Maybe not all your friendships are as good as they seem to be…
Friendships are essential for your mental health and well-being, but building and maintaining one over time is not easy. While good friends are good for your health, bad friends can feel exactly like toxic relationships.
Friendships are important at any age, but as you get older, you begin to have fewer friends as you probably prefer quality over quantity. But sometimes it’s hard to determine whether someone is loyal or your friendship is one-sided. However, there are a few signs that indicate your friendship might not be so healthy for your mental state.
Read on to discover the 15 signs you’re in a one-sided friendship, according to experts!
The signs of a one-sided friendship
According to Kaitlin Kindman, LCSW, practice director and co-founder of Kindman & Co. in Los Angeles, “If a friendship is off-balance, one person takes up too much space and the other person takes up too little.”
“The person taking too little space rarely, if ever, gets what they’re needing from the friendship, and one or both parties aren’t able to truly be themselves,” she added.
It’s normal for a friendship to have its good and bad parts or periods where one is more involved than the other due to personal reasons, but some friendships are more dysfunctional than others. If one or more of the following signs can be found in your friendship, you might be dealing with a not-so-loyal friend!
They constantly put you down.
True friendship is about having each other’s back no matter what. If you feel like your friend is not there for you when you need them the most, you might be the only one putting an effort into your partnership.
As Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in New York City has explained, if your friend is constantly trying to put you down it might be a good indicator that the friendship is one-sided. Romanoff recommends having an open conversation with them about how their actions affect you and impact your friendship.
“Individuals who engage in one-sided friendships tend to relate to others as objects, instead of multidimensional human beings,” Romanoff says. The most important thing you can do in this situation is to tell them how you really feel about their behavior and observe whether they change it or not.
You’re their friend/partner/parent/therapist/punching bag all in one.
According to experts, this type of behavior is known as one-sided emotional labor. According to t Sarah Epstein, a psychotherapist in Philadelphia, you’re forced to play the role of a friend, parent, partner, and even therapist for them. You’re always the one offering emotional support.
And it’s nothing wrong with being there for your friend because that’s what a real friend does, but your efforts should be mirrored. However, when this dynamic becomes a habit, it might be a good indicator that your friendship is one-sided.
Read more about psychology here!
They always call the shots in your friendship.
According to Kindman, this type of friend will always be the one to decide what movie to see, what activity to do, or which restaurant to go to for dinner. Additionally, if they don’t get their way, you’ll be the one to endure their anger.
This is an example of a one-sided friendship because even if you wanted things to work out and really put an effort into it, the other person doesn’t seem to want to reach a compromise. But you need to acknowledge that a friend like that is toxic and even though you might find it hard to say ‘no’ to these types of people, you’ll eventually get tired of their behavior.
Your friendship is affecting your self-confidence.
A friend that makes you feel worse about yourself shouldn’t be called a friend in the first place. They’re either making you feel bad about your looks, criticizing the people you date, or even posting photos from the events they attend, and you obviously weren’t invited.
According to Brown, this type of friendship is very toxic and it can easily affect your self-confidence and impact your well-being. But let me tell you one thing, no friendship worth having will ever make you feel like you’re not enough. Friends support each other and everything less than that should not be accepted!
Everything is about them.
According to Carla Marie Manly, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear, this type of ‘friend’ will only call you to tell about their problems or share their thoughts, with absolutely no interest in finding out about yours.
Usually, this type of behavior makes the other friend feel hurt, irritated, and even frustrated, which can ultimately lead to resentment. You should try to have an open conversation with them where you can share your feelings and be honest, and if they don’t seem to care, then they don’t deserve to be called ‘friends’.
A true friend is someone who listens even when you’ve been talking for hours about the same topic, someone who’s there for you when you need them, not only when they need you. Don’t settle for less.
You know every little detail about their life.
And it’s not that you’re not interested in those details, but rather that you’re the only one that actually remembers the small details, when they might not even know what city you were born in, or when is your birthday.
According to Manly, these types of friends will only care about their old needs, when you’re there for them for both the unimportant and the big events as well, including birthdays, and promotions and let’s not forget about the bad times when they need a shoulder to cry on.
You can only reach them when it’s convenient for THEM!If you’re the only one reaching out to them, you might want to ask yourself some questions about your so-called FRIENDSHIP. As you probably know already, a healthy friendship is about mutual effort, so being the one that always reaches out can be exhausting. Also, it gives you an idea that the friendship isn’t going both ways.
If they never answer your calls or texts, and you’re the only one who reaches out, you need to have an open conversation with them and ask yourself if it’s worth being in a friendship where you’re the only one making an effort.
According to Romanoff, in order to make them understand how you feel, you should use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘you’, to show them that you’re the one affected by their behavior, and also because it’s not ok to point fingers and become defensive.
Tell them how hurtful it is to be the only one who reaches out, only to see them not answering your text for a week, until it’s convenient for them or wants something from you. While they might go through a hard time in their personal life, that’s not a good excuse for not answering the phone and letting you know.
A simple ‘Hey, I’m going through something and I don’t feel like talking right now, can we talk in a few days?’ would change the whole situation and let the other person know you need some time to process things. Also, you’ll be a better friend.
And when they finally respond, they send one-word texts.
You couldn’t reach them for a week and now you get an ‘OK’ text back? Or maybe they send two words this time, such as ‘that’s fine’ or ‘I’m good’, but that’s basically monosyllabic in essence. If you find yourself writing long paragraphs and get a one-word text in response, it might be a good sign that your friendship is one-sided.
