7 red flags you’re in a one-sided relationship

Ever find yourself giving more love than you’re getting, like you’re endlessly pouring into a cup that never seems to fill? 

I watched a dear friend go through this agonizing dance, always taking the lead but never really being met halfway. It was heartbreaking. 

The worst part? She didn’t even see the imbalance until the scales almost tipped too far. 

If you’re worried you’re in a one-sided relationship, you’re not alone, and it’s not too late. 

Identifying the red flags is your first step to regaining balance and rediscovering what a partnership should truly be like. Ready to find out? Let’s dive in.

1) Uneven effort

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one putting in the work to keep the relationship going? Like you’re the only one planning dates, initiating quality time, or even resolving conflicts? 

I saw my friend bear the weight of her relationship as if it were a solo marathon, panting and struggling while her partner just went along for the ride. 

Here’s the hard truth: a relationship is a two-way street. If you’re the only one making an effort, you’re essentially driving alone on a road meant for two. It’s not just lonely; it’s exhausting.

So, what’s the next step? Open up a gentle but honest dialogue about the imbalance you feel. If you’re the only one tending to the relationship garden, it might be time to ask your partner to pick up a rake. 

And if they’re unwilling? Well, some gardens are better off as solo projects.

Remember, you deserve a relationship that feels equally invested in, where you’re sharing the load rather than carrying it all by yourself.

2) Lack of communication

It’s disheartening when you open up, share your feelings, and are met with silence or nonchalant replies. 

I wasn’t there for every one of my friend’s interactions with her ex, of course, but she shared with me that she really struggled to have the conversations that mattered with him.

Whenever there was an issue that needed to be discussed, it was always her who initiated the conversation. Meanwhile, her partner was content to just act like nothing was wrong.

He was great at chatting about fun things, and did initiate conversations like that. But we all know that relationships are much more than that. Conflict is inevitable, and if both people aren’t willing to deal with it together, it festers into tension and resentment. 

If you too feel a communication gap, the only way forward is to confront it. 

Ask your partner to be more engaged in discussions and let them know how their lack of communication leaves you feeling isolated. 

Don’t settle for a relationship where you’re the only one talking; you deserve to be both heard and understood.

3) Self-centeredness

It was painful to see my friend always on the sidelines of her own relationship. 

For instance, her partner would make plans to go out with his friends and just assume she’d be fine staying home alone. Or he’d decide they were going to watch his favorite show, never asking if she had any preferences. 

Even when it came to bigger decisions like holiday plans, he’d unilaterally decide they were visiting his family without consulting her.

Let’s be clear: a relationship isn’t a one-person show with a captive audience. Both partners should have a starring role. 

If your partner’s interests, opinions, or plans are consistently prioritized over your own, you’re not just in a lopsided relationship; you’re in a one-sided relationship.

So how can you shift the spotlight? First, have a candid conversation with your partner about how you feel. 

Sometimes people don’t realize they’re monopolizing the relationship and may be open to change. 

4) Emotional distance

While they were still dating, I remember my friend telling me how she’d open up about her feelings, and her partner would end up going off on a tangent, or turning the topic back to himself. 

He’d be physically present but emotionally miles away, as if he had built an invisible wall between them.

Emotional distance is more than just a lack of affection; it’s a void where emotional intimacy should be. 

If your partner avoids deep conversations, rarely shares their feelings, or seems indifferent to your emotional needs, you’re likely dealing with emotional distance.

How can you bridge the gap? As always, open and honest communication is a good place to start. If your partner is unaware of how their emotional aloofness affects you, this could be a wake-up call. 

But also know that you can’t force someone to be emotionally available. Sometimes the distance is a sign of deeper issues that might require professional help or even a reevaluation of the relationship.

5) One-sided compromises 

pic1499 7 red flags you’re in a one-sided relationship

Imagine always being the one to plan vacations, cancel plans to accommodate theirs, or agree to watch movies you have zero interest in. 

If this sounds unfair to you, it’s because it is — and also very one-sided. Every relationship demands some level of compromise, but it should never be a solo act. 

In my friend’s case, she’d always find herself giving up small things that mattered to her — like visiting her family over the holidays, or sleeping with the window open — because her partner was uncompromising about his own desires. 

Eventually, these concessions add up and can leave you feeling like a doormat.

It’s time to assert yourself. Express the need for mutual compromises in the relationship. 

An equal partnership thrives on shared sacrifices, where both parties are willing to give a little for the greater good of the relationship.

6) Feeling unappreciated

Ever pour yourself into something, only to feel like your efforts are invisible? It’s as if you’re shouting into a void, hoping for an echo that never comes. 

When your thoughtful gestures, acts of kindness, or even everyday responsibilities go unnoticed or unthanked, it’s hard not to feel unappreciated. 

Take my friend, for instance. She’d make special meals, plan date nights, and listen attentively when her partner vented about his day. 

And not only was this effort very imbalanced, as I mentioned earlier, but her efforts were also met with indifference. 

There was no reciprocation and not even a thank you — just the growing realization that her partner was taking her for granted.

Now, appreciation doesn’t always have to come in grand gestures or effusive praise. A simple acknowledgment or a ‘thank you’ can work wonders for the emotional health of a relationship. 

It’s hard to ask for someone to appreciate you more — so what you can try is suggesting to your partner that you start a gratitude practice together, of sharing three things every day that you appreciate about each other.

Gradually, it can help your partner build a habit of noticing how much you do for them, and perhaps inspire them to start doing more in return as well. 

7) Resistance to change

Change is inevitable in life, yet resistance to it in a relationship can be a glaring red flag. If it feels like your partner is stuck in their ways, refusing to adapt or grow, you might find yourself in a stagnant relationship. 

This isn’t about minor quirks or habits; it’s about significant issues that affect the relationship’s quality. 

For my friend, any suggestion to shake things up or address problems was met with resistance from her partner. 

Whether it was the idea of going to couples therapy, talking about future plans, or even shifting their weekend routine, he seemed to take it personally and as an attack.

Since I’ve recently re-read Mindset by Carol Dweck, I have a feeling that a fixed mindset is behind these reactions. 

So perhaps suggesting to your partner that you both read the book for fun and then share your opinions about it could be a potential solution. 

Being with someone who is resistant to change not only stunts your growth as a couple but also individually. So aim for a partnership that evolves, adapts, and embraces change, for that is how we grow.

Rediscover your worth: take steps towards a balanced relationship

Recognizing the red flags in a one-sided relationship is the wakeup call you need, but it’s not a life sentence. 

Love should never be a solo effort; it’s a partnership where both parties bring something valuable to the table. 

Take this awareness as a signal to reevaluate and recalibrate your relationship, ensuring that both of you contribute to its growth and happiness. 

The goal is mutual love and respect, and it’s never too late to steer your relationship in that direction. 

Knowing is half the battle; the next step is up to you. Life’s too short to settle for a love that doesn’t make you feel treasured.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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