9 warning signs that you’re in a one-sided relationship

Okay, we’ve all probably been in a relationship that’s felt a little off.

Doesn’t have to be a romantic partner; it can also be a friendship where you just start to get a funny feeling that you’re putting in a lot of effort and not getting much in return.

Not that relationships could ever be considered a transaction. It’s not about giving and expecting in return.

But equally, relationships don’t tend to work out so well if one person is moving mountains for the other and bending over backwards to please, whilst the other is just…there.

Feeling like you’re giving unreciprocated love and affection also sucks. It leaves you feeling unworthy and unvalued.

It’s better to get out of one-sided relationships as soon as possible (if it’s not an issue that can be fixed through quality communication).

So keep an eye out for these 9 warning signs that you’re in a one-sided relationship and be aware of when it’s time to leave:

1) You start second-guessing your worth

You might’ve started off the relationship with sparks flying, feeling your absolute best.

After all, what drew you to them in the first place?

But now, you find yourself feeling increasingly insecure. You question why they don’t seem to care about you as much as you do them (or maybe as much as they once did).

You wonder what’s changed.

You wonder what you could do differently to make them care more.

You start thinking that maybe there’s something wrong with you.

If you were more interesting or prettier or held a more engaging conversation, would the relationship be less one-sided?

Insecurities start nipping at your heels causing you to start feeling anxious and low about your own behaviors. 

2) They’re not there for you like you are for them

If you fell, would they catch you?

When we really love someone (or suffer from a hint of people-pleasing), we tend to stretch our nets far and wide to avoid them from stumbling over. 

We’ll do any and everything to make them feel seen, loved, and protected.

But if you provide that level of support and devotion, do you receive the same in return?

Say they have an emergency and you’re the first to rush to their house to look after their cats or do little things like pickup their mail or dry cleaning when you know they’re busy.

Do they offer you the same gestures in return?

3) You always come in second place

Schedules clashing can always be a bit gritty in navigating when in long-term relationships.

Usually, someone needs to take the hit if something needs to be reorganized or an event cancelled.

And typically, this forfeiting should swing between both parties.

But if you always find that you’re the one accommodating yourself to fit their schedule and that their plans are always more important, I’ve got some bad news for you.

Relationships require equal effort. 

There has to be give and take, and if you’re always the one giving, it’s a big red flag.

4) You’re always saying sorry

inconsiderate things men do in relationships that drive women crazy 9 warning signs that you're in a one-sided relationship

We all make mistakes and being able to own up to these and say sorry is a wonderful trait.

But if you find yourself apologizing for things that really aren’t your fault, but your partner or friend still blames you for, is actually a prime sign of emotional abuse.

It’s a step towards gaslighting, especially if you start inwardly blaming yourself for whatever conflict has occurred or doubting how you perceived the outcome of certain situations.

For example – you try to bring up the one-sidedness of your relationship.

“Don’t be stupid. It’s not one-sided at all, and if it feels like it, it’s just because you’re so busy all the time”.

Prime gaslighting example; twisting the words back to accuse the victim of instigating the issue and failing to take accountability.

So if the above statement sounds familiar, be careful and cautious with continuing a relationship with someone capable and willing to emotionally manipulate you.

5) You make all the plans

If you’re organizing everything and they’re just tagging along for the ride, chances are you’re in a pretty one-sided relationship.

This isn’t applicable to everyone.

Some friends or partners absolutely adore planning and enjoy sourcing date ideas or micromanaging holidays.

To them, being given the planning-wand is a blessing.

However, if you’re in a more equal relationship and you do find yourself reaching out and making plans all the time – yet never receive any invites in return – it’s likely that this individual isn’t valuing your input or putting the required effort into your relationship.

7) You’re always initiating communication

Some people are boring, dry texters.

But, if you’re in a long-term relationship with one of these dull-online communicators, there should be some effort or compromise on both parts to find a middle-ground that suits you both.

If you need a lot of communication and your partner prefers little, you have to meet halfway to make it work.

That might mean putting a bit more effort into texting or expecting a little less.

