To Figure Out If You're In A One-Sided Relationship, Ask Yourself These 5 Questions
There's that specific feeling of "wanting to crawl inside a manhole" that comes from waving back at someone that you thought was waving at you, only to realize they were actually waving at the person behind you. Putting yourself out there can be hard enough. Putting yourself out there and realizing that the other person isn't equally putting themselves out there? Now that just feels terrible. No matter how long you've been seeing someone, it can feel natural to want to make sure you're the same page, especially if you're trying to figure out if you're in a one-sided relationship.
"Relationships are about compromise," Dr. Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist and Host of 'The Kurre and Klapow Show,' tells Elite Daily. "Typically one-sided relationships come when there is not mutual agreement on compromise. When we feel our partner is being one-sided we need to be able to describe, how, when, and how frequently they are being one-sided, and how broadly they are being one-sided."
Although openly talking about your needs can feel totally intimidating, being as transparent as possible can help you and your partner better understand where you each are coming from.
Dr. Klapow breaks down five questions to ask yourself if you believe your relationship may be one-sided.
1. Are my needs being met?
Relationships are about give and take. If you feel like recently you've been giving more than taking, it may help to ask yourself if your needs are being met.
"If you feel your partner is being one-sided — they are not taking into consideration your needs, preferences, desires, concerns — it’s important to bring to their attention the situation," Dr. Klapow says. "Let them know that in this situation you would like to let them know what you want, need, and are concerned about. Because it is quite possible that while they are being selfish they not even realize that you are concerned or they are hurting you."
If your partner ditched your yearly clambake and Jaws viewing to go to the beach all day with their ex-girlfriend (I don't even want to talk about it), you may be able to point to concrete examples that your needs are not being met and directly state exactly why. Of course, if you've just been feeling rundown in general or there seems to be a looming trend of your boo not being considerate, it may be hard to pinpoint exactly what's up. Thinking about what it is you are feeling and what action (or lack of action) makes you feel that way can help you express your concerns to your partner without placing blame on anyone.
2. What is expected of me and what do I expect from you?
Charles Dickens aside, most relationships contain some Great Expectations, and some not so great ones. Maybe you expect your partner to text you back in a timely manor or maybe you expect them to go to your colposcopy with you. Getting clear about your expectations for your boo and your boo's expectations for you can help you figure out if your relationship is one-sided.
"If your partner expects you to prepare them meals, expects you to let them plan their own social schedule independent of you, your needs, or responsibilities then it is one-sided," Dr. Klapow says. "If your partner expects you to initiate intimacy or be available for intimacy whenever they are in the mood it is one-sided. Essentially any expectation that requires your partner to take on the full burden of a task that could be completed by either of you or shared by both of you is one-sided."
3. What Contributions Do I Enjoy Making?
If you like choosing the restaurant (call me) or your partner loves to pick you up from work, you may not see your contribution as a duty or a task. Being direct about what you are happy to do in your relationship can help you both to compromise on the tasks you don't really like to do, like taking out the garbage or going to a family party.
"We have to understand and embrace the idea that fairness is often in the eye of the beholder," Dr. Klapow says. "Equality and fairness in a relationship has much more to with how you each feel vs. what you do. So for example you may always make the plans — but if that’s what you enjoy it’s not as taxing. They may manage the finances but if they want to do that and take pride in doing it, again it may not be as much of a task."
Whether your partner makes more money than you do and wants to pay for more of your dates or you literally enjoy going to their shows and working their merch table, trying to assign universal value or worth to an action can be painful. A healthy relationship doesn't necessarily mean that both partners are contributing the same thing or the same amount of something, but that both partners are communicating about how they are contributing in general. No relationship is the same, what feels right for you and your boo is right.
4. What does my ideal relationship look like?
According to Dr. Klapow, what you think is one-sided may not line up with what your boo thinks is one-sided. You both may think that you're right and justified in feeling what you feel — and the truth is, you both may be. Getting clear on what you both need to feel more supported can help may make your relationship feel more even.
"Go into a discussion not to show your partner that what you are asking them is fair, but rather to understand what they think is fair and to compromise and negotiate from that stance," Dr. Klapow says. "If you treat fairness as something that you both feel versus something that one is right and the other is wrong and you seek to get to a place where you both feel the division of physical, psychological and emotional labor is equal enough — you will do fine."
There's no cut-and-dried answer about how to divide up responsibility in a relationship. Still, if you'd like to go on more date nights or your partner wants you to check in with them more throughout the day, framing your needs around your feelings, while making space for your boo's feelings, can help get everyone on the same page.
5. What is my partner specifically doing (or not doing)?
Healthy boundaries are essential in any relationship. If you want to have a fun friends night without your partner, it's always OK to take the time or space you need. But if your partner is constantly acting inconsiderately or they keep doing something hurtful after you've asked them not to, it can be helpful to be as specific as possible when outlining why you're upset.
"It’s OK to be one-sided in certain situations or from time to time. It is a healthy survival skill," Dr. Klapow says. "But the person who can’t recognize when they are being selfish or who won’t accept feedback about their behaviors is probably too selfish to be successful in a equal ground relationship. It’s also important to let them know that the compromise, the consideration of your thoughts and feelings, the working with you is what helps make you feel closer to them."
Your partner may not realize that not texting you back really hurts your feelings. Still, if they're always extra bad with their phone during the day, they may need to learn how to better communicate that they aren't ignoring you. Whatever the case, getting clear about what specific actions make you feel like your relationship is one-sided can be a great way to express your feelings.
Take it from me, a one-sided relationship can be super painful. If you're feeling like your relationship is getting one-sided, try talking to your partner about how you're feeling and why. If they're not open to feedback or can't communicate clearly, it may be time to think about what you're looking for. You deserve to be supported in your relationship — on all sides.