14 Signs You're In A One-Sided Relationship And What To Do About It

Are you the only one trying to make it work?

man and woman arguing on a bench Motortion Films / Shutterstock

One-sided relationships don't always start that way. It can happen slowly and insidiously over time, almost so that you don't notice, until you begin to feel completely burnt out.

Being in a one-sided relationship is exhausting, and you may often feel like giving up, because you have no energy left to fight for your needs, desires, and the value you bring to the relationship.

As time passes, you may likely grow feelings of contempt and resentment — two of the silent but definitive relationship killers that all but guarantee a the end of your relationship down the road.


Naturally, after all the hard work you've put into this relationship, it's especially more soul-crushing to have that blow up in your face.


What is a one-sided relationship?

In a one-sided relationship, one partner is usually left investing time and energy into a relationship that the other partner is already emotionally detached from.

As defeating as this can be, you can look at it as a learning experience. Not all relationships last, and if you've experienced one like this where the feelings are unbalanced between partners,[fn]Bringle, R.G., Winnick, T., & Rydell, R.J. (2013). The Prevalence and Nature of Unrequited Love. SAGE Open, 3(2), 215824401349216. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244013492160[/fn] you will be able to better identify what a one-sided relationship is, what it really entails, and how to set your boundaries to keep from having another one.


RELATED: 5 Signs Of A One-Sided Friendship — And How To Know If It's Worth Saving

14 Signs of a one-sided relationship

1. You are always making the plans.

If it weren't for you, there would never be any plans and your partner may or may not even notice. You will be the one to make plans and arrangements while your partner couldn't be bothered to do anything of the like.

2. You’re always initiating conversations and communication.

You seem to be the one initiating text messages by saying "good morning" or asking how your partner’s day is while your partner does not do the same in return.


You tend to be the one to bring up important and pertinent issues in the relationship but your partner always maintains the depth of his side at surface level.

3. You don’t feel comfortable telling your partner things.

You start to feel uncomfortable telling your partner anything. Your partner may or may not even be listening to you and you may not feel validated or supported.

4. You feel as if your partner couldn't care less about what is going on in your life.

Your partner never asks you about things going on in your life whether it be family, work, or school. It is as if your life is non-existent.

5. You’re always there for your partner. Always.

If your partner comes to you with a problem or issue or needs an opinion, you are always there when you are able to be which is more often than not.


But where are they when you need them?

6. Your partner only responds to your text messages or phone calls sporadically.

It’s always on their time and when they feel like responding. It’s never important enough for your partner to respond right away or within a decent time frame even when you know they are always on their phone when you are together.

7. You feel like an obligation — not a priority.

You feel like you are a bother to your partner rather than someone your partner wants to hang out with, whether it’s a night on the town or a night in, watching your favorite shows.

You feel like your partner doesn't want to spend time with you and instead, you feel like you are on a schedule or time frame with your partner.


8. Your love and romantic gestures are rarely, if ever, reciprocated.

There is a lack of reciprocity between you and your partner. You do all of these small, little gestures to let your partner know you appreciate and care for them while rarely receiving so much as a thank you.

signs of a one-sided relationship in white font on blue and purple background

RELATED: 13 Signs He Still Has Feelings For His Ex

9. You lack a social life as a couple.

You rarely go out together. You guys don’t hang out with friends together as dating or a couple. No one sees you out together.


10. You may feel more used than loved.

You may feel like you are only passing time for your partner until something better comes along. You may feel you are being used for sexual reasons. You feel less love and more like you're a convenience to your partner.

11. Your partner is always canceling or rescheduling.

Rescheduling or canceling plans to go hang out with friends or maybe because your partner straight up doesn't feel like doing anything that day or evening.

12. The relationship is more draining than it is energizing.

Relationships take time and effort but that doesn't mean it is supposed to be draining. You feel you are expending more time and energy into the relationship than your partner.

