What Is A One-Sided Friendship And How To Avoid It
By Ashley Brown
Updated February 11, 2020
Reviewer Robin Brock
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 most 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 to giving, there's just one party who is making most of the effort. 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 must do it. The friend may talk to you when you 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 hang out, or to strike up a conversation, 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 are 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. On the other hand, 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 equal. 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
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 go 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. 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 it 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
You may be a person who just wants friends and has decided to associate yourself with people who just don't care about you. Wanting to make friends is something normal, but you should always pay attention to how they treat you. You don't want to set yourself up to get hurt. You deserve friends who treat you right.
The Friend May Be Using You
If you have something a 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 is if they stop talking 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.
If you have experienced a friend that stops talking to you after their financial situation gets better or after they make big changes in their life, it is okay for you to feel hurt. It is never easy to spend time with someone who ends up hurting your feelings or ignoring you completely. In fact, not having normal friendships may cause you to feel unsatisfied in your life.
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 with whom you are friends with and are on good terms, but the intimate bond isn't shared between both parties. Nowadays, many don't realize there's a difference, especially our social media based society. 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. Moreover, they may not want to drive to your place because they don't like new places. When making friendships with introverted people, it's good to discuss social boundaries so the two of you can understand each other more and know your limits.
You Have Less in Common than Before
Sometimes, a person may feel like you don't have as much in common anymore. They may ignore you because they think they do not have anything to talk to you about. They may also make only the minimal effort to hang out. Perhaps they used to have more in common with you, but you or they have moved on, and neither of you can cut the string just yet.
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.
If you feel like your friendship is slipping away, you first have to determine if this relationship is important to you. If you no longer have the same interests, it might be okay to let go, especially if the friendship is one-sided. If it isn't, it may be possible to still be friends, even if you don't see each other often or talk infrequently. If possible, have a conversation with your friend and gauge how they feel about you. If you two are still very close but simply can't get together as often as you want to, you can choose to stay in touch through email, texts, or even the occasional phone call and still have a meaningful friendship.
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
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. If this is the case, you may want to air out any issues that you have with each other. Perhaps there was a past hurt or a misunderstanding of some sort that caused ill feelings. Be careful not to accuse your friend or blame them for anything. You may be able to talk through any problems, so you can continue your friendship.
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 wants to lose a friend, but it happens sometimes. If you have tried everything and are unable to make up or repair your friendship, you may consider distancing yourself from your friend. If they don't notice that they haven't seen you around, it will be a clue that your relationship was one-sided. On the other hand, if they reach out to you, this may suggest that they were unknowingly treating you in an unfair way.
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, you'll be better off mentally.
Seeking Out Help
Many people can benefit from seeking out counseling when it comes to dealing with one-sided friendships. It can be hard to let go of someone that you really care about, but sometimes, it is just the right thing to do. On the other hand, a counselor can help you figure out how to get your friendship back on track and how to stay away from one-sided relationships in the future. They can also show you how to cope with your feelings and how people treat you, so that it doesn't cause you heartache or anxiety.
Regain offers online therapy so you can get help exactly where you are. Unlike traditional face-to-face counseling, you can access ReGain from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Below are some reviews of ReGain counselors, from people that have been in similar situations.
"I have a tendency to feel too much obligation or responsibility for others, and offer too much of myself. He picked up on this and makes me aware so I can set healthy boundaries. I have been to counselors in the past and I think there is something to learn from everyone, but I find my engagement here is held a little more accountable, which is what I need, because otherwise I tend to fall back on the excuse of being very busy. All in all, we have a long way to go, but my experience so far has been wonderful. I look forward to us both realizing a transformation of myself that we have undertaken together."
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Nonbiased professionals at ReGain can help you notice if you are in any type of one-sided friendship and help you learn tools to fix the problem. Whether that means repairing your friendship or learning to let go and move on, you can be sure that you are staying healthy and happy. No matter what you're experiencing, with the right tools, you can move forward to truly fulfilling relationships. Take the first step.