What to Do About One-Sided Relationships

In Advice and Encouragement, Dating, Relationships by Debra Fileta

When I turned 30 this week, I wrote a post about some lessons I’ve learned over the past decade.  One of those lessons was to say no to one-way friendships.

But later in the week as I was reading through my True Love Dates emails, I noticed a similar trend.  Young men and women were reaching out with questions rooted in the same concept, but concerning their love life.  One email I received from a young lady went something like this…

I’ve been involved in this relationship for 5 years, and I’m starting to come to terms with reality that it isn’t much of a relationship at all.  I’ve been committed to him, but he hasn’t committed to me. 

One-Way Relationships: though they may be titled many different things within the world of counseling and psychology, that’s pretty much the easiest way to describe them. 

Like other relationships, one-way relationships consist of two people, except in one-way relationships only one person is doing the work.  It’s an unfortunate problem that even more unfortunately occurs far too often. 

The man who has been saying he loves you for years, but is never willing to commit…

The woman who avoids emotional intimacy by investing everything in her life and career and neglecting to invest in her relationship…

The guy who’s been calling, texting, and emailing you for months- but face to face acts like you don’t exist…

The girlfriend who keeps saying she’s done with all the other guys, but can never seem to keep those doors closed…

The boyfriend who wants to keep taking physically, but giving nothing back emotionally…

I could list a hundred examples, and I’m sure you could too.  But the bottom line about one-way relationships like the above, is that they are relationships in which one person always seems to be doing all the giving– the forgiving, the forgetting, the ignoring, the working through– while the other person seems to be doing all the taking.  

But the interesting thing about one-way relationships, is that no matter who is doing the giving or taking, it always takes two people to keep them going. 

One way relationships are always fueled by two people…which tells you something.

It tells you that behind every one-way relationship, there is another person who is giving too much, and expecting too little. A person who continues to make excuses.  A person who continues to see the relationship for what it could be, rather than what it actually is. 

If you’re stuck in a one-way dating relationship, you’ve got to dig deep and really ask yourself why?  Why is it that you allow for this kind of interaction to be a part of your life?  Why don’t you believe that you deserve better?  What are you afraid of?  What continues to fuel your desire to remain in a relationship that gives you so little, when you could open yourself up to receiving so much more? 

Remember, you have the power to teach people how they can and can’t treat you.  Maybe it’s time for some changes to happen.  Maybe it’s time to start living out the truth that you deserve God’s best for your life and relationships, and nothing less. 

Maybe, it’s time to say no, once and for all, to one-way relationships.  If not now, then when? 

**This article is written specifically for those in a dating relationship.  Advice and encouragement would be different concerning those in a marriage relationship.

Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog!  Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!