We all want to meet and fall in love with an ambitious individual.
There is something attractive about a go-getter who has dreams that aren’t of the pipe quality, and who is making strides to make those dreams come true. But what happens when you fall in love with a person who shows little professional growth and is happy just getting by?
If you’re my friend, let’s call her Erica, you fall out of love. Erica, who is 27, has been dating a guy, who is 40, since we were in college. When they got together in 2009, I was intrigued by their relationship. She was a scholar studying to get her degree in social work. He was a father of a young teenage daughter, working as a manager at Subway. She met him while at FAMU (he wasn’t a student, more of a townie) and seemed to like him enough. As time passed, their relationship developed, they moved in together, and she grew close with his daughter. All seemed well.
I assumed that Erica wasn’t the type of woman to gush over guys she dated. She never did. But the more I would talk to her about her boyfriend, the more peculiar things became. She would talk about him as if he were the annoying dude on the corner named Vaughn, who was always trying to holler, but could never get his sh*t together. “That’s just the way their love goes,” I thought to myself. But that was until she told me that they were going through some things.
“I cheated on him.”
He found some messages she exchanged with another man. When I asked if her that was all that happened with the other fella, she replied with “That’s all he thought it was,” in reference to her boyfriend. She gave me the impression that she had happily given another guy the time of day. Despite her infidelity, he took her back. And for most women who know that they’ve made a major mistake that almost cost them the man they love, you would think she would reenter the relationship grateful and relieved.
Erica seemed unbothered.
Why? Because after six years and three years living together, nothing about her boyfriend changed. He is still working as a manager at Subway and is content with staying in Tallahassee, making whatever kind of money he brings in. Erica, on the other hand, continues to try and put herself through graduate school, doing it all financially on her own, working a full-time job and hoping to get her degree soon. Financially, she’s not where she wants to be, and she would love if her boyfriend could do a lot more than he is to help. He could start, according to her, by getting a new job. “All the men in my life have helped me and supported me in some way, from my daddy to my brother.” According to Erica, her boyfriend isn’t one of those men, and it is wearing on her. So despite their reunion, Erica isn’t sure what will happen with their relationship. She doesn’t know if he will up and change his mind about being together after the way she hurt him. But she isn’t so sure she wants to stick around with him if he’s not going to upgrade his life. In her mind, he’s too old to be doing so little. She wants him to find a new position, a better opportunity and support them as the family they’ve somewhat been.
But to be fair, managers at Subway aren’t doing so bad. According to Glassdoor, the base salary for a Subway manager on average is $31,574. But in total compensation, a manager can bring in as little as $21,000 or as much as $61,000 a year. Still, she thinks he could do a lot better.
As I think about Erica’s predicament, I have an inkling as to why she stepped out on him and felt no type of way about it: She no longer respects him. Honestly, for many young women, one of the perks of being with a man who is older is the belief that there will be some stability. While a twentysomething man is trying to find his way and living check to check, it’s assumed that a man over the age of 30 would have some things figured out and be doing well for himself. So to see that her boyfriend isn’t doing oh so well after six years drives Erica bonkers. And the fact that he doesn’t necessarily want to move up in the world is causing her to lose more and more respect for him as the days pass. Hence her nonchalance about him when we speak. Hence the fact that she’s broken up with him multiple times, once via text. Hence her decision to cheat on him. And hence her indecisiveness when it comes to the state of their relationship.
With all that in mind, I don’t think Erica is petty for wanting her partner to be more driven. But I think it’s petty to stay with someone you no longer respect and don’t seem to be in love with anymore. I think she is comfortable with him, but she’s too uncomfortable with their situation. And for the sake of her sanity, and his heart, it would probably be best if she moved on. The same energy she’s exerting to get him to change could be better spent focusing on accomplishing her own goals and finding someone she will truly love…and respect…
But as always, that’s just my opinion. Do you think Erica is petty for wanting him to find a better job to provide a better life when they’re not even married?