20 Signs a Relationship Has Turned One-sided

A one-sided relationship has dramatic consequences on our emotional and even physical health. Once you’re there, it’s hard to feel emotionally safe. You are constantly working to make the relationship something it may never be.

This conflict creates stress, and stress hormones cause physical side effects, including anxiety, trouble sleeping, hypervigilance, irritability, and a general feeling of internal arousal. One-sided relationships have a huge impact and yet often last much longer than they should. Take a moment to determine if your relationship is one-sided, and if so, begin to overcome this pattern by trying the reflection exercise below.

Here are 20 signs that your relationship is one-sided:

1. You never feel secure in the relationship.

2. You overthink and guess your partner’s true motives.

3. You constantly feel like you’re missing out in some way.

4. You feel empty after your interactions.

5. You initiate the deepening of the relationship, in vain.

6. You don’t share your true feelings with your partner.

7. You do all the “work” and nurturing of the relationship.

8. You feel like you’ve already invested so much in the relationship that you have to make it work and you can’t leave.

9. You feel like your relationship is a house of cards.

10. You are afraid of upsetting your partner or causing conflict.

11. You feel like your self-esteem depends on how long this relationship lasts.

12. You don’t really feel known to your partner.

13. You make excuses for your partner.

14. You settle for small bursts of connection even though you crave more intimacy with your partner.

15. You worry about when you’ll see or talk to your partner again.

16. You are constantly distracted by the dynamics of your relationship and therefore cannot focus on or be present in other aspects of your life.

17. You enjoy times with your partner, but after the interaction you feel lonely and lonely.

18. You don’t grow as a person.

19. You’re not being authentic with your partner because you want to make sure they stay happy with you.

20. If you speak out, your partner knocks you down and you end up feeling that you are the root of all the problems in your relationship.

If you recognize more of these signs than you would like, start undoing the pattern by trying this thinking exercise. Ask yourself the following questions and be honest with yourself:

1. How long have you been repeating the pattern of one-sided relationships in your life?

2. Did you have a one-sided relationship with a parent/guardian as a child (in which it was always more about them than you)?

3. Can you imagine a relationship in which your needs were met and how good it made you, or imagine how you might feel if you were in a relationship?

4. What keeps you working so hard and not letting go or moving on to something more emotionally fulfilling?

5. If you are working to feel safe and complete, ask yourself if there is another way to meet these very normal needs.

6. If you were to end the relationship, how could you fill the void in a way that would be deeper and more rewarding for you?

7. Do one-sided relationships represent your lack of self-esteem? Do you associate with people who keep you stuck without feeling so positive about yourself?

8. Do you work in vain on something that absorbs your energy and your resources without much benefit for you?

9. What can you do to offer more and fill your reservoir more than this relationship?

10. Can you begin to recognize when you are working too hard in the relationship and instead stepping back and letting go?

Decoupling from one-sided relationships takes work, but it is possible. The first step is to recognize that you are part of it. The second is to start considering other ways to feel good about yourself and what you need, regardless of your relationships, to have a fulfilling life.

For more strategies on managing one-sided relationships, check out my book, Having sex, wanting intimacy: why women settle for one-sided relationships.

Facebook image: Motortion Films/Shutterstock


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