There’s a quote by Mark Twain where he says something along the lines of not allowing someone else to be a priority if you’re their option. Does that mean that we shouldn’t make someone a priority? What happens if we don’t make someone a priority?
When you’re in love, it’s evident that you’ll make them one of your life’s priorities. Do you believe that feeling isn’t mutual? That feeling tends to be when things go wrong in relationships. Misunderstandings regarding expectations from each other are a significant reason for failing friendships and relationships.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss what happens when you don’t make someone a priority in your life. We’re also going to various types of self esteem, as well as how to be the best version of yourself. Each of these elements has to do with when you should and shouldn’t make someone a priority.
Are You an Option or a Priority?
You know that feeling—when you’re with a certain someone, and they make you feel like a third wheel. Instead of treating you like your time is valuable, you feel like that person’s last option. They keep contacting you because you’re a “good enough” companion or because they’re out of choices.
What Does that Mean?
Instead of being someone’s first choice, you’re their “plus one.” They’re looking in your direction because you’re not their priority, but you’re willing to accommodate their needs and wants. They’re focusing more on those things, instead of thinking about how all of this is making you feel.
Why Does this Happen?
You’re making these people a priority. However, that person isn’t doing the same. When they don’t make someone a priority, that has a significant impact on your overall well-being.
Why Won’t They Reciprocate?
If you find yourself going over what you could be doing wrong instead of ways to become a priority, then you’re likely exhausting yourself. You might be making excuses like the person is busy, experiencing stress, or going through a rough time.
Instead of making excuses, it’s time to focus on your self-esteem. There are various types of self esteem, and we’ll go over that later. Right now, we’re talking about when you should and shouldn’t make someone a priority—especially when they’re not doing the same for you.
You Come First: Your Needs Are a Priority
It will feel strange in the beginning when you start putting yourself first. That means you’re living in a way whereby your needs are a priority. There’s no question about it, and you receive the respect you deserve.
How Do You Do These Things?
You’re living in a way whereby you’re doing what you want, on your terms, and when you want. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing these things alone or with someone else. Taking this action shows that you’re creating a domain to call your own.
Those who don’t make someone a priority will look elsewhere for companionship. However, those who genuinely want to make you a priority will want to spend time with you. Those who are giving people have the hardest time making this shift.
If you’re that type of person, start small—like with a garden or a pet that needs to be a priority. Taking that step will help you understand how to be giving healthily. You’ll learn how to create relationships where you’re not second best.
This step also involves another challenge—living for yourself. That’s a challenge for many who habitually put others first. Instead, you’ll be living for yourself and not for another individual.
Are You Surrounded by Those Who Use You?
No one likes the idea of someone using them. It does happen, though, whether intentional or not. These people think about their wants and needs and then find a person to accommodate them. It might be a habit since childhood. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
Can You Recognize Them?
Recognizing the users in your life, no matter if they’re friendships, close relationships, or family, is a critical step toward self-awareness. What I mean by that is, if you’re allowing someone close to you to use you, that’s one way of losing your self-identity.
If someone in your life is using you, it might be challenging to distance yourself from them. You’ll find this is especially true if they’re family members. The main reason is that, since your childhood, they’ve taught you that your actions and wants aren’t as significant as theirs.
Why Do People Act this Way?
They could be for a variety of reasons, including how much emotional baggage they’re carrying. You can be compassionate about those emotions, but while drawing a line. It isn’t acceptable for anyone at any time to treat you like your needs shouldn’t come first or that you’re not good enough.
If you notice this is happening with anyone, it’s time to take a step back. The main reason is that these people taught you that you’re an “option.” That means it’s time to examine who these people are and if they should remain a part of your life or not.
Cultivate a List of Your Strengths
Some have difficulty with self-examination. It might be habitual for you to put yourself down or self-criticize. If that’s the case, it’s time to cultivate a list of your strengths. Everyone has valuable assets–it’s time to focus on them.
