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Relationships

One-Sided Relationship—How to Recognize, Fix or End it? 

Do you sometimes feel like you’re the only lover in your relationship—who really cares, makes plans, sets romantic dates, offers mental and physical support, and loves unconditionally? 

You go out of your way and offer your partner the best kind of love, while they don’t even take accountability for the bare minimum in a relationship. We appreciate you for all you do; however, the truth is that you might be in a one-sided relationship. 

What is a One-Sided Relationship?

A one-sided relationship is a draining affinity where one person struggles to manage all the mechanics of a relationship while the other doesn’t reciprocate any efforts. 

People often undertake romantic relationships in the hopes of intimate moments, supportive partnership, and mutual understanding. They believe having a special person in life might help them endure vigorous struggles and harsh circumstances. 

However, all of these hopes drown when you find yourself in a one-sided relationship. It isn’t very pleasant to be available for a partner who doesn’t care enough or offers a similar investment (or at least close) in the relationship. 

You can’t stop feeling like you’re the only one trying in a relationship, and it is your responsibility to hold it together. But in reality, you’re spending your precious time on something that may never bring you fruits and flowers. 

Perhaps, in rare cases, a one-sided relationship may be a result of poor communication or compatibility. When partners fail to communicate their wants and desires in a relationship, they often end up feeling emotionally unheard. 

There’s also a possibility that, 

  • you have caught deeper feelings for your partner as compared to their feelings towards you
  • you fell in love faster or earlier than they did
  • maybe it’s just that you’re much more of an intimate lover! 

Whatever the case, we’re here to help you. This article thoroughly discusses one-sided relationships—how to recognize them, signs and causes, whether a one-sided relationship could be fixed, and when to lose hope and end it. 

6 Signs you’re in a One-Sided Relationship

In every alliance, there can be a few times when a partner may face difficulties in contributing equal effort in a relationship. This can be due to unexpected circumstances, personal issues, and uncontrollable situations—which is okay. 

However, if your lover constantly shows inequality in every aspect of your bond, it’s a clear sign you’re in a one-sided relationship. Below are red flags of a one-sided relationship if you keep asking yourself, “Am I in a one-sided relationship?” 

1. You initiate everything in the relationship. 

From casual dates to week-long trips, you’re the only one to initiate the majority of activities you do together. The other person rarely gives in any effort and doesn’t even take a step forward to support or appreciate your actions. 

You text them first, call first, reach out when they feel lonely, support them when they’re going through a difficult time, and love them in all situations. On the other hand, they keep selfishly receiving all of your love without giving an ounce of effort back.

While you might console yourself by thinking you’re the hero in your relationship, dating such a person will drain your energy in the long run. You must confront your partner about their unequal behavior and ask for the commitment you deserve! 

couple in the glommy dark with an umbrella

2. They aren’t available for you like you’re for them. 

“Hundreds of glances I give him each day, but not one I get in return.”

You’re 100% sure that you’ll have their back no matter what, but you can’t say they’ll do the same for you. 

In times of sorrow and pain, you have always stood up for your partner and offered them a shoulder to rely on. You never leave them alone in difficult circumstances and promise to help them get through it all hand-in-hand. 

But when you need someone, they are rarely available. Even when they are aware of your situation, they seldom try to support you or extend a helping hand. 

Remember if they are only available when they want or need something, but disappear into thin air when you’re on the verge of emotional breakdowns and exhaustion, save yourself! 

You deserve someone who holds you tight when you’re feeling low and doesn’t leave until you’re alright. 

3. You feel insecure and start to second-guess your worth. 

When you tirelessly strive to make the relationship work and your partner happy, it might fire back with insecurities if you get nothing in return. 

You start wondering if they really love you or even care a little. Despite doing everything for the relationship, you start questioning your own self-worth and feel doubtful” maybe I am not good enough.” 

