How to Fix a One Sided Relationship


Are you tired of doing all the work in your relationship? These tips on how to fix a one sided relationship will help you create respect and equality in your life.

how to fix a one sided relationshipThis post was inspired by a reader’s comment. On When to Leave a Relationship Kyle says, “I have been in a relationship for six months. This is a short relationship, however, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I feel like our relationship is completely one sided. I feel like I am making all of the effort, and he makes very minimal effort. Everything is at his convenience. We see, talk, and text each other when he wants to. When we are together, he is on his phone. He constantly snaps at me for little things. I’ll text him and he’ll go hours without responding. We only do things he wants to do. I constantly feel like I am walking on eggshells around him. He is also a pathological liar! I went six years being single, and a one sided relationship is not what I signed up for. I love him, and I would love for this relationship to work. Can you help me fix this one sided relationship or should I just give up?”

Below are four steps for fixing a relationship that isn’t balanced or equal. First, though, what advice have you already received about how to fix your relationship? We often seek advice for situations that we already know how to handle…but we don’t want to face the truth. I welcome your big and little thoughts in the comments section below.





How to Fix a One Sided Relationship

I can’t give you the magic formula for finding balance in a one sided relationship – because there isn’t one! Every relationship is different. Every person is different. But, if you can discover the reasons and the root causes of your one sided relationship, then you will be one step closer to fixing it.

Equality and respect are values that need to be learned and applied by the person who isn’t carrying his weight in the relationship. Finding balance in a one sided relationship is hard work for both partners.

The most important question is: Is your boyfriend or husband ready to commit to a healthier relationship? Is he willing to see how your relationship is one sided and what he can do to help fix it? If he’s not, then there isn’t much you can do. You can’t fix a one sided relationship by yourself. He has to be willing to hear your perspective and work towards making healthy changes in his life.

1. Get your feelings sorted out

What emotions are you struggling with? How do you feel about being in a one sided relationship? Go beyond “mad” and “taken advantage of.”

Maybe you feel scared, sad, disappointed, frustrated, or insecure. Maybe you’re anxious about talking to your boyfriend about fixing your relationship because you already know how he’ll respond. Maybe you feel confused because you don’t know when to end a relationship.

The first step to is to get clear and specific about your feelings. The more in touch you are with how you feel, the better you can communicate your feelings. If you don’t know how you feel about being the girlfriend or wife who does all the work, then get quiet. Take time to get in touch with your feelings. Take time to listen to the still small voice, and follow its guidance on how to fix a one sided relationship.

The best way to get clear on how you feel and why you want to fix your relationship, you are ready to talk to your partner.

2. Tell your partner about how it feels to be in a one sided relationship

One of my friends was once very upset because she and her husband had a terrible weekend. He was withdrawn and uncommunicative because of issues at work, and she spend the weekend doing everything: childcare, grocery shopping, housework, etc.

She was afraid to tell him how angry, frustrated, and hurt she felt. But when she did talk to him about finding balance in their marriage even when he is stressed about work, he surprised her by apologizing. That was over a year ago, and they’ve never had the same problem.

Learning how to fix a one sided relationship is rarely that easy, but it does show the potential power of talking calmly and rationally to your boyfriend or husband. Of course, it helps if he is actually committed to your relationship! If your boyfriend or husband is a narcissist, then he won’t care how you feel about being in a one sided relationship.

If you know your partner wouldn’t respond the way my friend’s husband did, you might want to read How to Fix a Codependent Relationship. It’s possible that you and your partner have developed ways of interacting that aren’t healthy.




Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.



3. When you talk to your partner, stay focused on one problem at a time

“When you sit down to discuss a complaint with your partner, stick to one criticism per discussion,” writes Harriet Lerner in Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up. “Don’t tag on past infractions even when it’s relevant. Avoid getting into side issues.”

What is a specific problem in your relationship that is created by the one sided nature your partner? For instance, perhaps he never calls, texts, or reaches out to you. Maybe you’re always the one who is trying to contact him. If you decide to talk about this specific problem, then stick to this one problem.