If, however, you’ve voiced this issue and you’re still the only person who is reaching out, asking how their day was, calling to plan dates, or in a desperate final bid, sending some unfunny memes…

Probably to call it quits on the relationship.

8) Their other friends/family come first

Balancing relationships can be tricky.

Especially as we get busier, and time becomes scarcer.

But feeling like your partner or friend chooses their family/friends in every situation is a little suspicious.

Particularly for couples who live together, this can become an issue down the line as you fall into the trap of feeling like roommates, not soulmates.

“But we spend loads of time together already”.

Yes, but that’s because we live together.

Quality time together is very different to waking up in the same bed and brushing your teeth and then taking the bins out, side by side, in silence.

And if your partner or friend is quick to jump on the idea of a night out with their pals or a family holiday but leaves you hanging, chances are you’re just not a priority for them.

9) They don’t participate in future-talk

phrases weak men use to put strong women down 9 warning signs that you're in a one-sided relationship

You might love trying to bring up potential baby names and what sort of house you’ll live in together when you’re older. 

Or, with friends, where you’ll be in 5 years time. Or what summer holiday plans you could get up to next year.

Overloading someone with idealistic what-ifs can be a bit overwhelming.

Equally, some partners don’t like to promise what they can’t promise to avoid letting you down, which is quite nice when you actually think about it.

However, a partner or friend who flat out refuses to engage in any conversations regarding your shared future is definitely a sign that they don’t actually see a future with you in it.

10) You’re exhausted

And if all of the above adds up and you’re finding yourself just emotionally drained by the relationship, it’s probably enough of a sign that it’s time to dip.

Constantly stressing about whether you’re good enough for someone or how much they appreciate you is taxing.

It can lead to a great deal of emotional turmoil and mental health issues.

One-sided relationships aren’t just no-fun, they’re actually detrimental to our well-being. 

So if you feel constantly stressed and anxious, it’s worth considering whether putting an end to the relationship would benefit you.

My relationship is one-sided…what do I do?

The above are all warning signs that indicate a one-sided relationship.

The first step in addressing these issues is communication.

Bring up how you feel and try to have an open discussion on what can be done to improve the relationship. 

It’s hard to bring up these types of issues. You feel a bit whiney and clingy; particularly if they’ve made you feel like you’re not good enough or you’ve started experiencing some self-doubt.

However, cutting off people right left and center without actually trying to work on issues is also not conducive to happy and healthy long-term relationships.

Fixing things is always worth a shot first.

You never know, as people are not mind readers, your friend/partner might not know how you’ve been feeling.

Only through openly and honestly communicating those feelings and giving a space for suggestions on both sides can you create a safe space in which a relationship can grow.

But equally, if the one-sidedness remains despite your best efforts, it’s always okay to walk away to protect your own well-being. 

There are many other fish out in the sea who will cherish you and your time.  

But that raises the question:

Why does love so often start out great, only to become a nightmare? 

And what’s the solution to maintaining love and affection consistently, without falling into these slip-ups and starting to devalue yourself?

The answer is contained in the relationship you have with yourself. 

I learnt about this from the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê. He taught me to see through the lies we tell ourselves about love, and become truly empowered.

As Rudá explains in this mind blowing free video, love is not what many of us think it is. In fact, many of us are actually self-sabotaging our love lives without realizing it!

We need to face the facts about how not everyone shares our intentions and ideals when it comes down to love and relationships.

Far too often we chase an idealized image of someone and build up expectations that are guaranteed to be let down.

Far too often we fall into codependent roles of savior and victim to try to “fix” our partner, only to end up in a miserable, bitter routine. 

Far too often, we are on shaky ground with our own selves and this carries over into toxic relationships that become hell on earth. 

Rudá’s teachings showed me a whole new perspective. 

While watching, I felt like someone understood my struggles to find love for the first time – and finally offered an actual, practical solution to communicating my emotions and building a stronger relationship with my partner.

If you’re done with unsatisfying dating, empty hookups, frustrating relationships and having your hopes dashed over and over, then this is a message you need to hear. 

Click here to watch the free video.

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.