However, in reality, it’s not your worth causing their nonexistence; it’s their own decision. You deserve to be loved deeply, and if your partner isn’t providing you anything meaningful, you’re better off them. 

4. Communication Patterns 

You can check for one-sided love in communications with your partner: 

  • They speak less 

You regularly update your partner about new things in your life, vent when you argue with a close friend, cry when feeling low, and talk for hours to describe a recent event. However, they rarely share any part of their life with you. 

They might be an amazing listener, but only listening isn’t enough in a relationship. Whether it’s about future plans or present-day strategies, it’s equally important for both parties to converse about everything. 

  • They avoid discussing the relationship’s future. 

It’s a primary goal in all relationships to have a future together. You’re only right if you keep getting that sweet urge to talk about living together, traveling abroad, getting wed, and having babies. 

So if your lover avoids future talks and changes the topic every time, it may be a sign you’re in a one-sided relationship. 

Alternatively, there can be a possibility that they are really shy or just not ready to discuss it this soon. But if it has been almost a year you’re together, and they still don’t engage in any sort of future talk, they might not be equally invested as you. 

  • They play mind games.

“He texted me an hour late, so I must reply to him after two hours to keep my pride.”

Believe it or not, many people worldwide follow this tactic to fulfill their ego, somehow (jeez). While they must think they’re superior at doing so, in reality, they are missing out on thousands of conversations that can drastically affect their lives. 

So if you feel like your partner is playing games, based on their responsiveness, you may be dealing with a one-sided situation. 

  • You ALWAYS apologize 

Even when at fault, they never accept their mistakes or reach out to take responsibility for their actions. Instead, in the end, it’s you who apologizes and makes amends to fix things to get over the problem. 

All of these communication patterns point to one thing—one sided relationship. So if you’re in a similar situation, try to figure your way out! 

5. After spending time together, you feel unfulfilled. 

What are your thoughts when leaving their place or returning from a date? Do you get butterflies and feel excited about your next meeting? Or do you feel exhausted and unfulfilled? 

Maybe there’s a little fun when you’re together, but as soon as you go your separate way, you feel lonely, emotionally unheard, and insecure. You feel drained physically and wonder what is wrong with you. 

The reason behind this is not understanding each other’s love language, aka, a relationship without intimacy! When there’s no intimacy, time spent together leaves you feeling stressed and dissatisfied. 

While you are more than willing to talk about what makes you happy, they never give you a chance to share those important details. It’s a sign you’re in an unbalanced relationship. 

6. It feels as if you’re being financially used.

When your partner is stuck in a financial rut or loses their job, it is only caring of you to offer temporary help. In fact, there is great comfort in having someone who helps out in such a situation!  

However, you should know it’s a one-sided relationship if you keep paying for their phone bills, internet connectivity, groceries, gas, and even personal essentials without any returns. 

In many cases, a person’s love language may be spoiling their partner and fulfilling all their desires. While this is understandable, the other person should still occasionally chip in as it helps maintain a balanced relationship. 

It’s okay if they can’t spoil you as you spoil them; they must at least appreciate your efforts and be glad for your actions! There are many other ways to return the favor (if you know what I mean). 

Still, if they keep taking financial help without gratitude, you might start feeling used in a relationship. 

These are six common signs of a one-sided relationship. If you believe these are occurring true for you or feel uncertain about your relationship, you should trust your gut and re-analyze your feelings! 

What causes One-Sided Relationships? 

“My silence is just another word for my pain. A love like I have for you, I’ll never, ever know again.” ― Vicki Case.

Usually, a one-sided relationship is caused by a selfish, self-centered, and toxic partner. But in many other cases, factors like upbringing, family history, insecurities, attachment styles, and other personal traits may develop a one-sided relationship! 

african america girl being concerned with relationship

Here are some causes of a one-sided relationship: 

Inadequate Communication 

Communicating regularly and opening up your heart to your loved one (or any person) is easier said than done. While you may be brought up in a family where you could share your emotions freely, it isn’t the same for all of us. 

