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How to Tell If You’re in a One-Sided Friendship

Maintaining strong social connections in life is crucial for good mental health. Friends can help us celebrate the good times and provide support during difficult moments. Spending time with friends can prevent isolation and loneliness.

It can also increase your sense of belonging and purpose, boost your happiness, and even reduce your stress.

But sometimes we may find ourselves in a one-sided friendship. These types of friendships are emotionally draining and can take a toll on one's mental health.

It’s important to recognize the signs of a one-sided friendship. You don’t want to waste your time and energy on a relationship that doesn’t bring you happiness. In fact, the longer you stay in a one-sided friendship, the harder it can become to set healthy boundaries in a relationship in general – leading to codependency and toxic relationships.

An imbalanced friendship can lead to resentment and other negative emotions. How can you tell if you’re in a one-sided friendship? Here are some signs:

  • Always canceling plans. If your friend is always canceling plans or frequently unavailable that may be your first sign that you’re in a one-sided relationship. In a healthy friendship, both individuals make an effort to spend quality time together and enjoy each other’s company. Repeatedly canceling plans can be especially hurtful for the person who always shows up and puts in the effort. They may feel undervalued by the other person.

  • A lack of interest. If you notice that you barely get a chance to say a word when spending time with your friend and all they do is talk about themselves or their problems, that can be a sign that the friendship is one-sided. This is especially true if the person dominating the conversation never shows interest in the other person’s life.

  • A lack of communication. In a true friendship, communication is a two-way street. If you’re the only one calling, texting, or emailing and the other person is unresponsive or shows a lack of interest, that’s a clear sign of a one-sided friendship.

  • Never available to help. You were there for them when they needed a shoulder to cry on or to help with their move. But they won’t return the favor. In fact, they don’t even bother responding to your messages. A real friend will make an effort to help out when needed. When a friend doesn’t show up for another friend, it breaks the trust between them.

  • Constantly criticizing. If you find yourself often on the receiving end of criticism, this is likely another sign of a one-sided friendship. This can create a negative and unhealthy dynamic in which one person feels constantly judged and criticized. Being constantly criticized can affect your self-esteem and confidence and make it difficult to maintain a healthy friendship.

  • Lack of effort to make plans. Are you the one always initiating, making reservations or suggesting ideas for get-togethers? That is a sure sign of a one-sided friendship. A true, meaningful friendship means that both individuals are invested in the friendship and are equally sharing the responsibility to connect. If not, this creates an unbalanced dynamic in the friendship, where one person is always doing the work to maintain the connection.

A one-sided friendship can be emotionally damaging and difficult to manage. Establishing your own boundaries and being firm and consistent with them will help ensure that you don’t continue to stay in an unhealthy friendship.

Reach out to your friend and tell them how their behavior is affecting you and the friendship. They may be going through something and by you opening up, they may change their behavior. If nothing happens, it’s time to reevaluate the friendship and perhaps make the tough decision to say goodbye.

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