“My Boyfriend Prioritizes Everything Over Me”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. Read some of the most popular Dear Wendy posts here. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), do a search in the search bar, or submit a question for advice at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

My boyfriend and I have been together for about a year and a half. We share an apartment together, kind of. By kind of, I mean that he spends two to three nights a week with me while the rest of the time he spends at his mom’s house. He is a HUGE momma’s boy and spends a ton of time with both of his parents. I am 26, and he is almost 30. I am in medical school pursuing a career to be a doctor and I have a very demanding full schedule. I’m always studying and I don’t have time to hold a job, so he is very supportive and gives me my space to study and also has paid my full apartment rent for the past year.

He doesn’t complain much about it if ever, and his only complaint is that he wishes I had more time to accompany him to events like his friend’s cookouts and his soccer games. As long as I don’t keep him from doing those things, though, he is fine with all the time I spend studying and not with him.

When we first started dating, he was the most perfect boyfriend I could have ever possibly imagined. He planned surprise dates all the time, cooked me breakfast in bed, brought me fresh flowers every other week, left me sweet notes around my apartment and the list goes on. I would consider our relationship to be pretty serious as we have discussed marriage and kids on multiple occasions and have some plans together two years in advance.

For about the past four months, however, he constantly puts his family, friends, and hobbies before me. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe a relationship is more important than anything else. I understand that family is important (and he is MUCH closer with his family than I am to mine), but I am very afraid that he will not be able to uproot himself and move away with me once I start residency and then later start a family with me. He constantly cancels our plans to spend more time with his family and friends and always has an excuse to not come back and spend the night with me, staying at his mom’s house instead. (He is definitely NOT cheating on me though; I can barely get him to have sex with me, so chances of his having sex with another female is highly unlikely).

I’m not asking for his full, undivided attention 24/7; as I mentioned before, I have a very demanding schedule of my own, but I just want to feel like I’m his priority. Isn’t that what marriage is? Putting your spouse as a priority? Or perhaps I am expecting to much out of my relationship.

I try very hard to accept the fact that he is neglecting my needs (sexually, emotionally), and I wonder if I am asking for too much and perhaps I have to accept and be happy with what I have. I have tried to lay things out as clearly as possible for him and tell him that I need X, Y, and Z to be happy or I need to leave the relationship for the sake of my own sanity. He told he that my needs are basically impossible to meet. Is my relationship doomed or am I just over reacting? — A Concerned “Part-Time” Girlfriend

If you basically never spend time together, don’t have sex, don’t feel like a priority in each other’s lives, and don’t feel that your needs are being met, then, no, I would not consider it “over-reacting” to worry about the state of your relationship. The state of your relationship is NOT good. Does that mean your relationships is doomed? If you’ve expressed your needs and your boyfriend has said that they’re impossible to meet, then I’d say your relationship is, in fact, doomed.

Where do you go from here? You either accept that your needs won’t be met and decide to be fine with that (which sounds pretty awful), or you discuss WHY your boyfriend thinks your needs are impossible to meet and if there’s a way to make to make them a little more possible to meet. (It should go without saying, but I don’t think it does, that you also need to find out what your boyfriend’s needs are and decide whether you can or are willing to meet them).

Frankly, if I were your boyfriend and were paying your rent in full and feeling like I only got your leftovers (leftover time, leftover energy) after you were done studying, I’d certainly start getting resentful, too. If you never made ME feel like a priority, choosing to study all the time rather than spend quality time with me, accompanying me to friends’ cookouts and soccer games and stuff like that, I’d have a hard time motivating myself to meet your needs, too.

Honestly, this sounds like a case of bad timing (at the very least). In the long run, you may be a good match for each other (if you have shared interests and values, enjoyable companionship, shared future goals), but in the short-term it doesn’t sound like you are able or willing to meet one another’s needs. You can’t continue building a future together if you aren’t able to maintain a present. And, right now, with you in school, studying or working around-the-clock, and your boyfriend maintaining a life of his own that you aren’t a part of, you do not have a relationship together.

