Should I Love a “Bros Before Hoes” Boyfriend?

Hi, I have been dating this guy for a year and a half. It was my birthday recently, and he gave me a ballpoint pen (silver handmade expensive) but I didn’t want something like that at all. He doesn’t seem to know me. And a few days after my birthday is his best friend’s, who asked him to be a groomsman (not even best man, so you note.) But because friend is busy with work, he can’t really celebrate his birthday. My boyfriend commented during lunch how he wants to throw his friend a birthday party. I said, “wow, I wish you had done that for me.” This goes back to more than birthdays, of course. He says he is always, “bros before hoes.” In the past my boyfriend told me that his friend could always make him feel better when I sometimes make him feel worse when he too down for unknown reasons. I feel like I give him more sobering perspective as opposed to, “it’s OK. Let’s drink beer.”

My boyfriend complains about stuff such as “what if years from now, I have a job that I hate?” And I have to listen to this as if no one in the world hates their current state of employment! He also takes his friends out (about 4 times) for wine tasting, but I had to ask him for months before he did that once with me. I think I am supportive because I do listen to him complain about everything that stems from his insecurities. He leaves me with comments like, “you make me so happy,” “I don’t know what I will do if you leave,” and “I love you more than anything.” I also try to help out financially when he complains about being poor. But I never feel like things are connecting.

We are both students and live about 5 hours apart from each other. Whenever I visit him, we have lunch with his friends at least once. I also had to hear about him go on and on about how he will miss his friends once they graduate and leave. One time, I was trying to tell him something serious about my parents but he was upset that I wasn’t focusing on how his friend will move away in 3 months. The good part about the relationship might be that we get along pretty well and he does seem to love me at least emotionally. But the sex has not been earth shattering, his self esteem is bringing me down too, and he is more excited and thoughtful towards his friends. My boyfriend is 25, and I am a few years older than him. It may take some time but how long should I wait?


Dear Shelley,

Before I answer your question, I’m hoping you could answer mine.

So, I’m working at this marketing company for the past year and a half.

To answer your question, answer mine.

When I started there, I thought it was a dream job. Yes, I had to commute. Yes, the pay was low. But I really thought there was potential for growth there. Now I’m having some second thoughts.

First of all, I work my ass off for these people and I rarely get any positive feedback. And if I’m not getting a better salary, the least I could get is the pleasure of knowing I’m doing my job well.

Second of all, I’m not that crazy about the way I’m treated by my boss. He’s kind of moody, and I get the sense that he prefers my co-workers’ company to mine. Maybe it’s because he’s known them longer, but he’ll make lunch plans and weekend plans and rarely thinks to include me.

Third, the job isn’t as fun as I thought it would be. I’ve heard that in life you should hope for an 80/20 rule – 80% of the time you’re enjoying yourself; 20% is “work,” but this feels like the opposite. Most of it is drudgery – paperwork, meetings, passing things through the hierarchy of the organization. It’s just not what I thought I was signing up for.

Finally, the company is kind of poorly managed. There’s a lot of drama and office politics that prevent it from running smoothly. I know that I’m doing a decent job here – my boss has told me as much – but I just can’t help but feel that I don’t have a strong future at this company. One of my colleagues will get a raise or a promotion before I do, so I don’t feel that secure, fulfilled or happy at this company. What should I do?

When you read this email, the answer is quite obvious, isn’t it?

At which point do you take responsibility for staying in an unsatisfying relationship?

From here, the only thing that’s keeping you with your boyfriend is your sunk costs – the year and a half you’ve already invested with him. But would you rather invest another six months in a depressed, unemployed, shaky-self-esteem, 25-year-old frat boy who actually says “Bros versus Hoes” to his own girlfriend? Or would you rather cut him loose to find – I don’t know – a guy in his thirties who is happy, treats you well, and makes you feel like a top priority in his life?

Any reader of this blog knows that I don’t defend men who treat women inadequately.

By the same token, at which point do you take responsibility for staying in an unsatisfying relationship?

I say it should be now.