Stay focused on the issue at hand even when he “counterattacks” by bringing up a problem or criticism he has with you. This may be more difficult than it sounds. “Both in love and in work it requires considerable motivation, self-observation, and practice to keep a conversation focused on one issue at a time, with an eye toward creative problem solving,” writes Lerner in Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up.

4. Find ways to blossom in your life

The easiest tip on how to fix a one sided relationship is to grow yourself. Don’t let your partner be the focus of your life. You are creative, smart, beautiful, and strong! You deserve better than to be in a one sided relationship that makes you unhappy and insecure. Take a healthy interest in your own life and self. Who are you, where are you going, why are you here, and what do you want to do with your life? What are you passionate about? Who do you love spending time with?

If you’re in a one sided relationship, you aren’t blossoming. You aren’t flourishing. Your boyfriend or husband is using you….and you’re letting him. You have the power to choose whether or not you want to stay with him. You have the power to take charge – not necessarily of fixing this one sided relationship, but of finding balance in your own life.

Love is out there…but you need to respect yourself enough to wait for the right man. Don’t settle for someone who can’t give you what you need. May you find strength and courage to see your partner and relationship clearly and objectively. I pray for wisdom and guidance. May you see yourself the way God sees you: a valuable, beautiful, kind, compassionate, loving woman who deserves to be treated with respect and love.

Help for Fixing One Sided Relationships

how to fix a one sided relationshipIn Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy: Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships, Jill Weber describes how women get trapped in relationships that are one-sided and lack emotional intimacy. When this happens, women routinely blame themselves instead of realizing they should blame their romantic strategy. This book will show you how to break the cycle of one sided relationships. You’ll learn how to create a mutually fulfilling relationship – and then you won’t have to search for help on how to fix one sided relationships anymore.

Is your partner overly arrogant? Does he often come across as grandiose, “above others,” self-absorbed, and highly conceited? If he shows an extreme lack of empathy or exhibits an inflated sense of entitlement, he may be a narcissist. In Disarming the Narcissist: Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed, Wendy Terrie Behary describes how to move past his defenses using compassionate, empathetic communication. You’ll learn how narcissists view the world, how to navigate their coping styles, and why, oftentimes, it’s sad and lonely being a narcissist. Narcissists are often in one sided relationships because they don’t know how to share, communicate, or empathize with their partners.

What is one “feeling” word that describes how you feel about fixing your relationship? Tell me below. You can write more than a word if you’d like. Sometimes it’s helpful to bundle all your feelings into a word and share how you feel. While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience of learning how to fix a one sided relationship. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings of missing him.

And remember that your partner isn’t your source of joy, peace, or love. “Poor is the soul whose pleasure depends upon the permission of another,” said Madonna. When you find the true source of joy and peace, you will be able to see clearly how to fix any one sided relationship you encounter.



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19 thoughts on “How to Fix a One Sided Relationship

  • LaTrice

    I recently ended a one sided relationship with my ex-boyfriend, because my needs were being ignored and I wasn’t happy. I did address the issues that were going on between the two of us, such as a lack of communication and not spending time with each other outside the bedroom, but he continued to make false promises. I made a conscientious decision to stay by giving him the benefit of a doubt. Nothing changed for the better, and I was wasting my time.

    Looking back, I noticed some disturbing patterns. My ex-boyfriend would call or text whenever he needed something. Ever since my mom passed away three months ago, he didn’t offer his condolences and provided emotional support. He wasn’t available when I needed him the most. He would spend time with me whenever it was convenient for him. In my honest opinion, the relationship was more “friends with benefits” than it was exclusive, since we didn’t go out on dates.

    I don’t regret my decision, because I deserve better. I believe that it takes two to make a relationship work.

