Do you feel like you’re doing all the work in the relationship? Do you never get to do when you want to do when you’re spending time with your partner? Does your partner take you for granted?
Then you might be in a one-sided relationship.
In this article, we’re going to go over 19 signs you’re in a one-sided relationship and then we’ll talk about everything you can do about it.
What Is A One-Sided Relationship?
A one-sided relationship is defined by an imbalance in the distribution of power.
One person is investing more time and energy into the relationship, while their partner doesn’t provide the same level of attention and care for their well-being.
And when one person is putting in all the work for the relationship, they can feel unsatisfied and resentful that their partner is no longer their ‘teammate’.
In a one-sided love, the worst-case scenario is for the giving partner to remain in the trap forever, which can result in a cycle of unfulfilling relationships.
It’s possible that you meet someone who is too lazy, selfish, or toxic; they don’t care enough about the other person and feel entitled to love they are unable to return.
However, it’s important to understand that an unbalanced relationship isn’t always intentional.
Usually, it begins with the giving partner offering support without demanding reciprocation.
The other partner, in turn, becomes too comfortable and stops trying to pull their own weight.
Sometimes, there are also exceptions.
One person would definitely have to carry more than their fair share if their partner is sick, struggling financially, or working through personal issues.
Still, the caregiver’s needs should still be met and the other partner should offer support in other ways.
There are a number of reasons why a one-sided relationship occurs:
Dependence: Emotional dependence is a factor that is deeply rooted in childhood, so it’s difficult to overcome. People who were mistreated as children grow into adults who learn to accept that mistreatment is their standard of love.
Emotional immaturity: Some people stick to a one-sided love because they have yet to build their emotional maturity through life experiences. It takes them some time to accept the idea of being single, so they prefer to stick with an uncaring partner to avoid loneliness.
Low self-esteem: People with low self-esteem cannot let go of an unfulfilling relationship because they’re sure they’ll never find someone to love again. They hold onto this person, even if they aren’t treated well, because they deem themselves worthless.
Poor communication styles: Some people tend to protect themselves by hiding their emotions, while others grow up without learning how to communicate their needs properly. If someone was never encouraged to share their feelings or opinions, they may have trouble expressing dissatisfaction in the relationship.
Different expectations: If one partner is thinking of the relationship as a long-term relationship and the other can’t really see past the next few months, then their investment in the other person will differ greatly. Your view of the relationship determines how intense your efforts will be.
Relationship history: People who were rejected by their partners in the past would offer their current partner support to keep them interested. As your past relationships and attachment style can influence your perception of romance, it can be difficult to break this unhealthy pattern.
While it’s easy to place all the blame on the partner who won’t put an effort to make their partner feel loved, the blame actually lies with both people.
The giving partner should establish and protect their boundaries.
If they continue to let their partners take advantage of them without saying anything, it simply allows the problem to persist.
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Signs You’re In An Unhealthy One-Sided Relationship
Whether or not your one-sided relationship was intentional or evolved from the circumstances, it can spell trouble for the health of the relationship itself.
Here are a few signs that there’s a balance issue between you and your partner:
1. You feel like you’re putting in the most effort
In layman’s terms, the first sign that you’re in a one-sided relationship has to do with the effort you’re putting in.
Do you have to organize everything? Do you keep the house clean and your partner never lifts a finger? Are you the one providing all the romance in the relationship?
According to relationship expert Kelly Campbell, putting in more effort in a romantic relationship can mean “putting a lot more in terms of resources, time, money, emotional investment and getting little to nothing in return.”
It’s important to keep a tab on what you’re doing for the relationship and what your partner is doing.
To make sure you’re seeing everything objectively, you may want to write it down before confronting your partner about it.
When you’re the only one prioritizing the relationship, you’re probably the only one planning quality time together, making an effort to communicate regularly, and supporting your partner whenever they need you.
Your partner, on the other hand, fails to put in equal effort. They don’t seem invested, so you end up doubting their commitment to you.
Even if some people aren’t naturally demonstrative, you’re completely uncertain about their feelings and wonder if they care about you at all.
