How to Deal With a One‐Sided Friendship
A healthy friendship is a two-way street, in which both members of the friendship have an interest in spending time and talking with the other. Unfortunately, there are less-healthy friendships in which one of the friends is more willing to invest time and energy in the relationship than the other friend is. If you find yourself trying to maintain a friendship with someone who doesn’t seem interested in putting in any effort on their end, or who only acts friendly towards you under specific circumstances, you may be in a one-sided friendship.
Deciding if a Friendship is One-Sided
Pay attention to whether your friend listens to you.Listening is crucial in any relationship, and requires equal commitment from both friends. If you make an effort to listen to your friend, but feel like you’re blown off when you want them to listen to you, they’re showing one-sided behavior. In healthy friendships, both friends show an equal amount of interest in one another’s lives.
- For example, if you’ve had a tough day, it would be normal to be able to vent to your friend, and for them to express concern for your wellbeing. If your friend seems indifferent or doesn’t have time to hear about your day, the relationship may be one-sided.
Observe whether or not your friend shows you consistent friendship.If your friend is warm, kind, and helpful to you every day, you have a mutual friendship! However, if your friend is kind to you on some days and is not so great to you on other days, this is a red flag that could mean you are in a one-sided friendship.
- Their shifting or unpredictable behavior shows you that they do not place much importance on your friendship.
- However, if your friend only shows inconsistency once or twice and is otherwise a good friend, cut them some slack. They may be going through a tough or busy time in their life, and could need your support.
Consider if your friend treats you with respect.If your friend is mean to you, puts you down, or often treats you with indifference rather than friendship, you are likely in a one-sided relationship. Some false friends like to keep people around who they can mistreat or criticize in order to make themselves feel better. If you have a friend like this, the relationship is certainly one-sided.
- For example, if you ask to be in a picture with your friend and their circle of friends and they say “No,” this likely means that your friend does not want you to be in the picture since they do not consider you a friend.
Look for patterns of one-sided behavior from your friend.Take a close look at your friend’s behavior towards you, even if they verbally express an interest in maintaining the friendship. If your friend is continuously saying they’re your friend but their actions indicate otherwise, you’re likely to be in a one-sided friendship.
- Do they make plans with you and then cancel or blow them off? Do they reject the offer of spending time with you or talking to you while claiming you’re a friend? Do they say they’ll text or call you, and then never follow through on it? These are signs of a one-sided friendship.
- If a friend makes plans with you and then ends up canceling once, this doesn’t mean you’re in a one-sided friendship. However, if you’re seeing a constant trend in which you offer to spend time with your friend and they keep turning you down or giving noncommittal answers, you may be in a one-sided friendship.
Observe if your friend treats you worse around their other friends.If your friend only talks to you individually when they’re not hanging out with other friends and ignores everything you say in conversation, it is very likely that your friend does not consider you part of their circle of friends. They may consider you a lesser friend in comparison to others who they prefer to spend time with. This is a strong sign of a one-sided friendship.
- In addition, if your friend constantly leaves you out of group activities with other friends, this is a warning sign that they don’t value your friendship.
Note if your friend expects attention and gratification without providing them in return.It’s normal and healthy for friends to do small favors for each other and to provide a shoulder to cry on in times of difficulty and stress. However, if you notice that your friend seems to expect constant sympathy and attention from you but doesn’t reciprocate the attentiveness, they may be a false friend.
- For example, maybe your friend comes to you with every personal problem in their life and expects you to listen and give them good advice. That’s fine, but if your friend doesn’t have time to listen to your personal problems in return, you may be in a one-sided friendship.
Ask friends or family members if they think the friendship is one-sided.If you talk to another person about the possibly one-sided friendship, you may be able to get some advice as to whether it’s one-sided or not. Try getting opinions from both friends and family.
- For example, if only your mother dislikes the friend, it’s less indicative of a one-sided friendship than if both your parents and several members of your friend group say that they think your so-called friend dislikes you.
Discussing the Relationship with Your Friend
Ask to have a private conversation with your friend.Say something like, “Hi Dan, I’d like to talk with you about our friendship sometime soon. I’m not sure if this friendship is healthy for me, and wanted to talk through some issues. Maybe we can meet at Starbucks tomorrow afternoon to talk?”
- Make it clear that you want to discuss the friendship, and that the conversation will be serious.
Find a private place to have the conversation.Find a public and safe spot where just the two of you can talk, such as a café, public park, coffee shop, or your house after school. Avoid having the conversation over text or social media. If you absolutely can’t meet face-to-face, call your friend and talk to them about it over a phone call.
- Text-based conversation is easy to misinterpret, which can cause confusion or frustration.
Raise your concerns about the friendship with your friend.Don’t be too harsh, but be direct and to the point. Ask your friend about some of the issues that you perceive in the relationship. Let them know that you’re concerned about their level of involvement in the relationship, and clarify that it’s important to you that the friendship is balanced.
- For example, you could say “Maddie, it hurts me when I ask to play video games with you and your friends and you always say no and tell me to go away. This makes me feel like you don’t consider me a friend and you don’t want to hang out with me. Do you think we’re friends?”
Ask the friend to change their behavior.Make it clear that, in order for the relationship to continue, they’ll need to act more like a friend to you. Point out 1 or 2 concrete examples of ways you feel that the friendship has been one-sided. Firmly warn them that if they do not change, you are ending the friendship.
- Try saying something like, “Chris, I appreciate you as a friend, but I feel as if you always blow me off as soon as you see somebody you’d rather hang out with. I’d appreciate it if you could change and show me a little more respect as a friend. Otherwise, I’m not sure we can continue hanging out.”
