7 signs you’re in a one-sided relationship
Being in a one-sided relationship with someone is not an easy thing to go through, but there can be many reasons why your relationship is starting to turn into one. Perhaps understanding the reasons can help you change and improve this situation.
Many people assume that for a relationship to be healthy and successful, the energy, love, and effort must be shared 50/50 between two partners. I invite you to see it over 100/100. In other words, both partners are doing their best to commit to and maintain a healthy relationship.
Of course, sometimes your best efforts will falter — and that’s okay too. Factors like stress at work or lack of sleep affect how much energy and presence you can offer each other on any given day. The good news is that healthy partners are able and willing to embrace their partner’s problems and support them when they are struggling.
It is only when the balance of energy or input is chronically out of whack that a relationship can enter an unhealthy dynamic. We call this one-way relationships. Read on to learn what such relationships can look like and what to do about them.
7 signs your relationship might be one-sided
In a one-sided relationship, the partners do not equally commit to one another. One partner puts far more effort, time, or even emotional or financial support into the relationship than the other.
A unilateral partnership could develop when:
1. You often apologize for things.
2. It feels tedious to engage your partner in conversation (especially on difficult topics).
3. You hide things about your relationships with others—or you reveal too much about your relationships with others instead of speaking directly with your partner about it.
4. You make excuses for their behavior.
5. You feel like you have to treat the relationship with kid gloves or walk on eggshells with him/her.
6. The prevailing emotional state between you is negative.
7. You are often at a loss, never knowing exactly what she or he is feeling, and even less sure of your own intuition and self-worth.
Now might also be a good time to honestly ask yourself if you’re the one dropping the ball on your partner and your relationship. Do you often suppress your feelings and avoid addressing something even though you feel it is important? Do you let things go that you say or promise? Do you keep your cards open? Do you often criticize your partner’s dreams and hobbies? Are you trying to control or change your partner’s behavior or thinking? Do you often think in terms of “I” instead of “we”?
If any of these apply to you, you could start taking a more proactive role in the integrity of your relationship.
3 things to do about a one-sided relationship
If you suspect your relationship is one-sided, take a moment to breathe and be gentle with yourself. There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, and even people in healthy relationships will experience frustrations and imbalances from time to time.
The problem is that one-sided relationships are just too unbalanced. And if partners don’t have opportunities to reevaluate and rebalance their relationship, one-sided relationships will catapult partners down a path that leads to increasing challenges, conflict, frustration, and resentment.
Here are three things you can try to move your relationship away from one-sidedness and towards a more equitable situation:
1. Take time during the week to talk with your partner about relationship issues, such as boundaries, issues, goals, and needs.
2. Write down your worries and fears. What do you ignore, repress , annoy, etc.? are you true to yourself Are you sacrificing yourself for the relationship? What are your biggest needs and “musts” for a healthy relationship? How does your current relationship support or violate your personal values (e.g. safety, honesty, integrity, etc.)? Are you always the “giver” in a relationship? How can you know
Writing down these questions and answers can help you gain more clarity about what’s bothering you, recognize your own role in the situation, and prepare you for what you want to say (and how) to your partner.
Note: Since writing by hand stimulates the brain more than typing on a computer, I recommend using a pen for this self-reflection.
3. Talk to a licensed marriage and family therapist or other professionals who can help you with these questions.
The bottom line
It’s important to be clear about whether your relationship meets your needs and is aligned with your values. Because the reality looks like this:
Some of us are willing to subordinate or neglect what is truly important to us for fear of causing conflict or “rocking the boat”. What we often overlook is that by disregarding our deepest needs, we create inner turmoil that can also affect our interactions with our partner—in other words, we create what we want to avoid.
If you want to get clear about the dynamics of your relationship, you can also go through a “relationship inventory”. Think of this inventory as a series of questions and statements to help you clarify the issues within you and your relationship that deserve attention and healing.
One experimentally validated inventory you can take is the Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory ( see different versions of this inventory here ). Going through these questions alone or unpacking them with a therapist can be an important step in your journey to finding new balance.