Two Sense: Is Lack of Ambition a Deal Breaker?


My live-in boyfriend inherited a lot of money from his uncle five years ago, so he’s set financially. He doesn’t need a job right now, but it bothers me that he doesn’t have one. He pays his bills and his half of our dates. Still, I feel uneasy about committing to a man without a plan. Lately, I’ve been feeling resentful when I’m at work and he’s spending all day on the golf course.

He Said: Billionaire Warren Buffett once advised that the perfect amount of inheritance was “enough money so they would feel like they could do anything but not so much that they could do nothing.” If your boyfriend has been unemployed and screwing off for five years, I’d be concerned too. Even fortunate people who don’t need to grind out a paycheck should have enough passion to want to do something productive. The quality of life we enjoy now is the result of the work of our forebears, and to spend your life not trying to somehow improve the world is lazy and ungrateful.

That said, you need to separate your concern about marrying a guy with no apparent plan from your resentment that he can afford not to have one. Ask yourself: If your boyfriend had enough money so that neither of you needed to work, would you still resent him? Maybe not. You might still not feel comfortable marrying a man who just golfs all day, but you might not resent him as long as he took care of you. Whatever you need to work out with him, remember this resentment is your issue to deal with and not his.

She Said: Agreed, you should not indulge the resentment. It’s nothing more than simple jealousy. Truth be told, I resent all my friends who don’t work as hard as I do (and I’m sure my harder-working friends resent me), but I don’t take the resentment all that seriously. Financial and career success is partly a result of luck, and it’s natural to be jealous of those luckier than us.

But your hesitancy to commit to a man who lacks both a livelihood and ambition is a warning that you should heed. Jobless men with trust funds might make nice boyfriends, but they do not, in general, make for good husbands or fathers. Tell him that while you love him, you can’t commit long-term unless he does something with his life beyond golfing and hanging out. Then watch what he does with that information.

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