3 Reasons Your Relationship Feels So Out-Of-Balance

No matter what they say, you can feel it when you care more about your partner than they do for you.

Black couple smiling outdoors GaudiLab / shutterstock

No relationship is perfectly balanced, but when you’re in a relationship with significantly differing commitment levels, the person putting in more is always bound to suffer. The person who commits more, gives more and is willing to make more sacrifices for the other person or the relationship runs the risk of getting burned.

When you put in more and more emotional energy and emotional investment, it becomes more difficult to leave — even if you’re sad, frustrated and unhappy more than you are happy. Being in a state of ambiguity about relationship status and your partner’s commitment level can allow asymmetrical commitment to hiding out for months and years.


This asymmetrical commitment often leads to a relationship that is, overall, out-of-balance.

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Here are three common factors that lead an out-of-balance relationship

1. Being at different life stages

One example of this can mean being at different stages in your career or job. If one of you is already set and successful in your career while the other is still figuring out a career direction or struggles with financial stability, that can also translate into mismatched commitment levels. For the most part, men want to feel secure in their career or job and their ability to “provide” before fully committing to a relationship. 


Another example of this is having an age gap or life experience gap. The partner with less lived experiences may be less willing to commit fully. There may be the fear of missing out as well as a lack of other experiences in which to compare the relationship in order to feel secure making a decision about committing. 

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2. Power dynamics

The person who withholds (commitment, love, attention, affection, time, etc.) usually holds the most power in the relationship. This can become toxic when you begin to play games to try to match your partner by also withholding love, sex, attention, affection or even commitment to get back at your partner or try to manipulate them into committing or giving you more.

Withholding can be a fear of intimacy or a fear of conflict. It can be an attempt at creating personal control over love when love is inherently destabilizing. Being more direct in your communication and asking for what you need is a more effective strategy to re-balance a power dynamic than playing games by also withholding from your partner.


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3. Different attachment styles

Secure and anxiously attached partners feel more comfortable with intimacy in relationships and tend to gravitate to committed relationships more than those with avoidant attachment styles. Often, anxiously attached partners are magnetically drawn to the mystery and aloofness of avoidant partners who often skirt around commitment or dislike the idea of labeling a relationship. This can create anxiety in even the most secure partners. For this reason, secure individuals may let go of an avoidant partner faster than someone who is anxiously attached.

To an anxiously attached person, unbalanced commitment and being the one to give more, care more, or want more can feel “normal,” even if it’s really uncomfortable and causes a lot of distress. If you’re anxiously attached, you probably find it hard to let go of relationships even if the commitment level is unbalanced. You’d rather stick around and see if you can change it or somehow change your partner. The potential loss can feel really scary to deal with, even worse (in your mind) than the unbalanced commitment.

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What's not said here

You might notice that I left out “fear of commitment” from this list. This is because there are so many factors that can create a “fear of commitment,” including a few of the reasons I’ve mentioned above.

Sometimes it’s difficult to pin down the exact reason for a partner’s reluctance to commit. You can go around in circles, get caught in self-blame, make excuses and figure out the reasons, all the while, you’re forgetting about important aspects of your own life as you try to decipher what's going on for your partner. You may fear that if you bring up the topic it will push your partner further away. 

You might try to wait patiently, but inside you're hurting. It’s very painful if you’re the one who is more committed and you need and desire more commitment — be that a mutual decision about marriage, defining the relationship, or feeling a more balanced emotional investment in the relationship.

“Commitment” itself often translates more directly to a desire to feel more secure, safe, at ease and worthy of attention in the relationship. You deserve all of these cornerstones. In fact, we all need these foundational blocks in order to feel good in a relationship and to function well in the world outside of our relationship.


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Unbalanced relationship, unbalanced life

An unbalanced relationship can begin to consume your emotional life and thoughts. It can set off worry traps in your mind and body and can be damaging to your self-esteem and sense of self-worth. This kind of relationship is not your only choice or option, though it can feel like it is in the moment or as the days go by.

I can help you explore other options that you might not be able to see right now as well as help you identify some hidden factors that may be holding you back from finding a satisfying and more balanced relationship. You deserve a partner who is putting in as much as you and who isn’t ambiguous about you or your future.


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Stephanie Lazzara is an ICF-certified holistic life, health, and relationship coach. She helps her clients build healthier habits to manage stress and anxiety.