What factors impact a relationship?
On the “plus” side of the ledger, you might list trust, love, lust, compatibility, and more. Running counter to those concerns might be suspicion, poor communication, distance, etc.
Where would ambition fit in? On which side — plus or minus — would you list personal initiative and drive?
Well, it’s a bit of a trick question. Ambition can mean anything without context. How ambition impacts your relationship might depend on how it’s expressed. Also, the strength of your foundation plays a major role. To make matters more confusing, we may each have our own definition of what ambition even means. Let’s explore this further:
What Is Ambition?
Fundamentally, ambition describes:
- a desire to achieve a goal or accomplishment
- the motivation and willingness to put in the work and make the sacrifices necessary to fuel your desires
Unlike hope, ambition is believed to be an inherent trait that is subsequently shaped by experience. Hope rises and falls based on circumstances or situations. Ambition is here to stay. It can neither be taught or unlearned. In truth, that is not the case. Within the bounds of a relationship, ambition can be quite variable.
How Does Ambition Impact Your Relationship?
Some things are clichés for a good reason: they are most often true. Case in point, couples need shared goals and visions. At least one of the partners will, in turn, need enough ambition to keeps things moving smoothly along to these joint destinations. Two potential problems with ambition, however, relate to compatibility.
There is bound to be some difference in your levels of ambition. If that difference is drastic, it is a recipe for resentment. The ambitious partner will feel they are doing the lion’s share of the work. The less ambitious partner may feel left out of the process.
This holds true even for the more mundane goals, for example:
- Household chores
- Child-rearing responsibilities
- Taking care of one’s own health
Over time, the ambitious partner may step up to make all the decisions and tie up all the loose ends. Internally, this may lead to resentment but they do it because that’s their style. Their partner might eventually dwell in a different kind of resentment. They may feel inadequate in comparison. Just as often, they may feel slighted when they realize how small of a role they play in the nuts and bolts of your shared life.
This issue is as much about ambition as it is about general compatibility. In the early days, you feel like soul mates. You operate on the same wavelength, even finishing each other’s sentences. As inevitable changes trickle in, your connection faces a challenge. You may both be ambitious, having strong visions and goals.
Unfortunately, problems arise when they are less and less the same visions and goals.
More ambitious partners may plow forward with his or her own goals and visions. Based on experience, they automatically do all the work and simply expect the other person to go along. Less ambitious partners will notice this disconnect but not reflexively take any kind of action. Again, this is a recipe for relationship dissatisfaction.
Still Unsure? Ask For Help!
Ambition is not, on its own, good or bad. Yet it is perceived differently by each of us. It is felt and expressed uniquely — on a person-to-person basis. These nuanced realities can wreak havoc on a relationship dynamic. When both partners are stuck at a stalemate it is often time to seek objective support.
Couples counseling is a form of mediation in such situations. The benefits of a skilled, unbiased guide can help you put your life and goals in perspective. In the case of ambition-related strife, therapy may serve as a roadmap to the oft-sought common ground. Please reach out soon for a consultation. We’re here to help you both find your way.