10 Signs Of A One-Sided Friendship + How To Escape Them

One-sided friendships are much more common than you think… and a lot more damaging too.

It might just sound as though you like your friend a bit more than they like you, but it can actually be an incredibly toxic friendship that ends up damaging your mental health and self-confidence.

Are you wondering if you might be in one?

Our top ten signs of a one-sided friendship will help you answer that question!

We also offer some advice on avoiding them and resolving them – or moving on, if that’s the right thing to do.

1. It’s convenient for them.

Have you ever noticed that your friendship is very much on the other person’s terms?

You meet up when it suits them and you go to the places they like.

Sometimes, this might just be a coincidence, or it might be how your friendship works.

But it might also be a sign that things aren’t as mutual as you thought.

It can be tricky to work out what’s convenient and what’s coincidence, but, if it keeps happening, there’s a strong possibility your friendship isn’t very balanced.

Some people like to keep their ‘friends’ at their beck and call. They choose to see them when they’re bored or when they haven’t got a better offer.

Others pick and drop the people in their lives. You might find that the person you’re thinking of is all over you for a week, texting you all the time and making plans with you, before ignoring you the following week.

This is often due to their other friends being away for the week and you being the next best thing. (Are you happy being the ‘next best thing’?!)

It might be that they’re having a tough week and are looking for some easy company.

Whatever the reasons behind this behavior, it’s unfair and it suggests that your friendship isn’t real enough to be important in their life.

If you feel like your friend only talks to you when it suits them, it’s a sign of a one-sided friendship and you need to think about how you really feel.

2. They put you down (in front of people).

Real friendships are built on mutual care, respect, and trust – you’ve got each other’s back and you’ll defend them.

In fact, you’ll actively big them up; you’ll compliment them and do your best to get other people to realize how amazing and special they are.

One-sided friendships can be built on foundations of loneliness, insecurity, and anxiety.

If you’re in one of these types of relationship, it could be that they want to keep you close to avoid you being competition.

If you feel like you’re their friend, you won’t make a show of being more attractive than them, or more intelligent or funny than them.

Keeping you close is some people’s way of preventing you from shining on your own.

If this is the case, you may also notice that they put you down a lot, often in front of other people.

Negative comments about your appearance and behavior may genuinely stem from envy.

Remember when your mum used to tell you girls were mean because they were jealous of you? She knew what she was talking about!

3. You make the effort.

Are you the one always texting first, always suggesting fun nights out or weekend brunches?

Friendship is a two-way street, so you have to allow a bit of a buffer for times when your friends genuinely are too busy to see you or don’t reply straightaway.

Everyone has their own life, but what matters is whether or not they make time for you in theirs.

If you feel like you’re always the one making the effort, it may be time to reevaluate your friendship.

Making an effort, making plans, and showing up is about so much more than just wanting someone to go for cocktails with.

4. They’re your BFF, but you’re not theirs.

Do you ever notice that they never really call you their friend, even when you make a point of letting them know how much you value them?

This is one of the most obvious signs that your friendship is one-sided, and it can be quite painful to admit to.

You’ll suddenly realize that it’s you putting the effort in and treating them like a friend – doing nice things to make them feel good, surprising them with thoughtful gifts, and taking their calls at 4am.

If you know they don’t, or wouldn’t, do these things for you, it’s time to end the denial and consider whether this friendship is something worth fighting for.

5. You’re left feeling used.

This ties in with the above point. You might just be a convenience to them – companionship when they are bored – rather than a true friend.

If you often find yourself feeling used at the end of a day spent with them, you’re probably right.

It may be that the other person is using you.

This may be to fill the void of a missing friend or partner, as mentioned above, or it may be to make them feel better about themselves.

Some people surround themselves with lots of ‘friends’ to make themselves look more popular.

They want to look loved and appreciated, they want to share stories of events and late nights, and they want to plaster their busy social lives all over Instagram.

