When you meet someone and decide to start dating, you’re initially struck by their personality, ability to make you laugh, enjoying their company, and whether you feel physically attracted to them. Most of us don’t evaluate their five-year plan right away and quantify their level of ambition. But ambition can impact relationships in a big way, especially when there’s a disparity between each partner’s level and expectation of it.
The Difference Between Ambition And Success
It’s important to note that ambition and success are not synonymous. The measurement of success can vary widely from person-to-person. For instance, someone who wants nothing more than to live a quiet life, have a family and home will consider themselves successful once they achieve that. On the other hand, if someone wants to start a business and be their own boss, they may not feel successful until they’ve accomplished that with a certain amount of financial stability. They may both ultimately be successful, but their views of success are different.
Ambition by contrast, is the desire to achieve something. It can also be subjective, but ambition involves motivation and drive toward a goal, and generally entails some sort of plan for achieving that goal. Someone who’s ambitious is usually energetic and focused with an eye toward the future. Although too much ambition, or even blind ambition, can sometimes be detrimental and toxic, a certain measure of it is required for progress on any level to occur. While a complete lack of ambition can mean that you aren’t likely to move forward in your life, or at least not much. And if that’s okay with you and your partner, and you’re happy, then more power to you.
Many couples, however, don’t live so harmoniously together when their levels of ambition don’t match well.
Ambition, Expectations And Your Relationship
It’s not unreasonable to want to share similar priorities and life goals in common with your partner. If you are building a life together that can be extremely important. But does that mean that your partner needs to meet your personal definition of success in order for you to see them as successful? Maybe not, although it really depends on you.
Perhaps in your life you have an eye on a particular career marker, educational goal, or income. But what if your partner doesn’t operate the same way? If you love your partner and all they bring to the table do they need to match your expectations when it comes to their level of ambition as well?
The answer to that is really a personal one. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but before you end what may largely be a happy relationship, ask yourself a few of the following questions.
1. Do you respect your partner? Respect is a big part of a healthy relationship. The problem with lack of ambition in one partner is that it can lead to a lack of respect from the other. This can become a huge issue. If your partner is lazy, or not contributing financially, there is definitely cause for concern. However, if they work, contribute, and consider themselves successful, then the problem may be with your expectations instead. Either way, if you are unable to respect your partner and their life choices, then there’s problem that needs to be addressed.
2. Are you expecting too much? Before you say, “Of course not!”, give it some thought. Do you meet ALL your partner’s needs? Do you do everything they want in the way they want it? Probably not. So, if you’re not perfect is it fair for you expect your partner to be? It’s possible that your expectations may be unrealistic. In order to determine this you’ll need to spend some time considering where your priorities are when it comes to your mate. This doesn’t mean you’re being unfair or selfish, just that you need to determine what you want from another person, can realistically expect, and adjust from there.
3. Is your partner happy? It’s one thing to be critical of someone who’s unhappy and dissatisfied with their own circumstances and doing nothing about it, but it’s another to criticize someone who’s perfectly happy the way they are. If you’re partner is happy then they’re likely not going to change, even for you. Nor should you expect them to. Changing their approach to life just to make you happy, or as a requirement for having a relationship with you won’t work and you’ll both end up resentful and unhappy.
4. Do you love your partner? Think hard about this before answering. Then, if the answer’s, yes, you still need to recognize that, contrary to what love songs and poems tell you, love does not always conquer all. And if you do really love your partner then you’ll have to decide if you can love them as they are, or if you’ll always be wanting more or different from them. If that’s the case then the relationship will never be an easy one. And very likely, one or both of you will end up feeling lonely in your relationship.
You are the only one who knows what’s right for you. And as I said earlier, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be with someone who shares your feelings about what success looks like and how to achieve it. Unfortunately, no partner is going to be perfect and you’ll always have to accept something that’s less than ideal about the ambition of the person you love. The question is, can you still love them in spite of it?
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.