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Dating Mr. No Ambition

noambitionI don’t know how the dating/sex/marriage conversation went for most of you. For me, it was this dance between random guerilla education tactics by either of my parents and church. Then it  was my human sexuality class freshman year every Tuesday and Thursday and church. Then it was my work as an HIV tester and counselor, relationships among friends gone awry, and church. You get my point. A pretty big influence on how or whom I dated was church. What impacted me most from the various church experiences was not so much “Don’t have sex while you’re dating, wait until your married,” but “Don’t be unequally yoked.” And whether you believe in God or soccer balls, I think there is something very practical about the idea of not being unequally yoked.

What does the saying mean exactly? Well, as a Christian it means- if he or she isn’t a Christian, don’t get involved and definitely don’t marry them. In a more practical sense- if he or she isn’t on par with who you are or who you are becoming, don’t bother dating, getting emotionally involved, and then being disappointed later and conflicted about how to end things because “We don’t want the same things.”

Ladies, we do this A LOT,  especially when it comes to men and their ambition. We are eternal hopefuls, fully convinced we can lead by example, partner with him, encourage him, and when we have two degrees and he’s still struggling to get the one he was working on when you met six years ago, you’re baffled and resent him and his good looks.  In the case of ambition, though, do not be unequally yoked.  Here’s why:

  1. You risk getting stuck. Slowly but surely you will find yourself readjusting your own goals to fit the comfortable space he is in. You will find yourself not looking for the dream marketing position at a firm in San Francisco because all he’s known is Prince George County, his family lives there, and you already moved to where he is from New York. “Be stable with him,” is what you will tell yourself. That will sound good at first, until your ambitious friends are uprooting, globetrotting, and their goal driven has gone to goal living.
  2. You risk your happiness. I have yet to meet the Bauce who is truly happy with herself and accepting of her lifestyle while being resentful and bitter towards someone. However, I have met the woman who has “sacrificed” her dreams to stay with a man in hopes of changing him, motivating him, being his “ride or die chick” so that together they can become the next  Barak and Michelle or Will and Jada.  When she realizes that he is not into the responsibility that comes with managing a team at his job, starting a business, owning instead of renting, or going back to school, she often becomes hurt and bitter towards him and disappointed and unhappy with herself.  You can do bad all by yourself. No need in being in a relationship with a guy who is not interested in doing anything more than what he was doing before he met you or since he met you.
  3. You risk not being in the healthy relationship you want and deserve. When his lack of ambition frustrates you the dynamics of the relationship will change. The likelihood of you being less understanding and forgiving will increase. The likelihood of you continuing to value and appreciate what made you fall for him to begin with is likely to decrease. Granted these dynamics can happen for a variety of reasons even if your man is just as ambitious as you, but your frustration with his lack of ambition can hasten and heighten the intensity of such changing and challenging dynamics.

When I posted the question, “Why shouldn’t you date someone who isn’t as ambitious as you?” to my Facebook page, the feedback came pouring in. Most writing some variation of the three reasons I listed above. However, one responded with a good reminder, one that I think is important to share.

While he may not be as ambitious as you, you may carry enough ambition for the two of you. Lack of ambition is not the same as uneducated, incapable of being a supportive loving partner and provider, or all of the other qualities that are important when considering a potential mate.  If ambition is one of your non-negotiables on your list of desirable qualities in a mate then don’t negotiate it. If it is negotiable, consider the three risks mentioned above as well as all of the great (and they better be great- Bauces deserve great) qualities he has before deciding how important his lack of ambition is.

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