Being in an unhealthy, one-sided relationship fuels plenty of insecurity, anxiety, and inner conflict for the more giving partner.
Instead of truly being known and nurtured by the relationship, you’re focusing more attention and energy to being liked and trying to live up to your partner’s expectations.
You ask yourself how you can be more attractive, or what’s the best thing to say or do to keep your partner interested because you feel so unsettled.
And you’re never truly at ease with your partner, so the relationship feels all-consuming and exhausting.
3. Control issues
One sign of a power imbalance in the relationship is when your partner is overly controlling.
Over time, they gradually limit your contact with family and friends, dictate what you should wear and how you should act, choose where to go during the weekend, and decide which friends to hang out with — without stopping to listen to your preferences.
Usually, control issues happen gradually and are exercised through guilt-tripping or manipulation.
Some partners may also make you feel bad for things you shouldn’t feel bad for, like getting emotional, expressing your thoughts, or seeking comfort from them.
4. Poor communication
You spend all your time sending your partner text messages, making phone calls to them, and scheduling dates to see each other throughout the week — because if you don’t, days would go by without either of you exchanging a single word.
If you’re the only one going out of your way to keep the conversation going and showing your partner how much they mean to you, there’s a good chance you’re in one-sided love.
This problem could also reflect in your communication patterns.
You may think your partner is just a great listener because they never cut in or steer the conversation towards themselves.
However, they’re not offering any anecdotes or stories either.
Whenever you sit there and talk about everything in your life, your partner shares nothing at all.
Not only does this make you feel like you don’t know them that well, but it may also cause frustration because you want them to open up and reciprocate.
Even your fights are unproductive; you want to get to the heart of the problem, talk things through, and find a solution.
You want to make it work, but they just brush the issue off — as though they simply don’t care enough to fix things.
5. Mismatched priorities
For you, all your money and free time goes into the relationship.
For your partner, their money and free time go elsewhere, be it shopping, a gym membership, or hanging out with other friends.
You feel like you’re supposed to be in the same relationship, but there is zero overlaps in your priorities and their needs come first for them.
In order to cultivate a sustainable and healthy relationship, both partners have to prioritize each other over anything else.
If you feel like they don’t care about your well-being or making you happy, your suspicions are probably correct.
A genuinely-caring partner would have interest in your day-to-day life and invest as much energy into the relationship as much as you do.
They would spend more time and money to be with you and hurry to your side when you need them.
If your partner isn’t prioritizing you like this, then there is something uneven in your relationship.
6. Financial imbalance
Money is one of the major sources of conflict in most relationships, but it can be especially draining in a couple with an unhealthy relationship dynamic.
It’s perfectly okay for the partner with more financial resources to help out temporarily when their partner is struggling with job loss or other financial issues.
In fact, it could potentially bring out the best in both partners, as they stick around and care for each other in times of need.
However, it’s a completely different story if only one partner is paying for the bills, rent, groceries, gas, and vacations without a prior arrangement — and the other partner never offers to chip in.
When you stay in an unequal relationship like this, you can feel used and unappreciated.
This attitude can also extend to favors, especially when a partner repeatedly asks you to sacrifice your time and energy, but are never willing to reciprocate those favors when you need them.
In some cases, they may even get angry when you express disappointment because in their mind, you helping them out is a given — but not vice versa.
7. Refusal to compromise
Picture this: your partner always likes to hang out with their friends, but they never like to spend time with your friends.
Or, you’re always invited as their date to business functions, but when you need to bring someone, they’re always too busy with their own obligations and reject you.
And whenever you try to bring up these problems, they’ll make you feel bad about your unmet needs; they’ll get upset, accuse you of nagging, roll their eyes, or simply walk away — leaving you to either fix the issues yourself or ignore the problems altogether.
In every relationship, disagreements are normal.
The key is how both parties handle the issue and work towards an acceptable solution that meets both partners’ needs.
However, it’s unhealthy if your partner absolutely refuses to compromise or even address the problem at hand.
They’re either disrespecting your needs or belittling the relationship itself, because they simply don’t care.