Rather than continue down this path toward resentment, I’d get out now and potentially salvage any shot you may (or may not) have of a future together way down the line, when your schedule eases up and you are able to actually invest in a relationship. Of course, a move for your residency will likely affect your shot at a future together if your boyfriend doesn’t follow you. But asking your boyfriend to leave his full life to follow someone who has no room for him in hers will kill any potential for a future together even faster. I say get out now, take out loans to pay your rent, wish each other well, and promise to look each other up in a few years when your life circumstances have changed a bit.


Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. I didn’t hear what you do for him? He brought you flowers and left you notes and paid your rent and you…? Graciously let him go to cook outs alone?
    You aren’t married so I’m not sure what your definition of marriage has to do with anything. You’ve only been together a year and a half and he already paid your rent for a year? Seriously? And you’re upset he is close to his family? Sounds like you want to be his only priority but he isn’t yours. You just want him to be free when it suits you. And choose you always whenever you surface from your studies and have time for him. Being a priority doesn’t mean you trump everything else whenever you want . That’s more the definition of diva.
    Get a job. Get a loan. Pay your own way in life. Invest whatever you are asking of him into your relationship. Being in med school isn’t your “get out of responsibility free card ” People in med school have jobs. They have relationships they prioritize. They are good friends, daughters, girlfriends etc. And if you incapable of giving and compromise then be single.
    Ultimately when the time comes he will decide if it’s worth it to follow you or not. But Expecting that after a year and a half makes me believe your boyfriend about your impossible expectations.

    1. Sunshine Brite says:

      Agreed, her expectations would be suffocating to me. This isn’t a super long relationship and he’s already giving 2-3 nights weekly, paid all the rent, been supportive, given her the study space she needs, wishes he could share more of his time and the people important to him with her, was super romantic in the honeymoon stage.
      I’m trying to believe her that he’s a momma’s boy but it just sounds more like close to his family since he spends time with both parents. She insults his relationship with his mom, prioritizes her schedule (which she should as a med student) but trashes his hobbies and if he changes plans then it’s on him.
      It always concerns me when someone wants their partner to put a relationship above anything else, at least a little bit. Especially when they’re not willing to make that same sacrifice. LW, I think your needs are impossible to meet. But they’re your needs and no one else’s. You certainly shouldn’t continue in this relationship and have him move if the sex continues to suck and you’re not feeling fulfilled.

      1. This is a difficult situation to assess in the way that you are Sunshine Brite. Not everyone can go to medical school. In fact, she is doing something very powerful and impressive. He should be there for her more than ever. He should support her. If he chose to be her partner knowing that she was embarking on such a devoted journey, he should have been aware.

        I believe that she has every right to be upset. This is very strange for someone to switch phases like that. Think how you would feel. Oh wait, maybe you didn’t embark on a journey such as this.

        I too author am a grad school student (pharmacy school) and went through the same thing. Sometimes with strong women such as ourselves we cannot depend on men who feel inferior to us.

        I believe that you should make the big move and break it off. You will find someone again and maybe this time in your own field. I wish you well. I am going through the same battle right now.

        Good luck my friend.

      1. Gotta stop in to givan amen!

  2. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

    It sounds, LW, like your expectations and your BF’s (or part-time BF’s, I think that is apt) expectations are on different ends of the spectrum. Also, I do not think you understand what “priority” means. You ARE allowed to have more than one priority- like your schooling AND your relationship. Because it sounds like you expect your BF to prioritize YOUR schedule and then get upset when he cancels on you, but YOU cant even go to an hour-ish long soccer game or make an appearance at his friend’s bbq. I mean, no wonder he is being all passive-aggressive (cancelling on you for “family” and sometimes complaining about paying YOUR rent). Now I just put quotations around the word family, because I think you need to recognize that simply because YOUR sexual needs are not being met does NOT mean his arent. You cant get him to come home from his mother’s? Cmon, you made it into med school- are you POSITIVE that isnt code for his ACTUAL gf’s place?
    ANYWAY, Dear LW, I could go on about this, but really it does come down to the fact that, from your letter, it DOES sound like you are being a diva. That you are so laser-focused on school, that you think EVERYTHING and EVERYONE needs to have that same focus. But that isnt true, at all. If you werent in school, the world would in fact keep turning. There is nothing at all wrong with being concentrated on school- but that doesnt give you free rein to be a d*ck. So stop.