Some families discourage sharing feelings or opinions and shut you up for expressing what’s in your heart. In fact, a study by Ipsos MORI (on 4000 males) shows that 58% of men feel like they’re expected to show no weakness and be emotionally strong. 

Moreover, around 38% of men have dodged sharing their inner emotions, as they’ve been taught that crying or feeling soft is a sign of unmanliness. 

What you’ve learned about communicating while growing up determines how you talk or engage in adulthood. This is why, when your partner doesn’t share what’s going on in their heart, you’re left to assume you’re in a one-sided love! 

Attachment styles 

How you feel attached to someone (aka your attachment style) plays a pivotal role in romantic relationships. Here are a few attachment styles that make a relationship feel one-sided: 

  • Anxious Attachment Style 

People with this type of attachment are often stressed and nervous about their relationship. They constantly crave reassurance, attention, and affection from their partner and end up scaring or exhausting their lover. 

“I am scared our relationship will end soon.” 

“I often feel like my partner doesn’t love me anymore.” 

“I feel like an obligation to my boyfriend.”

“I feel like I don’t matter in my relationship.” 

If you get such thoughts constantly, you have an anxious attachment style! 

  • Avoidant Attachment Style 

People with an avoidant attachment style are primarily independent. They are self-directed, individualistic, and often face a hard time with intimacy. When you try to get close to such people, they get away complaining about feeling overcrowded and suffocated. 

“I don’t allow my partner a single chance to let me down.” 

“I prefer not to talk about my feelings with my partner.” 

If your partner has constructed a lifestyle with strategies to avoid commitment or intimate bonding, they may possess an avoidant attachment style. 

  • Anxious-Avoidant Attachment Style 

People with such an attachment style bring together the worst of both personalities. They are not only scared of fidelity and closeness, but they also push the boat out when someone tries to get close to them! 

“I want to form a deeper connection with my partner, but I also can’t stop worrying about them hurting my feelings.” 

Anxious avoidants steer clear of attachment not only because they prefer to be alone but also because they are terrified thinking about how much intimacy could hurt them. 

If not productively communicated, these attachment styles will always birth an unsatisfactory, dysfunctional relationship! Moreover, it can make the other person feel like they are in a one-sided relationship! 

Temporary issues 

If you have temporarily felt like you’re in a one-way relationship, it won’t hurt to find out any stressors affecting your partner’s contribution! 

girl being concerned with the information on her laptop

There can be many unexpected situations like family issues, physical exhaustion, job stress, financial problems, and mental health concerns—any of which can cause a one-sided feeling! 

When your partner is dealing with such stressors, try to be understanding of their behavior and give them the space or time they need. 

Relationship History

A toxic or emotionally abusive past relationship may heavily affect your current relationship. For instance, if your partner used to date someone manipulative, they’ll have difficulty trusting and putting faith in a new partner. 

The negative events of their past relationship will affect the new affinity in all circumstances. Even if you’re a good person, they’ll need extra time to trust and love again! 

It’s also possible that your lover is used to relying on their partners for the ins and outs of a relationship. They might be spoiled in their past affinities, stunting their own contribution to any connection! 

This is why it is important to communicate your concerns in a relationship so both parties can better understand each other’s hearts. 

Conflict in Relationship Expectations 

There is a higher chance of a one-sided love feeling when both parties have different expectations, commitments, and goals in a relationship. 

Let’s say you’re ready to give in all of yourself and want the connection to reach special heights. While on the other hand, your partner is only beginning to open up and talk freely about their deep emotions. 

Your point of view drives you to make stronger efforts; simultaneously, your partner is happy about reaching a smaller milestone. 

Sooner or later, you will start feeling that you’re in a one-sided relationship because your partner isn’t giving off similar efforts as you. But in reality, they are trying their best to get better for you, one step at a time. 

