’t think you or your BF are wrong/deficient/whatever for being who you are and wanting the (different) things you two want. Be aware that neither of you are going to change in this regard. The question you have ask yourself is if the lack of desired qualities in your BF are enough for you to go find someone else. Can you be happy for the next 40 years living without those qualities in a husband?

    I think there is a lot of insight to be had from asking why has a woman who describes herself as a go-getter stayed with such a man for 10 years, even going back to him after a 4 year break.

    No fair, you can’t use the “he is compatible in every other way” card. As Evan wrote, their are guys with more ambition and intellectual drives who have the qualities you want and an intelligent woman like you already knows that.

    I think once you examine these questions you will feel more strongly about staying or going which will help you make a decision.

  8. 8
    BeenThruTheWars

    C.J.,

    Evan was much more even-handed than I would’ve been. Reading your letter just made me mad.

    You have wasted ten years of this poor guy’s life, plus ten years of your own in the process of dating him (read: keeping him on the string). After this length of time, you know exactly who he is and what he has to offer as a human being and yet you are chronically dissatisfied, which he has to know at least intuitively, and which surely must hurt him deeply. You keep yo-yo-ing back and forth, dancing in and out of the relationship, and he takes you back every time. Congratulations. Aren’t you the lucky one, to be able to keep someone hanging in like that, hoping, for a good chunk of his adult life.

    You say, I can’t let go of wishing he were a stronger, more creative, more successful man who I could look to for experienced life advice. You want HIM to change – be different improve, in your eyes be more like you. You keep yearning for your man to morph into a person he clearly isn’t. Enough! People don’t change, or at least we should not expect them to unless it’s something they decide to do for themselves, by themselves. We should either love our mates the way they are or move on. Anything less than full acceptance is a sign you shouldn’t be together, or at least that you certainly won’t be happy together.

    It sounds like you presently are “tolerating” him which is the kiss of death in a long-term relationship. It’s one thing to tolerate a man’s bad habit (like biting his nails or being late sometimes); you don’t like it, but it’s not a deal breaker, and it’s not a black mark against him as a person. It’s quite another to merely tolerate who a man IS at his core — which in your case is a very simple, straightforward, average Joe. You know this, you say it isn’t enough for you, and yet you remain indecisive let the poor man go, already.

    If you do stick around will you really be able to love him unconditionally, as Evan urges? Or is he always going to feel criticized and not enough in his loved one’s eyes? How sad. How downright cruel. Saying you think a guy in a 6 o’clock tie is a turn-on implies that this man is NOT a turn-on, because he doesn’t happen to have a professional bent. Instead, he prefers to have fun and balance in his life. He seeks to be entertained and enjoy himself in his free time, like most emotionally healthy people. He must be extremely easygoing to put up with the kind of nonsense you’ve been dishing out all these years.

    Tell you what: you break things off with him and go out there and find Mr. Ambitious Intellectual Dude to dazzle you (good luck with that), and I will introduce your boyfriend to about a dozen of my single friends who are sick of game players and men who vanish and aren’t stable or steady, and would thank their lucky STARS to meet a solid, affable, forgiving young guy like your boyfriend.

    As Evan says, you aren’t wrong AT ALL to want a man who is more like you and shares your values, goals and dreams. Not at all! What upsets me is that you don’t seem to have the courage to say to yourself, Alas, this isn’t the right man for me. Because I do love him, I’m going to let him go with love so he will be free to find a woman who will truly appreciate him and be grateful for him every day of their lives together. Now that I think of it, you are depriving THREE people of happiness and contentment: yourself, your boyfriend, and the woman who would make him a wonderful, loving wife, the woman who would make him feel like a king and her forever hero! which every man deserves to feel like with his wife, if with no one else in this difficult world. If you can’t do that for him, because you simply are unable to please do the right thing and say goodbye.

    1. 8.1
      Ivonne

      While I absolutely loved Evan’s response.  
      I have to say I completely agree with you too. Clearly she
      hasn’t been able to find the charming professional she
      wants because she keeps coming back to this poor guy.
       

