Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Won’t Get A Job. ADHD Or Just Plain Laziness?”

My boyfriend and I have been together for a year. I have known him since I was thirteen, his family adores me, we talk about the future, and I am so happy when I am with him. However, we have a few issues. I graduated from college almost three years ago and work a full-time job. We’re the same age, but my boyfriend is still working on community college and lives at home and has no job. He knows how much I value an education, but not so much that he’s motivated and driven to succeed. Now, to be fair, he has severe ADHD, and schoolwork has never been easy for him, not because he isn’t bright, but because of his inability to concentrate. However, he doesn’t seem to WANT to do better. I think he gets nervous about failure, but at 24 years old he doesn’t seem to want to get a job, or accelerate his schooling any quicker, and I want to move on to the next stage of our relationship (not marriage, but just a more mature stage). I love him and don’t want to lose him, but I don’t know if I can handle a lifetime of this. Do I stick it out? Is it the ADHD or just laziness? — Motivated

For a huge host of reasons, I’m in no position to say whether your boyfriend has ADHD or is just lazy, but I can say that ADHD is one of those tricky diagnoses that few people truly understand and many people are often misdiagnosed with. Sure, it’s possible that your boyfriend is just lazy; it’s possible he has ADHD and isn’t being treated effectively; and it’s possible he’s been misdiagnosed and may suffer from some other mental or mood disorder like depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, which would all affect his ability to concentrate and his motivation level.

Unfortunately, you don’t have much control in this situation. Whether your boyfriend simply needs to tweak his treatment for ADHD, has another disorder that can be treated, or is simply just lazy, he has to want to get help/change his ways. If he’s not willing to, you can’t force him. And even if he does seek help, there’s no guarantee that things will get better, or if they do, that they’ll stay that way. You have to decide how much you love this person, how invested you are, and whether this is something you’re willing to deal with if you were to make a lifetime to commitment to him. No one would blame you if it isn’t. It’s better to leave someone for the right reasons than stay with someone for the wrong ones. Would this be a “right reason” to leave your boyfriend? Only you can answer that. Would staying with him because you’d feel guilty for leaving him be a “wrong reason”? You bet.

I’ve been dating a trustworthy, kind gentleman for almost three years now. The problem? He’s very anxious, which translates into things like avoiding conflict with his parents and with me, avoiding issues like marriage (which carries a lot of childhood baggage and is something he sees as problematic in most cases), and sometimes — well, sometimes lacking the backbone that would make me respect him more. My emotions get a little over the top sometimes, and I guess I want to know that he can handle those.

I think about marrying him, want to marry him, but sometimes am also plagued by thoughts of how boring our life together might be (too much anxiety means it’s hard to get him to try something new), and of how I need him to stand up for himself to respect him. I just want him to make a decision…to do something… — Bored

You don’t respect the guy, you find him boring, and he thinks marriage is something “problematic” and avoids discussing the topic with you? Wait, why do you want to marry him again? Look, thinking about marrying someone on the condition that he changes first — gets a backbone, stats standing up for himself, quits being boring — is never a good idea. You gotta love who the person is RIGHT NOW, not who you wish he’d be. If you can’t see yourself spending forever with the guy you know today — his flaws-n-all — he’s not he one for you. Your boyfriend isn’t the one who needs to “make a decision” and “to do something.” You are. What’s it gonna be?

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at [email protected]