Recently, I was discussing online the topic of handling a boyfriend or husband who isn’t motivated to succeed. Multiple women saw it as their duty to try to reform their better halves and strongly encourage them to change their lives for the better because they wanted the unit as a whole to succeed. However, most of these women didn’t realize that when they overstep the boundary of simply encouraging their boyfriends to actively trying to get them to move on, they are no longer treating their boyfriends as a partner but a child. When women can’t accept that their mates don’t want anything more and are content at where they are after years and years of trying to persuade them, they are wasting their time, patience, and the relationship in the feat. Does this mean we should never encourage our partners? Absolutely not. We should always encourage them to be and do better, but what we want is different than what we expect. If we want better for our spouses, that is one thing, but to expect better means we are in for a world of hurt when they don’t live up to our expectations.
Women have been wired to be nurturers and to love unconditionally and that is the definition of what a mother does. Mothers nurture their children and love them unconditionally so that when girls grow up to be women, they somehow think that is how they should love their boyfriends, but that is not the case. When women do this, they relegate their spouses to the role of children and become increasingly disillusioned with the relationship, thinking that they are always doing more than their fair share when in fact they are taking on more than they should, causing them to despise the other. Every non-parental relationship should be based on conditional love and clear boundaries. As women, we tend to lose who we are in helping others and in the end, we resent those that we help if we don’t practice self-care. When we enter into relationships, we must be aware of the rules of the relationship and how we are willing to help our mates.
Oftentimes, we as women do not really know what we want out of a mate until we date a few men and understand what it is that we want. At that point, we may already be with someone that we aren’t willing to leave and realize that they are not as ambitious as we’d like. So what do we do? We constantly encourage them. We go out of our way to remind them of things they have to do to better themselves. We seek out opportunities for them that they may not have sought. We do this because we want to shape them into the man we want them to be, but have we ever accepted them for who they are? If your boyfriend is receptive to your advice, that is great, but if he is unwilling to change after many years, he will only see your advice as nagging and resent you for not accepting him. What is at risk of being hurt here is not our futures, but our expectations. We may have expected too much out of someone who has always told us who they were, but we refused to listen. Instead, we saw them for who they could be and remained for that reason.
So how do you stop mothering your boyfriend? Rein in your own expectations of him and the relationship. Your wants and needs are important and if they are important enough that he can’t meet them, perhaps you are not in the right relationship. Sometimes, we as women blame our boyfriends for not growing, when in fact we had the choice to leave all along. Oftentimes, people only change when they are forced to, so we see many exes blossoming into who we’ve always wanted them to be afterwards, but that change must come at the price of us leaving. What if you are committed to staying? Have a frank discussion with him and what you want for him. If he doesn’t agree, you must honor his wishes; for to simply bulldoze over his wishes and blindly continue on your quest to push him towards greatness is quite like that of an overzealous mother. And yet, we don’t see it that way. We see it as love, but love is not pushing someone to do what they don’t want to do. You may have good intentions, but if he doesn’t see that, it doesn’t matter.
When you rein in your own expectations, there will be less disappointment and grief on your end. You will spend less time worrying about if he is doing the right thing and more time on enjoying the relationship. Remember that the more duties you take on in a relationship, the more you will mentally suffer, so lessen your burden if there is nothing you can do to control the situation. I had an ex who constantly woke up late for his job and I didn’t make it my job to wake him up on time. His mother chastised me for not doing it as I lived with him and I retorted that I was not his mother. She immediately sat back and realized the importance of my words. If it wasn’t my duty to wake him up in the morning, I didn’t have to worry about him getting to work on time. If it was my duty, I would’ve been very upset every morning. I let it be known that I refused to mother him in this way and it was his responsibility to get up in time for work. There were definitely other issues that led to the end our relationship, but in this small way, I refused to be his mother and agreed only to be his partner.
It may sting to try to only be their partner because so much of what happens in their life affects us, but we must realize what we are giving up to try to mother them. We are giving up our time, piece of mind, and patience. Then, we will have less patience for other areas in our lives. In the end, we are really just adjusting our expectations and setting boundaries that we never knew to establish because we’ve always felt as if it were our duty to do these things. A partner complements you and we may want certain things from them, but we should never expect them if the person has already told us they cannot do those things. And above all else, if our needs are not being met, we must answer to ourselves before we do to them.