  9. 9
    Bev

    Hey, Lady, send me your boyfriend’s number. I would take him in a heart beat!!!

  10. 10
    Honey

    I would have to throw my lot in with Selena on this one. If this issue is bothering her as much or more ten years later, rather than less, then I don’t know how likely it is that she’s going to be able to overlook it now. Although I think Evan makes a great point about women compartmentalizing a little more, you really have to figure out what is non-negotiable for you. It sounds like CJ really really WANTS this to be negotiable, but it’s not.

  11. 11
    A-L

    I’ve agreed with almost all of the comments so far, but I have a few questions for CJ.

    1) What did you think of your dates during your 4 year break? If you dated the urbane & ambitious, what kept you from staying with them? Compare the guys you have dated with those characteristics to the guy you’re currently seeing. In which situation are you happier?

    2) How old are you? Though you shouldn’t try settle for less than what you’ll be happy with, it is true that the older you get the smaller the dating pool becomes, and hence it will likely be harder to find a man with all of the qualities you’re looking for.

    3) I know that you’re ambitious, but are you the creative type who constantly wants to discuss philosophy and world events? For instance, I’m interested in a man who enjoys camping or adventursome sports, but at the same time that’s a very small percentage of how I actually live my life.

    4) Is there room for compromise here? If his life revolves around the tv, would the two of you be willing to make one of those hours the Lehrer News Hours instead of Deal or No Deal and talking about it? Would that make a difference for you?

    5) Last but not least, are you happier with him, or by yourself? That’s frequently a good way for me to figure out what to do about a relationship; if it makes you happier, then it’s a good thing.

  12. 12
    Selena

    I also wonder what happened during the 4 yrs. they were apart. Did she just not find any ambitious, successful, tie wearing guys? Is that why she went back to Mr. Nice Guy, laid-back, reliable? It almost sounds like he’s a default boyfriend, rather than a man she truly loves for himself.

  13. 13
    christine

    hi cj,

    i’ll take him!

    christine

  14. 14
    naturegirl

    CJ – If some quality of your boyfriend bothers you now (and for the last 10 years), it WILL bother you for the rest of your life. As beenthruthewars says, people change because they want to, not because you want them to. Love does not conquer all.

    What about if or when you want to have children? Will you be satisfied with a stay at home husband? Will he be satisfied? Will the kids get what they need and deserve? Will you be satisfied working full time and not seeing your kids grow up? What about if you divorce after the kids come? Will you be happy paying child support and alimony to an underperforming ex-husband? There is a good chance that you will end up carrying him financially.

    My ex-husband was not ambitious, and became a reluctant, low performing stay at home husband (I made 3X what he did, so it made financial sense for me to keep working). Instead of taking the initiative to improve his job skills, he blamed me for his situation. I stayed in a loveless marriage in order to provide some stability for my children. It all fell apart anyway.

    You need to find a mate that you love and accept unconditionally, and respect. I don’t get the impression that you respect your boyfriend. Yes, finding someone to accept you for who you are is very difficult. But, relationships get more stressful and complicated when you really try to build a future together and start a family. The pre-marriage stage of a relationship is actually pretty simple. If you don’t think he has what it takes to provide you the life ultimately want, then release him back to the dating pool.

    1. 14.1
      Bri

      I think that this was the best response so far. Thank you, it helped me et some more perspective on my relationship. 

      A few things I want to add:
      If its become clear that a man doesn’t want to “work” on the relationship to make things better for the both of you, then he’s being selfish. It is true: love conquers all. But love isn’t just “warm fuzzy feelings”. Its the ability to make a little bit of a compromise on *both* sides. You should be able to see the truth and intelligence in his way of life and learn from it, and he should be able to self-reflect and understand why being more ambitious might actually give him more satisfaction as well as you. Its not an ultimatum. But if you can’t work it out and are being impatient with each other, then don’t torture each other. Just walk away. The bond isn’t strong enough to create the life you both want to live. 

