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Are You in a One-Sided Relationship? Here Are 6 Signs and How to Fix It

Relationships aren’t always equal. It might be an imbalanced relationship if you feel like you’re giving more time, support, or emotions than your partner.

Temporary imbalances can be okay. For example, if your partner is starting a business or dealing with grief, they might need more support for a while.

But if this continues for a long time or if you’re unhappy, it’s important to talk about it. If nothing improves, you might consider ending the relationship. Here’s how to recognize if you’re in an imbalanced relationship and decide whether moving on is best.

In healthy relationships, both partners should contribute equally, ensuring mutual satisfaction, according to psychologist and relationship expert Kelifern Pomeranz. However, in a one-sided relationship, there’s an imbalance where one person tends to invest more effort than the other in essential aspects such as planning, emotional support, communication, physical affection, tasks, and expressing love.

Wondering if your relationship is one-sided? Here are some signs to help you figure it out.

You’re constantly the one giving in or making sacrifices

In any relationship, compromises are normal – you might have differences in preferences like where to dine out, what to watch, or how to manage finances.

However, if you find yourself consistently giving in to your partner’s desires, it could be a sign that your relationship is one-sided.

You’re constantly putting in all the effort to sustain your relationship

Maintaining a healthy relationship requires work from both parties. If you’re consistently the one taking on these responsibilities:

  • Initiating contact Proposing activities to do together
  • Adapting to your partner’s schedule
  • Expressing your emotions

Suppose you notice that you’re also the sole individual addressing issues within the relationship while the other person appears uninterested in resolving them. In that case, it might indicate a one-sided dynamic, as suggested by Pomeranz.

You don’t feel confident about yourself when you’re with your partner

According to Pomeranz, one-sided relationships can leave you uncertain about your partner’s feelings towards you and the relationship itself, leading to self-doubt about your likability, worthiness, or attractiveness. In a healthy relationship, you typically have a clear understanding of where you stand.

You frequently find yourself apologizing when things go awry

A red flag emerges when your partner avoids acknowledging shared responsibility in a situation, leaving you shouldering most of the blame during arguments.

Lack of support when you need it

A relationship should be a source of support, and it’s concerning if you can’t rely on your partner to:

  • Offer comfort during tough times
  • Provide assistance in emergencies
  • Care for you when you’re unwell
  • Be there to listen or give advice when required

If your willingness to be there for them isn’t reciprocated, it’s a worrying sign.

You keep the relationship a secret

Your friends and family can often provide insights into the health of your relationship, according to Pomeranz. If you feel the need to hide your relationship or bend the truth about your partner’s actions when talking to loved ones, it could be an indication of one-sidedness.

What to do if you’re in a one-sided relationship

If you’re pondering whether to continue or terminate a one-sided relationship, there are some important factors to take into account.

When it’s acceptable

According to DiDonato, unevenness in relationships isn’t always a cause for concern. Sometimes, it can serve as a temporary measure to deal with a stressful situation.

For instance, your partner might temporarily step back from the relationship if they’re facing a challenging circumstance such as:

  1. Caring for an ill family member.
  2. Navigating a period of high work demands.
  3. Preparing for a significant upcoming goal, such as launching a new business.

“In these situations, the one-sidedness represents a temporary sacrifice, and partners often return to a more balanced relationship once the crisis passes, work pressures ease, or the goal is achieved,” explains DiDonato.

Compromise isn’t always easy to reach, so seeking guidance from a relationship therapist can be a helpful step in facilitating a constructive discussion.

When to consider ending the relationship

If you’ve attempted to express your concerns about the one-sided nature of the relationship, and your partner responds with defensiveness, blame, or engages in gaslighting, these are clear indications that the situation is unlikely to change and will continue to be imbalanced, according to Pomeranz.

In such circumstances, it may signify that you and your partner aren’t well-suited for each other and that parting ways might be the best course of action.

Additionally, you should be cautious if your partner:

  1. Expresses or implies that you have stronger feelings for them than they do for you.
  2. Refuses to engage in open and honest communication.
  3. Exhibits demeaning or abusive behavior towards you in any manner.

How to address a one-sided relationship

If you’re looking to address and rectify a one-sided relationship, it’s crucial to initiate an open and honest conversation with your partner. Sharing your feelings about what the relationship has been like for you and discussing the changes you’d like to see is essential, according to Pomeranz.

In certain instances, your partner may not be aware of the imbalance in the relationship. DiDonato points out that partners may not always be fully aware of each other’s efforts to support the relationship, making a conversation particularly enlightening.

Engaging in a dialogue with your partner about your expectations and observations can be an initial step in addressing the one-sided nature of the relationship, as DiDonato suggests.

If you find it challenging to broach these topics with your partner, couples therapy is also an option to consider. This can involve having a trained professional facilitate these crucial discussions and provide guidance.

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