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.


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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  1. 1

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

    1. 1.1

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

      1. 1.1.1

        CJ sorry if this is an old post. I’m a real person. I don’t really care for “don’t repost.” This is interesting.

        I had a co worker. I won’t mention her name. But she was very young. About to turn 22.  Her boyfriend as she put it “was the understanding, kind. compassionate guy.”

        I remember after she started thc conversation. “But he quit his career.”

        I remember her having money issues. She also was sexaully assaulted at another job.

        It was shocking.

        One of the things I learned.

        She seemed to have felt that when he quit his career in baseball, that she was his rebound. Maybee possibly it was fate.

        I had to stop and think. Her boyfriend is not ambitious.

        He doesn’t have career plans.

        There are alot of women in your boat.

        They date guys they like. Good for you.

        Just because you like someone doesn’t mean that they are going to be succesful.

        You might have to sometimes choose love over finding a person exciting because of their job choices.

        Sometimes the more ambitious person, doesn’t have the right personality for romance.

        Something to think about.

      2. 1.1.2

        damn right, you better run Cj, go find yourself the perfect man… 
        but to mister boy freind sitting at home having fun watching netflix…
        what an opportunistic mindset your girl freind projects… liking pop culture and having a harsh rigorous and realistic perception of life is way smarter than burning yourself out for money. I think Mr boy friend has it all figured out and he is at peace with his existence… looks to me that he is more driven by passion than fear of failure in life, he walks off the beaten tracks he has not the fear of rejection from society, he is simply proud with the person he is and no one should, would or could take this away from him. looks to me that Mr boyfriend values friendship and his loved one’s well being more than his futile professional race or ascension. he seems to realize that working  so hard in life for an excess money and prestige among his entourage is simply materialistic and a waste of time, he seems to realize that wanting more than necessary is only intended for bragging and nourishing the feeling of superiority towards his fellow human beings, he simply doesn’t fear what people think about him and subconsciously knows that no one holds the ultimate truth in life. It is clear to me that Mr Boyfreind asked himself the fundamental  and most feared existential questions, and with logical reasoning resulted with a beautifully logical answer… human existence is pointless and meaningless (Friederich Nietzche). Mr boy freind siting at home educating himself with pop culture is a nihilist, and that guy is SMART!  smart enough to see past his little nose and ego. Mr boyfriend will die a happy and a fulfilled man knowing he is doing the things he inherently love, and not doing what is delusionaly seen as successful according to society. Mr boyfreind traces his own path. Friedrich Nietzsche

        To all the supposedly lazy unsuccessful and non ambitious boyfriends across the universe and afar, I think you are smart and your girlfriend’s are definitely gold diggers and biologically clocked to being so. Don’t blame your girl friends, blame nature, blame DNA, blame our ancestors, humankind is still a wild beast and needs a couple of centuries to truly reach the human state we so much ache for. For the time being I suggest to all the wild beasts sitting in front of their computers MALES and FEMALES to embrace ourselves, embrace the simple souls we are, the gold diggers we are, the most singular, egocentric, polluting, ecologically devastating, hyper-consuming, possessive and last but not least loving beasts we are.
        Ps nothing is eternal not even human kind so why so serioussss????

        1. Chris

          John 3:16

    2. 1.2
      I love EMK

      it was a good response except for ;

      do you want to swap compatibility for worldliness and ambition?

      Actually the fact that he isn’t wordly and ambitious is a compatibility issue so yes she’s settling on compatibility, the most important aspect in a relationship.

      Worldy and ambitious men are kind too, they just have less energy and time for you if they spend most of it at work. Who’s to say you can’t find a man who is ambitious but not crazily so or already successful and semi retired and therefore ambitious and kind?

    3. 1.3
      Regina La Prince


  2. 2


  3. 3

    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.