  15. 15
    Steve

    A-L, comment #11, insightful questions.

  16. 16
    Michele

    CJ…we are similar in that we profess independence and upward professional mobiity. Since your boyfriend is in his early 30’s project that you are fairly close to his age.

    I, on the other hand, am a baby boomer who was married to a man with characteristics similar to your man. And that marriage is now in the past tense because as I grew, he did not. I know now that those who claim to be willing to change are not necessarily on point.

    Your attraction to the 6 PM loose tie guy may/not alter over time, but I can assure you that a man in his early 30’s who is into the status quo is NOT going to change. Expecting a great revelation (on his part) is imaginary.

    Since parting ways over 10 years ago with the X, I now have a successful business and squeeze in as many “cultural” expeditions as possible. I also remain single and am not necessarily unhappy with my status.

    You have some issues to consider CJ. Will you be content to do the “opposites attract” or swim further out into the sea to find Mr. Somewhat More Compatible.

    I only speak (write) from my personal experience(s) and will attest to the fact that Evan’s site has been of great help to me. One reason why I now date very selectively.

    Best Wishes to you CJ……..the World is really an interesting place.

  17. 17
    Eda

    I think it is very telling that CJ never indicated that she loves her boyfriend — only that he loves her. If she doesn’t love him at all — let alone unconditionally — the most caring thing she can do is let him go — permanently. He deserves someone who will love him unconditionally, and CJ should find a man whom she can have a mutually loving relationship. Like many other posters, I sincerely doubt that she will ever be able to have that type of relationship with him. As another person indicated, it’s not his bad habits that she has issues with, she has issues with who this man is at his core. I think she needs to acknowledge that he’s just not the right man for her. As hard as you might try, you just can’t make yourself love someone if you don’t.

    While I know it’s easy to be hard on CJ for keeping this man around, he is culpable too because CJ made it pretty clear that she leaves and he keeps taking her back and/or asking her to come back. I think any person with a healthy dose of pride and self-esteem should not allow themselves to be taken for granted no matter how much they love someone. So, at some point, it’s actually his responsibility to take care of himself and break up with her.

  18. 18
    A-L

    Thanks, Steve.

  19. 19
    smartcookie

    I was in almost the exact same situation. I found a man who knew me like no one else did, who was so thoughtful, we enjoyed doing things together.

    HOwever, he didn’t finish school, had low paying jobs and didn’t have much ambition to get ahead in the world. I tried and tried to not let that bother me, but in the end, my success and financial stability was becoming a problem. When I would go to make a major purchase, like furniture, it wasn’t a joint decision-he felt uncomfortable about it when I wanted his input.

    For a time he was unemployed and happy to collect a check from the government. I wondered, what would happen if I couldn’t work-would he step up? Could he step up?

    Marriage is about a partnership-love isn’t always enough. I don’t believe two ppl have to place the same importance on career success and salary, but I do believe you have to be somewhat similar in your work ethic.

    1. 19.1
      cutiemoi

      I agree with you. I’m 23 and last yr of college and i been dating a man who is 30. He made few mistakes when was young which  r hunting him now. He dropped out of high school when he was in his junior yr and never went bk. I mean i love him and he loves me.  He’s sweet and smart, but never had anyone in his life that make him c it. I’m about to finish my undergrate n will be attending law school. I c how he struggle to be apart from me even for hrs bc he think i’ll find someone better and leave him. I c how he struggle to get a job. He is good at building houses and love it…but with no degree he has few options and can’t argue on what they decide to pay him. So it made me wonder, if he is having hard time providing for himself now, how is going to provide for me and the kids we talk about having? I don’t want to live my life paycheck to paycheck. My father worked hard to put himself to school so me and siblings wouldn’t have to worry of where r meals will come from. I want to do the same for my kids…give them a good life. So I told my boyfriend…he either go bk to school or lets part our ways. i don’t want to waste my time or his…if he is comfortable leaving on paycheck to paycheck, i’m not. I never had to worried about money my entire life that’s bc my parents made sure of it..so i don’t want my kids to have to worry abt it either. I told my boyfriend since he wants to marry me…i want to c a degree in his hand and a stable job. I will support him, help him in anyway i can and hold the house down while he is in school. I don’t mind that, but if he is comfortable with his life style then we need to say goodbye so we don’t waste each other’s time. 