  • Clarissa

    I’ve been in a relationship with my partner for almost 6 years. I feel like it’s a one sided relationship and she feels like she’s walking on egg shells. Why I think it’s one sided because she doesn’t really communicate m, if we argue she avoids the fight and doesn’t try to talk and fix things and that’s what gets me upset because I tell her communication is key. If you want something to be fixed you have to talk to me and she doesn’t really do that. Also we have this issue with ex’s. I don’t like it when she talks to her ex’s and she doesn’t like it when I talk to mine. So I respect that for her, but she doesn’t seem to respect me when it comes to that. Every time we fight she goes to seek them. I’m not that revenge type of person so I won’t do it just because she does it. But mostly that’s the issue. She claims that’s she’s over them or doesn’t love them or anything. But it’s like then why do you keep running back to them, I get friendship wise but she doesn’t like it if I’m friends with my ex’s so why should I be ok with her being friends with hers? You know? And I’m sure most people in relationships don’t like that either. The past is the past, they’re ex’s for a reason. You know? And that’s what makes me feel insecure or in competition and I’ve confronted her bout it and constantly tell her to learn and know what I like and don’t like just like how I respect her wants and needs. But she doesn’t listen she keeps doing the same things and it makes me upset and like crazy because I do so much for her and I don’t get nothing back. And I try and try to get her to talk about her feelings and everhibr but she doesn’t talk. I don’t know what to do?

  • Laurie Post author

    Sometimes it feels like we’re in a one sided relationship because the truth is that the other person can’t or won’t commit himself fully. It can be difficult to figure out the truth, especially if he himself isn’t sure what he wants!

    Are you enjoying your time with him? Do you want more from your relationship?

  • Lisa

    Frustrated.
    I myself am dating again after a 25 year marriage that I ended. He was in a committed live in relationship for 8 years.
    I have accepted and moved on from my marriage relationship. He seems to be hanging on to the pain he has from the live in relationship ending.
    We’ve dated almost 8 months now. We have many things in common, and our own things we do and like. We do enjoy our time together whether we’re just hanging out, or being intimate.
    The issues are this.
    He continues to refer to me as his ‘friend’, okay I do the same in fairness. We both spend enough time with our friends on our own.
    He seems to only find time during weekdays, occasional weekends, to spend with me. He always has ‘a party, work or ‘things to do at home’ when he can’t spend time, and it’s beginning to be more consistent.
    Sometimes, he doesn’t communicate with me for a day or so.
    He tells me I’m amazing, that he doesn’t want to lose me, but wants to take it slow, be friends and see where it goes, whether we become committed or just stay friends. He always asks me if I would ‘tire’ of him. Seems to be concerned with my well being.
    When I ask if he is seeing someone else, he avoids looking at me or changes the subject.
    I unfortunately and feeling some very deep feelings for him, he says he cares about me.

  • Michel Ladouceur

    It is a new relationship of 4 months. It was hard at first as we planned a few outings but stood me up on all of them until I did ask her straight forward as her responds was trying to keep you safe from my ex. Now we have plan many outing for the weekends, but bare in mind that this plannings are done by her and none by me so far, and we have spent several evenings at my place but I know at times we need our time apart. But what worries me is that when she does say that she plans to spend time with someone specific like her mother or her dear friend but the next day her story changes completely. Yes I do feel in a one-sided relationship. Can this be saved as I do love her terribly.

  • Cristina

    Hi I feel like I am in a one sided relationship we have been together for 10 years we have two kids together. I work he doesn’t I make more he helps me with my kids but he doesn’t show interest in what I do I am always the one iniciating contact when we have problems he will just ignore it and not respond to my calls or messages when I get emotional he prefers to avoid it he only talks about what he wants I really want it to work but he makes me feel sad insecure about myself that I’m not worth his time that I have to do something for him I. Order to have his attention he says he loves me above all but his actions show otherwise please give me advice

    • Frances

      Cristina, Have you considered High Functioning Autism (Aspergers) as a possible explanation for the one-sided communication and avoidance of others’ emotions? It might be worth researching. Good luck.

