One-Sided Friendship: 6 Signs And How To End It

The sooner you identify it's a one-way street, the quicker you can get off that road.

Reviewed by Nathalie Maggio, LMFT
Written by Sneha Tete, Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach
Edited by Subhrojyoti Mukherjee, MA (English)
Fact-checked by Reshma Latif, BSc  • 

One-sided friendship is unhealthy for one’s emotional well-being. It can be extremely hurtful to find that the friend you consider dear does not have a similar commitment to the friendship. No matter how much time you invest in them or try to support them through thick and thin, they will not feel the need to do the same for you. Friendship is not a one-way road, and it requires equal dedication from both sides.

So if your friend is failing to find time for you, or is ignorant about the events of your life, then maybe it’s time to question the relationship. Yes, it hurts, but being independent and self-sufficient is better than having a friend who does not care.

Once you convince yourself to move on from such a toxic relationship, you will emerge stronger. Keep reading to explore how you can tackle such a situation.

What Is A One-Sided Friendship?

One-sided friendship is when one person invests their time, energy, and other resources into the friendship while the other accepts them all, often without an ounce of gratitude or reciprocation. Basically, one friend makes all the effort to maintain the friendship while the other friend does not initiate any contact or make any effort.

Most often, you fail to see the signs of a one-sided friendship because you are standing too close to see the big picture. So, how to tell if a friendship is one-sided? Find out in the next section!

How Do You Know If You Are In A One-Sided Friendship?

Do you spend all your time and energy on your friend but often find yourself dealing with your own problems alone, even when you reach out for help? Are all your plans with them at their convenience, regardless of your schedule or preferences? Do you feel like if you let go, they would not make any effort to make you stay?

If you have answered yes to at least two of these questions, it is time to look for one-sided, unequal friendship signs.

A lopsided friendship is more common than you think and can drain the giver of their energy, both physical and mental. People often feel hurt and confused about one-sided and unbalanced relationships. It is as hard as being in one-sided love, unreciprocated love, or unrequited love. One of the biggest questions that can haunt you during these times is, “Is there something wrong with me?”

However, rest assured that despite all the efforts that you are making, if the other person fails to appreciate and cherish you, it is not your fault.

A strong and long-lasting friendship is based on mutual support. It is a two-way street. If your bond is based on loose strings that only you are holding on to with dear life, you may be spending way too much of your energy on something that can end up hurting you in the long run.

You can have an honest conversation with your friend and figure out how to fix this one-sided friendship, but it is possible only when both sides are ready to do so. You can always try to convey your feelings and make them understand what has been hurting you. If they are willing to acknowledge your feelings and do something about it, you are good to go!

Ellen, a blogger, shares her experience of how and why she ended her friendship with a bestie of 25 years. She stated that they shared a harmonious bond for many years but distance started showing up over the years. Ellen added, “She didn’t consider my needs unless she was forced to. ” and ended her note by stating, “I regret that I hung on so long after that connection was badly compromised (i).”

Before the talk, let’s look at the signs your friendship is one-sided.

6 Signs Of A One-Sided Friendship

True friendship goes beyond small talks and sleepovers, coffee dates, and dinners. It goes beyond petty fights and sleepless nights. Friendship is about extending your hand and always finding the other ready to hold yours, be it when you are at your happiest and ready to take over the world or when you have puffy eyes and a red nose from crying way too much. If this has been your experience, it is safe to say that your friendship is not one-sided. If not, here are some signs that can help you figure out if you are in a one-sided friendship.

1. It Is Never About You

Ordering food without asking you is a sign of one-sided friendship
Image: IStock

From the food that you order to the places that you visit when you are together, it is only about them and their choices. If you feel like you never have a say in what you do when you spend time with them, you might be in a one-sided bond or one-sided affection.

2. You Are Always The First To Contact Them

You often find yourself starting a conversation with them with a simple “Hi!” over text or a “Hey! Are you free to talk?” over a call. If their replies are slow and your calls go unanswered most of the time, you are bound to feel like you are the only one putting in the effort. Notice if the conversations die down if you do not keep them going with additional topics. If so, it is a sign of a one-sided connection.

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One-sided friendship also shows a lack of empathy or interest from the other person. They may make the entire conversation about themselves and ignore what is happening in your life.

3. They Only Contact You When They Need Something

Does your friend reach out to you only when they are in trouble or need help with something? Does a notification pop up with their name only when it says, “Hey, can you do me a favor?”

These things are bound to make you feel tired of the friendship. It becomes more like a one-sided commitment or one-sided loyalty. If you are always there for your friend, but you cannot really say the same when it comes to your issues, you might be involved in a one-sided friendship.

