You’re in love, so you want to do anything you can to make your partner happy.
You’ve opened up your heart, and you’re excited to have a deep connection with this person who seems so great for you.
You find yourself being selflessly available to your partner 24/7, no matter what you already have planned.
When you’re in love, the only thing that matters is being with this person.
Maybe you see yourself in this scenario — willing to do almost anything to spend time with your partner or win his or her affection and attention.
However, as time progresses, you realize that you are not getting the same time and attention you offer your partner.
You don’t see much effort coming from the other side that demonstrates your partner feels the same way that you do.
- What Is a One-Sided Relationship?
- What Causes a One-Sided Relationship?
- 11 Signs of a One-Sided Relationship:
- 1. You Initiate Most Communication
- 2. You Always Work Around Their Schedule
- 3. You Feel Like You’re Walking on Eggshells
- 4. You Don’t Feel Happy Anymore
- 5. Your Connection Bids Go Unanswered
- 6. You Share With Your Partner, But It’s Not Reciprocated
- 7. You Apologize When You Shouldn’t Have To
- 8. You Justify Your Partner’s Behavior to Your Family and Friends
- 9. You Have to Ask for Small Favors and Gestures
- 10. You Carry the Emotional Burden
- 11. You Put on a Facade
- How Do You Fix a One-Sided Relationship?
What Is a One-Sided Relationship?
In short, it’s a relationship where one person consistently puts in more time, effort, and emotional energy than the other.
There may be a power imbalance in which the less-engaged partner takes advantage of the other partner who is so willing to give more.
While not every relationship starts out one-sided, many wind up being this way.
It can happen because one person continues to fall in love and the other person’s feelings stay stagnant.
It can also happen when you are involved with someone who is simply selfish or even narcissistic.
This person believes the world revolves around him or her.
If you think you’re in a one-sided relationship, you might want to consider getting out before the situation impacts your self-esteem and dignity.
As is often quoted, “There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who won’t even jump a puddle for you.”
In this kind of relationship, your needs will not be met, and you’ll always feel like you’re putting in more effort and time than your partner.
What Causes a One-Sided Relationship?
There are many possible reasons you may have landed in this type of connection. Some are innocent, and some not so much.
Do any of these causes seem familiar?
- Your partner is selfish or even narcissistic. An extremely self-centered partner simply won’t step up because they don’t think they have to. Whatever it is, it’s your job to handle it — unless they say otherwise.
- You are a people-pleaser and have trained your partner. If you need validation from pleasing others, your partner may have relaxed into your need to please. Now they just assume you’ll take care of things in the relationship because you want to.
- Your partner has antiquated views on gender roles. They may believe certain household chores, emotional upkeep, and relational care don’t fit their view of their role in the relationship.
- One or both of you doesn’t know how to connect in a healthy way. You haven’t learned how to “be” in a relationship and have trouble communicating needs without fighting or passivity.
- Your partner is losing interest in the relationship. They aren’t making an effort because they aren’t fully invested. The more you try, the less they engage. They are sending you a message without giving you the courtesy of an honest conversation.
11 Signs of a One-Sided Relationship:
While studies show that 64.8% of relationships are more balanced, that still leaves a lot of one-sided relationships in the world. If you’re concerned you might be part of that minority, these signs will give you clarity.
1. You Initiate Most Communication
Are you the one sending the text messages and making the phone calls? Are you the one planning all of the dates? If you don’t reach out, will your partner check in to see how you are doing?
If you are the only one initiating communication, you may be at a different stage in the relationship than your partner.
It could be that you feel more committed at this point than your partner does.
Or if you’ve been together for a while, your partner might be in the stagnation phase, waiting around for the relationship to end, while you are still in the bonding stage.
If there is a mismatch in commitment, there is probably also a mismatch in power.
Chances are, the person who is least committed to the relationship holds more power and has a strong impact on the dynamics of the relationship.
2. You Always Work Around Their Schedule
How willing are you to forgo self-interest to maintain your relationship?
Yes, studies underscore that an indicator of relationship longevity is the willingness to make sacrifices. However, this willingness must come from both sides.
There needs to be some balance in sacrifice. If you are always the person who is giving up personal activities to spend time with your partner and they are never willing to do the same, your relationship is likely one-sided.
3. You Feel Like You’re Walking on Eggshells
Research shows that both members in a one-sided relationship tend to have negative interactions with their partners.
Small fights blow up more often into resentment and accusations, while in a relationship that is more even, this doesn’t commonly happen.
The negative behavior of the less-engaged person is a direct result of their low commitment level.
However, the person who is more committed tends to be less satisfied with the relationship because their needs are not being met.
The results of this study suggest that both partners in the relationship are likely frustrated.
If you tend to avoid conflict and keep the peace in your relationship, you are likely walking on eggshells to avoid these negative interactions, even though you have feelings of frustration and resentment.
4. You Don’t Feel Happy Anymore
According to Dr. Susan Whitbourne, in an article for Psychology Today, people who feel more positive about life in general also have stronger feelings of desire and love for their partner.
If you are beginning to feel unhappy in your relationship, chances are that your partner may have started feeling that way a long time ago.
It is hard to determine if people who are in love feel happier or if people feel happier because they are in love, but one area of your life certainly has an effect on the other.
If you are not happy either inside or outside of the relationship, the cause of that unhappiness may be the fact that your partner is not reciprocating your effort in the relationship.
5. Your Connection Bids Go Unanswered
Relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman, has been studying relationships for over thirty years.
In 1990, he made a critical finding that clarifies why some relationships feel like they are 50/50 while others are just one-sided.