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve been dating my boyfriend for six months but we grew very close during that time. I frequently spend the night at his house so we basically live together. He is 31; I am 25. He’s had sex with most or all of his previous girlfriends. I have waited until I’m married but gradually became open to more experiences while dating him. Our constant conflict is that he feels I am cold physically toward him, that I am wasting him because he has so much more to offer (physically), and that he feels I reject him and do not desire him. I do desire him, but am frequently unsure about going further when I feel that he does not love me yet. He has said that he does not feel the magic or passion that he wants to feel. He has also said he wants to fall in love with me. I think that the physical connection is very important to him to establish a greater emotional connection, but I feel stuck wanting the emotional connection to deepen first, to trust him more and not ever feel used. I know he cares about me very much, and frequently he will say I deserve better and why do I put up with him. I have been falling in love with him I think, but I do not tell him that I love him.
    How can I decide whether to leave him? Is this a one-sided relationship? I wish that he would have more patience with me and allow himself to fall in love without relying on intimate experiences… How do I have this conversation with him in a way that does not put him down as if he only wants sex? He also sometimes makes comments like maybe he needs to stop looking for this magic feeling and be more practical to settle down and be married. Clearly I don’t want to be anyone’s practical option like that… I also want to find love but to me that is powerful through commitment over time… that’s magic for me. For him, he wants to be border-line obsessed and find a muse to inspire his art.

  • Diane

    I have been with this man for 26 years and married 8 years. He has suffered three strokes and has vascular dementia. My health is failing and he does not help with anything. He told me that everything is my fault because I have migraine headaches and complain due to hurting or noise. He is unwilling to say that he has done anything wrong, but did say that if I keep up he will give me something to hurt over. I told him that if hitting me makes him feel like more of a man go for it. I have been married to two other abusive men and this does not surprise me that I seem to be a magnet to abusive relationships. I finally told him that we will live out out lives together, however, he will have to make his meals, tend to his side of the room and I will continue to sleep on the sofa. I am done and have thrown in the towel. I told him that I do all the work in this relationship, sweep, scrub, clean bathroom, garden, plumbing, make cigarettes, dishes, cooking, laundry, and help with mowing yards, etc. He no longer drives so he is at my mercy to get him to doctor appointments, and no income, therefore, my pension pays our bills, gets his clothing, food for him to eat. I AM DONE!

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear Abhishek,

    I can’t give advice or tell you what you should do about your girlfriend, but it does sound like you and she have a one-sided relationship. It sounds like neither of you are really very happy in your relationship… But you don’t want to let it go.

    This is normal, natural, and expected. It’s really hard to let go of someone that were in a relationship with, even if that relationship isn’t very good. Even the most one-sided relationships can be difficult to break free from.

    Here are some questions for you:

    What would it feel like if you let go of this relationship?

    How does this relationship keep you safe?

    Are you staying in this relationship because you’re afraid of what might happen if you break it off?

    I encourage you to think about those questions – and even write about them. Write your answers and thoughts, and take time to explore how you think and feel about this one-sided relationship.

    And here’s an article that may help you:

    How to Emotionally Detach From Someone You Care About
    http://howloveblossoms.com/how-to-emotionally-detach-from-someone-you-care-about/

    May you find courage, strength, and wisdom as you decide how to proceed with this relationship. And make peace and joy follow you no matter what happens in your life.

    Take good care of yourself, for you are worth taking good care of!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  • Abhishek Verma

    Hi,
    Your article was very helpful. And yes all signs seems correct that I am in a one sided relationship. So, it all started when she asked me for coffee and we started dating. We also started spending time with one another a lot more like live in . Atleast for 3-4 months. We used to fight earlier during our honeymoon phase but after that phase is over. I realised that we two might be incompatible and I was never sure about our relationship. And one day after huge fight, I told her that there is no point of being together as our future are completely different. Even our sex life is not that good. She broke and started crying and accepted that these are all valid points.After that, I was devastated and realised that I am just looking for the escape here as what she actually told during our breakup. I went to her and asked for one more chance to this one-sided relationship. She agreed but said that she don’t want to put any effort into this. I agreed and told her I will do all the work to bring our relationship back to what it was. From that day, I consciously started giving her space and personal time. I also started making efforts and present for her. But every time I did that, she criticised for every act of mine.