  20. 20
    Sarah G

    BTTW: Wow. That’s rough. I didn’t read all that into what CJ had to say.

    I do wonder if we have all the information — is it just that the boyfriend isn’t ambitious or is it that he’s an underperformer? Is he letting her carry him b/c he doesn’t feel like getting off the couch? Or is he some kind of alternative lifestyle guy who just has different values regarding worldly achievement? Hard to know.

    But let’s say the issue isn’t wordly success but weight. Let’s say she’s out there hitting the gym and watching what she eats and looking all hot and he’s sitting on the couch slurping down pepperoni pizza every night and rubbing a beer gut. He could be the sweetest guy on the planet and absolutely adore her (and why wouldn’t he?), but that isn’t going to make him more attractive or a better partner. By contrast, if some guy wrote in saying how great his girlfriend of 10 years is, but that she’s really overweight and never works on getting healthy/in shape, like she always says she wants to, and the guy is saying how he’s attracted to other, more fit women — who would have sympathy for the woman and tell him he should just suck it up, that she’s loving and kind to him and that that’s so much more important than whether or not he’s attracted to her and proud of her.

    Point being: Somebody adoring YOU is not a pass into good-relationship-land. Plenty of losers adore non-losers and try to attach themselves to them. As someone else pointed out, he is the one pursuing her, not vice versa. Why is he doing that? If he’s so great and she’s so horrible for not being that into him, why isn’t he taking his stellar loving self and finding an equal to reciprocate?

    Hard to know the answers to these questions without more info, though. I don’t condemn CJ for wanting more and for being confused, however. And there are lots of successful guys who are terrific and not jerks, so she can find her equal, too.

  21. 21
    Steve


    Smartcookie:
    Marriage is about a partnership-love isn’t always enough. I don’t believe two ppl have to place the same importance on career success and salary, but I do believe you have to be somewhat similar in your work ethic.

    That is one of the take home quotes of this thread.

    It hits the nail right on the head. I’ve seen this stressor in the relationships of my friends and family. It happens even if the wife/girlfriend is the non-worker, low-ambition person where the people involved grew up accepting that it is okay for wives to be like that.

  22. 22
    Steve

    Sarah G, post #20.
    I believe CJ wrote in her letter that the BF took her back, not that he pursued her. I also don’t think it is necessary to use labels like “loser”. Different people want different things out of life and other people are not losers because they don’t share someone else’s desires. I think that is one of the core issues for CJ, coming to terms that she and her boyfriend have different values.

  23. 23
    Markus

    Hey ceej, go get your 6 figure salary man. Just make sure you post here when you catch him snorting coke off some hooker’s ass.

  24. 24
    Sarah G

    I wasn’t calling her boyfriend a loser. I was using the word to explain my example. I was saying that we don’t know if he’s a loser looking to attach himself to a winner, I was saying that we need more info. But so many people were coming down hard on CJ for not seeing his value, and I was saying that MAYBE there is another way to interpret her angst, that it might be justifiable. And she described him as “persistent,” which I interpret as saying that he pursued her and took her back after the break up. Again, maybe that isn’t what happened. We don’t have enough info.

  25. 25
    vino

    Hmmmmm. Interesting replies.

    This falls squarely into my observation that women in general will be unhappy unless their guys makes no less than, and preferable more than her. Generalization, I grant, but I think it occurs more often than not.

    If CJ thinks she’s worth more and can get a better guy monetarily, then she should cut him loose. Period. See BeenThruTheWars’ post #8.