During his 1990 study, Gottman watched couples interact with each other, and he noticed that partners would reach out for a connection, or what Gottman refers to as “bids.”
For example, a man may notice a beautiful flower and say to his wife, “Isn’t that flower beautiful?”
However, he isn’t just making a statement about the flower, he is requesting a connection from his wife through her response.
This connection would be a sign of interest in the bid, even if it only lasts a moment.
If you are constantly making bids towards your partner trying to secure a connection, and you are often let down with responses such as, “Hold on, I am busy,” or “Please don’t interrupt me right now,” then it’s likely you are more invested in the relationship than your partner.
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6. You Share With Your Partner, But It’s Not Reciprocated
While this can refer to sharing material items such as money, food, and even the remote, it also means sharing feelings.
The best relationships involve partners who are open and honest with each other and share their feelings for mutual understanding and compassion.
People in healthy relationships are not reticent to share the parts of themselves with their beloved that they would not share with anyone else.
They feel free to be vulnerable and authentic about everything.
It is important that a strong sense of safety and trust goes both ways in a relationship so the connection can be felt on both sides.
If you share your secrets with your partner, but your partner doesn’t open up, then you are not getting to know your partner’s greatest interests, dreams, or desires.
Being vulnerable increases intimacy, but both people have to be vulnerable in order to truly strengthen the bond.
If your partner does not feel safe sharing his or her secrets, then he or she isn’t in the relationship for the long haul.
7. You Apologize When You Shouldn’t Have To
Do you feel the need to apologize for your imperfections or when you have a different opinion from your partner’s?
What about when you make independent decisions or spend money on yourself?
There are a lot of things that you should never feel compelled to apologize for — when the situation is not your fault, it’s within your reasonable decision-making rights, or it’s just who you are.
You should never have to apologize for being yourself or having your own opinions.
If your partner makes you feel otherwise, they are not showing you kindness and respect.
Contempt and control can destroy relationships very easily, so if you are always feeling like you are being put down or looked down upon, you need to call out the behavior or decide if this relationship is right for you.
8. You Justify Your Partner’s Behavior to Your Family and Friends
If you’re in a positive relationship, your partner will have respect for you and not do things that would jeopardize your relationship.
For example, say you’ve invited your boyfriend over for Thanksgiving dinner, and over an hour past the time he was supposed to show up, he is nowhere to be found.
Because you know him, you’re not completely surprised by this, but you also know your family is probably wondering why he isn’t on time for this big event.
You feel the need to justify his tardiness to your family so he doesn’t appear disrespectful to them on Thanksgiving.
However, if your boyfriend was as invested in the relationship as you are, he would make a point to be on time to dinner and wouldn’t let anything come in his way of being with you and your family.
This is just one example, but there are a lot of things a partner might do to overlook you and your needs that you may later need to justify to your friends and family.
If this seems to happen a lot, your partner is not considering you when making decisions, indicating he or she is not thinking about you for the long-term.
9. You Have to Ask for Small Favors and Gestures
Let’s say it’s a warm July day, and you decide to go outside to wash your car.
Your partner’s car is next to yours and while you have everything out, you figure you might as well wash your partner’s car too.
It won’t take up much more of your time, but it will make a big difference to him or her.
Now, what if the situation were reversed? Would your partner think to wash your car? Or would he or she only think about their own car?
If your partner is thinking about you (as you would think about him or her), he or she would never leave your car dirty in the driveway. And you would never have to ask for that small favor to be done.
These little gestures should go without asking.
If your partner is fully invested in the relationship, then he or she will anticipate your needs and take care of them for you, especially if it is easy and simple to do so.
10. You Carry the Emotional Burden
You have to initiate any efforts to work on your relationship or talk about the issues between you.
You spend far more time thinking and worrying about the relationship than your partner does, and it takes a toll on you.
You feel invalidated and unloved when the other person isn’t invested and regularly pushes you away. It’s hard to be the only one working on making your connection stronger.
And the truth is, you can’t improve it by yourself. It takes both of you working together to make a relationship happy and strong.
11. You Put on a Facade
Do you feel like you have to hide behind a fake persona and be someone who you are not so your partner will like you?
Loving someone for who they truly requires patience and commitment.
If your partner does not have the patience and commitment that is needed to love the real you, then you are faking who you are to become someone you hope he or she can love.
This isn’t sustainable for the rest of your life. You cannot act like someone you’re not in order to make it easier for someone else to love you.
If you feel like you have to put on a facade for your beloved, this means that you are lacking in self-esteem and willing to compromise yourself to win your partner’s love and attention.
Ultimately, you will grow resentful and frustrated, even if your partner responds more to the “fake” you.
Does anything on this list sound familiar to you?
If so, you can save yourself years of heartache by being honest with yourself about what’s happening.
This quote sums up exactly how you should respond to a one-sided relationship:
“If you allow people to make more withdrawals than deposits in your life, you will be out of balance and in the negative! Know when to close the account.” -Christie Williams
How Do You Fix a One-Sided Relationship?
The first and most obvious solution is to end it — especially if the other person is clearly more interested in what they’re getting from the relationship than in giving you what you need from it.
The second and more difficult solution involves changing the relationship to make it more balanced.
To do that, you both have to want that balance badly enough to work for it.
Consider the following questions to help you determine your next steps:
If, after discussing these questions with your spouse or partner, you come to the unavoidable conclusion that you’re the only one interested in improving the relationship, it’s probably time to cut your losses and reclaim your freedom.
Consider moving on from a relationship if you feel like your needs are not being met.
This is not a sustainable relationship for the long term, so it is likely best to get out earlier rather than later to save yourself some stress.