Examples of these strengths and assets include:
- A strong sense of humor
- The ability to be compassionate
- How loving you are
- Your ability to nurture
- Your intelligence
- Being hard-working
Your list could continue on and on, but it’s still critical to take the time to make one. Are you artistic? Do children love spending time with you? Do you have a flair for decorating or fixing things? Look deep within yourself to determine other strengths and assets that are unique to your personality.
List Everything: No Exceptions!
Write these things down, and then hang the list in a prominent area of your home. It could be on your bathroom mirror or the corkboard that’s hanging above your desk at work. Wherever you hang this list, make sure it’s in a place you can see daily.
Once you internalize your list, it’s easier to notice when others aren’t appreciating you. It becomes more straightforward how to re-prioritize things and stop wasting your emotional energy if someone is treating you like an option.
Invest Yourself in Something Worthy
We talked about whether or not you’re a giving person. That isn’t a negative quality. Instead, it’s the one you should embrace. Unfortunately, this is especially true if you’re surrounded by those who don’t make someone a priority.
Look at Charities and Volunteering
What many may not realize is that participating in charities or volunteering are incredible self-help tools. If you’re a giving person, you’ll find this reality is especially true. Your good works will have countless benefits.
Stop Wasting Your Energy
It’s common for people who end up being an “option” to dump their energy into people who aren’t valuing them. When participating in charities or volunteering, things are entirely different. Think about:
- Causes that are important to you
- Why volunteering is a valuable asset in your life
- How you can do good works that boost your self-esteem
Don’t Dwell on the Past
When others treat you like you’re not a priority, it isn’t healthy to look back on those relationships and believe changes were possible. Instead of dwelling on the past, you’re making yourself a priority.
Those who are consistently making themselves a priority will focus on the present, as well as what the future holds. These individuals don’t dwell on when they weren’t a priority because that’s toxic and causes pain.
Typically, people who don’t make someone a priority don’t want to know what went wrong or how things could change. Instead of focusing on positive things that could change, that person might hit you with a list of ways you were causing issues. That type of adverse reaction isn’t the best for anyone.
Better Things Are Ahead
A critical reason why people find themselves becoming someone else’s option is that they don’t believe there’s something or someone better in their future. Don’t fall into the trap that a relationship is “meant to be,” if it’s negative.
Sometimes, those who can’t make themselves a priority think along these lines:
- They’re giving up on love if they give up on the person with whom they’re in a relationship
- If they give up, they’re not holding to their word
- There’s a promise or commitment between the two of you
- Both people must remain committed until the end
What those people may not realize is, when that other person doesn’t make you a priority, the love is already gone. They’re investing their time and energy in other things, but it isn’t you.
Think of it this way–relationships are a lot like plants. They need specific things to live and, when they receive more care, they’ll thrive. So, when you tell yourself stories about how your relationship should be, you’re taking your possibilities and future away.
Continue Investing in Valuable Friendships
One of the reasons a particular job or social occasion can be terrible is because we keep getting stuck in the same routines with the same people. You won’t experience anything interesting unless a new person enters your group.
Don’t Wait for New Group Members
The “option” person will wait for new people to join their group. That’s something you need to change. Instead of waiting, go out and meet new friends. Expand your horizons by developing new relationships, making more contacts, and meeting new people.
It isn’t uncommon for “option” people to create safe places by fencing themselves in and being too afraid to look outward. Think about these questions:
- Have you lost touch with valuable friendships as a result?
- Are you trying to remain available for people who are making plans?
- Have you stopped making plans of your own because you’re stuck as the “option” person?
You Are a Priority
While you might be surrounded by those who don’t make someone a priority, that doesn’t mean you can’t change things. That means being bold and making yourself a priority. That also involves building up your self-esteem. It’s challenging to drop off someone’s radar when you’re continually making yourself available to them.
If you drop off someone’s radar and they come around to make you a priority, then that’s great. If these individuals don’t, then you’re not missing anything. Instead, you’re making positive changes in your life. While those people may expect you to give them a second chance, because that’s been your habit, don’t do that anymore.