If you’re feeling used, it may be because they’re using you – as a prop!

A lot of people do this to some extent, but it’s unhealthy and unfair.

6. It’s always about them.

Have you ever stopped to think about the balance of attention in your friendship?

When you hang out, what do you tend to talk about?

Is it about your issues or theirs?

Ideally, it would be pretty balanced!

Sure, if one of you is going through a hard time, it’s only natural that you’ll talk about that person’s issues more than the other person’s life.

That said, if you’re noticing that it’s becoming a pattern, it’s time to really consider what you want from this friendship.

If you’re okay with this particular person not allowing you time to talk about yourself, and you feel you have enough fulfilling relationships elsewhere, it’s up to you whether or not you stay friends.

If you’re always left wishing that this friend showed more interest in your life, we really think it may be time to take action.

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7. You feel exhausted after seeing them.

This is something that can be really hard to admit to, but some people just leave you feeling drained.

It may be that you have to put a lot more energy into your conversations or that it takes more effort to be positive around them, but you end up feeling exhausted after spending time with them.

Whether it’s a friend, colleague, or partner, this kind of feeling isn’t healthy at all!

It might not be their fault, but it’s worth taking a step back from anything that leaves you feeling worse than when you started.

It may be that you spend too much time together and it’s all gotten a bit intense – even very positive friendships can make you feel tired if you’re trying so hard to keep the energy up and stay excited about everything all the time.

It may just be that the other person is a bit of an energy-sap and you need to take some time to refresh and rejuvenate yourself.

Take a step back, see them once a week instead of three times and monitor how it affects your emotions and energy levels

If you find yourself feeling much better for not seeing them as much, you’ve got your answer.

8. They take what they want – literally.

Now, we really want to stress here that this isn’t a common occurrence, so don’t panic!

You may have noticed that your friend takes things from you, with or without your permission.

If you haven’t noticed anything, don’t worry – not all toxic friendships involve theft so don’t assume that yours does.

That said, if it does, you clearly have a bigger issue at hand. It may be that they sneakily take stuff and think you don’t notice. Little bits may go missing from around your home.

It may be that they take things from you, but almost get you to ‘offer’ them as a gift so that it’s coming from you instead of them.

This could be by making small comments like, “oh, I wish I could have something like that,” which may make you feel guilty

It may be, “you have such great taste, I love that,” which makes you want to please them to get more praise and you give them the nice thing in order to get another compliment from them

It may be a rude comment like, “that doesn’t really suit your body shape, but it would look good on me,” which is designed to make you feel unattractive and undeserving of keeping something nice.

Whatever it is, a good friend shouldn’t be taking things off you unless the sentiment is 100% coming from you.

9. You don’t get any thanks.

Do you ever feel like you’re the one putting yourself out there, but it never gets acknowledged?

This is a really common theme in a lot of toxic friendships and it’s one to try to be aware of as soon as possible.

We all like to do things to help out our loved ones – we want to make their lives easier and more enjoyable, and we also like feeling like good people.

This is all totally normal and healthy, as is the expectation or desire to get some thanks for it.

Whether it’s just a quick “thank you” for buying them coffee or a big hug and celebration when you help them move house, it’s nice to feel appreciated for the efforts we go to for our friends.

So, it’s unsurprising that we feel pretty rubbish when we do all these nice things and get no thanks in return!

We’re not saying you need to end the friendship straightaway, but it’s worth thinking about how this makes you feel and whether or not it will change moving forward – and if you can stay in this kind of friendship in the long-run.

Talk to your friend! There may be a very rational explanation…

…they may struggle to say thank you because they have issues accepting help and feel a bit weak, and so they don’t want to acknowledge that they need you.

…they may feel embarrassed thanking you as they don’t want you to feel like their minion.

…they may even not want to thank you because they’re a bit insecure about whether or not they’re a good enough friend to you and they feel a bit sad that they can’t help you as much as you help them.

