“Help! I’m way more driven than my boyfriend. Are we doomed?”

Dear Sarah,

This has been eating at me. I have been dating my boyfriend for almost three years now, and we have lived together for one. He is no doubt my very best friend, and I love him to death. I think he is the most genuine person I have ever met, and generally speaking treats me wonderfully. BUT, as my life has been progressing over the past year (better jobs, new hobbies, etc.) his never changes. And recently, all I can think about is what it would be like to be with someone more motivated. I feel so guilty—because he hasn’t done anything to me. Still, I can’t help thinking about other people. I have spoken with him numerous times about finding a better job and pursuing something he loves, but he does nothing. I do have a much more driven personality, so I’m not sure if I really want someone more ambitious or if I am being unrealistic.

Our lease is up in a few months and I am considering buying my first home. I’m unsure if I should plan on having him in the picture. Does this yearning for someone with more ambition warrant breaking up, or are my expectations too high? Most break-ups I’ve had have been the result of a painful event of some sort. In this case he hasn’t done anything wrong—I just wish he had more gumption and would reach outside of his shell.

Do you have any advice that might make it easier to sleep at night?

Could it just be my problem?

—Insomnia in Illinois

Dear Insomnia,

In front of you are three doors, and it’s up to you to open the right one.

Door Number One: A slightly sponge-y guy who needs to get off his butt.

Door Number Two: A slightly judge-y gal who who is caught up in some retro ideas of gender roles.

Door Number Three: Two fine people whose values and goals may (or may not) make them incompatible for a long-term relationship.

As you recognize, your guy is a sweetie. Does that mean you have to stay with him? No. It’s possible that a laid back kind of dude just isn’t going to sustain your interest for the long haul. And that’s OK. You might honestly be happier with someone who is more career-oriented. But, before you go busting up what sounds like a loving, supportive relationship, take a hard look at both your BF and yourself.

There are more women today in college then men and I’m sure you grew up with the idea that you could be and do anything you wanted to. And that’s fantastic. Thank you very much, Women’s Liberation Movement. But even when some women are super ambitious and making bank they still want a guy who is as or more successful than they are. Make sure you are not adhering to an outdated double standard in your evaluation of your man. There are lots of ways to “contribute” to a relationship that don’t have a price tag. Does he cook? Clean? Make you happy? Have the potential to be a wonderful father? Fix stuff? Do errands? Make you feel special and adored? Listen attentively to your girlfriend’s latest heartbreak after you’ve passed out on the couch? Rather than thinking about what he doesn’t do, make a mental list of what he does do. Perhaps you can accept and appreciate that he’s a chill Type B to your driven Type A.

On the other hand, after some scrutiny and soul searching, you may decide that, in fact,  he’s not pulling his weight in other ways and you don’t feel good about remaining in an unequal relationship. Is he depressed and not dealing with it? Is he taking advantage of you financially? Is he self-sabotaging with alcohol or drugs and squandering his talents? If you really love him, you may be able to help him help himself—but he needs to be truly committed to change and grow.

It’s important to you figure this out before you invest in property together. If you genuinely decide the answer is getting over yourself and being grateful for a good guy even if he’s not out to rule the world, you still could purchase the property on your own and have him contribute to the mortgage like rent. It doesn’t mean you don’t love him—only that you are sensible. You can always put him on the deed later. There are other sound ways to proceed as well, speak to a real estate lawyer or accountant. Sorting out financial issues as a couple isn’t romantic and most of us would rather avoid it, but money is the number one reason couples fight.

Don’t feel guilty, just be honest.

Love, Sarah

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