It’s Okay to be Alone
Some people allow themselves to be an “option” because they prefer not to be alone. It’s in these situations when you must learn to be okay with being on your own. However, you must do this without becoming emotionally shallow or a hermit.
Worrying about being lonely is a real concern for many. Others might already be comfortable with the lack of intimacy in their relationship and are holding on for that reason. There are others, still, who fear intimacy and are okay with how things are going.
Do You Fear Intimacy?
We’ve all heard of those distant relationships whereby each person can come and go effortlessly. They have incredible relationships where they can pick up where they left off and are perfectly comfortable with that. However, these relationships could be occurring for a different reason.
Instead of working because these relationships are amazing, it could be because the people in them lack emotional depth. They might be avoiding the kind of long-term relationship that requires them to be accountable.
Keep Your Depth
Your ability to connect with another individual is a valuable quality and one you want to keep. If you’re in a long-term relationship, that means both of you are accountable for your actions (or lack thereof). So, even though you’re working on being okay spending time alone, that doesn’t mean you should lose your ability to have meaningful relationships.
That means you’re not settling for people who are wrong for you. Instead, you’re keeping yourself a priority while establishing meaningful relationships. Maintain your ability to cultivate close and meaningful relationships at the same time you’re working on being alone.
Learn How to Be the Best Version of Yourself
Do you find yourself working hard to be accommodating or please others because you’re worried about upsetting them or being too demanding? Do others treat you like you’re high-maintenance because they want you to adapt or be the “option” person?
If you’re the type who consistently makes relationships all about the other person, you might be thinking you’re doing the right thing. However, are you genuinely embracing how to be the best version of yourself? Unfortunately, you’re not.
Stop Depending on Others for Your Happiness
You don’t need anyone else to achieve happiness. You aren’t determining your joy by the relationships you’re maintaining. Instead, focus on not being someone else’s crutch or becoming a doormat. You don’t need anyone like that, particularly when they need to stop using others.
There’s nothing wrong with being high maintenance if that means you’re taking care of your needs and wants. Be demanding if it’s necessary. If those people don’t like how strong you’re becoming, then maintain your ability to be alone while letting them go.
Understand the Differences
There are situations in everyone’s life when it’s impossible to be someone’s priority. Examples include when you’re taking care of young children or parents who are ill. We care deeply about these people with the understanding that they have to be the priority.
Other situations include:
- When there are demands put on another person due to their occupation
- If an individual must work different shifts
- When someone has to work with others who are in different time zones
It’s our responsibility to understand what their passions are and how they could impact the relationship. Being accommodating, flexible, and open during these relationships is healthy. That’s especially true when you’re each being completely honest with each other.
The Types of Self Esteem to Help you Be Your Best Person
Did you know there are different types of self esteem? Understanding what they are is your first step toward being your best self and not allowing others to treat you like an option.
When your self-esteem is healthy, that means you understand the things you have control over and what you do not. For example, you might not have control over your income. However, you do have control over improving your chances of earning more by working harder.
Therefore, you’re not spending time beating yourself up over how much money you’re earning. Instead, you’re taking pride in your ability to learn new things and your work ethic. Those qualities help you feel more competent, which, in turn, leads to earning more money.
Those who are experiencing this type of self-esteem are reacting to the uncontrollable and external things in their life. Those feelings cause your self-worth to become fragile. Your entire facade could come crashing down if there’s the slightest indication that you’re not good enough.
For example, if you’re basing your self-worth if others like you or not. You’ll feel good about yourself if everyone finds you likable. However, these feelings cause you to become overly sensitive. So, if awkward conversation arises or someone irritatingly looks at you, you’re questioning your self-worth.
About Developing Healthy Self-Esteem
When thinking about the types of self esteem, focusing on maintaining a healthy one, is critical. Even though we might think self-esteem has everything to do with what others think of us, that’s not true. It’s an internal metric based on our self-evaluation. And, because we can’t measure the value of anyone, the parameter is entirely made up.
What Does That Mean?
When examining yourself inwardly, you’re looking at prioritizing the healthy sources of self-esteem. Examples include:
- How honest you are with others, as well as yourself.
