15 Appalling Signs You Are In A One-Sided Relationship

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?

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.

couple arguing on sofa One-Sided Relationship

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.

15 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.

man not listening to woman One-Sided Relationship

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.

couple outside talking One-Sided Relationship

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 are 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

12. You Must Pay for Everything

Some people stick to traditional financial setups wherein one party makes money, and the other handles domestic duties.

Other couples “go Dutch” on everything, and people in a third category determine contributions based on earning percentages. 

Moreover, into every life, a little unemployment must fall. 

That's all to say we're not disparaging anyone's choices, and of course, there will be times when one partner must pick up the practical slack to weather a career storm.

But if you're the one who is always opening your wallet when your partner is equally capable, it's probably time to reconsider the dynamics. 

13. They Have More Time for Friends Than You

Every time you suggest doing something, your partner is too busy. But when their friends devise a plan, they'll move heaven and earth to ensure they're involved.

Does this sound familiar? We won't sugarcoat things: It's not a good sign, and it may mean your partnership is lopsided. 

14. You Frequently Wonder if They Love You Anymore

Sometimes, our guts speak to us through doubt. Does something feel off? Are you constantly wondering if your partner in crime has fallen out of love lately?

Relationships go through stages, and often, the lust component transforms into something more stable and knowing. But if all adoration has drained from the union, it may be time to reassess. 

15. You've Caught Them Lying

You tell a friend a dress looks good when it doesn't. Or perhaps you craft a small fib to spare your mother's dated sensibilities. Circumstances differ, but the point is we're all dishonest sometimes.

However, big lies are another thing. Bluntly speaking: The chance of a lie-filled romance succeeding is about as likely as Steve-O winning an Olivier Award.

So if your partner is dishing out dishonesty, it may be a sign that feelings have faded on their end. After all, lying to people we no longer love is a lot easier.

Can One-Sided Love Be True Love? 

One party is enamored and planning for the future; the other is…not, which begs the question: Can you truly love someone who doesn't love you back? Or does genuine adoration require reciprocity?

People have different opinions. Some folks believe it's impossible to have genuine feelings for individuals who don't treat you respectfully and affectionately. Others think it's possible to fall head-over-heels for someone irrespective of mutuality. 

And perhaps both sides are right. According to the ancient Greeks, people experienced seven types of love:

  1. Eros: physical, passionate love
  2. Philia: affectionate, friendly love
  3. Storge: unconditional, familial love
  4. Agape: selfless, universal love
  5. Ludus: playful, flirty love
  6. Pragma: long-term, committed love
  7. Philautia: self-love

So, if we adopt this ancient classification system, technically, people can have different types of adoration for one another. Ergo, one person may be burning with “eros” while the other person's feelings don't extend beyond “philia.”

What To Do if You Are the Cause of an Unbalanced Relationship

Are you the one who's dropped off? 

Don't beat yourself up. It happens. People change, and so do relationships. 

That said, exiting the relationship respectfully should be a top priority, so here are a few tips.

  • Don't Ghost: If you were mature enough to be in a committed relationship, you should be mature enough to part ways in person. 
  • Be Clear: Don't phrase the breakup so your ex believes the door is still open if it's slammed shut. 
  • Be Gentle But Honest: Yes, you must be truthful; no, you needn't be cruel. Gentle and honest is the way to go.
  • Don't Drag it Out: Don't let the relationship's ending linger in a state of awkward detachment.

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:

  • How much time are you both willing to commit to each week for improving your communication as a couple?
  • What are your needs, and do they conflict with the needs of your spouse or partner? Do any of their needs conflict with your own?
  • If you’re open to couples counseling, is your spouse or partner also willing to try it?
  • Where can you find good relationship questions to help you evaluate your relationship?
  • Where do you both see the relationship going if it remains as it is now?
  • Where do you both want it to go — and what are you willing to do to steer it in that direction?


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.

8 thoughts on “15 Appalling Signs You Are In A One-Sided Relationship”

    • I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information. And I’ll love to read your next post too.

  1. Wow! This has been my life for 37 years. I have so much anger. My daughter even commented about my anger issues. My relationship has always been about 80/20 with me giving my all and not getting much in return. For many years I worked my ass off trying to make my husband happy and respect me. I always thought I wasn’t good enough or not working hard enough and he always told me doing all of these things was good for me and how hard he works, but he doesn’t. I was so naive for so many years and I tried numerous times to leave but he made me feel so incompetent like I couldn’t take care of myself and the kids on my own.
    He has been retired for seventeen years and I thought life would change and he would help me around the house but that never happened. I still work and drive an hour each way and still take care of all of the cooking and cleaning, the bills, shopping, weeding, raking, cleaning up the branches in the yard, canning and tending to the garden, and anything else that comes up while he drinks everyday and tells me how hard he worked when I complain that I could use some help in the house.
    At least twice a year I tell myself I am done and going to leave, but I’ve never been able to do it. I guess I’m scared since I have never been alone. Maybe this year. I need to make myself happy and the only way to do that is to get away. Maybe then the anger would go away.

  2. If your dealing with a one sided friendship, my advice. Rip off the bandage. You will see if there is a friendship their worth saving or not. Just tell the person that you would hate to see your friendship becoming one sided, but lately, it seems to be going in that direction.

    Give them a chance to respond. It could either be concern from their end and a willingness to talk it over and resolve the issue, or it might go “nuclear”, where the person gets upset and severs all ties and communication. That is unfortunate, but at least you know where you stand.

  3. In my relationship I feel like I am the only one who is committed. It is always me who makes the sacrifices. If I bring it up or try to discuss it with him it is always turned around on me and it ends up being my fault.

  4. This is very helpful. An associate pastor was the first to talk about one way and two way relationships. He concluded one way are draining and should be pursued marginally. I appreciate the advise for turning a one way into a two way.

  5. so I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 2 years now we are together about 5 days a week but I feel like my relationship is one sided my boyfriend kai has never really been the romantic type I was fine with it . but then for about 4 months I was actually asking him to take me on a date he still even when I would beg him didn’t for months on end. I had found out that my boyfriend has kissed another girl mutpile times and told her he liked the girl they talked for hours when I found out we had broken up. after a few days he had said it was the biggest mistake of his life bla bla bla for some reason dispite the thought that I may have attachmeant disorder towards kai I had made a joke saying I had found someone else but I couldn’t bare the look on his face and I took him back. after a few months if I even did try and speak aboput it with him id be shut down. but heres where I feel controlled and belitted every time I see him im the one coming from wherever I am going too meet him at his house weather im sick or even on crutches if I were to ask him not matter what he wouldn’t have the motivation and then we wouldn’t see eachother , when I address to him I feel like im the one keeping us together and you show no effort I get inst5antly shut down and then its my fault. I have spoken to him and told him the relationship all feels like its just me and if I were to stop trying that’s it hed crack on with his friends
    if I tell him he dose not appreactie the things I do for him on a daily basis like come from anywhere to see him , spend hours with his family when he dose not spend 5 minutes with mine , help out with his family , there for him when he needs a shoulder to cry on but its not the same reversed , if im quite or upset for 5 minutes hell say see look ive done something else now and just walk off and leave me knowing im upset if I say its not anything to do with u hell try and force me too tell him , he expects me to tell him how I feel 24/7 but hell only tell me things in a screaming argumeant and get angry with me because I didn’t know , I have to give it my all in a argumeant to make him see where hes wrong even when its so bait, im not allowed guy friends hes allowed girls as friends I do everything he cant do nothing for me but we do have good days but I love the guy I really don’t know what to do

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