    1. Good point about the sexual needs. LW, your reasoning for him not cheating, because he won’t have sex with YOU, is all sorts of wrong. Also, him sleeping somewhere else half of the time? What the what?

      1. Avatar photo Raccoon eyes says:

        Haha, I know right? I read that and thought to myself that she must be delusional.
        For instance, my 1st two years of Law School I was single. I went to school, moving out of a relationship, that now, I am really glad I didnt let him follow me to at the time. So in those 2 years, I got to watch a LOT of relationships go up in flames. New ones, old ones- you name it. In my last year, I met a guy and dated him for most of the school year, who was not a fellow student. I saw him for one day of the weekend, and most nights he or I would travel to the other person’s place. THat was really our time together- usually not even dinner, but like 30min to an hour before going to sleep and then the time getting ready in the morning. It worked for us- he worked, still could see friends, visit his mom, whatever and I had classes, studying, interning, and workout time all separate from each other. It worked…unlike LW’s situation, which seems to be all about her and h sparse spare time that she expects him to be at her beck and call for.

    2. Bon Vivant says:

      “Actual GF”, my thoughts exactly…

  3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    It appears that you don’t value the things he contributes, like your rent and expect him to be waiting around for the moments when you want a study break. He gives you the room you need to study but you resent the fact that he has a life beyond you, a family and friends and hobbies. Why would you expect him to give that up for you? Why would you expect him to be around when what you want is to study? Have you thanked him for the rent? Have you thanked him for getting out and leaving you alone to study? What have you done for him that is romantic? You sound like you are all take and no give and he’s not willing to give you everything. He isn’t willing to wait around for those moments when you surface from your studying to spend time with you. If you don’t prioritize him enough to have time for him why should he be there? Your needs do sound impossible to meet. Have you asked what he needs? Have you even considered that he has needs? Have you considered that his needs are probably as unmet as yours?

  4. PumkinSpice says:

    Are you using him for the money? Because I think you are. You basically want him on call. You make time 2/3 days a week so he keeps paying the bills. Yeah, med school is tough, but you should be able to spare a few hours on the weekend to go to a cookout. He is pulling away from you. And why shouldn’t he. You are contributing nothing to the relationship except for scraps, and you think he should just shut up and be happy with it. I would have dropped you like a hot potato. Either make the effort or get s job and pay your own way in life. He was being wonderful (as you say) and you are treating him like he is a sugar daddy. Here is an hour of my time, oh and by the way, here are my monthly bills for you to pay.
    You want him to make you a priority, then make him one, make him feel like an equal partner in the relationship. Like I said, med school is hard, but you can pull yourself away for a few hours to be a part of his life.

    1. Yes! I wondered this as well. What was your plan for living expenses before you started dating this guy who pays your rent when he doesn’t even live with you? That’s a textbook sugar daddy right there. Med school is tough and I agree it’s nearly impossible to study enough while also holding down any kind of job, but what would you do if you weren’t dating this guy? How would you pay rent? How would you buy food? Perhaps its time to go back to whatever that fallback plan was rather than rely on your bf’s money.
      And then you want him to leave his family and move with you for your residency, even though you barely spend any time together and if you think you’ll have more free time in residency… think again. If I were him, I’d pull back, too.

  5. I agree with the others and had the exact same reaction. Reading Wendy’s response, I wasn’t entirely sure she would address the “me” attitude, and finally a few paragraphs in, she did.
    This letter honestly reads as ME, ME, ME. I mean, he pays your rent for gosh sakes. And you can’t bother to go to a cookout? Relationships are a two-way street, and from your letter, it sounds 100% one-way and that’s your way, LW. I wouldn’t want to make time for you either. Especially if I didn’t feel like a priority.

  6. laurahope says:

    I don’t think spending less time studying in med school is an option. It’s a commitment that pretty much comes before anything else in your life. When I first got married my husband started studying for the actuarial exams. I was lucky if I bumped into him in the hallway. Most of my friends started wondering if my “phantom” husband really existed or if I was just delusional. I don’t know if we would have gotten through it if we had just been dating for a year and a half. I agree that the timing is not right.

