He Doesn’t Put You First: Are You A Priority Or Just An Option?

When you’re in a relationship, you want to feel like you’re number one (or at least towards the top of the list). Being an option rather than a priority can feel pretty crappy, but is he actually leaving you on the back burner? After you’ve been on more than a couple of dates, your importance in his life should be pretty clear. Here are some signs he doesn’t put you first that you should never ignore.

  1. Most of the time you spend with him happens last minute. He likes to see what other options he has before he makes any definitive plans with you. This means he’s likely to ask if you want to hang out only when he knows for sure that there’s nothing else to do. When he doesn’t put you first, this will be totally obvious.
  2. He wants to know your plans but still won’t make any with you. In order to know exactly what his options are, he’ll ask you what your plans are for the evening/weekend and see if you’re free or not. This way, he knows that if all else fails, he has you to turn to. When you ask him the same question, he’s evasive and noncommital because he “doesn’t really know yet.”
  3. You’re not the person he takes to big events. His best friend’s wedding is coming up?  If you’re a priority, you’re his plus-one without question. If you’re an option, he ends up inviting his sister (or worse, his ex) for some inexplicable reason. There’s really no excuse for this one. He not only doesn’t put you first, he doesn’t even consider you!
  4. He frequently bails on things that are important to you. Mostly because that things that are important to you aren’t important to him. He makes excuses about being “busy,” but when you see him posting on Facebook later about playing Call of Duty all night, you start to get the hint. You feel like you can’t even call him on it because it’s more embarrassing for you than anything.
  5. Unless there’s something he wants, it’ll take him forever to respond to you. If you happen to be too busy to reply to his text, he’ll give you an attitude about it, but it doesn’t work that way when he ignores you. He expects you to just deal with it and if you don’t, he’ll accuse you of being unreasonable or worse, “clingy.” Wow.
  6. You’re the one making all the effort. Do you always text first, initiate plans, and pick him up before you go out? If he doesn’t make any effort at all, you’re likely nothing more than a hookup to him rather than someone he’s thinking about seriously dating. Relationships are meant to be 50/50, so if you’re the one doing all the heavy lifting this early on, it doesn’t bode well for any potential future you might share (which you probably don’t anyway).
  7. You make excuses for him constantly. When friends or family comment on his bad behavior, you find yourself spewing out the same rubbish excuse he gave you. It’s embarrassing, but you don’t want your friends and family thinking that you’re being played for a fool, so you’ll defend him even if you don’t believe what you’re saying.
  8. He accuses you of being nuts when you stand up for yourself. This is emotional manipulation 101, and a clear indicator that he doesn’t respect how you feel. Calling out bad behavior is important not only for the relationship but for your own self-worth. Don’t let him make you feel bad about that. Playing off his bad behavior as your problem — or worse, as totally imagined — is called gaslighting and it’s not okay.
  9. He never remembers anything you tell him. People remember what’s important to them, and details about your life aren’t super important to him, so he forgets… even if you’ve repeated yourself 20 times. It’s clear he doesn’t put you first because it’s as if he doesn’t know you at all. Even the most basic details like your sister’s name or your birthday seem to “slip his mind.” What’s this guy’s deal?
  10. He makes you unhappy most of the time. If you’re honest with yourself, are you mostly happy or sad around him? If he meets any of the other criteria on this list, I think the answer to that question will be pretty obvious. You have so much to offer a partner and you’re so worthy of love, so don’t put up with less than that.

What to do when he doesn’t put you first

couple having serious convo in bariStock

  1. Take a giant leap back. If you’ve been putting him first, prioritizing his wants and needs and even his general presence in your life and you’re not getting the same in return, now’s the time to stop. You’re not a fool and you certainly don’t have time and energy to waste. Until he can get on your level and show you the same consideration you do for him, it’s important to put some distance between you.
  2. Don’t sleep with him. Whatever you do, do not jump into bed with him. Don’t let him win you over with empty words that will never lead to concrete change. If he’s using you for sex or even simply taking advantage of your presence in his life that gives him easy access to girlfriend benefits when he treats you like crap, send a message that it’s not happening by staying far away from the bedroom until things change.
  3. Put yourself first. I know it sounds like one of those self-help quotes, but you have to put yourself first because no one else will. You have to be your own best friend, your own biggest ally and cheerleader. You don’t really need a guy to prioritize you because you know at the end of the day, you’ve got your own back. That’s the most important thing.
  4. Rejig your priorities. This is basically an extension of taking a step back from him. If he’s been a big priority for you in life, time to make a switcheroo. Maybe instead of making sure you have time and space for him in your life, you shift things a bit so that now your fitness journey is in focus or your career advancement. Not only is this important for self-preservation, it’s also a must for self-improvement. It’s a win-win!
  5. Find other distractions. This should come easily enough if you switch up your priorities. Maybe you take a class, start going to the gym again, or even begin a new box set on Netflix. Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re filling your time with things that have nothing to do with the guy who doesn’t put you first.
  6. Tell him straight-up how you’re feeling. If he seems totally oblivious to the fact that your relationship is completely one-sided, you need to be upfront about it. Tell him that you’re sick of always considering him and never getting the same courtesy in return. Tell him that you don’t want to be with someone who acts like you’re more of an inconvenience than a partner that he truly cares about. Either he’ll be totally contrite and vow to change (which he needs to do!) or he’ll deny everything and you’ll know exactly where you stand.
  7. Break things off if necessary. If all else fails and his behavior doesn’t change, you’ll have to cut your losses and leave him in the dust. There’s no sense wasting time with anyone who doesn’t put you first. There’s someone out there who will.
Sarah is a full-time content marketer, part-time freelancer. She’s a serial hobbyist (which just means that she does a lot of random things, but none of them particularly well). Her real talent lies in her ability to consume copious amounts of wine, whilst discussing feminism and reading A Song of Ice and Fire for the 8th time... All while saving puppies from burning houses, of course. You can see more of her work here, or pop over to Twitter and say “‘ello ‘ello” @daughterdipstik