Are you feeling like your relationship isn’t exactly what you’d call balanced?
I hate to say it, but if you’re feeling like it’s one-sided, it most probably is.
What’s going on?
Aren’t relationships supposed to be like partnerships, balanced and equal, with both people contributing fully?
But in reality, a lot of relationships are a lot more like law firms that have junior and senior partners who do different amounts of work and take different amounts of credit.
Is yours one of these?
It can be hard to know for sure. Maybe you’ve got a skewed idea of who’s contributing what to the relationship.
To help you figure it out, here are eight subtle yet significant signs your relationship is one-sided.
1) Your partner has veto power
I truly hope that your relationship is nothing at all like the UN Security Council, with so much disagreement and hardly any results ever produced.
But one sign that your relationship is one-sided is that your partner has veto power, just like the Big 5 members have.
Don’t worry if you can’t relate to the politics.
What I mean is that your partner always has the power to block your ideas and actions or cancel things you want to do.
Imagine that you want to go out, but your partner wants to stay in.
If you always opt to stay in, then they have veto power.
What if you have to choose whose family you should go visit for Christmas?
If they get to make the choice, once again, they have more power than you in the relationship.
For healthy relationships, these choices should be made together with respect for each other’s needs and preferences. Sometimes, you’d choose to do things separately as well so that you can both do what you want.
But in an unbalanced relationship, one person has all the say, and the other has to go along with everything.
2) Money is an issue
Well, OK, let’s face it, money is almost always an issue in relationships!
People squabble over what to spend money on and how much things should cost all the time.
But if you have a real financial imbalance in your relationship, this can indicate an overall imbalance.
A financial imbalance happens when one person is either bringing most or all of the money into the relationship and is controlling way more of the finances than the other partner.
Many relationships have one partner who goes out and works while the other does unpaid housework and childcare. But in these cases, finances can still be shared and decisions made together.
If they’re not and the breadwinning partner uses the old excuse of “paying the cost to be the boss,” then they’re trying to have power over their partner through holding financial control.
Another situation that represents an unbalanced relationship is if one partner is working to support the other who is just mooching.
Obviously, this feels really bad for the person who’s being sponged off of. They often resent the other partner who seems to lead a life of leisure while they have to work hard every day.
3) You always have to initiate conversations
When there’s a big financial issue to talk about, who has to get the other person to talk about it?
When you have issues in your relationship, are you the only one bringing them up and trying to talk them out?
This really makes things feel one-sided, doesn’t it?
It gives the impression that the other person isn’t all that interested in solving problems or working together the way that partners should.
The fact is that many people are poor communicators, and they might not intentionally be avoiding you or keeping quiet on purpose.
But sadly, this has the same effect on you.
It leaves you having to do all the communication work, and that can be both exhausting and disappointing. And it can really feel unbalanced and unfair.
4) They never apologize
Your partner, I mean.
No matter what happens, it’s always you who has to swallow your pride and say you’re sorry first.
And most of the time, they don’t even say sorry after you’ve said it first.
Could it be that they’re always right and never do anything they need to apologize for?
This may be a subtle sign, but it’s significant because it speaks to the lack of balance of power in the relationship, and perhaps empathy, as well.
Look, of course, you should only apologize when you’ve actually done or said something wrong that caused a problem or hurt the other person. But if they hurt you back and don’t apologize, they either think they’re not wrong, or they’re entitled to do whatever they want.
And who wants a partner who feels entitled to injure them anytime they please?
5) You’re exhausted
Isn’t it strange that you’re always feeling completely wiped out by the relationship while your partner seems perfectly fine?
Heck, they might even feel energized while you’re feeling exhausted.
Some people can be real energy vampires who have excessive needs for attention and validation from others. They’re so much work that they end up making all the people around them extremely tired.
But they feel energized, basically because they’re feeding on the energy of others.
I was in a long relationship with an energy vampire once, long before I knew what they were.
My girlfriend needed all my attention and more that I couldn’t even give. Without it, she was a really negative person who never wanted to go out or do anything. But when she got a ton of attention from me and others, she was bright and peppy while we felt drained.
Now, your partner might not be an energy vampire, but they can still be wearing you out.
It could be that you’re putting lots of work into the relationship to keep them happy and keep your lives generally going well. But your partner hardly lifts a finger.
But in both of these situations, you do all the giving, and they do all the giving, and it turns out to be just about the same thing.
6) You make all the sacrifices
Unless you’re talking about metaphorically running a stake through an energy vampire’s heart, we’re looking at a different kind of sacrifice here.
I mean, of course, that you are giving up things you want to do or things that you like and your partner isn’t.
This could be the activities that you’ve always loved to do. Maybe you’ve played rugby for years, but your partner wants you to give it up because the schedule conflicts with something they want to do.
Or perhaps your partner doesn’t want you to see certain friends that they don’t like. You might agree to appease them, but then they don’t do anything similar in return.
This sounds a whole lot more like a controlling relationship than a healthy partnership, doesn’t it?
And that’s a sign that things really are one-sided.
7) Someone makes all the big decisions
Everyone has their own decision-making style.
Take me and my partner, for example.
She’s very quick and confident with her decisions, while I tend to weigh a lot of options and investigate details. She believes I overthink things a bit, and I think she’s a touch impulsive.
However, when we make decisions together, we average pretty well. She helps me speed things along, and I help her think about unseen factors to consider.
We work together pretty well, I’m happy to say.
But if decisions in your relationship are always made by one person, there’s something not so healthy going on.
If you feel forced to make all the decisions because your partner avoids them, you can definitely feel like this is unfair. You get all the pressure and potentially the blame if you choose wrong.
On the other hand, you could have a partner who never lets you have any input and makes big, important decisions without you.
This is also unfair and lopsided because your power is taken away. This shows, once again, that your partner wants to be in control rather than sharing responsibilities equally.
8) They put in no effort
After all these specific signs of a one-sided relationship, this one is a little broader.
But if this is the case in your relationship, you’ll get the gist.
If you feel like your partner really isn’t bringing anything to the table, it can be frustrating and feel unfair.
Do you find yourself taking care of them and not getting that care back in return?
Then it’s more than likely you’re doing all the work, and they’re simply not holding up their end.
These eight subtle yet significant signs your relationship is one-sided can be painful once you really see them and what they’re doing to you.
If you’re either being disempowered or pushed to do too much, you may want to reassess whether you really want to stay in this relationship.