uestions about love, dating, and relationships are frequently tossed my way. Never mind my own less-then-perfect relationship record, or that I struggle as a mother, sometimes lack patience, and I hold no degree in counseling. Here are a few answers to questions I’ve collected.
Q: I’m 27 and have been in a serious relationship with a man for the last three years and lived with him for the last year. He’s funny, extremely smart, and interesting, and I know he loves me very much. After college I was able to get a good job with benefits and am slowly moving up in my company. I am very driven to do well. My boyfriend dropped out of college after one semester. He works part time as a bartender and keeps saying he’s going to go back to school but never follows through. Years have gone by with his talking about getting another job with benefits, or going back to school. But it never happens.
I certainly don’t mind being the major breadwinner, but it kind of bums me out that he has little motivation to do more than work part time and play video games. One day I want to get married and have kids and I know I’ll need him to help. Is there a nice way I can get him motivated to do more with his career so that I feel better about our future?
A: The feeling of being content with a future together comes from you and you alone. He could go back to school, land a spectacular high paying job with benefits galore, and you could still question your future.
I understand the frustrations at having a partner who lacks motivation, but I would caution you not to take on the futile responsibility of motivating him. What is fine for us right out of college often isn’t as the years go by. That said, I do believe it’s entirely fair for you to sit him down and have a real conversation about your concerns for the future. In the end, though, it will be up to him, not you, to decide what kind of life he wants to lead. Just as it’s up for you, not him, to decide how you want your future to look.
If those visions don’t jive together than perhaps it’s time to let the relationship go and open yourself up to meet someone who has similar goals and values about home, career, and family as you.
Many of us, myself included, love to see the potential in everything and everyone. I’m a perpetual idealist. I’ve a long list of “what could have been” in my life, and it took me many years to learn to see what’s right before me, instead of what could be before me. I encourage you to learn to do the same. In the future, should you meet someone else, make sure you carefully examine the man or woman before you in a very real and honest way. Decide if you could live with exactly who they are right then, instead of what they may (or may not) become in the future.
We don’t have to give up our positive idealist thinking, but for the sake of our own futures, we have to become a little more realistic with ourselves.