- It’s true that relationships shouldn’t feel like effort, but they do require you to look out for your partner’s needs
- It’s not a good sign if you feel as though your partner isn’t trying at all
- Here’s what to do if you’re in a one-sided relationship
What is a one-sided relationship?
A one-sided relationship is a relationship where one person is putting in a lot more effort than the other. One of you might feel a lot more invested in the relationship, while the other might not be so willing to commit. Speaking to Brides.com, psychologist Dr. Kelly Campbell says a one-sided relationship is characterised by one person “putting in a lot [more] in terms of resources (time, money, emotional investment) and getting little to nothing in return.”
Writing for Healthline, Crystal Raypole also stresses that imbalance is the main thing which characterises a one-sided relationship: “relationships can’t thrive without balance. If one partner regularly provides most of the financial or emotional support, you might have a one-sided, or unbalanced, relationship.”
It’s important to note that a relationship is only one-sided if this imbalance is sustained. As love and relationship coach Emyrald Sinclaire tells Bustle: “oftentimes one partner will give more than they receive. But on the flip side, you’ll receive more than you give when you need it.”
This is normal in any relationship. You shouldn’t be keeping score and monitoring who’s done what – in a healthy relationship, things will balance out naturally. But if you’re noticing that you’re always the one making plans and running after your partner – it’s likely you’re caught in a one-sided relationship.
How to tell if you’re in a one-sided relationship
The clearest indication that you’re in a one-sided relationship is if your partner doesn’t give you time. “If your partner feels that you are not necessary or important in their life, they will [afford] you little of their time in their schedule,” relationship coach and psychic medium Melinda Carver tells Bustle.
This could manifest in different ways. Perhaps they’re reluctant to run a small errand for you that would mean a lot and only take them five minutes, or maybe they only ever see you when it suits them. They might be super late every time you do hang out, or else cancel at the last minute – a sign that they view their time as more important than your own.
If you’re always available to support your partner emotionally but they never return the favour, they might also leave you feeling drained. “You are with an emotional vampire if you find yourself physically drained,” dating expert Dr. Jennifer Rhodes tells Bustle.
So, basically – feeling neglected and exhausted are telltale signs that your partner isn’t putting in as much effort as you.
What you can do
Before you get mad at your partner, consider the fact that it’s possible you’re actually putting in too much effort. You shouldn’t always make your partner your priority, nor should you expect them to do the same for you.
While it’s reasonable to expect your partner to earmark some time for you, you shouldn’t want them to come running at the drop of a hat. And just because you would do that for them doesn’t mean that they should reciprocate. Take accountability: if you’re cancelling your own plans and constantly rearranging your schedule for your partner, it’s possible that you’re becoming codependent and should alter your own behaviour.
Stave off codependency by cultivating your own life outside of your relationship. Make time for seeing friends and enjoying your own hobbies. You might find that once you take a step back and stop putting yourself in the role of the ‘caregiver’ in the relationship, your partner stops feeling so smothered and naturally lapses into being more attentive to your needs anyway.
Talk to your partner about your feelings
It’s also important to start a dialogue with your partner before things get worse, as once resentment kicks in, it’s hard to move things forward.
As Crystal Raypole puts it in Healthline: “as with most other concerns, it generally helps to start with a conversation. If you’ve only recently noticed the one-sidedness, you might start by mentioning you’ve noticed they seem a little distant and distracted, and ask if they have anything on their mind.”
It’s important to consider how long the imbalance has been there. If it’s a new thing, maybe your partner is going through some emotional problems and is distancing themselves from you because of this.
That doesn’t mean that this is acceptable, but it does go some way towards explaining why their behaviour might have changed. It’s also promising if the pair of you have enjoyed a more equal, balanced relationship in the past, as you’ll both know exactly what you’re striving to get back to.
Know when to walk away
If you’ve examined your own actions and had a chat with your partner and things still aren’t changing – consider whether it’s time to walk away.
Perhaps your partner isn’t ready to commit, is emotionally unavailable, or you both have very different ideas about what a happy, healthy relationship should look like. If your idea of minimum effort is their idea of maximum effort, it’s unlikely that you’re compatible romantically.
As people have different attachment styles, it’s important you find someone who is willing to give you the same amount of time and energy as you give them – because there’s always someone out there who is!