8. A sense of unfulfillment
It may be fun to spend time with your partner in the moment, but afterwards, you feel lonely and empty.
Sometimes, you end up dissecting each encounter, worrying about their lack of engagement, or even wondering what you did to upset them.
Instead of feeling energized, fulfilled, and happy, being around your partner makes you feel drained, stressed, and dissatisfied.
If this sounds familiar to you, you may be in an unbalanced relationship where your partner is making little effort to meet your emotional needs.
In an equal relationship, both partners should be able to express themselves freely without being dominated by the other.
The goal is never to “win” something over your partner, but rather, to gain a mutual understanding of each other.
9. Lack of effort and attention
Many relationships go through different stages where one partner has to carry the load more than the other.
Although it can feel one-sided in the moment, these phases end and everything balances out in time. It’s a problem, however, if you feel like these unequal phases never seem to even out and the weight of the relationship falls on you.
You shouldn’t have to beg for your partner’s attention and affection, nor should you have to repeatedly ask them to help you out as you do chores, plan trips, schedule dates, initiate sex, pick up dinner, or call them when you haven’t talked in days.
If your relationship feels like it would collapse entirely if you weren’t working so hard to sustain it, then you should definitely reconsider whether or not it’s a relationship worth having.
10. Endless excuses
Do you always have to justify your partner’s behavior to your friends, family, and colleagues?
Are you constantly telling your loved ones (and yourself) that your partner is just having a bad day or a rough patch all the time?
If so, they’re probably seeing something in your partner that you’re not — and maybe you should be alarmed too.
Making endless excuses is a sign that you’re compromising and sacrificing too much. Even if they are having a bad time, they should still respect you and treat you well.
Making excuses and shielding your partner means you’re avoiding the truth and enabling their bad behavior.
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11. They constantly bail
Do you find yourself making plans for dinner or lunch and then at the last minute, they don’t show up?
Is it hard to ever see your partner on an actual date because they’re so flakey?
12. Your priorities are different
If you find yourself spending some of your spare money on dates with your partner, but your partner would rather spend that money on other things, then it might be that the relationship is a bigger priority for you than your partner.
If you’re seeing this symptom or some of the others I mention in this article, it doesn’t necessarily mean your partner doesn’t love you.
However, you do need to start taking action to stop the degradation of your relationship
Watch this video right now to learn about 3 techniques that will help you repair your relationship (even if your partner isn’t interested at the moment).
13. They’d rather hang out with your friends than you
When the weekend comes, do they spend their Friday and Saturday nights hanging with their friends and leaving you in the dark?
You don’t even get an invite, and what’s more, you tell them that you want to hang out with them, but they accuse you of nagging.
A quality relationship requires time spent together. And if they’re not willing to give you that, and you are, then that’s a sign of a one-sided relationship.
In fact, a study suggested that “engaging in leisure activities with a partner is theorized to increase communication, define roles, and increase marital satisfaction when leisure satisfaction is high or when partners are positive and have strong social skills.”
14. It’s always you working around their schedule and not the other way around
If they’re struggling to fit you in for anything, and the only way you can see them is if you fit around their schedule, then you might in a one-sided relationship.
This is especially the case if you have to work around their schedule to actually see them.
Brian Ogolsky, an associate professor in human development and family studies at the University of Illinois, analyzed 1,100 studies on what moves love last, and he says that a key factor in building successful relationships is the willingness “to forgo self-interest and desired activities for the good of a partner or relationship is an important aspect of maintaining relationships.”
Ogolsky says that it has to come from both sides. “We want some balance in sacrifice. People don’t like to over-benefit in a relationship, either.”
15. You’re having constant negative interactions with your partner
Can’t help but have small fights with your partner?
Are you not seeing eye-to-eye on most of your conversations?
Research suggests that there tends to be a lot of negative interactions in a couple in a one-sided relationship.
The big problem of a one-sided relationship is that the person who is more committed in the relationship is less satisfied because their needs aren’t being met.
This ongoing problem may fester into other negative interactions in the relationship.
The truth is that negative interactions can result from a lack of communication.