    According to her, I do effort but not for the small things matter to her.Situation is like this that since we work in the same office , we do meet regularly and contact happens from both sides not equally. But somewhat 60-40. I have promised myself that I will only give up after giving it my all no matter how hard hits are. Still, whatever efforts I make , she just take all my actions negatively and criticise them without realising that she is not doing anything for me. Not at all appreciating all my efforts. And it is realy painful. Her behaviour has changed totally and there is no affection left for me in her body language. I feel hurt every single day in hope that she might forget that breakup chapter and accept us . I don’t know if I am doing right here. So after going all this dilemma, I finally mailed her all my efforts and told her that I am still not giving up on this. And inept she told me that the day I had said things about future, she do not see any point in stretching this relationship.She told me that she is confused and don’t know what she should do. she told me that she do not want to hurt me and my heart is of pure gold.

    I know the logical thing to do is that I should breakup with her and move on as she might have already done that. But somehow my heart don’t allow it to. I know I feel like lost and with her , I always walk on eggshells and feel scared that what might trigger her and we might come onto that breakup episode again.And on the other side, if I do things for myself like going on trek or friends, she always takes it negatively and criticise me that I have done all this to prove to her , since she has started giving priorities to her friends again.Pleass tell me how to get out of it or is there anything remaining in this relationship for me. Or if I have to Move on..How should I start? Situations are deadlock!!

  • Sandra

    I’m currently in a one sided relationship. My husband doesn’t work and hasn’t in a couple of years steadily. He gives advice but debunks his own, he thinks it’s cool to so blunt with the kids and down play my goals for the future. We started off going to church, but now I take the kids alone when I’m not working. We have two girls together and I have three from previous relationships. He’s wearing me out because I left a relationship.and marriage because he used to fight me physically and emotionally. Now, I have a new captain over here who thinks that he can ride the coattails as I graduate with my degree in psychology. Of course I love him, but when is enough enough? So tired of being broke and not able to stay above water with the bills, kids and my prayer life. It sucks.

    • Katia

      I just perused through your article and stopped in my tracks about narcissism. That’s my guy. We live together and I feel I am trying to get him to love me. He never will and he has pretty much told me that. We move in together and now I find out his ex-wife lives 3 miles away. We are older and before I die I feel I deserve love. He’s been married 3 times. Me never. My one word in this relationship is “lonely.” I love him but feel very alone inside and in our sexual relationship, He withholds six for punishment. ….Can’t continue but I am stuck for a while financially.

  • Ruby

    Thanks for your thoughts and insights. My bf and I have been together for about 10 months now and consistently see each other on the weekends, stay at each others places, etc. Recently we had an extra special weekend and feeling particularly close, I told him I loved him He hasn’t said it back and is not ready to say it. I’m trying to collect myself but I feel foolish but he’s very good to me and treats me well in so many other ways. It seems like he’s just a poor communicator, but other issues have come up where I just don’t feel very appreciated, in fact, somewhat neglected. It seems he still wants to see each other, but I’m not sure where to go from here..

  • Laurie Post author

    Dear BSC,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how to fix a one sided relationship. It sounds like you and your partner have a lot of issues that need to be worked through, and neither of you know how to start taking steps to create a healthier life together.

    Have you talked to a counsellor? I don’t mean marriage or couples therapy, I mean you talking to someone about how to be happy outside of your relationship.

    We can’t rely on our relationships to make us happy. We need to find internal sources of joy and peace. We need to get healthy. The stronger and healthier we are, the better able we’ll be to recognize if we can fix the one sided relationships in our life…or if we just need to let go.

