Are you the one constantly reaching out? Do you feel like the only one noticing and raising issues in the relationship while your partner seems okay with the status quo? Do you think you’re putting way more into the relationship than you’re getting out of it? Are you feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, or taken for granted by your partner? Are you the one making most of the concessions and compromises in the relationship? These are all classic signs of a one-sided relationship. If you’re in this position, there are strategies you can use to address it before your affection begins to sour.
- Figure out your role in the situation. Sit with your feelings, search your soul, and try to understand how you’ve contributed to the imbalance in your relationship. Why have you been shouldering too much responsibility without speaking up? What do you think you stand to gain by trying to accommodate your partner’s every need while overlooking your own? Maybe you think they won’t love you unless you’re constantly sacrificing and proving yourself? This self-interrogation can help shed more light on your situation and enable you to come up with solutions that serve you better.
- Ask yourself if there’s a bigger problem at play. Be honest about the issues you’re experiencing and the person you’re in the relationship with. Have they recently gone through a major change health or career-wise that has affected their ability to give 100% to the relationship? Are there areas where they’ve managed to be consistent? Is this one-sidededness a feature of all their relationships or just the one they have with you? Will they be willing to listen and change if you talk to them about it? Is the relationship worth saving? If the answer is yes, then you’re going to need your partner to actively participate in fixing it.
- Take inventory of the relationship and your deal-breakers. What do you think is lacking in the relationship? Which emotions are you struggling with: feeling unloved, used, unfulfilled, lost? Take time to assess your contributions to the relationship and be realistic about what you can maintain in a way that honors you, your emotions, resources, and time. What’s important to you and what are you willing to compromise on? Once you’re clear about these, you’ll know how to communicate your feelings and wants to your significant other better.
- Talk to your partner about your feelings. Your partner may not be able to discern the power imbalance in the relationship unless you open up and make your feelings known. Tell them the ways in which you contribute more to keep the relationship afloat. Ask them if they can identify making similar investments. Be honest about what you need and how they can make that happen for you. They may react defensively at first. But if they really care about your wellbeing and feelings, they’ll pay attention and take steps to restore a more equitable balance to the relationship.
- Set clear boundaries and honor them. Every healthy, balanced relationship is built on boundaries, so don’t be afraid to establish and uphold rules that are important to you. Be clear about what you can and will not tolerate. Let your partner know the basic expectations that they need to meet to help you feel supported and respected. Make sure you stand up for yourself and honor the boundaries you set. Otherwise, you’ll end up sending a message that your needs don’t matter as much as your partner’s. Or that your needs can be ignored or violated without consequences.
- Stick to one issue at a time. It might be tempting to bring up all the issues at once, but that might overwhelm your partner or make them feel attacked. Which may then derail the discussion or give rise to a lot of unpleasantness. Stick to the problems at hand. Don’t bring up irrelevant issues or let your partner do so. Raising too many points can confuse your partner. Start with the most prominent issues and give them a chance to fix things. When they change that behavior, you can highlight another problem you want to address.
- Offer positive suggestions instead of negative accusations. Instead of blaming or judging your partner for not contributing their fair share to the welfare of the relationship, focus on your needs. Emphasize what you’re looking for and what you’d like them to do more of. For example, saying “you always choose your friends over me” will probably trigger your partner’s defense mode. But saying, “It’d really make me happy if you invited me to hang out with you and your friends more” might get a more empathetic reaction, and motivate them to correct their behavior.
- Spend some time taking care of yourself. One way to break the one-sided relationship cycle is by focusing inward and nurturing yourself. (Re)discover things you enjoy doing and what you want out of life. Concentrate on your own growth and needs instead of catering to your partner’s every whim. When you focus on caring for yourself, it’ll help your partner realize that you don’t exist solely for them. They’ll be forced to see that they can’t keep treating you as an afterthought or they’ll risk losing you.
- Don’t rely on your partner for all your needs. Your significant other can’t—and shouldn’t be—everything to you. You can’t depend on them to provide all the happiness, fulfillment, validation, and attention you need. You have to draw from other sources as well. When you accept that love is no excuse to demand the whole world from one person, you won’t feel compelled to be everything for them or give them all your time, energy, and emotions. This can help balance the nature of your relationship.