Being in a one-sided friendship hurts. A friendship is a two-way street; it needs reciprocation to be a long-lasting and healthy relationship. As you grow older, it’s common for your priorities to change and for your responsibilities to grow. It goes the same way with your friends, that’s why it’s important to start with the question: “Is my friendship with _ one-sided?”
Having a clear answer to that question will help you determine what to do moving forward. Here are the common signs that you’re in a one-sided friendship:
- You’re always the one to hit up first; if not, no conversation will ever happen.
- You’re supportive of your friend, but they aren’t the same way towards you.
- You always do things for them, but they aren’t willing to do things for you.
- You invite them over to celebrate your special day, but either they always decline you or they don’t invite you to theirs.
- When you’re down and in need of help, they don’t show empathy towards you.
- When you’re hanging out with them, especially with other people, they ignore you most of the time.
- You often apologize to them.
- You’re the only one making sacrifices.
- You’re the one who decides what to do most of the time.
If you noticed a sign or two, maybe your friend/s is going through a rough time. Cut them some slack. But if you’ve noticed multiple signs, then you’re most likely to be in a one-sided friendship.
What causes a one-sided friendship?
- Differences in Temperament – Everyone is unique in their own way. The way you respond to situations may be different from the way your friend does. Being unable to recognize the differences in each other’s temperaments can cause an imbalance in friendships, which can lead to where you’re at now.
- Differences in expectations – You have your own needs and wants, and so does your friend. Not communicating each other’s expectations can put both of you in awkward and uncomfortable situations. Honest communication is key to a reciprocal relationship, which is your friendship.
- Differences in Attachment style – Everyone has a different childhood experience. Whatever the experience may be, it can leave long-lasting effects on a person, sometimes even for a lifetime. Maybe one of you is an anxious individual that could explain why they’re clingy and insecure. Understanding is a way to make your friendship a safe space for both of you.
- Passive-aggressiveness – Silent treatment is an extremely ineffective way to resolve issues in your friendship. It leaves the other guessing and guilty of probably something that they haven’t done. It doesn’t encourage healing and becoming better at communication. What you can do instead is to give them space and when things have calmed down, talk it out.
- Personal Problems – A person’s mental health can affect different aspects of their life. For example, extremely stressful situations can lead people to shut out their friends and loved ones for a period of time. If you’re aware of what your friend is going through, you may have to take a step back and be patient with them.
Before deciding on what to do with your one-sided friendship, here are some tips to consider:
Make time for Self-Reflection
Self-reflection allows you to become a better version of yourself. It’s also a form of self-care. Check on your life values again. See what’s more important to you. The things that mattered to you in the past, may not matter to you now in the present. It will help you realize your needs and wants; ultimately, your boundaries.
It can also be hard to see the possibility that you’re the one causing the one-sided friendship that you feel that you’re in. Here are some signs you can think about:
- You always talk about yourself – You will need to stop making yourself the center of your friendship when both of you should be. Let your friend talk and express their thoughts on whatever topic is being tackled about.
- You try to control your friend – You’re more concerned with reducing your anxieties than supporting your friend’s decision. It’s a very uncomfortable situation for them. Remember, it’s not about you.
- You often leave them guessing – You share a word or two with your friend. You don’t like telling them what’s going on with you. You don’t give them a chance to take care of you. Not only are you trying to make them read your mind, you’re also making them walk on eggshells.
- You don’t follow up on your friend – You try to avoid your friend when they’re in need of your help and support. You’re only there when things are fun and happy. But friendships do have downs. By being there for your friend will only make your friendship stronger.
Having self-awareness is the key to reducing the chances of getting in a one-sided relationship because you can put yourself in high regard, and will not settle for less otherwise. It will also help you see if you’re being taken advantage of.
Try to figure out when it began
Some one-sided friendships began much later on. Some much earlier, or right from the very start. It’s important to figure it out to see if your friendship with them can still be saved or not. You can start with these questions:
- Has it always been this way?
- Do we have common interests at the present?
- When did our communication start to falter?
- Have we fought recently?
- Are they having a rough time?
Of course, you can add more to those questions. It will help you see the situation you’re in currently, especially where your friendship stands. It’s also important to be able to pinpoint how and why your friendship began.
Reach out to your friend
Work can take up so much time and energy from a person’s life. At the end of it, there’s also a family to take care of. Working hours can differ. Do you both have families? It’s always better to give them the benefit of the doubt because no one can ever know what’s going on until you talk it out with your friend.