In the end, you’ll start feeling like you’re the only one trying in a relationship. In opposition, they might feel unappreciated for their tiny, meaningful efforts. Both parties will think they are in a one-sided relationship!

Can you fix a One-Sided Relationship? 

If both partners contribute dedicated efforts and time, it may be possible to fix a one-way street relationship (100% chance if your partner is ready for feedback). 

Scenario A: Your partner doesn’t want to change.

The only way you could fix your dysfunctional, unbalanced relationship is when your partner agrees to take in feedback and make the required efforts. 

With proper guidance and sweet instructions, anyone can change and become a better lover. However, it is not certain your partner would be willing to change—a decision that would set the future of your bond. 

girl being irritated with her partner

You won’t be able to fix your relationship in these cases: 

  • Your partner shows zero signs of mutual understanding and avoids addressing the imbalance in your relationship. 
  • Your partner seems content with your unconditional love and robust effort without giving anything back. 
  • Your partner never tries to communicate, offer equality, take responsibility, and fix negative issues in the relationship. 

In such cases, you’re simply dating a jerk, and you’re better off without them. 

Scenario B: Your partner unknowingly made you feel unequal and wants to fix the problem together.

When thinking of how to fix a one-sided relationship, your first approach must be to start a conversation about your current situation. 

Discuss your feelings and concerns with your partner—

  • how their certain actions or behaviors make you feel, 
  • what are your limits and boundaries in a relationship, 
  • why equality is important, 
  • and how to achieve it! 

If your partner was making you feel one-sided unknowingly, they might better understand why they need to change their actions now. 

Many times, the reason behind you feeling one-sided love could be their temporary unavailability. If you have been observing an unjust situation only recently, it will help to find out your partner’s side of the story. 

Maybe they are stuck in an unexpected situation, where your next move should be working together to solve their issues and establish love back again. 

Scenario C: Your partner has attachment issues and past trauma! 

In such cases, there’s not much you can do to advise your partner, but you can surely support them when they try therapy to learn essential life skills. 

Taking professional support and trying a couples’ therapist when your partner is going through such heavy dilemmas is imperative. These personal life issues are usually difficult to overcome alone or without proper guidance, but a skilled therapist can help you navigate them productively and improve over time! 

A therapist may help you understand specific problems in your relationship that they can see from a third point of view, but you cannot. They’ll help you eliminate unnecessary issues by providing positive, practical solutions that require both partners’ effort. 

How to Fix a One-Sided Relationship? 

Going from a one-sided situation to a healthy relationship will be a difficult nut to crack, as you might have never had a serious conversation about needs, wants, expectations, and boundaries before. 

Yet, it’s not impossible to balance a lost-track relationship. With mutual hard work, honest conversations, and a little therapeutic help, you might actually solve the case. Here are some great tips to fix a one-sided relationship: 

Tip 1. Get real about your situation 

You might have been experiencing one-sided love for quite some time but never thought about addressing it. This usually happens when the person is scared of losing their partner and tries their best to accommodate the little love being provided. 

couple discussing their issues

To fix this issue, you need to start coming up with your concerns and ask questions you have been avoiding—

  • Be honest about what you feel about your partner. 
  • What unequal actions keep repeating in your relationship? 
  • What boundaries have you been letting them cross? 
  • Is your partner a safe space for open communication? 
  • Do they pay attention to your feedback? 

Make sure you’re doing this with your partner while allowing them to ask the same questions. This will help address untapped problems in your affinity and figure out solutions together! 

Tip 2. Cross-check your efforts 

The reason why you feel exhausted or unappreciated is because you keep putting in effort without getting anything meaningful back. 

Write down all your contributions to the relationship; mention specific things you do for your partner, including the sacrifices you make. Also, separate the items you want to keep doing and the things you wish your partner could take responsibility for. 