    1. She shouldn’t expect to be a priority if she can’t (or won’t) make him a priority. She says in her letter that the relationship should come before anything else, but what she really means is that HE should put the relationship before anything else while she focuses on her own priorities and uses him to pay her rent.

    2. snoopy128 says:

      I’ve have plenty of friends in medical school who balance studying and other commitments in their lives. They are able to make quality time for friends, family and relationships. It really is a matter of what your priorities are. There is a point at which more studying isn’t better (both for your grades and your mental health).
      I agree with honeybeenicki- she thinks the relationships should come before his priorities but her not hers. That’s not a balanced and healthy relationship attitude

      1. Agree with this. My relationship has survived medical school, residency, and now a fellowship in a different state from my now spouse.

        Medical School is tough, it is like a full time job and then some; BUT plenty of people make priorities of what is worth it for them whether that is a relationship, running etc. Everything is a balance. I certainly sacrificed going to some of the social events with classmates to have night outs with my partner. For some people, that wasn’t something they wanted to do and they all seemed content with their choices.

        It doesn’t necessarily get easier with residency, which comes with its own time and emotional challenges.

  7. LisforLeslie says:

    It’s understandable that med-school is a very high priority. But it does sound like when you want a break or have a moment, you expect the BF to be gleeful for the crumbs. Maybe it’s not quite that bad, but it sounds like you prioritize all of your wants/needs over his in terms of scheduling studying. A half hour/hour at a cook out or doing something that is unexpected would be a nice way to show that he is a priority and you are thinking of him when you aren’t nose in book or cadaver.

    As for the sex – he may not be giving it to you – but that’s not to say he isn’t giving it to someone else. He may be resentful or seeing someone when he spends time with the parental units. For most women, their bf or husband not wanting sex is a sign that he’s got someone else on the side. You know him best, but your logic isn’t sound.

  8. RedRoverRedRover says:

    What everyone else said. Why should he make you a priority, when you don’t make him a priority? I’m not suggesting you flunk out of med school. But if it takes so much of your time that you’re unable to prioritize a relationship too, then you shouldn’t have a relationship, period. I can’t believe this guy stuck around this long, honestly. And what’s up with letting him pay your rent? You’re an adult, you should be paying your own rent.

  9. LW, you say you believe a relationship a more important than anything else, but yet you are clearly more focused on school, and not making it a priority at all. I get that med school can be all-consuming, but if you want a successful relationship, you are going to have to invest more in it yourself. Life is all about finding a balance. You have a chosen a very demanding career. You will run into this problem again and again. Would you expect a husband to wait around until you have time for him? If you don’t learn to strike a balance between career and relationship, you will not succeed in having both.

  10. Agree with all the others that there’s a whole lot of me me me.
    You want your boyfriend to make you a priority, but you don’t make him a priority. I know, you’ve explained that med school is your priority. Well, there’s your answer. You think being in a relationship is about being a priority, well you’re in a relationship with med school and your boyfriend is just getting the scraps. I don’t think its necessarily wrong to prioritize med school, but it is wrong to expect your bf to do something (drop everything when you’re free and prioritize you) when you won’t do the same for him.
    I just imagine this letter in reverse: I give my girlfriend everything, including rent money, but she never makes time for me.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Speaking of this letter in reverse, how come we don’t see all these posters whining that the advice would be different if the genders were reversed? I guess it’s fine as long as Wendy makes sure to point out the woman’s flaws.

      1. Hahahaha! I was thinking the same thing. I wanted to say take that to all the people who say Wendy and the regular commentors are lenient on women. Please.
        And the only reason I was thinking it is because it has happened a lot recently. I really do think we’re a fair bunch.

      2. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I think so too, and I think Wendy in particular tries to be. That’s why it really pissed me off when that one guy started accusing us of not even wanting equality. It seemed like he just found that one article and used it to drive his agenda, and hadn’t read through the rest of the site at all. We’re *always* telling women that they are the problem. We do say “aim higher” a lot too, but that’s when their SO is acting like a complete jerk. Nothing to do with gender, everything to do with douchebaggery.