Reach out to them on social media, ideally where they’re most active. Or send them an sms, if you know that they prefer it. Although doing the social media way allows you to see if they’re genuinely occupied or you’re being deliberately ignored.
If they respond back to you, then good. When talking about such a personal matter, it’s always better to do it face-to-face or on video call. So do ask when’s a good time for them to do that. However, if they don’t respond then try dropping a friendly hint on their social media post, something along the lines of: “I can’t wait to do __ with you. When can we hang out again?”
Learn to say No
If you think the situation isn’t resolved yet, you’ll have to learn to say no to your friend. If you notice that they’re only around when they need something from you, say no. If you notice that they’re asking you to do something you’re not comfortable with, say no. It’s important to protect yourself around a friend who you feel is taking advantage of you.
Learning how to say no is an opportunity for you to listen to your gut (instincts) and sharpen it. If you keep ignoring what your gut says, you will most likely be more abused. You will often end up getting hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you feel uncomfortable around your friend, that speaks volumes about your friendship. Your gut is telling you something’s wrong, and there’s a high chance that something is really wrong.
Spend time with them
In such a busy world, sometimes a friendship can seem dead. But it’s most likely not, unless something terrible has happened that caused your friendship with them to be over. If you do get invited or get the chance to hang out with your friend again, take it. Just make sure it’s also scheduled in a place and time that’s convenient for you.
Spending time with your friend online or in-person allows both of you to take time to talk about your friendship. When talking about such a personal matter, it’s always better to do it in private. You have to be direct and honest with them. Let them know how you feel and what you expect from them. Listen to them when it’s their time to talk as well. Here are some tips you can try:
- Instead of criticizing them, learn how to give feedback.
- Instead of talking over them, wait for them to finish.
- Observe their body language.
- Don’t force them to apologize.
Make sure at the end of the day, you’re both able to find a middle ground or have mutually decided to end your friendship amicably. It’s good to feel hopeful about your friendship as much as it is good to have closure.
Don’t force your friend
Forcing anything doesn’t usually end well. There’s always a catch otherwise. If you’ve reached out to your friend and you’ve realized that they’re deliberately ignoring you, you’ll have to let them go. If they avoid you in person or pretend they didn’t see you, walk away. Sure, you may miss some aspects of your friendship but it’s also possible to find those with some other people.
Forcing your friend to talk with you, to make matters better will only backfire. Both of you may have talked it out, but your friend may not be able to follow through with their words. If they didn’t make any effort to apologize, and you notice that they’re just making excuses, then it’s a huge sign that your one-sided friendship has come to an end. If they do follow through and apologize when they can’t, give them a chance.
Meet other people
Whether you decide to give your one-sided friendship another chance or not, growing your social circle will benefit you most. Meeting new people and building new friendships are good for your well-being. There are almost 8 billion people around the world, and surely many share your interests!
With more than half of the world online, you can easily meet potential friends in online communities and social media platforms. All you have to do is find them by searching your interests, such as: “Gardening Community”. What’s more is that you can meet people from those communities in your area, and hang out with them in person!
Build yourself up
Being in a one-sided friendship lowers your self-esteem and self-confidence. It leaves you exhausted and confused because you’re getting used to pleasing your friend and you end up losing yourself. It’s never too late to build yourself up again. A way to get started is self-evaluation, which is by seeing what you can do better without losing self-respect.
Taking care of yourself and knowing what it is that you want in your relationships allows you to have healthier friendships with other people and with yourself. Having boundaries, doing self-care, and choosing to be the better version of you will attract like-minded people who will respect you and treat you well.
Being in a one-sided friendship can make you feel more lonely and stressed out. It’s always sad and regrettable each time that you have no choice but to let your friend go and end your friendship with them. But on the positive side, you will be able to move on, rebuild yourself, and meet other people who can help you color your life.
If you ever decide to end a one-sided friendship, it’s always good to remember to look out for the trauma responses that you have developed and heal from it as soon as you’re able to, because you may end up doing that in your new friendships. It might affect those negatively.
If you’re wanting to polish your communication skills and want to know more of the ways to build and keep friendships, there are articles on the website that can help you with that. These skills are something that you have to keep on sharpening because in such a huge world, you will always end up crossing paths with people from all walks of life. Here’s to friendships!