13. You start becoming resentful.

When you do not feel loved, supported, or cared for, and you start to build resentment toward your partner. It builds and builds until you are unable to hold it in any longer and you may possibly snap — and with good reason.


14. Your relationship is mainly about what your partner wants.

It’s always about where your partner wants to eat or what your partner wants to listen to in the car ride without any consideration for you and what you may want to eat or listen to.

It’s always what your partner is going through and experiencing rather than what you have been going through or how you feel.

RELATED: Why You Only Like Guys Who Don't Like You Back

What to do if you're in a one-sided relationship

If you come to find out that you’re in a one-sided relationship and it isn't your fault, don't blame yourself.

Apparently, your partner forgot to give you the memo regarding their emotional withdrawal from the relationship.


The truth is, one-sided relationships usually don't work out because there’s only one person in making it work,[fn]Stanley, S.M., Rhoades, G.K., Scott, S.B., Kelmer, G., Markman, H.J., & Fincham, F.D. (2016). Asymmetrically committed relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34(8), 1241–1259. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407516672013[/fn] and they are likely stuck in their ways and see no problem with the way they act. The other partner has not been emotionally involved in the relationship for some time (or ever) while the other is putting forth time and energy into a purposeless relationship.

It’s not fair and, at the end of the day, one person is going to be hurt and in pain while the other moves on without remorse or feeling hurt.

It's unfortunate that so many people in the world lack emotional maturity and awareness that they would rather lead someone on to believe one thing when they feel something totally different. This is one of those times where it really isn’t you, it’s your partner.

But it's not the end of the world, and whether you decide to move on or try to work things out with your partner.


Whatever your choice is, you will make it through, and become a better version of yourself for it.

If you decide to try to make it work, hold your partner accountable and be mindful of any slip-ups that indicate they're falling back into old bad habits. You may consider seeking professional therapy.

Make a promise to yourself — and to them — that you won't ignore your intuition if you begin to feel an imbalance of the push-and-pull dynamic in your relationship again, and it seems like they're regressing into making you do more work. Have a zero-tolerance policy.

If they can't commit to changing, then they need to re-evaluate their priorities, and this isn't something you can help them do. They must do the hard work of working through their own issues, and even if they do, it would be wise not to let them back into your life.


RELATED: Parasocial Interactions: The Weird Reason You Feel Oddly Attached To Influencers

What to do if you're responsible for a one-sided relationship

Now, if you were the one who was in the wrong, you have a lot of work to do.

Learning how to take accountability for your actions may seem daunting and like an act of weakness, but it is actually the key to setting yourself free in the long run and protecting your relationships with your partner, friends, and family.


While it may not be easy at first, holding yourself responsible for your own actions will lead to self-growth, self-awareness, and positive changes in how you treat others, including the ability to have deeper emotional connections with them.

In order to really create secure bonds, particularly with your partner, you need to prove that you will back up what you say with your actions. Your promises don't mean anything if you can't really show up for your partner, and your inability to be reliable and stick by them will cost you their trust and intimacy.

Commit to being there for them, and go above and beyond with gestures that show your thoughtfulness, consideration, and care for them. Volunteer to take something off their plate; listen intently to them if they come home after a bad day and want to talk about it, then ask if there's anything you can do that would help; make sure you've taken care of that leaky pipe they've been asking you to fix for the last six weeks; stand by their side during difficult emotional and stressful times.

Remember to give as much as you wish to receive.


No one deserves to be in a one-sided relationship and feel deceived after finding out what the relationship actually is. Just be aware of the signs listed above and try not to be in denial or be defensive about it.

On the other side of the fence, it's totally understandable that It’s hard to face the truth and reality of a situation that involves someone you deeply care about. In some cases, you may even need to make the difficult decision of cutting them out of your life when you realize you will be better off without that person if all you are to them is temporary.

If you want to commit to making it work, make sure they don't slide into old habits, or you will be forced to leave them behind.

RELATED: 8 Beautiful Things You Only Learn After Loving Someone Who Doesn't Love You Back


Brittney Lindstrom is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor.