Updated on 04/24/2023
What is a One-Sided Relationship?
One-sided relationhips often sound like a story of unrequited love, but that’s not always true. A one sided relationship is when one half of the couple invests way more time and effort into the relationship than the other, causing an imbalanced relationship.
Most people in a long-term relationship understand what it’s like to feel like you’re putting in more time and effort than your partner. Sometimes, the sense that you’re doing more than your fair share in a romantic relationship is valid. Other times, it may not be. How can you tell the difference? How do you know if you’re in a healthy relationship? Luckily, there are a few tell-tale indications that can help you know for sure if you’re in a one sided relationship.
Signs of a One-Sided Relationship
Wanting your relationship to feel balanced is normal, and feeling like things are occasionally lopsided is all too common. Sometimes it can be hard to see your relationship clearly when you’re in the thick of things. That’s why knowing some of the signs that may suggest your relationship is one-sided can be helpful.
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“Healthy relationships aren’t necessarily perfect, but clearly they’re a bit more balanced when both persons feel heard and supported. Oftentimes, in one-sided relationships, there’s a breakdown in communication, while fundamentally, one person makes more of an effort in initiating and maintaining the dialogue. If it feels like a burden to do most of the ‘work’ to stay and be in touch with your partner, it’s ok to share how you feel in order to make known that you need a bit more support than you’re getting.”
Some obvious signs of a one-sided relationship may include the following.
1. You don’t feel a strong, deep, meaningful connection
A hallmark of a one-sided relationship is a lack of a deep connection between partners. If you feel more like roommates than soulmates, there’s likely a problem.
Revitalize your relationship by making an effort to spend time together. Admittedly, this can be difficult with the hustle and bustle of most people’s busy lives these days. However, nurturing a deep and meaningful connection is essential to long-term happiness in any romantic relationship.
2. You feel exhausted by the relationship
One-sided relationships are taxing, both emotionally and physically. If you find yourself feeling relieved when your partner or spouse has to go out of town or work late, you might have a one-sided relationship. Part of the feeling of exhaustion can come from emotional tension and resentment that often builds when a relationship is unfair.
3. You are the only one who ever apologizes
Conflict is a natural, normal part of any balanced relationship. However, in healthy relationships, the person who causes the conflict will own up to their actions and apologize to make things right. If you find that you are always apologizing — regardless of who was at fault — just to restore peace, you may be in a one-sided relationship. You can’t be the one who’s wrong all the time , right?
4. You’re the only one who sacrifices or gives
Another sign of a one way relationship is feeling like you’re the only one who sacrifices to make your relationship work. Are you the one who moved, quit your job, pays more than half of the common expenses, or makes all the large purchases in the relationship? If the answer is yes, it might be time to reassess.
5. You make all the plans
Not everyone is a planner or decision maker. However, if it’s always you who has to decide what you’re going to do, where you’re going on vacation, or how you’re going to spend or save your money, you may be quite a bit more invested in your relationship than your partner or spouse is.
Part of being in a partnership is having a partner — don’t take everything on yourself. It’s not fair, and eventually, you’ll end up resenting all the burden that’s on you.
6. You make a lot of excuses for your partner’s behavior
Another one of the signs of a one-sided relationship is making excuses (to yourself or others) for your partner’s behavior. Do you repeatedly say that your partner is too tired, works too hard, or has too much on their mind? You should think about making a change in the dynamics of your relationship if so. You don’t have to excuse their behavior, and you certainly don’t need to spend time defending it.
7. You are the “big decision maker”
Some people are just better at making decisions than others. However, no one wants to have to make all of the big decisions. If your partner’s go-to response is “it doesn’t matter,” it’s OK to sit down and tell them that yes, it DOES matter. Even though getting to a place where you share in the decision-making can take some work, ultimately, it can bring you closer as a couple.
8. Financial contributions are uneven (and usually not in your favor)
When one person puts in significantly more money than the other in a relationship, it can cause things to feel uneven. It’s important to have healthy communication and a mutually agreed-upon financial plan. If the same partner’s responsible for the majority of the financial obligations, it can become problematic.
If you’re on the paying end, you might begin to feel taken advantage of. The grass isn’t always greener, since even the “non-payer” in this scenario can take a hit to their self-esteem. Sometimes it’s just a reality you must deal with in a relationship — one person might make more money. You might not be able to change that, but you can be sure to discuss finances openly and honestly, so both of you feel confident and secure in your financial roles.
9. You often feel insecure in the relationship
Insecurity in relationships can cause one partner to want to do everything in their power to be needed by the other. It can also be a result of an uneven relationship. If you’re not connecting or communicating, it can be easy to feel insecure. When your partner’s constantly insecure, it can breed feelings of resentment and distrust.
10. Your communication isn’t great
Good communication is essential to any healthy relationship. If you’ve gotten into the habit of barely talking, or worse, not listening to each other or displaying unrequited love, it’s easy to see how your relationship got off track. Make a conscious effort to set aside time to talk about your day. Maybe you need to turn off the TV in the evening or take an after-dinner walk together.
What Causes a One-Sided Relationship?
A one way relationship can be caused by several things. It can develop over time or seemingly overnight. Some of the relationship problems that may cause a relationship to be one-sided include:
When someone doesn’t feel heard in a relationship, they might pull away, leading to things becoming uneven. Research shows that when people struggle with being able to communicate effectively, they might not be able to find relationships that meet their needs. Additionally, poor communication can also be a barrier to repairing a damaged or one-sided relationship.
If one party is consciously or subconsciously afraid of losing the relationship, they may try to do everything they can in an attempt to become irreplaceable. This can tip the scales of an even and balanced relationship, making things more one-sided than is natural or healthy.
Sometimes one or both partners are dealing with something overwhelming that keeps them from putting in their fair share in the relationship. It might be financial stress, emotional issues, mental health problems, or stress at work. Whatever the problem, if it’s distracting from the partnership, the result can be an uneven relationship.
Passive-aggressive tendencies can also cause a relationship to be one-sided. This is when one person intentionally creates burdens in the relationship to saddle their partner with more responsibilities.
Can You Fix a One-Sided Relationship?
The good news is there are many things you can do if you’re hoping to find out how to fix a one-sided relationship…as long as that’s what both parties want. It’s important to start healthy relationships by being honest with yourself and your partner about what’s really causing your relationship to be out of balance.
“Relationships require work and just like individuals, they require self-care and attention. Oftentimes, external stressors can bear weight on the healthiest relationships. It’s OK to take some time out to express what’s going on with each other. One-sided relationships can sometimes feel like they’re heading down the wrong path, but it doesn’t take long to understand that things like insecurities, family relationships, or even job woes are the unnoticed contributing factors to the stress in a partnership.”
Tips for fixing a one-sided relationship
If you’re wondering how to fix a one-sided relationship, we have a few suggestions. The following are ways you can balance a relationship so that both partners feel valued, loved, respected, and understood, which can go a long way in creating a healthy and mutually rewarding partnership.
Talk, talk, talk…and then listen
As we mentioned above, nothing beats good communication. Fortunately, communication is a skill that can be learned. Practice your communication skills regularly with your partner through communication exercises for couples. It’ll not only bring you closer but help each of you feel heard and valued.
Accept the other person’s behavior
There might be a limit to how much someone can change, even when they want to modify their behavior. If you or your significant other has always been introverted, a bit messy, or not very handy in the kitchen, being realistic about who you or they are can help manage expectations. This, in turn, can help each of you come to a better understanding and accept one another.
Note, this doesn’t mean you have to just accept that someone can’t work on themselves, though. Therapy can be very effective at helping people identify harmful or destructive thought processes and behavior patterns so they can change for the better.
As mentioned, in-person or online therapy can be very helpful in identifying issues in a relationship so you can learn skills to better cope with the things that cause imbalance. Sometimes it takes an impartial third party, like a therapist, to help you to see a situation clearly.
End the relationship kindly
Occasionally, the best option is to walk away, kindly. If you’re starting to feel that your relationship is one-sided, and you’ve already made efforts to work through things with little or no success, it might be time to walk away. You can end a relationship amicably, though, and in many cases, even remain friends.
Connect with a Couple’s Therapist
If you recognize one or more of these signs of a one-sided relationship, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is over. It does mean that you need to spend some time and energy fixing the underlying issues that have caused your relationship to be skewed until you have a successful relationship. Don’t be reluctant to seek out a relationship therapist. Online couples therapy might be just what you need to see and address your issues in an unbiased, productive way.
It’s not too late to learn how to fix a broken relationship. Ready to take your relationship to the next level? Talkspace can help. Our online therapy platform is helping couples with all types of relationship issues heal and strengthen their relationship. You don’t have to stay in a one-sided relationship, but you don’t necessarily have to leave one, either. Get help with couples therapy today.