      3. I also think most people on here try to be fair and Wendy’s advice would have been very similar if not identical on both threads even if the roles were reversed. Still, I do believe sexism hurts both/all genders. I feel like completely dismissing the advice outright to prove that point is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

        Oh I want to stay and play some more, but Keyblade needs to back to working on things now. Damnit.

      4. anonymousse says:


      5. If the roles were reversed, would I be a woman commenting on a post about a man in med school whose girlfriend has daddy issues and pays his rent? Would I want sex or not in this scenario? Sometimes i get confused as to how much of the sitch has to get reversed, and how that impacts the range of stereotypes we are nitpicking here. Help me out, I’m just a dude with a small brain pan.

      6. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I always think this when I give less than sympathetic/fawning advice to women LWs (which is more often than not).

      7. I agree, your advice is usually on the less sympathetic side (not to say it’s harsh, I love it) to pretty much everyone regardless if they’re male or female…although I think the letter writers skew female in general, so there’s a bigger sample.
        To be clear, I was NOT suggesting we need to switch genders in this case, just that the LW clearly doesn’t want to give what she wants to get.

  11. If he can afford to pay for someone else’s apartment, he must be fairly well to do. Are you sure he lives with you? Cuz he doesn’t seem to be around much. Maybe he’s just letting you stay in one of his apartments. Either way, I don’t get why you would let him pay for your life. If this isn’t part of some explicit deal (“I’ll support you through med school so you can contribute to our retirement plan later when we’re married”), and you aren’t really tied to each other, then WTF is up with that? Have some self-respect and don’t let someone else carry the can for you. It doesn’t sound like either of you are prepared to offer each other much. And NO SEX sounds like the basis for a cordial friendship at best, not a marriage. I just don’t get this whole situation.

  12. Blackwood says:

    I really can’t wrap my head around the reasoning “he’s not having sex with me, so I doubt he’s having it with someone else”… it seems as if anything, the fact he’s not having sex with you IS a sign of him having sex with someone else! (although it isn’t always like that) Every time I hear someone arguing that their partners can’t possibly be cheating because they barely have sex with them in the first place, they usually have a lot of other red flags they’re being in denial about, and everyone else can see it, except them of course.

    That being said, I’m not even sure that LW’s bf is cheating, it just seems like he needs to get away and hang around or stay with other people in order to take a break from her. She seems very intense and demanding, and that degree of separation that she complains about is probably what is keeping the relationship going, since it helps him to preserve his sanity.

  13. “I try very hard to accept the fact that he is neglecting my needs (sexually, emotionally)…” Um, why?? You are not happy. He doesn’t sound very happy. You are 26. Move on already! There’s a better match out there for you both.

  14. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    So 2-3 nights a week is not neglecting you and it is a pretty normal amount for people who don’t live together. Maybe if you made an effort to go see him sometimes, like at his soccer games or friend’s cookouts/hangouts, you would see him a hell of a lot more. You sound like one of those people that expects their boyfriend/sig other/whatever to do 90% of the work in the relationship, typically going above and beyond any normal expectations while you put in 10% and sit there looking pretty. That is not how a relationship much less a marriage (which you don’t have) works.

  15. Monkeysmommy says:

    I have not read any of the comments below yet so I may be repeating other commenters, but here’s what I read in your letter, OP: My boyfriend pays my rent and all of the bills and basically takes care of me like I’m his child rather than his partner. I don’t have time for his silly ass hobbies, like cookouts and family gatherings, but damn it, if I want him to do something with meeeee, he should drop everything. Whyyyy is he being so, like, unfair?!
    Seriously. That’s all I got out of this. You have treated him like a personal ATM, brushed him off to study and pursue what you want, and you are wondering why you aren’t a priority?! Really?! Sunshine, if your boyfriend was the one writing in, I’d tell him to cut his losses, because it is clear that you care about YOUR needs and wants, but not his. You want him to move for a residency; does HE want to? Who can blame him for staying over at his moms, when his alternative is staying at home and being silent so you can study? And I would not be so sure about that cheating thing either… Maybe there’s a reason he can barely get it on with you!