As Darcie Brown, LMFT, a therapist in San Diego, California has explained, “In one-sided relationships, replies are short, sometimes incomplete, and never go beyond what you texted them about.”
According to Brown, talking to a friend shouldn’t leave you frustrated or angry, and if you experience those feelings after having a conversation with your bestie, you need to ask yourself whether that friendship is worth your time and effort. After all, your friends are supposed to lift you up, not tear you down and drain you.
They never really listen to you.
As previously mentioned, they talk about their own life all the time, but when it’s their turn to listen, they get bored. According to Tamekis Williams, LCSW, therapist and owner of Real Life Solutions in Georgia, this type of friend will never be there for you, and they’re not even paying attention when you speak, no matter what you have to say, whether it’s good or bad news.
Most of the time, these are the same friends that never call or text, and when you do, they don’t answer. A friendship is about sharing, but if the other person is not interested in listening to you, then what’s the point of calling them a friend?
You want to share your concerns with them, but they simply don’t care!
A real friend is there for you in both the good and the bad times. They will cry with you when your heart got broken, but also celebrate with you when you finally got that work promotion. However, it’s hard to open up and be vulnerable when the other person is not interested in your problems.
You might have to face a defensive attitude every time you feel like sharing something with them, but you need to acknowledge that they’re not your friend and never will be if they’re acting like that. According to Williams, if they’re not able to be a good friend and put in some effort, they need to take a step back from the friendship.
Learn to prioritize your time and choose very wisely the people you get to spend it with. Value yourself and choose people who love you. After all, not everyone deserves to be called a friend.
They always come to you when they’re in trouble.
No matter what problems they might have, whether personal or work-related, they always come to you to seek advice or help, even though they never do the same for you in return. According to Jeanie Y. Chang, LMFT, therapist, and founder of Your Change Provider in North Carolina, they always come to you when they need your help, but they can’t be reached when you need them. This is what I call a one-sided friendship.
They always cancel!
Maybe you’ve made plans to go out Friday night and they cancel at the last minute. But if they make a habit out of canceling on you all the time, you should see it as a sign that they’re not a very loyal friend and your friendship might be one-sided.
According to Sherry Skyler Kelly, PhD, a clinical psychologist and founder of PositiviTeens and Mind and Heart Coaching, this type of behavior is a red flag and you shouldn’t accept it. Kelly recommends looking for patterns.
For instance, if they have a legitimate reason to cancel, that’s ok, it happens to everybody. But if they made a habit out of canceling on you every time you make plans, or constantly asking for a reschedule, it might be the time to find new friends.
They never heard of empathy.
Did you lose your job? So what? Did your boyfriend just break up with you? There are bigger problems in this world. According to Sam Nabil, founder of Naya Clinics in Boston, if your friend doesn’t show empathy when you’re struggling and doesn’t have your best interest at heart, that relationship is toxic and you should try to get out.
“They may toss a ‘so sorry to hear that’ your way, while secretly relishing in the fact that you are struggling.”
Every conversation with them puts you in a bad mood.
Do you find yourself feeling low every time you have a conversation with them? A real friend shouldn’t make you feel like that. According to Nabil, it’s common for one-sided friendships to always take, and never give back in return.
If you’re always in a bad mood after talking to them, try to distance yourself from them for a period of time, just to see if you’re better without their presence in your life. If their absence makes you feel calmer and happier then you should reconsider the friendship.
The friendship just feels weird.
According to Orlandoni, it’s normal for a one-sided friendship to feel off, and weird. If you don’t know whether you enjoy their company or not, chances are the friendship is one-sided.
But what should you do now? Should you break up with your friend?
If you found that your friend does a lot (or all) of the things mentioned above, your friendship is definitely one-sided and toxic. It’s not easy to accept that the person you called ‘friend’ doesn’t have your best interest at heart, and you might find yourself in a situation where you just don’t know what to do. Should you break up with your friend? Or accept that this is who they are?
There’s definitely no right or wrong answer to these questions, but we can all agree that a friendship that drains you it’s not worth your time and effort. According to Colleen Woodward, LMSW, a psychotherapist at A Good Place Therapy & Consulting in New York City, as humans, we need human connection much more than we realize.
Therefore, when we open up to someone, share the bad and the good times, be there for them when they needed and considered them to be our friends, it’s very hard to accept the fact that they might not feel the same about us. It can get very painful when a relationship becomes one-sided.
However, in this situation communication is the key, adds Woodward. You need to remember that your friend can’t read minds, so now it might be the best time to tell them how you feel. Who knows, maybe they had no idea that you felt that way. Maybe they weren’t even aware that their behavior was not right.
Before calling it quits with your friend, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my friend going through something in their personal life or they’ve always been like this?
- Was my friend there for me when I needed them?
- Can I count on them in the most important situations?
- And lastly, how their presence makes me feel? But how about their absence?
After answering these questions, you have two options: you either talk to them and explain how you feel or be prepared to move on. Also, if you had a conversation with them but they didn’t seem to care about your feeling, you need to be ok with walking away. As Woodward has explained, you need to understand they might not be able to offer you the kind of friendship you want and deserve, and that’s ok!
And if you’re feeling isolated and lonely, you should definitely be checking out these brilliant ways to cope and combat such feelings!