    A few quotes struck a chord.

    naturegirl in #14:
    “Will you be happy paying child support and alimony to an underperforming ex-husband? There is a good chance that you will end up carrying him financially.”

    smartcookie in #19:
    “I tried and tried to not let that bother me, but in the end, my success and financial stability was becoming a problem.” Also “For a time he was unemployed and happy to collect a check from the government. I wondered, what would happen if I couldn’t work-would he step up? Could he step up?”

    I don’t want to have a gender war on this subject, but CJ’s situation is one where the shoe’s on the other foot, so to speak. In other threads I’ve read where it’s okay to seek a guy who makes more money. But here, it’s a problem.

    Perhaps the answer is only to date people who make the same money as you do, whether you’re a guy or a girl. If I make more than a woman, I won’t have to worry about having to support her. The same thing goes for the resistance of women to be with men who make less. If it’s equal, there are no worries, then.

    I wonder how much that would thin the dating herd…

  26. 26
    hunter

    to vino,

    that is a very small pool of single women, that you talk about in your last paragraph. If a woman has collected material things, she, stays out of the dating scene, what does she need a man for?…..

  27. 27
    T Hatch

    I don’t think CJ is getting a fair shake in some of these posts.

    If you read through her letter, you’ll notice that she’s not really complaining that her boyfriend isn’t making lots of money, but that he doesn’t seem interested in accomplishing much with his life and doesn’t have much going on intellectually. Yes, I know that she points out that he only makes an “okay pay check”, but that’s in the context of illustrating how unambitious he is. I think CJ’s real issue with this guy is that he’s boring, not that he’s not rich, and that she fundamentally doesn’t respect him.

    It would be fascinating to see what CJ’s attitude would be if her boyfriend had a demanding job but didn’t make much cash. Suppose he was lawyer who passed on the big bucks in corporate law and instead worked to provide legal services to the poor — would she have a problem with that? If so, then yes, it would be fair to say that money was an issue. But for the moment let’s give CJ the benefit of the doubt and presume that she wouldn’t object to that scenario.

    Personally, I think every successful relationship is based on respect, and that’s not just true of romantic relationships. Whether or not you base your respect for someone on their accomplishments or intellect, CJ does, and that’s not an unreasonable value system. Yes, it’s true that the guy who can quote Proust might be a snobby jerk, but CJ’s issue was that her boyfriend sits around all day and watches TV. There’s a lot of space between those two extremes! I think she just wants to avoid the bottom end. Perhaps it’s true that her devoted boyfriend will be there in 30 years to drive her to her chemo appointments, but is that car ride really worth 30 years of frustration and disappointment? Just call a cab.

    On the other hand, I have to agree with everyone who has said — make a decision! It’s been ten years. You’ve been aware from the start that he’s not ambitious, and it’s bothered you from the start, and it’s unlikely that either of you will change. This is the way it will be for the rest of both of your lives. Part of accepting somebody for who they are is being able to say, “Maybe we’re not right for each other.” So, either make the substantial compromise that the relationship will require of you, or cut the guy loose so that he can find someone who will be happy with what he has to offer.

  28. 28
    JerseyGirl

    I actually liked and agreed with Evan’s response. And I don’t always like or agree with Evan’s respones. :) haha.

  29. 29
    Michele

    Vino, sooooooo does one ask to see a potential partner’s W-2’s or 1099’s (for the past several years) before the first kiss?

    And although I’d like to think that the present state of the economy is temporary, what happens if one of the partners looses her/his job/career? The interim (until a new job/career is found) could certainly place the relationship in peril.

    Please don’t feel that I am patronizing your words because that is not the case. I think the entire dating game takes on different personas depending on an individual’s past experiences.

  30. 30
    Jennifer

    Great question and great advice from Evan.
    I have to say though, I can understand CJ going back and forth on this for the past 10 years. People change a lot between 21 and 31, and it’s not unrealistic for CJ to have thought that her guy may have grown to appreciate ambition a bit more. At this point though, major changes in life philosphies are unlikely, so it’s a matter of figuring out what you can live with.
    It’s a tough, tough call.

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