    1. 3.1
      martina kournikova

      I am 39, and just broke up with a lovely guy who made me feel loved and happy. Sadly he was not very ambitious, and did not bring out the best in me. I felt irritated, wanting to change him. Felt that we talk different language. Felt he’s too relaxed, living his Buddhist ways, which I like but don’t intend to ignore the reality, which is we need money to live on, plan future. I decided to break it off after 4 months with a heavy heart. But doing what’s best for the long term. Maybe, I will regret, but took the risk, he does not deserve someone who criticises him all the time….we are all different, hope I can forget him soon. Still a bit sad…Martina

      1. 3.1.1

        I fully understand, sometimes you have to take the risk! If not hoe will you ever know. You have one life, don’t settle

      2. 3.1.2

        My take is, you would rather suffer loneliness than a heavy body sitting idle.

        1. Jane

          LOL! Great take!! I agree.  =) 🙂

      3. 3.1.3

        Martina, I hope you are ok, I have to ask do you regret breaking it off? I am in exactly the same position now with a. Wry good man, with no ambition deciding if I can move forward or not. It would be good to hear from someone who has been through it. Helen

      4. 3.1.4

        I feel the same way of course you care about tge person but for some people its a deal braker because if you dont have the same values you are most likely not compatible 😔

      5. 3.1.5
        kharly Aiden

        Your story is so touching, I hope things work out for you.

      6. 3.1.6

        I’m sorry to hear that Martina, I’m in the exact same dilemma and it’s killing me. I don’t know if I have the courage to end it but I fear I will with my constant irritation. He is such an amazing guy with so much potential, it hurts. I hope your broken heart heals soon and you find the someone more compatible

  4. 4

    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

    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.

    1. 5.1

      “Maybe CJ is putting too much emphasis on somehting that may seem important now but may not be in the long run.”

      No offense, but I don’t buy it.

      It’s about values they hold and as you say “… that no woman wants a guy who just sits on the couch and watches TV all day.” This is not something that gets better over time on its own. You would like to be able to hold down a conversation with your partner and if your time together goes on with awkward silences when you are out of bed, you are going to have a hard time in a LTR. And as Evan is saying compatibility is important. Just because he’s a kind guy doesn’t mean they’d be compatible in long term. Instead it’s more likely that it will breed resentment because of his apparent lack of ambition (of course he might have a different perspective on it) on her part and being forced to change on his. This is precisely a compatibility issue. That being said, she doesn’t need to dump him immediately. She can share her part and give some “nudging” as you put it and see how it goes. Of course she should be acceptiing of him as he is but she can introduce him to her perspective and find a common place. Let’s note that worldliness and “ambition” (I use phrasing because it has very various definitions depending on person) and kindness are not mutually exclusive.

  6. 6

    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


    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

    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.

  9. 9


    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. 9.1

      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.

    2. 9.2


    3. 9.3

      Maybe if her boyfriend would get a spine, man up and realize that he’s being strung along neither of them would be in this situation.  She’s clearly tried to break it off, he more likely than not begs and crawls back so she feels badly and takes him back.  Agree she should move on but she is not 100% to blame here – he needs to have some respect for himself and move on also.  She’s also not wrong for wanting someone with the characteristics she craves – men like to coin themselves as dedicated and loving partners – which, in their minds is the ideal for swooning women – not all women want that version of love.  Women with their own careers want someone who can keep up with them – let the other women have this guy – he sounds like a loss.

    4. 9.4

      I LOVE this! Wish I could have my ex read this cuz this is exactly what he did to me. Although he doesn’t seem to think that stringing me along for 10 years till he met someone else was wrong. He wasted my prime years and now that he’s happy…I can’t even find a date!

      1. 9.4.1

        there is a good chance he didn’t string you along, some say, a womans mind is built to follow a man…

    5. 9.5

      Wow! Awesome respobse. I say this because i have been the woman on the other end of this. Why keep pursuing a reltionship with me if I obviously do not “check your requirement boxes”.

    6. 9.6

      Thank you

    7. 9.7

      You sound very jaded and like you’ve been the wringer and quite possibly experienced the same thing as CJ’s boyfriend we’ve just read about.

    8. 9.8

      Damn. PREACH.

