Figuring out the dynamics of relationships can be tough. Sometimes, it's not clear if one person is doing more or less of the emotional (or physical or logistical or any type of) work to make a relationship function, or if both people are equally invested. It can be stressful trying to figure out if you're both putting in the same amount of effort, so I turned to the experts to get an idea of what gestures mean you could be in a one-sided relationship. After all, having a little more information about the relationship can be really helpful in communicating your needs in the future.
Your relationship isn't doomed just because you think it's one-sided. The most important thing is that your relationship works for you. I've observed many relationships from the outside that seem one-sided, but internally, both partners feel good about what the other one is bringing to the relationship. For example, my friend Helena drives her boyfriend everywhere, but he does more around the house. I feel like she does way more work than he does, but only because I personally don't know how to drive. It works for them, which is what really counts. However, if you're in a situation where you're worried you're not doing enough work, or you're upset that your partner doesn't seem to care as much as you, you might feel like your relationship is too one-sided.
Read on to find six signs that your relationship may be one-sided.
1. There's No Agreement On Tasks
An unwillingness to agree about tasks is a small gesture that might indicate one-sidedness. "Typically one-sidedness comes when there isn't mutual agreement on a compromise," Dr. Joshua Klapow, Clinical Psychologist and Host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Elite Daily. "If your partner is expecting you to do the dishes, earn all the wages, raise the kids, stay at home, manage all the finances, or do any of the relationship tasks without discussion, then it is one-sided." If you feel like your partner isn't taking enough responsibility, consider opening up a dialogue about how to redistribute the work.
2. One Is More Attentive
If one of you is more aware of your partner's needs than the other, the relationship might feel one-sided. What are some gestures that indicate this? "One of you is attentive and finds ways to express their love such as a thoughtful gift, giving a compliment, or expressing gratitude, and the other does not," Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles, tells Elite Daily. If you notice that you or your partner is more attentive to the other's needs and senses when the other is upset more often, the relationship might be one-sided. In this case, it could be worthwhile to bring up instances in which you felt like your partner was inattentive to your needs, and make sure that the two of you are on the same page.
3. You Feel Guilt
If the relationship is one-sided because you know you're not doing enough, you may notice yourself feeling guilty. "Very often, we know the relationship is one-sided and we switch back and forth between feeling guilty and trying to justify the one-sidedness," Dr. Klapow says. Ask yourself if you feel guilt about what you're not doing for your partner to determine if your relationship is truly one-sided. If so, it might be a sign that you should ask your partner what they need out of the relationship (or articulate what you need, if it's your partner who feels guilty), to make sure everyone is happy and communicating clearly.
4. You Move Your Plans Around For Them More Than They Do
Moving around plans while your partner does not is a small gesture that indicates an imbalance. "Are you frequently adjusting and it is not reciprocated?" Dr. Klapow asks. "The tasks, gestures, and actions are really immaterial. They can range from the smallest (i.e. taking the trash out) to much bigger (career decisions and accommodations). The key is — do you see compromise and accommodation on both sides? If the answer is no, then you are likely in a one-sided relationship." If this resonates with you, it could be helpful to talk to your partner about how to make sure you're not adjusting plans more often than they are (or vice versa).
5. One's Sexual Needs Are More Important
If one partner gets their needs met more often in the bedroom, the relationship might not be perfectly balanced. How will you know? "The sexual needs of one partner are typically the main focus in bed," Dr. Brown says. "The other partner's sexual needs are not fulfilled." If you leave your sexual interactions feeling unfulfilled, it might be a sign that the relationship is imbalanced. It could also be that your partner doesn't know enough about your desires in the bedroom, and it can be useful to bring this up and discuss what exactly what turns each of you on.
6. They're Becoming More Selfish
One-sidedness often feels like it spins out of control, experts say. "Often we see a rebound effect," Dr. Klapow says. "Those who are not used to compromising and sharing will become more selfish as they see that being in a relationship means that compromise is often on the table." If you feel like your relationship is growing in its imbalance, it could be a sign that the one-sidedness is increasing. In this case, it can be useful to talk to your partner about why you feel like the relationship is imbalanced — they might not have realized they were being selfish, and pointing out specific examples can help them adjust their behavior and expectations.
No one but you and your partner knows the internal workings of your relationship, so no one else can tell you whether it's too one-sided or not. However, if you're concerned about the distribution of work (or any type) in the relationship, these gestures might give you some additional information to keep in mind when communicating with your partner. Moreover, just because your relationship is one-sided now doesn't mean it always will be, and openness is the key to working on any problems. And if you're unhappy in your relationship, don't worry — there are better partners out there, and you'll find that perfect fit!