12 signs you’re in a relationship with someone who won’t improve themselves

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It’s devastating to realize you’re in love with someone who’s stuck in their lives. 

You want to support them and be there for them, but they won’t do anything to improve their own situation or themselves. 

I’ve been in this situation myself, and I know how depressing it is as well as what to watch out for… 

1) They ignore your advice

It’s true that we can’t force anybody to change. 

But we can make suggestions and provide input. 

After all, it’s those who we care about most who can often benefit most from our input. 

That’s why it’s so sad when you love somebody but they just won’t even consider your advice. 

I’ve been there and you probably have, too. It’s not that you’re trying to control them or anything of the sort. 

You’re just providing your perspective. And it’s being ignored. Fully.

2) They’re dependent on you 

If you have a partner who only moves when you move and only gets motivated when you get motivated then you know how this feels. 

It’s a real drag to have a partner who’s dependent on you. 

What you want is interdependence and two spokes in a wheel working together: 

What you get is a constant uphill climb and you start to feel like Sisyphus on steroids. 

What kind of parody of a relationship is this, you wonder?

Will your partner ever get their act together? 

The fear starts to set in as you realize that the answer might honestly be no. 

3) They’re dismissive of job opportunities 

If your partner is struggling on the job front, then it’s understandable you’d try to help. 

After all, it’s hard to get by in this world without a job, especially these days. 

But when you have a partner who won’t improve themselves this becomes very evident in lack of career ambition. 

They want to have a comfortable life, but they don’t want to work

So you come forward with ideas and suggestions, but they just don’t make an effort. It’s maddening! 

4) They’re financially irresponsible 

When you have a partner who’s having trouble in their life or career it often trickles down into financial irresponsibility. 

In other words: freeloading. 

We all enjoy kissing somebody we love, but we don’t enjoy them leeching off us and sucking away our ability to save money or care for basic needs. 

If you wanted a partner who’s a dependent you would volunteer at a care home or a place for people with disabilities. 

Obviously this is different if your partner actually has disabilities or can’t work or care for themselves, and no offense is meant by it. 

But if you’re with a partner who has the ability to work and care for themselves but won’t, it’s a much different story. 

It’s just not right… 

5) They’re a selfish lover 

When it comes to what goes on behind closed doors, your partner is a taker and not a giver.

They want to get off and have their fun, but they’re not very interested in returning the favor. 

In fact when you stop and think about it they’re not interested at all. 

Could poor chemistry be to blame or just a substandard physical attraction

It’s certainly possible. 

But it’s just as likely that you’re not enjoying intimacy very much with them because they aren’t really putting any effort into making it reciprocal! 

6) They play on your sympathies 

The partner who’s not into developing themselves will often play the victim. 

They may have real disadvantages and problems in their lives (don’t we all!) but the problem is how they try to utilize these against you by playing on your sympathies

Any criticism or disagreement you have seems to cycle back to them referring to their hard lot in life. 

It’s like a get out of jail free card, except in this case “jail” is just them taking any basic responsibility and adult ownership in the relationship. 

Having empathy and compassion for your partner is vital; pitying them and letting them off the hook out of sympathy is both unsexy and toxic. 

7) They constantly stall for time

When a partner doesn’t want to improve themselves they stall for time. 

They promise to look for a job tomorrow…

They vow to get started on their new diet next week…

They commit to being more communicative “soon” and will “work on it.”

Yet “it” never happens. 

Whatever they promise to do for themselves or the relationship just keeps getting pushed forward, like a pile of files on a desk that never gets dealt with. 

Like I said, it’s maddening! 

8) They blame their family for their problems

There is always an excuse for why this person can’t get their life together. 

One of the most common is a fractured or problematic relationship with their family. 

This may be true. 

But their use of family problems or estrangement as an excuse to wallow in self-pity or not improve is bullsh*t. 

It puts all the weight on you to change things and carry the emotional (financial, physical, practical) weight of the relationship

Meanwhile your partner gets to inhabit the victim role and refer back to their family problems whenever you put the pressure on?

It’s just not fair, and you know that if you did the same thing and talked about your family tensions your partner wouldn’t accept it. 

9) They idealize you in an unrealistic way

Part of the problem with a partner who won’t improve themselves is the idealization toward you. 

They may see you as this kind of semi-perfect ideal.

You’re the “strong one,” the “stable one,” the person who can never have a breakdown or need a time out. 

By putting you in this “savior” role, the true codependent roots of the relationship come out. 

This is toxic to the core, since it leaves no room for you to grow and experience your own natural ups and downs in the context of the relationship. 

You have no container to work from emotionally or mentally and are left playing a two-dimensional role of unpaid emotional labor.

10) They take without giving back 

The role of a partner who won’t improve themselves is the role of taking without giving back. 

It’s not just in the intimate life which I wrote about earlier. 

It’s in almost every way. 

What’s worse is the occasional times they do give back will be calculated and remembered as a kind of currency or chit to save up and reference the next time they need or want something. 

“Yeah, but remember when I did…”

It’s really a toxic road to go down.

11) They threaten to break up unless you comply

People who won’t develop themselves will often use your affection for them against you. 

They will threaten to break up with you and leave you unless you do what they want. 

If you care deeply for them or have a fear of being alone this can be quite effective. 

You don’t want them to leave and to experience that trauma in your life, so you comply. 

You put off another “big discussion” for the time being and let it go.

And then you do it again next week. 

12) They give ultimatums if you break up with them

On the flip side, if you feel ready to leave, your non-contributing partner may threaten to harm themselves or guilt you if you leave them. 

You’re ready to move on, but they’re not. 

They promise that if you leave they’ll never get over it. You’re the best thing that ever happened to them, and so on. 

Maybe it’s true. Breakups with somebody you care about will always hurt a lot. 

But if you’ve determined that it’s best to move on, sometimes it’s best to stick with your gut.

Is there still hope for your relationship? 

If your partner won’t improve themselves you have an extremely difficult choice to make:

Do you stay or do you go?

You may be certain that you’ll always love them and that this connection you have will never change. 

But if their lack of interest in bettering themselves or their life has truly reached an impasse you need to leave. 

That’s my honest opinion.

In the end it’s best for you and for them, because life waits on nobody and codependency ultimately weakens every person involved in it. 

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

I know this from personal experience…

A few months ago, I reached out to Relationship Hero when I was going through a tough patch in my relationship. After being lost in my thoughts for so long, they gave me a unique insight into the dynamics of my relationship and how to get it back on track.

If you haven’t heard of Relationship Hero before, it’s a site where highly trained relationship coaches help people through complicated and difficult love situations.

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I was blown away by how kind, empathetic, and genuinely helpful my coach was.

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Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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