When you're in love, it's normal to want to do everything in your power to make your significant other happy. You would do just about anything to ensure your partner feels supported and cared for — and ideally, you know they would do the same for you. A great relationship takes work and commitment from both partners, which is why it’s so painful when it feels like you start noticing the signs that mean you’re in a one-sided relationship.
One-sided relationships can be difficult to spot because it’s easy to be blinded by your affection for your partner and convince yourself everything is fine. After all, no one wants to believe their partner doesn’t feel as strongly as they do. But it’s important to recognize the signs of a one-sided love so you can protect your heart. Maybe you begin to realize you’re always the one to say “I love you” first, or that your partner puts in little to no effort to demonstrate how much the relationship means to them.
If you think you may be in a one-sided relationship that leaves you feeling like your needs aren't being met because you're the one putting in all of the work, know that you deserve so much better, and you can do something about it. “There is wisdom in being able to recognize a relationship for what it is, and what it isn’t, and acting accordingly,” relationship and breakup coach Natalia Jaurez tells Elite Daily. That might mean addressing your partner directly, which can ultimately lead to a decision about whether the relationship is right for you. If you feel like you might be in a one-sided relationship, here are a few things to keep an eye out for in order to know for sure.
1. You Initiate Most Communication
You send text messages, make phone calls, and put in the effort to see your partner throughout the week. “You’re the one putting in the time, energy, and money into maintaining the relationship,” Juarez says. If you don't, several days could go by without exchanging a single word.
If you're the one making most of the plans to spend quality time together, and you constantly go out of your way to show the other person how much they mean to you, chances are you're in a one-sided relationship. If you always have to be the first one to make contact, your partner might not be making your relationship a priority in their life.
2. Your Partner Never Returns The Favor
A tell-tale sign of a one-sided love story is if your partner never hesitates to ask favors of you that require you to sacrifice your time and energy — yet when it's time to reciprocate the favor, they never seem to have the time. Your partner might say they have too much on their plate or that they’re busy with a previous engagement. They might always ask you to spend time at their place instead of coming over to yours.
They might say they have too many other obligations to address or get angry if you express any signs of disappointment. “All of these behaviors indicate that this other person doesn’t value you, and they’re taking you for granted,” Juarez says.
In your partner's mind, you doing favors for them is a given, not vice versa. You should never have to feel like you’re too needy when asking for an equal partnership.
3. They Always Choose Their Friends Over You
When your partner feels like going out, they don’t invite you to come along. If you try to address the problem, your partner might accuse you of “nagging” and of instigating the same fight over and over again.
So instead, you may ask them to spend time with you and your friends, but they reject the offer. Your partner simply prefers calling their own friends and spending time with them, leaving you at home alone wondering what you did wrong.
These are all signs your partner isn’t incorporating you into their life, which might mean they aren’t totally invested in a future together. “It may be because this person just isn’t that into you,” Juarez says, whether they’re interested in other people or repeating unresolved issues from their past. Either way, this isn’t your fault, and you should know that you deserve better.
4. You Apologize For Things You Shouldn't Apologize For
If you're in a one-sided relationship, your partner is probably a master at making you feel bad for things you have no reason to worry over, like getting emotional or needing to talk about something that's been on your mind.
Yes, a relationship is meant to bring happiness into each other's lives, but that doesn't mean your partner isn't responsible for comforting you when you feel down. Part of being in a relationship is being there for the other person when life isn't carefree. You should never apologize when looking for your significant other's support. “It is not a good decision to settle for 'emotional crumbs,'" Dr. Lesliebeth Wish, a licensed clinical psychotherapist and founder of LoveVictory.com, told Elite Daily. "Unfortunately, many partners do so out of fear of being alone or dealing with changes in finances, parenting, homes, and other major changes. But crumbs can never bake the cake of love.”
5. You Justify Your Partner’s Behavior To Your Family And Friends
Maybe your partner didn’t show up to family dinner or plan anything special for your birthday. Maybe they frequently get angry over trivial matters in front of your family and friends. You constantly make excuses for why they treat you the way they do.