    9. 9.9

      That is a great reply “been thru the wars,”. What you said is right on!  Boils down to Love Him or Leave Him.

    10. 9.10

      Easy to judge when your not in the same situation. You dont understand.

  10. 10

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

  11. 11

    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

    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

    hi cj,

    i’ll take him!


  14. 14

    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

      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

    A-L, comment #11, insightful questions.

  16. 16

    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.

    1. 16.1
      martina kournikova

      Beautiful reply, makes a lot of sense to me. Think after similar experience, just recently, I also will be working on being single and happy with it.

    2. 16.2

      Preach! Michele you couldn’t be more right. I’m so glad I stumbled on this page, my relationship has been mediocre because I have no balls to end things for fear of being alone! Screw that! I need to learn to be by myself and stop hoping for things to be different. It will never happen. I’m all about being ambitious and moving on with my life, making myself a better human being. And since my loving sweet boyfriend doesn’t want that I need to accept that he’s happy where he is but it’s not enough for me. Most times I feel guilty for not loving him as much because he loves me to the point of desperation I tell him. It’s time to let him go, we both know it.

  17. 17

    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

    Thanks, Steve.

  19. 19

    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

      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 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. 

    2. 19.2

      This is the best reply of all.  Smartcookie sees beyond the guilt and confusion of the writer-what the woman sees is the future. Her boyfriend doesn’t have enough ambition, no matter now you define that word, to make a go of a life together. We know things in our gut-he won’t make the grade at any level. And yes, a relationship is all about seeing what has to be done, and then compromising and doing it because we see what the other does and learn from it and because we also want that relationship to work. Ambitious hardworking people like the writer is,  are catches for lazy people. Look, this guy is 31 yars old and watches TV all the time and doesn’t want to work a job with a good future. He hasn’t encountered the challenges of a wife and family yet-it’ll only drain what little ambition he has now and he’ll do even less.

  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

    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

    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.

    1. 22.1

      Different values, that is the truth. I am in the exact situation as her and stuck on a lease with my guy. I have realized after a year and a half that he won’t improve. At the end of the day I am not okay with a guy who pays bills late, barely squeaks by, and would rather spend on beer than pay for car insurance. I cant bring children into that. It really hurts because he is so sweet and adoring, but he doesn’t live in adult reality.

  23. 23

    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.

    1. 23.1

      Lol, you’ve described half the “successful’ men I use to date before I got married.

      1. 23.1.1

        Nikki, how would you describe the man you married, in comparison to the “successful” men?

        So lookng at the opposite side of the spectrum it sounds like you can find just the opposite: arrogance & dishonesty ..? Of course theres great sucessful guys out there too!

        I too am a go getter, in a 7 year relationship with a loving, intuitive, smart, funny & interesting 31 yo … but I honestly dont think he’s held a job for mote than 6 months. I feel like his greatest accomplishment (which we’re both rightfully proud of) is the full reno of a 5 bed 2.5 bath home (with a big yard & garage that needed love too). I work out of town more than half the year and make enough for the both of us to live a fun & exciting life – but, if the house is 99% done, he needs to get a job and/or at least finish the few items that have been on that list for months. yes the economy is tough – especially in the oil & gas town where we live … but theres still jobs to be found! his argument, “why get a job that im bored with right away, just to quit and repeat?”

        So his once lack of ambition has now evolved unto a lack of interest …

        he thinks he wants to be a mechanic now. We’ve both been on edge with eachother as I ended “nagging” which drives him nuts, but i come from a mindset of “theres no time to waste” and ” If you want something bad enough, theres always a way to make it happen – now go make it happen! lol”

        I know i can be impatient, but this is wearing me thin. not to mention his DUI hasnt helped, and a few other items that adults are expected to have sorted out (eg. an active bank account, even a secured credit card?) … We both know that his level of ambition has made gradual leaps and bounds. Now its just taking that energy and monitizing it – and keeping in the good books 🙄 lol.

        ive been advised by 2 psychics that he is very sweet and loves me unconditionally, and that its hard to find a mate with such great qualities … even his parents have said that hes a great guy and would make the best dad … at yhe cost of me supporting him as an almost garanteed house husband.