Male and female brains are biologically different.
For instance, the limbic system is the emotional processing center of the brain and it’s much larger in the female brain than in a man’s.
That’s why women are more in touch with their emotions. And why guys can struggle to process their feelings and communicate in a healthy way with their partner.
I learned this from relationship guru Michael Fiore. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on male psychology and what men want from relationships.
Watch this excellent free video to learn about Michael’s life-changing solution for dealing with men who won’t commit.
Michael Fiore reveals what you need to do to make your man commit to a passionate relationship. His techniques work surprisingly well on even the coldest and most commitment-phobic men.
If you want science-based techniques to make a man fall in love with you and STAY in love with you, check out this free video here.
16. They never return the favor
Is your partner constantly asking you for favors? Do they always want things done for them? And when you ask them to do something for you, can they not be bothered?
The truth is, some people take more than they give, and if they expect you to do all the heavy lifting for them, then it’s a surefire sign you’re in a one-sided relationship.
You can usually tell the takers front the givers by witnessing if they get angry when you request them to do something for you.
However, it’s important to remember that this trend needs to be consistent for it to be considered one-sided.
As love and relationship coach, Emyrald Sinclaire, tells Bustle, “Oftentimes one partner will give more than they receive. But on the flip side, you’ll receive more than you give when you need it.”
17. They are controlling
This is another sign that you’re in a one-sided relationship.
If they’re trying to control your life, such as who you see and who you’re friends with, then that could be a bad sign that they’re far too controlling.
“Insecure partners try to control the other by limiting their contact with family and friends, dictating what they should wear, how they should act, etc…This is something that typically happens gradually over time, little by little. It’s a very dangerous situation and a big sign that things need to change.”
18. Only one of you is enthusiastic and passionate
A decade ago psychologist Barbara L. Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that positive emotions, even fleeting ones, can expand our thinking and allow us to connect more closely with others.
If you’re in a one-sided relationship, it could be that those positive feelings only exist for one of you.
If you find that your partner is not really engaging you with any sort of enthusiasm and passion, then it might be a sign that you’re in a one-sided relationship.
Click here to watch an excellent free video with tips on what to do when there is a lack of enthusiasm in a relationship (and much more — it’s well worth watching).
The video was created by Brad Browning, a leading relationship expert. Brad is the real deal when it comes to saving relationships, especially marriages. He is a best-selling author and dispenses valuable advice on his extremely popular YouTube channel.
19. You apologize when you shouldn’t have to
Do you apologize for things that aren’t even caused by you? Or do you apologize for actions that don’t affect your partner at all?
Nobody should have to apologize for their decisions that aren’t affecting others or for being themselves.
If your partner is making you feel bad and putting you down for simply being you, then that’s a bad sign that they’re too controlling over your life.
Behaviors like this can destroy a relationship very quickly, so it’s important to realize if this one-sided toxic energy is coming from your partner so you can put an end to it.
Dr. Jill Murray, Licensed Psychotherapist, says it best in Bustle:
“Being mature enough to take responsibility for your actions and understand the pain it can cause your partner is key empathy that a relationship can’t be without.”
(To learn how to hold your own and create a life you truly love, check out Hack Spirit’s eBook on how to be your own life coach here)
How to deal with a one-sided relationship: 13 tips
1. Do some soul-searching.
The first step to working towards a more balanced relationship is to ask yourself why you’re not speaking up, despite shouldering more responsibility than you ought.
Do some soul-searching and ask yourself:
- How long has this been going on?
- Why did this pattern begin?
- What are you gaining by doing more for the relationship?
- What expectations you had from your partner
- What emotions are you struggling with right now?
Being specific about your feelings allows you to communicate them to your partner better.
Once you’re clear about these emotions and why you want to fix the relationship, you can initiate a conversation with your partner.
2. Be honest with your partner.
After your internal assessment, begin an honest conversation with your partner.
Rather than focusing on what they’re not doing, emphasize what you want them to do instead.
Frame the discussion in positive suggestions than negative accusations, so you can present your vision of a healthier give-and-take.