  • BSC

    If I could find balance in this one -sided relationship, I would feel COMPLETE.
    I’ve been paying close attention since the New Year, and more than not, he has his headphones on full blast, ignoring me, the kids and life in general. I feel like I don’t have a place in his mind, but he writes these songs and poems about me that he shows no truth to. He can sing about me and my love, but he can’t even give me 10minutes of attention to hold a conversation. When I address my feelings, he gets real defensive and cruel. I see that it is heading to a place where there is no more me and him, but I cannot let go to the man i used to know. I wake up daily hoping he wants to spend time with me… But daily I find myself working, taking care of our young children, cooking meals, shopping, budgeting, stressing by myself while he just lives like everything is good. He doesn’t work and trying to have him get a job is pointless. In 1year, he has had 5jobs, maybe a total of 2months of work altogether….and he doesn’t care how all this stress is affecting me personally, he uses my stress as a way to zone us out and not care. This is so hard to deal with, idk what is right or wrong. Bi want to care about myself, and if I mention leaving, he throws at me how I have another man, or points out everything I’ve done wrong in the past 8years. I just want to be his #1 and unfortunately my heart is breaking because I feel I mean absolutely nothing to his heart at all. I am losing sleep, work hours and time in my life just trying …but I know what is going to happen, and I cannot let go, he has been my everything for so long, since 11th grade….ive never even been completely naked in front of anyone else. I’ve never had to live without him, he’s became my best friend, my only friend over the years and I just can’t afford to lose the one person who means the most to me. Yet as I sit here, crying, he sits 5ft away, earphones blasting, and he doesn’t even notice. My kids need happy mommy, and I am finally seeing that a happy mommy might only happen without daddy because I deserve to be respected and cared about and told nice things. I deserve to smile and feel complete in life, yet I am so scared I wont feel complete without him… So confused about this new person he has become. So confused as to where to go, and with lying to everyone in association with me about the happiness at home, admitting that its actually all crap is like an epic failure in my eyes because I want so much more from him and expect him to put in so much more care and love and effort…. Just very sad that I most likely won’t get that balance or marriage that I long for….so scared of being alone…even though I guess he is basically training me to be alone anyway…

    • Sandra

      I feel the same way. Why act so ignorant? When you begin to finds other fun interests, then he’ll come around. I’m not falling for it. #boybye

  • Ben

    Some of us are in a “one-sided” relationship without having a significant other. What if you came to a place in your life where you realize that most every relationship you have is “one-sided?” If your sick and tired of always being the one to reach out to others you might try and ferret out who is a friend and who simply responds when messaged. I don’t recommend this experiment for the faint of heart because the results can be pretty depressing.
    I know I am a good person who has good qualities but I seem to be prone (probably conditioning over a lifetime) to extending myself in order to have a friend. It’s not easy breaking old habits. I want people in my life who I know are truly friends and not faux friends. There are some friends who have remained. I have been operating in this mindset since the first of the year. For me the alternative is to return to a equally frustrating mode of people pleasing. As the pop group “Chicago” lyrics say, “Getting Stronger Every Day.” Hope this helps someone…

    • Michael

      Ben – Yea, I think I know pretty much how you’re feeling. Kind of going through the same thing and re-evaluating my friendships. It’s been very eye opening to look back and try to remember the last time certain friends actually reached out to me. Recently, I invited a friend to join me at an upcoming event, and I was told he probably couldn’t make it because he was possibly meeting someone the night of the event. Someone he had met online, as he was trying to “make new friends”. It was then that I began to realize just how one sided my relationship with him was, even while he was telling me how much he wanted this friendship. I’ve also gotten tired of those friends who contact me and “fish” for me to invite them to do something with me, rather than just asking me to do something with them. I’ve mostly avoided falling into that trap of their game playing. I definitely think it’s a good thing to stop every now and then and evaluate one’s friendships. If you’re going to be in a one-sided relationship, maybe it’s best to just be in that with yourself. ?