        Risk – lose my very best friend in hopes that ill find a more suitable match? I dint handle loneliness well at all.

        Reward – POSSIBLY find a good match where he’s earning a steady income doung something he enjoys, and THEN hope that our grand plans fir life & lifestyle match (I’m working on becoming location independent – which could drastically shrink the longer term dating pool, if travelling abroad …)

        Wow, long response/question … at this point I plan to wait it out – but for how long …?

        he did have an interview to try somethjng new and bartend – that is a skill you can take anywhere. It can pay well, and he loves chatting to ppl so hopefully it would be a good fit – for now!

        *Pls disregard all the typos. my phone keeps freezing up.

    2. 23.2

      So true! Lol

  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.

    1. 24.1
      I love EMK

      Your original answer was fabulous. You should start your own blog.

      Whether it’s some male who’s no longer attracted to his girlfriend or a woman no longer attracted to her boyfriend – if it can’t be fixed (after trying for a few months and seeing change), stop forcing ourselves to stick it out. Who said unhappy long relationships were what we should strive for? Why does everyone feel there is a risk in ending relationships. Being single male or female can be amazing. Find another more compatible partner even more amazing.

      The world is full of awesome people.  Why would someone know and continue with a relationship that would be terrible long term, especially one not conducive to bring little ones into. We are here for a long time, do you really want to stick it out with an unambitious (or a woman you are no longer attracted to) woman for the next 60 years? That’s a long time to be in a prison.

      When children come along, making this end is unbelievably painful for everyone involved and you may end up sticking it out for the kids and end up resentful and waste your life. End crappy relationships before children come along. There’s so much less pain that way.

      This relationship is bound to end. Use your youth wisely CJ

    2. 24.2


      I agree! Your original comment was my favourite. Please don’t be offended by people that cannot properly read your response! I liked how you used the loser-winner scenario. Its very effective. Your last post hit the nail on the head. I could see you and I becoming good friends by the way you speak. I found the last portion of your response having the most depth – like “someone adoring you does not mean they are compatible” and also asking why he did not go find someone else if he is valuable! Very good point! This relates to me so much, I want to show my boyfriend this thread so we can have an open discussion but I also don’t want to offend him. But I am very worried for our future too. So many of these peoples’ stories match what I’m going through – a guy that dropped out of high school and only wants to work at Walmart for the rest of his life following in the footsteps of his family members and friends. I’m from a big city and am starting my career in real estate and wish we could be doing it together. I don’t have the charisma and charm he has, and he would be great at the social aspect, (I’m more of an introvert and analytical thinker) and we could be a team! 😀 But…he’s not interested in that…

      He’s also not interested in my interests of conspiracy theories, government research, art philosophy, spirituality, cracking the codes of human existence, and tantric sex.

      I’ve tried like a mad-house teacher to sit him down at multiple occasions and teach him what I know, through diagrams, articles, documentaries, just casually talking about it. But he wants to retreat to his media driven lifestyle of watching TV and movies, being enthralled in 25 year old guy stuff. To me, all that stuff is part of mass mind control that we are under as a human species, leading to destruction. I want to be able to break the barriers and talk about important things with him. But how do I talk to someone who was put in special ed, and told that they cannot achieve anything because they are too stupid? He tells me he is just not interested in it, its boring to him and he’d rather look up ghost stories, dinosaurs or the new “IT” movie. I KNOW from my research that this is a SYMPTOM of brainwashing! I have told him he was brainwashed from his education and by leaving school to get a job, he is even more wrecked. He wants the simple life, he is afraid of “knowing too much” as he tells me when I get going.