For example, “I would be so much happier if you can help me do more chores around the house.
Is there a day during the week when you are more free to do so?” is much nicer to hear than “You don’t lift a finger around this house!”
3. What do you really want in the relationship?
It’s time to think about what you’re lacking and why you feel this is a one-sided relationship.
Relationship therapist Tammy Nelson in Well + Good advises that to “create a more balanced relationship…put some time into thinking about what you really want.”
Think about your needs and wants and share them with your partner. If your partner simply can’t listen, then it may be a sign that this one-sided relationship isn’t worth it.
Equally important is taking time to reflect on what your partner wants from the relationship too.
It could be that you’re not giving them what they need from a relationship.
Men and women see the word differently and we want different things when it comes to love.
Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to provide for the woman he cares about.
Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct. He created an excellent free video explaining the concept.
As James argues, male desires are not complicated, just misunderstood. Instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior and this is especially true for how men approach their relationships.
The best part of the hero instinct is that you can easily trigger this natural male instinct in him.
In an authentic way, you simply have to show your man what you need and allow him to step up to fulfill it.
In his video, James Bauer outlines several things you can do. He reveals phrases, texts and little requests that you can use right now to make him feel more essential to you.
By triggering this very natural male instinct, you’ll not only supercharge his confidence as a man but it will rejig your relationship so that it no longer feels so one-sided.
4. Recognize the problem
The first step to solve any problem is to be aware of it.
Relationships become so routine that a lot of people can’t see the problems when they’re staring them right in the face.
Of course, you want to be sure that you’re on right the path when you jump to the conclusion that you are in a one-sided relationship.
So read the above signs, and perhaps even keep a tab of what happens in your relationship over a week to really see if it is a one-sided relationship.
You don’t want to accuse your partner of anything if it really isn’t there.
Life Coach, Kali Rogers tells Elite Daily that making assumptions can set you up for relationship failure:
“Relying on assumptions instead of actual communication is the best way to set yourself up for relationship failure. … In a real, healthy relationship, two adults talk things out.”
5. Start writing a diary of your relationship
This follows on from number one. To be sure that it is a one-sided relationship, and that you’re not happy in the relationship, it’s important to keep a record of all the important moments in the relationship and what you’re feeling.
After a week, reread it so you can get a good idea of what you’re really feeling and what is really happening.
6. Don’t draw conclusions from text messages
If you’re telling yourself it’s a one-sided relationship, and you’re using text messages as proof, you may want to take a step back and observe other forms of communication.
According to life coach Christine Hassler in Huffington Post, you should be “wary of basing your relationship gauge on text messages.”
“Yes, it is instant communication, but it’s also a source of a lot of miscommunication as you can’t tell voice inflection and often times misunderstand intent.”
Instead, Hassler believes that this is a great time to “practice open and honest communication.”
For example, if you believe that the relationship is one-sided in terms of how much one communicates with another, you need to be honest about your expectations.
If you need to talk every day, it’s time to tell them that.
As Hassler says, “if you do reach the point where you feel this relationship is one-sided, guess what? You can end it! A one-sided relationship can only continue if you keep up your side.”
7. When you communicate your grievances, they may initially react defensively
One of the problems with the one-sided relationship is that one partner is benefiting more than the other.
According to Kelly Campbell:
“The problem with one-sided relationships is that often it is just one partner initiating these ‘talks’ because being in what we call an over-benefitted situation (getting more out of a relationship than you are putting in) can be quite comfortable…So your partner may not respond favorably to the complaint.”
This is actually called “demand-withdrawal” – where one partner wants a change and the other withdraws from the conversation.
However, Campbel adds that if the over-benefitted partner cares about the other’s feelings and wellbeing, they will eventually listen and seek to improve the balance.
However, Campbell says that “if a partner does not change after being made aware of the imbalance, the partnership might not be a good fit and the under-benefitted person should consider moving on.”
8. Check if your partner is willing to change
From your conversation, you can ascertain whether they’re willing to change or not:
If they acknowledge the problem and its impact on you, then they are more likely to correct it.
