Many friendships are a bit lopsided sometimes. However, if things remain out of balance for too long, you may want to fix the situation or go your separate ways.
One-sided friendships come in many varieties, but they have one thing in common. You supply most of the effort, while your friend is distant or does things that actually hurt you. In the end, you wind up lacking the support and companionship you deserve.
You can make room in your life for healthy relationships where you’ll feel cared for and appreciated.
Try these tips for recognizing and dealing with one-sided friendships.
Steps to Take Yourself:
- Set boundaries. Let others know how you wish to be treated and the consequences for overstepping your boundaries. Back up your words with consistent action to show that you’re serious.
- Take time off. If your friendship is already strained, it may help to distance yourself for a while. You’re likely to think more clearly after you take a break.
- Expand your network. While you’re sorting things out, you can take advantage of opportunities to hang out with other friends and make new contacts. Expecting too much from any single relationship can put too much pressure on both of you.
- Expect change. Friendships evolve. Maybe you started out feeling close, but you’ve been drifting in opposite directions. Evaluate your current lifestyle and values to see what makes sense for you now.
- Consider counseling. If one-sided friendships seem to be a pattern for you, it may help to talk with a therapist. Working with a professional could give you new insights and coping strategies.
Steps to Take with Your Friend:
- Clarify the situation. Distinguish between a friend who seems distracted and one who is abusive or deceptive. Talk with your friend to see if your perceptions are accurate. They may have a different perspective on your relationship.
- Advocate for yourself. Let your friend know what you need. Be specific without being judgmental. Tell them if it bothers you to be kept waiting when they’re late for coffee dates. Let others know when you’re going through difficult times and need more assistance than usual.
- Exchange information. You can reduce your risk of one-sided friendships by taking the time to build a solid foundation for your relationships. Engage in mutual and gradual disclosure, so you really get to know each other.
- Share support. Similarly, pay attention to whether you both rally around to prop each other up during challenging times and celebrate happy occasions. Your friend’s past track record can help you predict if they’ll be there for you when you need them.
- Follow through. If you want your friend to be reliable and considerate, show them the same courtesy. Keep your word if you promise to plan a party together or drive them to the airport.
- Stay in touch. It often happens that one friend reaches out more frequently. You’ll need to decide if this makes your friendship unfulfilling or if it’s just a minor difference that you can live with. See what happens if you let your friend know that you’d appreciate more initiative on their part.
- Be patient. If your friend is dealing with a divorce or other hardships of their own, they may be less available temporarily. Consider what’s going on in their life before making any major decisions.
- Move on. On the other hand, you both may benefit from time apart if you feel like you’re being taken for granted. Recognizing your incompatibility will probably be less stressful than allowing resentments to grow.
Say goodbye to one-sided friendships. Boost your health and happiness by developing mutually supportive relationships based on give and take.