  16. Yeah if a guy went all out in the honeymoon phase, currently pays for your place to live, doesn’t stay there all the time, and doesn’t have much sex with you…you’ve got a case of 2+2=7. Something doesn’t add up right. And why should it. You seem more like a chore than a girlfriend. But I don’t get if he’s running around living his life without you (doing things and/or someone else) why is he keeping you around LW? For your constant nagging and complaing, the one hour you give him every 4 days? We’re missing a significant piece of the puzzle here.

  17. for_cutie says:

    Let’s depart from all of the obvious and important issues here – preach on commenters! – and think about your residency. You are going to ask another person to pick up their entire life and move based on a lottery you enter. That is a tall order to ask of anyone – I would know, I went through it with my husband’s match. If he has such a full life in the city you live in now, you need to have an honest conversation about if he would be willing to move for you. If not, would you be willing to only apply to residencies in a commutable distance, and in narrowing your applications risk not matching. This is a huge and looming question. It needs an answer. This answer – and making a plan as equal partners – will tell you if your relationship has a long term future.

  18. Katmich15 says:

    “He is definitely NOT cheating on me though; I can barely get him to have sex with me, so chances of him having sex with another female is highly unlikely” – Sorry LW but this comment made me laugh out loud. Read it again and really think about it, this doesn’t mean he isn’t cheating, could be he’s getting it somewhere else. That would explain his being gone so much too. It’s a two way street and it doesn’t sound as if you’re holding up your end of the bargain. It’s not an excuse, but many people who cheat do it because they don’t feel appreciated by their partner.

  19. I like momma’s boy to an extent. It shows that he has the capacity to love, probably treats women right and values family. But EWWW! your boyfriend still sounds like he is a teenager. Spending the night at his parents place when he is a grown ass man and has his own place? Dropping your plans for his mommy?
    You are right. I dont see him “growing up” and moving away with you. I dont see you ever beating out his mom. Good luck to you and your heart honey. I think you may need it.

  20. dinoceros says:

    A few things. One, I find it odd that you actually refer to this as “neglecting your needs” (need being defined as something you MUST have) and then saying that you might need to just be OK with that. In what universe would it make sense to stay in a relationship where your needs aren’t being met?
    Two, I’m wondering if him not prioritizing you is a way of treating you how he is treated. As mentioned, you don’t go into much detail about what you do for him. I’ve had friends who dated med students, and it wasn’t pleasant. Essentially, they were thrown scraps of time and got half of a partner. Maybe he’s tired of being second place and figures it’s not worth it to prioritize you so highly? I mean, I think canceling is crappy for any reason, but it sounds like he’s lower in your priority list, too. Not that it’s a bad thing, but med students/residents/doctors are notorious for having to push aside the needs of their partners.
    I also have to echo that him not sleeping with you is not a good indicator that he’s not cheating. Not that I think he necessarily is, but that’s totally unrelated to cheating.

  21. Like what others have said, does he feel like a priority to you? I get it, medical school is demanding and you are giving him all the time you can. But, even in your letter he sounds like an afterthought. I also think the discussion about whether he will be up for moving is an extremely important one to have if you think you will end up staying together. Although honestly it sounds like he’s mentally already moving on. I wonder when your lease is up and if he’ll be as excited to continue paying your rent when it is.
    And like others have said his desire to have sex with you means zero as far as him cheating.

  22. uh- what about his needs? You sound very selfish. Yes, you have a demanding schedule, yet you want him when you are ready to be available. He has a life too. Grow-up and give a little. Have some compassion. It will definitely help you as a doctor.

  23. The problem is the guy went all out to woo the LW during the honeymoon phase. Now LW is expecting more of the same but looks like the guy lost some of the enthusiasm. LW may have to readjust her expectations or leave the relationship altogether if she is not happy.

  24. Addie Pray says:

    As a new mama to a baby boy, can we turn “mama’s boy” into a positive thing? A boy who loves his mama to the moon and back? Ok good because I want a mama’s boy! 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *