Dear D, My man’s not ambitious and I think it might be a problem (Part 1)

This is part one of a special Dear D three-parter.  Wanna a wee peak behind the proverbial curtain to see how this relationship coaching thing works and how it plays out with a real couple?  Here’s your chance!


Dear D
I have a great boyfriend in my life, but I’d love your input!  He’s a wonderful man – he’s available, committed, emotionally connected, interesting, supportive.  He’s a full-time musician and plays music for a show in New York City.  So much of what we have is great, but I’m incredibly driven and ambitious and he’s not.  We just so different in that respect!  The issue is me not him. He loves who I am and what I do and is so supportive and encouraging. It’s me who has the challenge accepting him!

But, my antenna goes up around his stuff – how much he works, his ambition, him getting his shit done.  I worry that this stuff will start to annoy me down the road.  Today, I can separate him from me, but when we are a couple with a combined life, will it be something that leads to resentment? Is this valid or it is this just my fear talking?  Help!
H. in NYC

Hey lady,
I’m obviously lacking a lot of info but my gut reaction is this:  If your ambition is NOT a problem for him (meaning his ego is not bruised or threatened by your success) and he openly cheer-leads  you and has your back, then it should not be an issue.  For him.

But!  If he doesn’t support your drive, have his pom-poms out and express interest in your career goals? This will be hurtful to you in the long run and potentially leave you feeling isolated.
That would not be good.

If you aren’t receiving the support you crave, have a conversation about him expressing more of an interest in your passion. He’ll then have the choice to show up or not.  If he doesn’t,: see above statement.  (that not-so-good one)

You are a career woman and have big aspirations.  I suspect you will want to share your career dreams with – and look for support from – your honey.  If you can’t do this, over the long run, it might lead to resentment for you.

Give him the opportunity to be there.  Time will tell and you will get your answer.


IF the problem is you being unhappy with his career path…we might have a problem, Houston. You’re not going to make him, teach him or shake the ambition up in him.  You must like him/love him/accept him exactly the way he is today.

If THAT feels uncomfortable and not in-integrity for you, then perhaps he is not the right one.  It sounds like he gives you immense emotional satisfaction but financially + ambition-wise he falls a little short of your expectations.

Try asking yourself what you NEED most from a man.  I know you would like both the emotional and financial to be out-of-this-world incredible, but explore what could you NOT live without.  Get clear on what makes YOU tick-tock.

Useful here, is a poignant quote in a favorite book of mine (The Seven Principals for Making Marriage Work by Dr. John Gottman:  ) and it goes like this….ah-hem….

“When choosing a long-term partner…you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next ten, twenty or fifty years. Marriages are successful to the degree that the problems you choose are the ones you can cope with.”

I would suggest having a rendezvous with your dating history:
For example: In the past if/when you have dated men with similar levels of ambition as your current boyfriend –did it work?  Or did the “lack of’s” drive you nuts and get under your skin?

And in Finito:

The ultimate test of something is:  That it works.
So:  Does it work?  Does your relationship work for you?

Hope that was helpful!

Have you ever dated a great guy with less-than-stellar ambitions?


I’m a Los Angeles based relationship + life coach. I offer a sharp combination of keen insight, know-how + intuition.   Want more life + dating advice?  Jump on my newsletter.   Interested in laser focused one-on-one treatment?   Hire me.  You won’t regret it.

© 2011 Danielle Dowling