The fictional employee above should not ask for a raise, try to work harder, or make nice-nice with his boss. He should find a new company that surrounds him with high-caliber team members, provides stimulating work for good pay, and offers the potential opportunity for growth. If he stays at his dissatisfying company for 30 years, it’s nobody’s fault but his.

The good news is that you’re young. You’ll bounce back fast. And I think you’ll be quite surprised at just how easy it is to replace this indifferent slacker of yours. Good luck.

Join our conversation (54 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    would you rather invest another six months in a depressed, unemployed, shaky-self-esteem, 25-year-old frat boy who actually says “Bros versus Hoes” to his own girlfriend? Or would you rather cut him loose to find – I don’t know – a guy in his thirties who is happy, treats you well, and makes you feel like a top priority in his life?
    That says it all.

  2. 2

    I guess I’m old school or something. Any “man” who would tell his long-term girlfriend it’s, “Bros before hoes” is seriously lacking in several departments. And I wouldn’t stay around to find out which ones!

  3. 3

    I would say the age difference makes a big difference. He is younger than you and i would suspect. You the girl is in a normal career while he is still in college. Those are two realities.

  4. 4

    Lol, the reason that Evan is such an outstanding dating coach is that he can break down vexing issues in simple terms SO WELL!  Waiting for an unmature man to grow up not only has no payoff, it is doing yourself a huge disservice.  Men can take decades to grow mature, and you’ll be amazed to find many NEVER do.  Quit the Peter Pan today.

  5. 5

    Age probably has something to do with it, but I also think there is a sense of belong among guys.  Women do the same thing, they just call it something different.  Women stick together 3 times more than men do.
    With that said, men will outgrow it more than women will.

  6. 6
    Katarina Phang

    I find the mentality of men giving their friends “more priority” quite common, actually.  My hubby has always been the same way.  And at least one of my clients attest the same thing.  It’s especially common among the alpha male.
    Men seem to say yes much easier and faster when their friends ask them to do something for or with them or go somewhere.  But if it’s their women, it seems that they can always wait or just leave the requests unanswered for months.  They will usually say, “I don’t know…we’ll see.”  And you heard nothing.
    If it’s their buddies, they just need to be asked once and they will mark the calendar and a schedule/commitment is made.  It’s that simple.
    I find it very frustrating myself.   Anyone else finds it the same way?  My feeling is men put so much importance on their “place in the world,” their social status/hierarchy.  Their relationships with their peers represents that.  Sometimes it appears that they care about it much more so than their relationship with their SOs.
    It’s so different to women.  We put our marriage/relationship above anything else.  Wonder if Evan agrees with this assessment from a male POV.

    1. 6.1

      Yes, I bought fishing poles and tackle back when I was married and for 2 years asked if he might like to go fishing on Saturday.  As soon as I broke my neck and jaw, he took the poles and tackle that I had bought, but we never used, and went fishing with his friend.  We are now divorced, thank God.  He never appreciated anything I ever did.

  7. 7

    At least he’ll have his bros’ shoulders to cry on after you dump his socially inept ass.

  8. 8

    @Marc #6
    LOL.  I love your wit.  Your last blog post literally had me laughing out loud :).   Good luck on your book.  I will certainly buy a copy.

  9. 9

    Marc 6: Thanks to Steve’s comment, I read your blog and just burst out laughing. 😀  Maybe karma will come back to bite her in the patootie.

    As for the guy in this entry… only one word for him. Loser.

  10. 10


    I just read your blog and laughed so hard the librarian had to tell me to shut up.

  11. 11
    Karl R

    Katarina Phang, (#8)
    I think you’re over-analyzing your husband’s behavior.

    If someone invites me to do something I want to do, I put it on my calendar immediately. If someone invites me to do something that’s less interesting than watching TV, “I don’t know … we’ll see.”

  12. 12

    After 30 yrs. of marriage, I have chosen to end a marriage for the following reasons.  A lack of love, respect & my husband was terribly negative towards everything in life, mostly me.    He basically thought I should make him happy, but we all know we can’t make anyone happy except for our-selves.  Over the yrs., I noticed how women show a lack respect for themselves by sleeping w/guys on the lst or 2nd date, dropping everything for a guy you barely know & then wondering why your so unhappy.  My sage “advice on a love relationship” if your relationship isn’t showing at least 60%/40% in the give & take department…………move on & find the right guy! Remember, your partner should want to make you just as happy as you want to make your partner!

