Ever felt this way with a friend – that you are the one calling, texting, making plans, and you have a feeling that if you stop doing all that, the friendship will die off?
Or you did stop and it did die off?
Well yeah, that’s a one-sided friendship.
An unbalanced amount of effort that is not really met by the other person is usually the sign that your friendship has settled into this pattern, this habit, of you doing all the work and the person just going about their lives and passively responding when they want to.
This builds resentment and frustration over time that can eat into the friendship and create alot of rage towards your friend – why is he/she not putting in the effort that they should?
Because they don’t feel the need to. Because perhaps, the friendship doesn’t feel as important to them as it is to you (yes, the truth hurts sometimes). Because they know you will be doing the work and they are alright with that arrangement – no incentive at all for them to try harder.
The frustrating thing about being in a friendship with someone like that is – you are doing all the work, but they are in the driver’s seat. Their reactions and response determines whether a meetup occurs, whether there is an interaction. So it can feel as if you are putting investing alot of energy and emotions, yet the end-outcomes do not necessarily equate to your investments.
Yes friendships shouldn’t be transactional with equal give and take. But it needs to have some semblance of parity in terms of the amount of effort each party puts into it. It is a two-way thing after all.
Struggling to attract and select the right friendships?
Sign #2 – you are always doing whatever your friend wants but it’s never the other way around
I wrote about suppressing your own needs to fit a role in your friendship earlier and this sign is similar.
If you are in a friendship right now where the entirety of what you do or talk about is centred around the other person – where they want to eat, what they would like to do, who they’d like to talk about that day etc, then you have a problem.
Your voice is not being heard in this friendship.
A friendship is a two-way street, where two people have mutual like and respect and want to spend a relatively equal amount of time doing things they both like and don’t mind.
A friendship is not a container for just one party to do whatever it is they want, at the expense of their friend.
If you are feeling like you are unable to be honest about what you want to do on hangouts and you find your opinions being drowned out at the table, it may be useful to also take a deeper look at your friendship’s dynamic. Are you playing a role? Perhaps of the quiet, well-behaved, good listener that people have to just expect you to “perform” that role and nothing more?
Does your friendship offer the emotional space for you to be able to have a voice and be yourself?
Are you constantly telling your friend that you are okay to go along with their wishes but you don’t really mean it?
If you have been asking that your friend do things that you like and have been attempting to make your voice heard – but your attempts have been futile, then it is time to relook your friendship.
It may not be a friendship that is serving your best interests or one that is aligned with your values.
Sign #3 – The emotional intimacy is unbalanced
How does emotional intimacy come about? When two people are able to offer their honest thoughts and feelings on different things in their life, and the other is able to take it all in, in a very non-critical and non-judgmental manner. When an honest, non-judgmental sharing space is created, it enables people to be themselves, and say what they want or feel knowing that they won’t experience much, if any, backlash.
It is a psychologically safe space.
Where this goes out of whack is when one or both parties feel like the friendship does not offer them an emotionally safe space to be themselves. So they self-filter and put on a facade or feel deeply unhappy with how their emotional needs are not met.
Some examples of how this could play out: You are confiding in your friend, but
- He/she is clearly not listening or is too absorbed in their own thoughts
- They are dominating the conversations with their own feelings
- They invalidate your emotions by telling you that what you experience is not real, being overly-objective and rational about what you are experiencing or telling you that it can’t be possible as they have never experienced it themselves.
Actions like that serve as emotional roadblocks, and hinder people from sharing more in the friendship.
If this is how you tend to feel in your friendships or if this is how your friend tends to treat you – where you feel like you are being emotionally shut down quite frequently, it could be time to relook your friendship or move on from it.
The Qn I ask always, are your one-sided friendships holding you back? What stories about friendships you have that need changing?
You aren’t obligated in any way to stay in friendships that dont align with your highest good and hold you back from expressing who you really are.
Friendships are supposed to be mutually fun, loving, supportive spaces. You deserve someone who can give you what you are looking for in a friendship, and not constantly feel like you are chasing after them!