Give your friend a chance to reply.You don’t want to monopolize the conversation, and it’s important to hear your friend’s side of the story. The may suggest that you’ve misinterpreted some of their actions, or explain that they’ve been going through some personal struggles and had less time for all of their friends, not just you.
- With any luck, your friend will apologize and explain that they’ll try to be a better friend in the future.
Ending a One-Sided Friendship
End the relationship if your friend doesn’t change.If, even after the talk, your friend does not change and continues their problematic behaviors, end the friendship. Cut off the person completely. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and it is so short that you have no time to waste on toxic people. They do not deserve the gift of your time and attention. Stick with your current true friends.
- Say something like, “I don’t appreciate the way you’ve been treating me; it makes me feel as if I’m doing all the work in this friendship. You haven’t changed your behavior, so I think we should stop doing social things together.”
- Or, if your friend is too busy to have a face-to-face chat, just break things off over text. Send a text that says something like, “Hey bud, haven’t heard from you much in a while. It’s probably best if we spend time with some separate friend groups for awhile.”
Deal with the fallout of the relationship.If your former friend feels insulted by your rejection of their friendship, they may become angry and take it out on you. Your former friend may spread gossip or rumors about you, or say angry and insulting things to your face. Whatever the case, keep your cool and don’t let them fluster you.
- Also, focus on spending time with other, sincere friends, who will be able to back you up and support you.
- Hopefully, your friend will take the friendship break-up in stride, and you won’t have to deal with any interpersonal or social fallout.
Make new friends to replace the one-sided friendship.If you don’t have any other friends aside from your one-sided friend, now is a good time to go out and make some new friends. Focus on building healthy relationships in which both friends are equally invested. Good friends should trust one another, and should show a mutual interest in spending time together and building one another up.
- Look to meet new people at social venues like school, church, or your workplace. Or, meet new friends through your existing friend network.
Take time to process your emotions.If you and your friend end up splitting, it is likely to be a rough time for you, and there is no need to pretend to be happy. Don’t be afraid to express your emotions to true friends or family. Don’t be afraid to cry, and don’t be afraid to feel angry. You can even punch or throw a soft item that cannot be broken easily, such as a pillow. Your emotions are valid, and it’s okay for someone to make you feel upset.
- If you begin having thoughts of self-injury or suicide, reach out to someone who can help you. Nobody should ever make you feel like you should harm yourself or end your life. There are crisis lines available if needed. Call the National Suicide Hotline (US) at 1-800-273-8255.
QuestionI lost my friend's trust and he says I won't be getting it back anytime soon. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell him you're sorry, and then give him some space. That's all you can do. Hopefully, with a little time and distance he'll be able to get over his hurt feelings and forgive you.Thanks!
QuestionMy friend is somewhat introverted. I spoke to him three times about how I feel like he doesn't care about our friendship. I feel like he's not putting forth much of an effort.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMake sure your friend actually wants to be your friend. Try to get them to join in the conversation, make a couple of jokes so they can laugh and feel more comfortable around you, talk about subjects that both of you are interested in. DO NOT talk to them about someone else or gossip, this will make them feel more uneasy about being friends with you. If you've really tried everything and nothing works, you might just have to find a new friend.Thanks!
QuestionI have a friend, and I am always there for him whenever he needs advice, or he's upset, but when I try to talk, I feel like he is not interested and does not communicate the way I do.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you don't think he is interested in your problems and trying to help you out, then you are in a one-sided relationship. You should try not reaching out to him and telling him how you feel about this. If there's no difference in his behavior after you have a conversation about it, I'd suggest you make some new friends.Thanks!
QuestionI don't know anything about my friendship. Her bad mood swings are only with me. She ditches me in front of others but talks nicely to me in private. I know I can never get over her and I am depressed. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerShe sounds like she thinks she can do anything to you and get away with it. It's not easy, but you need to cut her out of your life and find some friends that will treat you right and stay loyal to you. Make plans with other people to take your mind off of her. Join clubs that she isn't part of and make friends with others. Don't be bitchy to her or take revenge, that's possibly the worst thing you could do. Be civil but not too close. You could tell her how she makes you feel and how upset you get. Just remember, always do what is right, not what is easy. Believe in yourself!Thanks!
QuestionCan men and women just be friends?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOf course they can! Gender stereotypes shouldn't influence one's choice in who gets to be a friend. The only thing that's important is that both respect and appreciate each other and that they have the same expectations of that friendship (e.g. nobody wants to be friend-zoned).Thanks!
QuestionWhat if this friend does not have the time to have a discussion about the friendship?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAre you REALLY sure she doesn't have the time? It could be just that she is afraid to discuss your friendship because she is afraid you won't want to be friends after the talk. Pull her aside at a time in which neither of you has something to do, and say, "I want to discuss our friendship. I just want to make it better".Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do if my ex-friend is toxic and I have absolutely no choice but to be around the person? How do I not let myself get drawn back in?Top AnswererYou should always be polite and kind, but be brief in your interactions, and avoid the person whenever you can. Express clear boundaries: "OK, look, we have to be around each other, but I don't want any of it, so I will be polite and kind, but I will not be having debates or starting things up all over again, and I need you to respect that."Thanks!
QuestionwikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
- It’s always best to look at a person’s behavior before considering them a friend. If someone is constantly gossiping about others, for example, you may not want to consider them a friend. They might be gossiping about you, too.
- If it’s a common occurrence for you to get stuck in one-sided friendships, you may want to try seeking friends elsewhere.
Video: ONE SIDED FRIENDSHIPS w/ Meaghan Dowling
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