How To Be A Priority, Not An Option

Here is a common relationship misconception: A lot of people believe they will get what they give. So you invest in him with your whole heart, you prioritize him, you give it your all, and you expect that he’ll do the same… but usually, the opposite happens.  He continues to throw bare minimum scraps your way and you cling to them desperately, hoping that one day he’ll give you something a little more hearty.

You end up in a lopsided relationship where you’re doing all the work and you are just way more in it than he is. You want it to work with him, but you also want to be treated like a priority instead of an afterthought.

So let’s talk about what that entails.

First, let’s talk about some signs that you aren’t his priority.

Why You Aren’t His Priority

1. He’s in and out of your life.

Maybe you call this being wishy-washy or hot and cold or sending mixed messages, either way, the message is clear: you’re not his priority.

One of the most definitive signs a man really likes a woman and is invested in her is he’s consistent. He doesn’t leave any open space for some other guy to steal her away, or for her to question how he feels and move on.

2. He doesn’t make plans in advance.

If you try to make a plan with him he won’t give you a definitive answer and he frequently makes plans with you last minute. He’s probably just exploring other options and when nothing better presents itself, he’s wide open and ready for you.

3. You’re doing all the work.

You mostly initiate calls and texts, you come up with fun date ideas, you’re doing it all and he’s just along for the ride.

4. He tells you he doesn’t want a relationship.

Maybe he doesn’t want a relationship with anyone right now, maybe he just doesn’t want a relationship with you, but if he says this, just take it at face value. It’s possible he does really like you, he just has so much else going on that he has nothing to give. Don’t devalue yourself by accepting the bare minimum.

5. He doesn’t do anything to make you feel special.

If he doesn’t really do much aside from showing up and going through the motions, then he isn’t invested or prioritizing you.

So what now? You realized you’re an option and you want to be a priority. How can you turn the tables?

Turn the Tables

1. Don’t be afraid to leave.

What keeps us in relationships that are beneath us is fear. Maybe fear of being alone… fear you won’t find better … fear of making the wrong choice…

You need to silently carry the conviction that if this relationship doesn’t match your standards, you will leave. And you are not afraid of leaving because you know you’ll find better. And if you don’t feel this way, you need to get to the root of the self-esteem issues driving this behavior.

If a man knows you’re not going anywhere, then he’s not motivated to give you that priority treatment. That’s just human behavior. We want maximum reward for minimum effort. You’re giving the reward, and he’s giving the minimum effort.

You need to set your intention. Figure out what it is you want, recognize you deserve to have it, and stop settling for what falls short.

2. Establish depth of connection.

One main area men look at when at in deciding whether you’re “just a girl” or “the girl” comes down to depth of connection.

What blocks you from having this is our good old friend Fear again. When you’re afraid of losing him or of him leaving you, then you are in this hypervigilant mode of looking for signs and analyzing behaviors and you just can’t connect this way.

When your sense of self-esteem is shaky, then you will be interacting with him like an object instead of a person, he is there to fill your self-esteem tank, to help you feel worthy and validated. Again, you can’t connect this way.

The way to form a true connection is to just be present and to just be. You have to let go of your fears because if you are afraid of being hurt, you won’t be able to be truly vulnerable and open.

Here is how to know if you have a depth of connection:

  • He talks to you about his problems and the stresses he deals with, he doesn’t hide behind a “got-it-all-together” persona.
  • He shows his real emotions.
  • You know things about him that no one else does, things you can’t discover on his social media pages.
  • He has immersed you in his life and immersed himself in yours. He doesn’t just want you to meet his friends and family, he wants you to bond with them in a meaningful way. And he makes an effort to bond with your people in a meaningful way.
  • He talks about the future with you in a real, concrete way- not just making abstract, fantasy-fueled plans,

It really comes down to this: is he his full, true, authentic self with you?

If he’s not, then work on dropping your guard a bit, releasing your fears, and just focusing on the connection.

3. Let him know what it is you want!

So many women are afraid to speak up and express their needs for fear of coming across too needy.

But here’s the thing- owning what you want isn’t neediness. Accepting what you don’t want for fear of rocking the boat is needy behavior. Neediness is valuing someone else’s perception of you over your own. So the needy person desperately needs their partner to respond a certain way, otherwise, they will suffer. They are on an endless quest for validation but it’s never enough.

If you want certain things from him, try just telling him. It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it that makes a difference.

If you need him to plan dates in advance, then tell him. Don’t do it in a shaming, demanding, blaming way, just confidently express that’s something you need.

You also have a right to know where your relationship stands,  so stop being so afraid of rocking the boat. If he’s been intentionally leaving things vague and undefined, and what you want is a commitment, then express that to him and don’t accept his non-answers abut the status of your relationship. And don’t delude yourself either, if he’s leaving things vague, it’s because he wants to have that freedom to do what he wants without technically doing anything wrong.

If expressing your needs makes you anxious or nervous, then look at that a little closer. Is it coming from you, or do you know deep down that he just isn’t on the same page as you and you’re scared to hear it from his mouth and eliminate all doubt?

Remember, if you have to monitor your behavior around a guy so carefully, he probably isn’t the right guy for you

4. Pull back.

If you aren’t being treated like a priority, sometimes all it takes is pulling back a bit in order to galvanize his interest and get him to step up once again.

Pulling back is especially important if the dynamic in your relationship is one where you’re doing all the work. You’ve been initiating most of the texts and most of the plans.

Just step back a bit and see what happens. If he really likes you, he’s not going to just let you fade into the abyss, he will step up!

I’m not saying be mean or punishing. Just focus on yourself a little more and focus on him a less and see what happens.

5. Don’t commit to him until he has committed to you.

This is probably one of the most essential relationship rules, at least in the early phases before things are defined. Committing yourself to him too soon will throw the dynamic off and it’s not going to get you the commitment you want.

Don’t act like his girlfriend until you are his girlfriend. Don’t close yourself off from other prospects, and don’t delete your dating apps. Keep yourself open to other possibilities. This will just help you have a more relaxed attitude about the whole thing and he will sense that he doesn’t fully have you and could potentially lose you which will motivate him to give you that priority treatment (and commitment, soon after!).

6. Prioritize yourself.

You do not become a priority to him by making him your priority, you get it by prioritizing yourself!

There is nothing interesting about someone who is always available and waiting in the wings. It’s also not interesting when he is the best thing you have going on in your life. You should make an effort to have a full, fulfilling, well-rounded life with many sources of happiness.

Don’t wait for him to put you first. Make your happiness your priority and fill your time with things that bring you joy. When you do, he will most likely rise up to match. And if he doesn’t, he was never into it enough in the first place.

Sabrina Bendory is a writer and entrepreneur. She is the author of You’re Overthinking It, a definitive book on dating and self-love.

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