  13. 13

    “Bros before hoes”? Mediocre sex, and he loves his friends more than his girlfriend…perhaps he is actually gay?

  14. 14

    If one chooses to have a bf/gf who lives 5 hrs. away, I don’t see how you can expect them to make you a priority. They have friends, a full life where they live – they only see you occasionally. The above sounds like a casual relationship and if the letter writer wants something more than that she’s better off looking for someone out of college and closer to home.

  15. 15

    I would move on & not waste any more time with that guy!   Let him go so he can have more time for his “bros”!!

  16. 16

    Selena #14: “They have friends, a full life where they live – they only see you occasionally.”
    I was about to write the same thing, but then had second thoughts, because the man has other “amazing” qualities – the depression, the whining, the way he talks about his own problems for hours but cuts her off when she tries to share hers, his various insecurities (“I don’t know what I’ll do if you leave”? Really?) All of these are definitely red flags to me, and grounds for dumping. I am not a huge fan of dramatic males.
    Also, “bros before hos” is really, really a wrong choice of words. What was he thinking??
    Not red flags, IMO:
    1) Spending more time on friends than on the OP. In addition to what Selena said, in the guy’s mind, his friends are moving away forever in three months, while his girlfriend, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere. So, for now, friends are priority. Ummm, can’t say I blame him.
    2) Wrong choice of birthday gift – some people are just unable to pick the right gift to save their lives. How do I know? – because I am one of them. My X and I were together for 22 years. Most years, we gave each other birthday and Christmas gifts. Both of us managed to miss the target pretty much every time. I still have the bow-shaped CZ necklace he gave me. And he spent three years trying to stop Playboy from renewing the annual subscription I’d given him. It didn’t help that each side was pretty happy with things that they already had, and had no clue what they wanted as their next gift 🙂 I’d let it slide – some of us are just really bad mind-readers. If the pen is still upsetting the OP, I’ll take it 🙂

  17. 17


    Goldie, I just see this situation as not so much about the guy’s negative traits, as it is more of a casual relationship to the him than it is to the LW. Personally, given the circumstances I’d feel calling this fellow “my boyfriend” to be a bit of a stretch.

  18. 18

    Goldie #16: You hit the nail with #2, although I disagree with the reason.  Here, it’s not just a matter of her boyfriend not knowing her that well or connecting with what she’d like.  A pen is an inherently unromantic gift.  A man who is in love with a woman and views her as his “one and only” would give flowers, perfume, jewelry, write a poem – something of that ilk.  A pen, a jogging suit, electronic gadget – nice gifts, all, but romantic?  No, no matter how expensive or chic, those are not and will never be romantic gifts.  It’s not about the money: even a mix tape, where he’s sharing what he values, would be better than a pen.
    My husband always gets me jewelry, except last Christmas – when he gave me one of those digital picture frames.  I instinctively went, “Uh-oh” – until I saw that he’d loaded it up with all his favorite pictures of the two of us together, wedding and honeymoon photos, etc. And THEN he surprised me with a necklace.
    A dear friend told me that on her first anniversary with her husband, he gave her a crystal vase.  Once she covered her disappointment and told him how nice she thought it was, he said, “I’m going to keep it full of flowers for you, forever.” And he has – for twenty years.
    I see no indications in this woman’s post that her “boyfriend” is romantically interested in her.  There is no sexual spark according to her; he doesn’t make time for her; he appears to view her primarily as a therapist substitute and ATM. Definitely time to move on to greener pastures.  He won’t change, even if she asks him to, because while he may need her and be emotionally dependent on her, he doesn’t love her in the way in which she wants to be loved, and after this much time, it’s doubtful he ever will.

  19. 19

    As far as the long distance thing goes, it’s not ideal, but does not necessarily doom the relationship. I have a friend who has been in a relationship for a year with someone who lives that far away and they both have kids, to boot. My friend’s s.o. will be moving with the kids to live with her in a few months. 
    In Shelley’s case, I think it’s more about priorities, maturity, and her boyfriend’s personal issues (whatever they are), that is causing the problem. “Bros before hoes” is more than just a wrong choice of words, it’s an excuse, or perhaps inability, to be closer to her. The pen gift is just another example of her boyfriend’s inability to really understand her and her needs.