      I need to be satisfied having a couple counterpart to share my knowledge with, to share a bond where we can support each other if the world falls apart. Part of their plan is to break the nuclear family so that humans struggle more. So the conditioning of young men to either fit into category 1) SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS MAN or 2) COUCH POTATO, will mean that they will NEVER have a proper connection with another human being as we are supposed to in this reality. The business man will always be too busy and apathetic, the couch potato will be apathetic and unmotivated. WHEN WILL PEOPLE REALIZE WE ARE NOT GOING TO WIN THIS ALONE. THEY ARE CREATING THIS DIVIDE ON PURPOSE! 

      The last thing I want to talk about is sex…tantric sex. Most of us know that pornography has changed millennials (him and I are 25), and we are taught in porn, movies and our peers what sex is supposed to be. Average, and quick, and disregarding female or sacred male pleasure. I have tried to explain this over and over to my boyfriend! Trying to break the mould in his mind of what sex is – we are GETTING THERE. (Not to mention he is the ONLY MAN to actually listen to some of my rants is why I am still with him and believing in him!!!) His environment, social life, friends and family are the ones that have also brainwashed him into not having a good sex life – as the world leaders want them to be the ones to destroy healthy sexual relationships. He is learning, and so am I. But its hard to give someone a fillet mignon when they have only ever tasted Burger King. They have *NO IDEA*  how much better quality, fulfilling life would be if they opened spiritually to tantra and to the ability to connect with someone on a sacred spiritual bond. He is so confused, disinterested and prefers not to talk about it.

      He doesn’t understand half the words I use, and most of the time he lies to me and says he understands because if he stopped me half the times he needs to, to explain what I mean, it would take us all day. Which I understand is unreasonable…THANKS SPECIAL ED AND  YOUR MESSED UP EDUCATION SYSTEM IN NEW YORK!!!!

      He is incapable of opening his mind to wholesomeness, and submits to the brainwashing of the world and through the media. I NEED  a counterpart who will stand by me and work with me to grasp the most utmost fulfilling life.

      Its funny how we even fit together…but he is my BFF, my best friend, he gets me as a 25 year old, is extremely physically attractive, and TRIES HIS BEST to understand me and my information. I have never actually seen a man so driven to TRY, and for that I am thankful…but I wish that him and I could go deeper into understanding our human souls and our deep, repressed sexual desires. Our hidden, inner beauty, to cut the distractions and heal together. I hope everyone reading this finds peace in their relationships, I hope that we all make it. I hope in years to come we find true sexual spirituality and fulfillment between the gender lines and that they do not divide and conquer us more than they already have.

      ~ Tanya

      1. 24.2.1


        wow wow wow! Im 47 and so impressed and uour intellect and insight!  You are 100% correct and you deserve to be with someone who at least grasps part of this knowledge!  My son and his friends all get it they are only 17-20.  I hope one day he finds a girl like you he and his frineds dont even want cell phones.  Im going out with a 47 yr old British guy not sure he comprehends any of it either.  Best of luck to you.  If your ever in Florida look me up!

  25. 25

    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

    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?…..

    1. 26.1
      I love EMK

      Women who have accumulated wealth love people too.

      Just because they are successful, doesn’t mean along the way they lost their heart and need for connection


      1. 26.1.1

        I love EMK, successful women haven’t lost their heart and need for connection(to men)?….tell us about it….

        1. I love EMK

          Maybe you’re projecting something from your perspective on life and that’s OK. I do it too as we only have our life experience to base what life is about.

          I’m not sure what you want me to tell you about? How a successful woman with material possessions is towards men. I love them.

          I’ve worked exceptionally hard (my ex husband kept me very busy paying for his big toys while he stayed at home and I worked 60 hour weeks (so I can understand how many men are frustrated with materialistic wives. Just for the record,  we didn’t break up for money reasons, we broke up because he didn’t want to be intimate with me as we later realized he is asexual)

          Anyway, I’m now 41 years old, a multi-millionaire (not bad for someone who did it solely with children) and I live a pretty minimalist lifestyle so my salary over rides my spending. I have taught my children to be similar – we dont need to consume and consume and ruin the earth.

          The only thing I want is my my children and a place to train (like my Crossfit gym), my girlfriends, family and someone to share life with. When my children are older, I would love to travel too but STUFF doesn’t and has never excited me.