You have to reassure your loved ones that this relationship is right for you, and deep down, you might also be reassuring yourself. You want to believe that despite the negative sides to this romance, the positives outweigh all of the tears and arguments. But rather than justify your partner’s behavior, Juarez suggests taking a step back to think about what you want from a relationship. “What does having a healthy, fulfilling relationship mean to you?” she asks. “Having this clear vision can help you assess your relationship a bit more objectively.” It can help you recognize when your feelings might be clouding your judgment, even when your friends and family are sharing their concerns.
6. Your Partner Ignores Relationship Problems
You're constantly the one trying to talk about the relationship needs that aren't being met, and your significant other makes you feel bad for doing it. When you mention your concerns to them, they roll their eyes or brush off your requests.
Your partner doesn't want to address any problems or put in any effort to change. So you feel like you're left with two options: trying to fix the issues yourself, or ignoring the problems altogether.
Avoiding the conflict won’t ultimately make things any better. “The best thing to do (if you really care) is to communicate,” Juarez suggests. “It’s absolutely possible to bring this topic up in a secure, confident, non-confrontational manner.” She provides this template for bringing this up with someone you’re newly dating (it can also be adjusted for longer-term partnerships):
“I wanted to touch base with you about us spending time together. It seems to me that I seem to be the one who’s doing all or most of the initiating, so I just wanted to ask you if you want to continue to spend time together? I enjoy spending time with you, but it really only makes sense if it’s reciprocal.”
Their response will tell you a lot about whether they are willing to put in the work.
7. You Constantly Feel Stressed Out By The Relationship
You are constantly worrying that the relationship is on the brink of falling apart, and that it's all your fault. You’re questioning whether you are trying too hard or annoying your partner. You feel like when the two of you are together, your partner would rather be anywhere but with you.
Juarez explains that people with anxious attachment can be especially vulnerable to one-sided relationships. “Not having a clear sense of one’s own self-worth can distort our understanding of relationships and make it seem reasonable to accept so little in return from others,” she says. In this situation, one partner will go above and beyond to make the other person happy because of deep-rooted fears the other person will leave them. But this can ultimately result in an unhealthy dynamic, and it isn’t fair to the person who is putting in all the work.
Yes, you should take the time to reflect on your relationship and evaluate what aspects should be worked on, but that doesn't mean you should overanalyze everything to the point of anxiety. If your partner is making you feel stressed out and insecure, ask yourself if you really want to be with them. “If you discover that your relationship is one-sided and it’s not going to change, then it’s time to cut your losses and call things off,” Juarez says.
8. You Don’t Feel Valued
You get the feeling your partner doesn’t care about you, which is an awful weight to have to carry. A caring partner has a genuine interest in your day-to-day life. They will check in regularly to see what you're up to and frequently ask to spend time with you.
But your partner doesn't do that, and you don’t see any evidence that things will change, try to come to terms with that reality. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can leave this chapter behind.
Realizing that you're in a one-sided relationship is tough. Admitting it to yourself is even harder, and putting an end to the destructive romance is the most gut-wrenching part of it all. But part of valuing yourself and your boundaries is knowing when to let go of what doesn’t serve you.
“When you know the depth of your own self-worth, and you treat yourself as such, you are incapable of allowing anyone else to treat you in any lesser way… unless the forces of attraction or attachment get involved,” Juarez says. That’s when the line can be tougher to draw. She recalls the famous quote from Perks of Being A Wallflower: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” And that couldn’t be more true in this case.
Remember you gave your partner all the chances in the world to change their behavior, and they chose not to every single time. So do yourself a favor and save yourself the time, energy, and pain of going back into a relationship that did nothing but hurt you and your confidence.
As long as you continue to eliminate the toxic, unappreciative people from your life, you'll find the one who loves you equally and unconditionally, which is exactly what you deserve.
Natalia Jaurez, relationship and breakup coach
Dr. Lesliebeth Wish, licensed clinical psychotherapist and founder of LoveVictory.com
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