Make sure your partner is making a similar list, so you can decide on equal contributions that both lovers must make for a healthy relationship! 

Tip 3. Reflect on strategies 

Once you start having honest conversations about effort and boundaries, observe how it makes you feel. If your partner has begun changing their behavior, tell them you acknowledge it and appreciate his part. 

Don’t only appreciate their actions in words; start fulfilling their needs and wants in return. When you both begin to understand each other’s feelings and work hard to make each other happy, you’ll soon get out of a one-sided situation! 

Tip 4. Communicate Regularly

Of course, none of this would be possible without consistent communication. The most important tip for finding your way to a balanced relationship is communicating honestly and regularly. 

Do not make distance when something about your partner negatively affects you. They will never understand or know their fault when you simply cut them off without telling them why. 

The right approach to fixing relationship issues is discussing together and coming up with mutually realistic solutions. Talk every day, solve problems, appreciate each other’s efforts, and set relationship goals to reach special heights together! 

How to End a One-Sided Relationship? 

Ending a potential relationship can be heartbreaking, but there’s only so much you can take. Eventually, you will reach your breaking point when experiencing high levels of dissatisfaction, anxiety, guilt, emotional burnout, and resentment! 

In addition to that, if your partner shows no tendency to reciprocate your unconditional love and effort and doesn’t even try to meet you in the middle, it’s time to move on. 

Even if you have given too much of yourself to this relationship, you’re better off moving on. You’re only walking towards more heartbreaks and emotional distress if you don’t. 

Here is how you should end a one-sided relationship: 

Be Honest 

When thinking of ending a relationship, refrain from avoiding your partner or ghosting them. This will snatch your chance for closure and make the end of your relationship feel incomplete. 

Instead, be honest and explain why you’ve decided to end this chapter. Try not to spend your energy proving them guilty or stating wrongdoings. 

Using “I” statements would be best to mention how this relationship is not for you. “I need a more committed partner who sees our future together” or “I need more intimacy from my lover.” 

You are not selfish for asking what you deserve and expecting the bare minimum in a relationship. It is normal to require an affinity that offers equal love, care, commitment and emotional investment! 

Distance yourself 

Once you’ve conveyed why you are ending the relationship, your next step should be distancing yourself. If you stay in contact with your ex, you will keep hoping for them to change or come back! 

While it is okay to have hopes, you must not expect anything from someone who gave up before you even ended the relationship. Note that if they wanted to change or make an effort, they’d have done so when you communicated your concerns. 

But they didn’t, which simply means they do not want to change or understand your situation. It is only right to get away from a person like this! After all, not everyone is compatible. 

Talk to a Therapist

If you’ve ended your relationship and need guidance to recover from your loss, go to therapy. A mental health professional can better help you understand your role in the past relationship and why it was necessary to end things. 

Moreover, they will teach you healthy relationship practices—self-care, balancing personal and romantic life, setting boundaries and limits, and better understanding your needs and wants. 

These important skills will help you find a more compatible partner and pursue a healthy relationship! 

Wrapping Up

An unequal relationship will never provide you happiness or growth in the long haul. You will always resent your partner for not giving you the love you deserve and be unsatisfied with their minimal effort.

If your bond feels like a one-way street relationship, an honest conversation about effort equality, boundaries, and responsibility sharing can help you restore that balance. 

We hope this article helped you understand a one-sided relationship and how to recognize and fix it! Comment below how this article helped your relationship, and leave some personal advice for the other readers!

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by Genesis Gutierrez

Genesis is the founder of Harness Magazine, a digital media company that celebrates and elevates the voices of women around the world. A first-generation college graduate, Genesis holds a degree in from UCLA with hopes of going back for a Masters in Social Work.

Through her work as an editor-in-chief of Harness, Genesis has dedicated herself to amplifying the stories of women specifically marginalized communities. She is committed to creating space for those who are often left out of mainstream conversations, and believes that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have for building community and sparking social change.


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