          I would love an equal, someone who isn’t a Peter Pan who just wants me because I’m a work horse. I want someone who’s an equal so I can respect him, not so I can take his money, although 2 dozen red roses would be a dream to receive at least once in my life.

          Money wont replace love and connection. Only the superficial people base relationships on beauty or wealth alone. Most normal people see it as an added bonus.

          I can’t wait to feel in love again Mr Hunter. I want an older man than what I attract (attracting babies at around 25 years old) but I really want that mid 30’s man, they are the hottest.  If a man my own age came along without a pot belly and skinny arms, I’d definitely consider him especially if he was business savvy and intelligent.

          I see many gorgeous men around and I long for the day when I find someone I’m attracted to and vice versa. it will happen and let me remind you that money will never replace wonderful men. It definitely can’t hug you and protect you like big muscly arms can.

          When women say they dont need men, they mean, they don’t need useless men, they want an equal (or better), they’d rather be single than the headache and drama of men who are still acting like spoilt children.Have I made sense?

      2. 26.1.2

        I love emk,

        I wish you well in your search…

        1. I love EMK

          Mr Hunter,

          Have you got some superhero powers or something because I have found someone and he is amazing. At 41 years of age, I am finally experiencing that “honeymoon” period most people experience in their teenage years.  This feeling is overwhelmingly blissful and perfect.


          Simone (I love EMK)

  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.

    1. 27.1

      Best comment ever! 😀 I love the cab part. 🙂

    2. 27.2
      I love EMK

      She should make a decision but what if she leaves this guy and he ends up hating everyone on here that told her so. What if he likes living the easy life and we just created him complete and utter misery. What if he thought she was the greatest thing on earth and going back into the dating scene and actually making more effort is a nightmare for him. Many assume he would love to go out and find someone, but for those of us who know men like this, know they like everything laid back and easy. Dating is not easy particularly for men. He has to spend money, chase and get many rejections. He may love having a woman who’s alpha (compared to him).

      I suspect she hasn’t exactly hurt him in the 10 years she provided him a great companion. I think she’s only hurting herself staying here. I doubt he is harmed by her sticking around for 10 years (give or take their 4 year break).  It’s not like he has a biological clock ticking (well actually he does – aged sperm cause more mental disorders) but anyway he doesn’t “feel” that clock like a woman does.

      Many of us are projecting how we would want to be treated but lets put ourselves in his shoes and ask what would a less than ambitious person want….definitely not to go back into the dating scene when he has an interesting wordly, ambitious lady by his side.

      1. 27.2.1

        Women really should stop worrying about this nonsense. So what if he hates everyone on here? So what if he wants the easy life? His needs are not more important than hers and if she needs to leave, she needs to leave and not give AF about someone who constantly puts themselves and their fragile male gender first. Dating may not be easy for men, but no matter how hard it is for men it’s always 100% harder for women. Always. Women are rejected just as much as men are, women have to spend just as much as men (and women are paid less for equal work) on dates and gifts, women are raped and sexually harassed at higher rates than men while on dates, and I think that just goes to show how little men value women. It’s always “boohoo she hurt my feelings and rejected me, what a bitch” while women are always “well, I hope he doesn’t kill/rape me for saying NO”. IDGAF about his shoes bc my whole life as a woman I’ve been told to make “men” and their emotional/physical needs my priority. He needs to put himself in her shoes for once and realize he’s hurting their relationship by not meeting her halfway.Relationships take two to work. The only difference is men are allowed to be mediocre while women have to constantly Exceed Expectations. Don’t believe me? When was the last time some dad “babysat” the kids for an hour and everyone was all on him for being such a great dad when all he did was the bare minimum meanwhile mom is being given shit for going on a spa day and abandoning the kids. Or in this case, boyfriend has mediocre life goals and everyone is giving CJ shit for wanting someone more mature and in line with her needs. But nope. Women just have to put themselves in male mediocre shoes and realign their whole life goals to cater to his.

  28. 28

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

  29. 29

    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

    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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