It also shows they care about you and are willing to take on more work to balance your relationship.
If they don’t want to take responsibility even after being made aware of how it affects you, then the partnership may not be a good fit.
Your partner is not interested in changing a position where they’re comfortable and benefitting from your effort — so you should consider moving on.
9. Focus on one problem at a time
If your partner is on board with changing, it’s good not to overwhelm them (or yourself) with a number of points to address.
Change is gradual and they may slip up a few times, so it’s important to be patient and give them the chance to get it right.
Avoid bringing up past infractions or side issues; stay focused on fixing one problem at a time.
Once they’ve changed that behavior, you can bring up something else you want to correct.
10. Recover your sense of self
Whether you break up with your partner or are working to help him change, it’s important to prioritize your own well-being.
Give yourself enough time, space, and care to grow.
Don’t let your partner be the sole priority of your life; reclaim power over your own life and try to flourish in your own right.
If the relationship ended, you may even want to recreate yourself entirely.
Try new activities, work hard in your career, improve your body, or explore new sides of yourself.
Now is the time to understand your own wishes and be more interesting for yourself.
11.Take a stand
A partner who refuses to adjust their behavior or responds with defensiveness, gaslighting, or counter-blame will definitely cause you an emotional burnout.
Before the breaking point of the relationship, you may experience guilt, shame, anxiety, and resentment — emotions that will manifest in strange ways.
Take a stand for yourself and speak up, instead of repressing your own needs.
If you decide to leave, make a list of reasons you ended things to remind you why you left.
Remember, you gave your partner enough chances to change, but they chose not to. Do yourself a favor by saving your time, energy, and emotions,
12. Seek help
It’s difficult to come to terms with a one-sided relationship, and even tougher to put an end to it. Whichever you decide, it’s important to surround yourself with supportive family and friends.
Your partner may not have been there for you, but you would need to turn to people now.
You can also work with a mental health professional to help you recover from the experience and examine your role in the imbalance.
Maybe you have trouble accepting your own value unless you’re caring for someone, or you only feel worthy as a cheerleader for someone else.
These beliefs can prompt people-pleasing or codependent behaviors, so talk to a therapist or a counselor.
Break old patterns and learn how to develop healthy boundaries, especially before jumping into a new relationship.
13. Forgive and let go
Some people are simply too incompatible to make it work. If your partner has no inclination to meet you in the middle, it’s better to move on.
No amount of effort you already sunk into the relationship is worth continued emotional distress.
Still, it’s important to learn how to forgive your partner and yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Not every person we meet will give us what we want or reach out expectations.
Even if it’s hard, we have to forgive them in order to heal. They’re not responsible for how your life turns out, nor are you a completely powerless victim.
Own your responsibility over your quality of life, and forgive yourself too.
How to save your marriage
First, let’s make one thing clear: just because your spouse is exhibiting a couple of the behaviors that I just talked about doesn’t mean that they definitely don’t love you. It may simply be that these are indicators of trouble ahead in your marriage.
But if you’ve seen several of these indicators in your spouse recently, and you’re feeling that things aren’t on track with your marriage, I encourage you to act to turn things around now before matters get any worse.
The best place to start is by watching this free video by marriage guru Brad Browning. He explains where you’ve been going wrong and what you need to do to make your partner fall back in love with you.
Many things can slowly infect a marriage—distance, lack of communication and sexual issues. If not dealt with correctly, these problems can metamorphosize into infidelity and disconnectedness.
When someone asks me for an expert to help save failing marriages, I always recommend Brad Browning.
Brad is the real deal when it comes to saving marriages. He is a best-selling author and dispenses valuable advice on his extremely popular YouTube channel.
The strategies Brad reveals in this video are extremely powerful and might be the difference between a “happy marriage” and an “unhappy divorce”.
FREE eBook: The Marriage Repair Handbook
Just because a marriage has issues doesn’t mean you’re headed for divorce.
The key is to act now to turn things around before matters get any worse.
If you want practical strategies to dramatically improve your marriage, check out our FREE eBook here.
We have one goal with this book: to help you mend your marriage.
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