4. They Put You Down

Bringing you down often is a sign of one-sided friendship
Image: IStock

Let’s be honest – jokes and sarcastic quips are part and parcel of many friendships. However, when the jokes go too far and, instead of a slight pang, they dig daggers into your self-esteem, you should know that it is not healthy, and it might be time to figure out how to end this one-sided friendship. Friendship should be about building each other up, not breaking each other down. If you feel like your opinions and wishes are not valued and whatever you say or do is criticized or looked down upon, it is safe to say that this bond is turning toxic.

5. They Prefer The Company Of Others

A child feeling isolated due to a one-sided friendship
Image: IStock

Your friends are bound to have other friends, and it is not a big deal. But if you see them constantly leaving you out when they spend time with others and cancel when you make plans with them, it may be time to reevaluate where you stand in their priority list.

6. They Make You Second-Guess Yourself

A woman second guessing herself due to a one-sided friendship
Image: IStock

If they imply that you are being clingy or needy when you seek validation or affection from them, you may wonder, “Is my friendship one-sided?” You must realize that looking for appreciation in a bond is normal, and making you feel guilty about it is not.

Moreover, if they project their anger or negative feelings toward you even when you have done nothing wrong, it may affect your mental health, and you will be left wondering if you have done something to upset them. This is the unfortunate psychology of a one-sided friendship. Yes, people may sometimes let out their anger on someone who is not responsible for it. However, if they repeatedly do so and do not apologize or explain themselves later, it might be a sign that your friendship is one-sided. This one-sided attachment may even be harmful for your mental health.

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One-sided friendship can affect your mental health to such an extent that you may even start avoiding good friends in the fear of driving them away from your life.

So, do you end a one-sided relationship? Find out in the next section.

How To End A One-Sided Friendship

End a one-sided frienship and appreciate the good friends in your life
Image: IStock

Ending a one-sided friendship may be difficult, especially if you have been together for a long time. However, if you have conveyed this issue to your friend, and they still refuse to change their behavior, you know that it is time to let go. Sometimes broken things cannot be fixed, and when your friendship is one-sided and most likely to remain so in the future, there is no point in hurting yourself further. Let them know your intentions clearly to prevent further miscommunication. Before cutting off ties completely, slowly start distancing yourself from them. If they do not notice your absence, consider it to be the final straw. Friendships are supposed to be fun, not hurtful. It’s better to let go and hurt for a while rather than stay in pain for years. This pain will pass. If you are not ready to let go of them completely, talk to them and find a middle ground where you both are still acquainted with each other, but not as much as before.

Infographic: Why One-Sided Friendships Are Not A Good Idea

The above-mentioned six signs of one-sided friendship make it pretty clear that it is not a healthy form of association with anyone. As you constantly feel neglected and taken advantage of, this toxic form of friendship can severely impact your mental and behavioral health. Check out the infographic below to understand why staying in a lopsided friendship is never a good idea.

why one sided friendships are not a good idea (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Eleanor Roosevelt had said, “No relationship in the world ever remains warm and close unless good efforts are made on both sides to keep it up.”

Getting into a one-sided friendship might not be intentional, and you might not notice it to be so at first. But in a friendship where you are the only one giving, and the other keeps taking, you will soon have given so much of yourself that only a shell will remain. It might feel as painful as unreturned love or one-sided fondness. It might be too late when you realize how deep underwater you are. But, you need to stop blaming yourself and giving excuses to justify their selfishness. Be kind to yourself instead, and learn to value your worth. Walk away from one-sided friendships without burdening yourself with guilt. Many people will notice your worth and appreciate you for who you are. Those are the friends you need to focus on to appreciate the value they bring to your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes one-sided friendships?

One-sided friendships are often caused by disinterest from your friend, emotional unavailability, inability to connect, etc. Sometimes it is just not a good fit, but the other person does not know how to say it. People who take others for granted and are selfish end up causing one-way friendships.

How do you become friends with someone who doesn’t talk to you?

You can befriend people in different ways. Smile when you meet them, greet them, and introduce yourself. Initiate a conversation and talk about similar interests. You can also compliment them or offer help if needed. If they seem receptive, show curiosity about them, and ask questions.

What is a person with no friends called?

A person with no friends can be called friendless, solitary, or companionless.

Key Takeaways

  • One-sided friendship is when one person invests their time, energy, and other resources into the friendship while the other accepts without gratitude or reciprocation.
  • A one-sided friendship can drain the giver of their energy, both physical and mental.
  • As friendship requires equal dedication from both sides, it is important to recognize one-sided friendships and let them go or establish boundaries.

Feeling like you are always the one making an effort? Not sure if your friend is really there for you? Check out this video for 6 signs of a one-sided friendship.

Personal Experience: Source

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