Discouraged asked: “My boyfriend is awesome and we’ve been together for over a year, but I have one problem. We’re both 26 years old, but while I decided to go back to school to finish my degree, he is content at his dead-end job and has no further goals. I don’t judge him for that, but I feel like he’s become pessimistic about my education, telling me there’s no point to getting my degree and that I’ll just end up making as much money as I do now anyway. I’m also starting to feel like he might be trying to sabotage my efforts, because he sometimes surprises me with plans when he knows I should stay home studying, and he calls me “boring” or “no fun” if I insist on staying home and prioritizing my schoolwork. I love him, but he’s really bumming me out. How do I get him to understand how important this is to me?”
Liz says: It sounds like you do judge your boyfriend, Discouraged. Your statement that he’s “content at his dead-end job and has no further goals” is dripping with contempt. Is it possible that he’s picked up on subtle (or not-so-subtle) hints that you wish he was doing something else with his life? If so, maybe he’s bottling up his hurt feelings and taking them out on you passive-aggressively.
Or, he very well could be simply jealous of your desire to do things that don’t involve him, or jealous of whatever skills/intelligence/ambitions he perceives you to possess that he doesn’t. Or he’s scared that your success might lead to you packing your bags goodbye, and he doesn’t realize his behavior could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In any case, you should do some deep introspection to uncover why you judge his life choices and what you want in a partner, and then initiate a healthy conversation with him about how you feel about his pessimism. Your partner should want to see you happily fulfilling your dreams, not being a Negative Nick. His behavior thus far has been toxic. He or she should want to support your goals and inspire your success. The world already presents us with a bevy of adversities, your mate shouldn’t be one of them.
This could be a matter of incompatibility. It’s a common reason for break-ups; realizing you don’t share the same life goals. It’s difficult to stay with someone who isn’t on the same train as you are. But if you do really love each other, hopefully you can figure out how to accept him as he is and he can understand how damaging his attitude has been to you and the relationship. Good luck.