Or, it may just be that they don’t see the need to thank you and just expect you to help out without getting anything, even a “thank you,” in return.

If it’s the latter, you really need to consider what you’re getting from this and how much longer you can be in such a one-sided friendship for.

10. You can’t rely on them.

One of the most important aspects of friendship is trust and reliance.

We all want a friend who does what they say they’ll do and sticks by you.

They’ve got your back in tricky situations and they’ll defend you till their dying breath. Dramatic, sure, but this is a great personality trait to look for in a friend!

If your friendship feels like it’s lacking this, it’s time to question why.

Maybe they don’t support you when someone else criticizes you or makes you feel bad.

Maybe they don’t think you’re capable of the challenges you set yourself.

Whatever it is, it’s probably quite upsetting and leaves you feeling a bit deflated; maybe even betrayed or rejected.

Your friend should have your back and make you feel confident and comfortable.

A good friendship is founded on trust and stability and you shouldn’t spend time with someone who makes you second-guess their commitment to you.

How To Put Right A One-Sided Relationship

If you’re feeling unsure about how much someone is there for you, open communication is key.

Choose somewhere neutral to meet.

A café can be great as there are other people around, and you’ll both want to hold it together a bit more. Having people in a close vicinity makes one of you yelling or crying less likely!

You can also walk out any time you need to if you feel like it’s getting too much.

If you’re comfortable with it, you could ask them to your place to chat. You’re putting yourself in a position of power here as you’re on home-turf and are essentially more in control of the situation.

Don’t go for confrontation.

The chances are, you’re feeling quite emotional. Any kind of relationship that makes you feel vulnerable, self-doubting, or insecure is going to be upsetting, and it’s horrible when it’s due to someone who should care about you the most!

Do your best to stay calm and stick to phrases like:

“This has happened a few times and it makes me feel embarrassed in front of our friends.”

“I’d prefer it if you did not… as it makes me feel…”

Try to avoid blaming them, but, equally, make it clear that their behavior sometimes hurts you.

Explain why you’re feeling this way and how they could help you feel more secure in your friendship.

A good friend will be embarrassed to find out they’re not doing enough and will brainstorm ways you can strengthen your bond.

We think you can guess what a toxic friend will do…

Knowing When To Leave A One-Sided Friendship

So, now you know how to identify the type of friendship you’re in, but how do you avoid doing the same thing again?

Use your experience to your advantage.

Look out for the red flags early – have they cancelled on you several times this month, have they made you feel ashamed of yourself for no real reason, and have they solely talked about themselves the last few times you’ve hung out?

Being aware of these behaviors will help you learn more about the person, as well as the type of friendship you can expect.

Be honest with yourself – you may love this friend and genuinely care about them, and you might even have a lot of fun with them… if they’re in a good mood!

If you find yourself saying things like this, you know that it’s not a good friendship. It shouldn’t only be fun to hang out with them when they’re on form!

Think about the balance of your emotions, and work out if you feel happier or worse when you spend time with them.

If it’s mostly a bit rubbish and confusing with a few good days every so often, you might be better off ending the friendship and moving on.

Remind yourself that you’re not a bad person for walking away from something that doesn’t work for you.

That’s called self-respect.

It’s really hard sometimes to say goodbye to a friend you love, especially if you’ve been friends for a long time.

You almost feel like you’re the bad friend for ending things!

It’s painful and it’ll probably feel a bit like a relationship breakup, which is totally normal.

Give yourself some time to grieve the friendship and do your best to think of things realistically.

It’s okay to look back and remember the happy times, and it’s lovely to be able to have fond memories, just don’t convince yourself that it was perfect and that you should go back to it.

As with coming out of any relationship, you’ll go through a stage where you think it’s worth putting up with the bad times because they’re so great and you love them so much.

Be a better friend to yourself by refusing to settle for something that makes you feel any less worthy than you know you are.

It’s time for self-care, self-love, and self-prioritization!

About Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.