- How compassionate you are with others, as well as yourself.
- You’re living with an attitude of humility.
- You’re not using emotions when hearing context from others.
- You can recognize the role that emotions, including anger, fear, and guilt, are playing in the lives of others.
- You’re not a “follower,” but, instead, you have leadership qualities.
- Your ability to release other individuals and allow them to make their own decisions.
- Your accountability and how often you keep your word.
- You can keep the past in the past while focusing on the present.
Understanding the Differences
When developing healthy self-esteem, that doesn’t mean you know your clothes or shoes look incredible. You can feel good about your clothes or shoes, but those aren’t elements that help you develop healthy self-esteem.
These situations all beg the question, “how do I develop healthy self-esteem?” Let’s look at ways of accomplishing this goal:
If your self-esteem is low or toxic, accept that reality for a moment.
It isn’t uncommon to get caught up in feelings of despair, helplessness, sadness, and so on. However, these are temporary feelings. So, instead of amplifying those feelings, accept that there are bad days along with the good.
If you find yourself allowing others to treat you like you’re an “option,” accept that for a moment. Don’t pretend it isn’t happening. It’s toxic to “fake it until you make it,” so avoid doing that. Focus on this reality while determining how to change it to something positive.
Be compassionate with yourself, and don’t make any exceptions.
When your self-esteem is low, you’re likely hard on yourself. That means, no matter what’s happening, you’re taking it personally. Examples of this thought process include:
“I can’t believe I just said that. Why am I so awkward?”
“I blew it. Why can’t I get anything right?”
“Another bag of chips eaten tonight. When will I ever get some self-control?”
Now, ask yourself, do you talk to your best friend or significant other when they run into these situations? No, of course, you don’t. It’s okay to make mistakes or lose control over a situation. You’re not a horrible person when this happens. So, talk to yourself the same way you would your best friend or significant other.
Be comfortable with your shortcomings.
Healthy self-esteem doesn’t mean you believe you lack nothing. Instead, it means you’re comfortable with your shortcomings. Those who have healthy self-esteem don’t think they’re the best at everything or any one thing. That’s typically someone who has toxic self-esteem.
Individuals with healthy self-esteem are comfortable knowing they’re not perfect at everything. Someone with toxic self-esteem will allow themselves to be an “option” and internalize it as an example of how they don’t matter. Having healthy self-esteem means you understand that you must be a priority, and you can’t control it when others want to treat you as second-best.
How Does Healthy Self-Esteem Play Into Being Someone Else’s Priority?
It’s difficult to fall into the healthy types of self esteem when you’re with people who don’t make someone a priority. It’s easier to feel toxic self-esteem during these situations and interactions. That’s when you must understand when not being a priority is impacting your self-esteem.
Being with Needy People
These are individuals who show up or contact you when they need something. These needs can range from anything to a dinner date to borrowing something of yours. Be wary of these individuals because they’re not the type of people who will be available when you need help.
Conversations Turn to Them
Each time these individuals contact you, they consistently turn the conversation into a rant about themselves. They don’t value the “give and take” part of any relationship. Instead, their conversations are a continuous stream of “all about me” talk. You can’t get in a single word and, in the grand scheme of things, this is not a valuable friendship.
They’re Not Available
If you make plans with these individuals, they habitually cancel on you. They don’t care if these events are essential to you. Instead of showing up on moving day or holding your hand during challenging times, they cancel.
They Don’t Include You
There’s nothing harder on someone’s self-esteem than finding out about milestone moments in another’s life through the grapevine. If you’re learning about their promotions at work, engagements, pregnancies, or divorces from other sources, you’re not their priority.
Instead of being around those who don’t make someone a priority, it’s time to understand the types of self esteem and how to be the best version of yourself. Taking these steps means letting go of the person who has toxic self-esteem and doesn’t value you. Instead of allowing them to treat you like an option continuously, it’s time to demand that you become a priority. In doing so, you’ll find you’re focusing more on your strengths and your value.