What Is A One-Sided Friendship And How To Avoid It

Updated September 04, 2018

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As the old cliché goes, a friendship is a two-way street. In the perfect friendship, the two of you are working hard to give each other the equal amount of attention possible. However, there are times when it feels like only one person is making an effort to keep the friendship thriving. This is known as a one-sided friendship. Most of us have had some form of one-sided friendship in the past, but may not realize all the signs, or how to handle it. In this post, we'll look at why one-sided friendships happen, the signs, and what you can do about it.

What Is A One-Sided Friendship?

A one-sided friendship is simply a friendship where one side is making most, if not all, of the effort to be friends. From planning to communicating, there's just one party who is making most of the communication. Not all friendships are going to have an equal amount of communication, but if the communication is extremely slanted towards one person, then it may be a one-sided friendship.

Here are some signs of a one-sided friendship:

You Always Text First

When it comes to initiating communication, you are the one who always has to do it. The friend may talk to you when you do contact them, but have you ever noticed that they never initiate the conversation?

Of course, this alone isn't a sign of a one-sided friendship. Sometimes, the other friend may have anxiety over being the one who initiates the conversation, or you've always been the one to make the first text, and they've come to expect it. This is just one sign out of many, and it's entirely circumstantial.

When They Do Contact You, It's Because They Need Something

You're usually the one who makes contact, but on occasion, you get a text or a call from them. Instead of asking you to hand out, or to strike a conversation, however, it's because they need something. They may need a ride, some money, or another favor. Don't get us wrong; friends should help out each other. But it's a two-sided street. If they always want help but never trying to help you when you need it, then you may be in a one-sided friendship.

It's Always About Them

When you do talk, the friend always makes the conversation about them. They are always talking about themselves and never ask how you are doing. Or, if they do, they turn it around and make it about themselves. They may never give you a chance to speak.

Now, not all conversations are going to be equally sided. One friend may be a little more antisocial than the other. However, if both parties tend to be equal when it comes to social ability, yet only one side can do all the talking, it may be one-sided.

They Prefer The Company of Others

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The two of you more than likely have friends of your own, and the truth is, there may be friends that they prefer hanging with. However, if they are always busy with other friends, then this means you may be on the bottom of the list.

You Have To Come To Them

Another classic sign of a one-sided friendship is if you have to come to their house or meet in their area, and they never offer to come to your area. There are times when one party may have the only means of travel. For example, your friend may not have a reliable means of transportation or have little money.

However, if your friend can travel the distance but doesn't bother, it could be a sign of a one-sided friendship. With that said, maybe it's because you have always been the one to travel. Try talking to them and see if they want to visit you. If they show interest, then the friendship may not be one-sided. However, if they keep making excuses, and you know they have the means of travel, then you may be in a one-sided friendship.

Why One-Sided Friendships Happen

There are many reasons why one-sided friendships happen. Sometimes, the friend is doing for a toxic reason, but there may be other times where there's more to it than that. Here are some reasons why the friendship may be one-sided.

You Want Friends

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You may be a person who just wants friends, and has decided to associate yourself with people who just don't care about you. When you're hungry, you'll eat any food, even if it's not good for you. The same happens if you're socially hungry. You'll talk to anyone, even if the intimacy is not there.

The Friend May Be Using You

If you have something the friend wants, be it money, transportation, or another good, then the friend may just be keeping you around because they want it. They may not care for you that much, but care for what you have.

One piece of evidence that can prove this one is if they still talk to you when they get what you have. Let's say your friend is always using you for a ride. Then, one day, your friend gets their car, and all communication ceases. Yep, that friend was just using you.

They May View You More As An Acquaintance

It's hard to tell who sees you as a friend and who sees you as an acquaintance. An acquaintance is someone who you are friends with and are on good terms with, but the intimate bond isn't shared between both parties. Nowadays, many don't realize there's a difference, especially in the social media land. You may think of them as a friend, but they think of you as a person who is nice, and fun to hang out with, but they aren't connected with you enough to have the friendship be two-sided.

They're Introverted Or Socially Awkward

Sometimes, the friend may like you just fine, but they may not be that social. They don't want to be the one who initiates conversation because they feel like they're bothering you. They may not want to drive to your place because they don't like new places. When making friendships, it's good to discuss social boundaries so the two of you can understand each other more and know your limits.

They Just Don't Like You

Sometimes, the person doesn't like you, but they don't want to tell you this because they don't like confrontation. They think you'll get the hint if they ignore you or make the minimal effort to hang out. Perhaps they used to like you, but you or they have moved on, and neither of you can cut the string just yet.

Circumstances Change

Sometimes, the two of you are great friends, but there are life circumstances that make friends more one-sided. The friend may have a life change that makes them less inclined to talk, be it a new job, college, a relationship, or any other change. A long friendship will have differing levels of sidedness. Just make sure you know this beforehand. With time, the balance may come back.

How To Handle A One-Sided Friendship

If you realize your friendship is one-sided, you don't necessarily need to cut all ties with them right away. Here are some ways to handle it.

Talk To Them About It

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Communication, communication, communication! Sometimes, your friend may not even mean to be so one-sided, and by talking to them about it, they may change. When talking to them about it, don't accuse or be hostile, but instead inquire. If your friend cares, they will realize what they're doing and make an effort to balance things. If they get hostile, then you may have a bad friendship on your hands.

Ask To Make It More Two-Sided

As mentioned before, if you're the one traveling, offer them to come up to see you. If you're always talking to them, remind them to text you sometime. If the friend doesn't mean to be so one-sided, and they have the means to travel, then they will listen. If they get aggressive, then it wasn't meant to be.

If All Else Fails, End Things

No one likes letting go of a friendship, but the good part of a one-sided friendship is that it's easy. You can distance yourself from your so-called friend, and they won't notice. On the other hand, if you tell them that you don't want to be friends anymore, they may not react by being upset, but by shrugging it off. If they do have an emotional reaction, it's anger because they are using you, and what you have will no longer be available to them.

Friendships can be hard to manage, and sometimes, you may need to talk to a counselor to solve all issues you have with your friends. However, by knowing who is a true friend and who is just an acquaintance, or someone to avoid, you'll be better off mentally.


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