  20. 20

    #19, Ruby-

    Wow- that sounds like an amazing guy. I’m in Jersey, and when NYC guys find out, they squeak with horror, because there is just NO WAY they’re coming all the way to Jz for a date, ever.

    PS- as you can see, my dating pool’s shrunk considerable bc of that.

  21. 21

    #18, BeenThruTheWars, I guess we come in all shapes and sizes, don’t we? 🙂 Personally I do not like getting jewelry or perfume as gifts. I have a very specific taste in those and I don’t see the point for the man to spend his time and money on something I’m not going to wear. Then again, I’m not sentimental at all. I’d be happy to receive a practical gift like an electronic gadget, I just draw the line at kitchen appliances 😉

  22. 22

    My guess was she was hoping for jewelry after a year and half together. That would have said boyfriend. A silver, handmade, expensive ballpoint pen is more “dearest friend”.

    Really though, isn’t a 10 hour round trip for mediocre sex enough reason to move on?

  23. 23

    “Bros before Hoes”?……How insensitive of him to say that…

  24. 24

    Sayanta #20
    I sense resentment. In fact, NYC women are the same way. Many people in the city don’t own a car, they’d need to rent it to come to NJ for a date or rely on lacking and confusing NJ public transportation system, both is cumbersome and expensive, and with many local options available – not worth it. Such is the reality.

  25. 25

    Seems like this is a case of two people who want a “relationship” but don’t really want it with each other.

  26. 26


    I go to NYC to meet people all the time. If I can do it to meet guys, I’m sure they can do it to meet me. NJ Transit- been taking it for 10 years- it’s not rocket science- not saying this to be snippy, but because of your description of it as ‘confusing.’ Then again, if a guy can’t figure out how to use a train, I’m better off not dating him. ;-p

    The thing is this- I’m incurring expenses to meet people- they know this- and they (who’ve had more employment luck than I have recently) can’t do the same?

    I mean- everyone has a preference- everyone wants to meet locals. But I find it amusing that I’ve known people who’ve had relationships while one’s in Cali and the other’s in NY, and act like NJ and NY are different countries.

  27. 27

    I agree with Evan & with everyone else’s comments – leaving him seems like the best plan in this case. That said, having just read Evan’s “Why He Disappeared”, I just wanted to point out this one tiny thing that stood out for me in the OP’s letter.
    In the past my boyfriend told me that his friend could always make him feel better when I sometimes make him feel worse …
    This is something we women need to be cautious of: make sure we’re a *positive* influence – that we are someone our BF feels good around – that we’re not always getting on his case, looking for solutions, looking for ways to fix him, etc. There certainly seemed to be plenty of other issues with this relationship, but it’s not too surprising that if the guy feels worse around his GF that he would go hang out with friends who DO make him feel good.

  28. 28

    RD #27
    Not that I disagree with EMK, but it doesn’t sound like Shelley is doing her guy a disservice if he also says, “you make me so happy,” “I don’t know what I will do if you leave,” and “I love you more than anything.”  As she says, “I feel like I give him more sobering perspective as opposed to, “it’s OK. Let’s drink beer.” He sounds immature and insecure, and it doesn’t sound like he’s a such a positive influence for her.

  29. 29

    ReluctantDater, i think this guy is all about doing what makes *him* feel good. I don’t really think this is a true case of a girlfriend berating her partner and making him feel bad as it is an immature 25 year old guy that has no clue how to respect his female partners right now.
    I hope the writer of the letter dumps this guy. Too many girls setle for a guy because they are afraid to ask for more from life.

  30. 30
    Christie Hartman, PhD

    @ReluctantDater (27): I too noticed that quote. It makes you wonder what the other side of the story is. Overall, yes, this dude sounds really immature and not worth sticking with. Yet, she’s stuck with him for a year and a half, and I don’t hear her taking much responsibility for her role in things.

Leave a Reply

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