One of the very best things about being in a relationship is having a partner to share the good (and even the difficult) things with. They’re the person you can count on to have your back and be there for you. That’s why it’s called a partnership. However, not all relationships feel that way. Sometimes, one person is reaping all the benefits of being together while not providing that same kind of love, effort, and appreciation in return. If that’s sounding painfully familiar, then it could be that your relationship feels one-sided.
But what exactly is a one-sided relationship? "It means that one partner is initiating, putting in all of the effort and dragging the other partner along in the growth of the relationship," Christie Tcharkhoutian, a licensed marriage and family therapist and professional matchmaker at Three Day Rule, tells Elite Daily. "For a relationship to be healthy, both partners must be putting in the work equally. A one-sided relationship is similar to a group project where one person has to work harder than all the others to get a good grade, except in relationships, you don’t get a good grade unless both people in the relationship do the hard work.” If you suspect you might be in this kind of relationship, here’s what the experts say to do about it.
How to recognize a one-sided relationship.
The first step in dealing with being in a one-sided relationship is recognizing the issue and being confident in that knowledge. It begins with some self-reflection on how you feel in the relationship as Diana Dorell, intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again, tells Elite Daily. She suggests asking yourself, “Are you constantly feeling tired or energetically spent? Are you always initiating? Is there any indication or action on the part of the other person that shows you they care about you and the relationship? Does this happen unprompted or only when you call them out on it?” Answering those questions honestly, even when what they say about the relationship dynamic’s hard to hear, can help you to feel confident in taking the next steps to resolve the problem.
What to do if you want to change the dynamic.
If you’ve realized your relationship is out of balance, the experts agree it’s important to deal with the problem head-on. Because here’s the good news: If you both want the relationship to work, this problem is resolvable.
If you think it’s possible your partner doesn’t even realize there’s an inequality in the relationship, Tcharkhoutian says it’s time to bring it to their attention. “‘Have an honest conversation that does not blame your partner, but instead focuses on your emotional experience,” she suggests. “When having this discussion, always make your partner part of the solution rather than part of the problem. When you make your partner part of the solution, you invite them into a positive resolution of the inequality instead of alienating them and making them not want to do the work in the relationship,” she explains.
However, if your partner is aware of how you’re feeling, but nothing has changed, Dorrell suggests making a change to your behavior. “I find that if you’re always the giver and you want to change the dynamic, change the behavior and the actions," she advises. “Stop whatever you’re doing. Don’t be unkind, but acknowledge to yourself when you’ve hit your limit or are giving from a defensive place. Pull back and you’ll see what happens. If they step up to the plate, then that’s a good sign your relationship can get back on track. If not, you may need to consider why you’re in it,” she says.
Tcharkhoutian adds that this is a process, so don’t be discouraged if your partner doesn’t immediately change overnight, especially if your relationship has operated under this inequality for a long time. “It’s important to have patience as you wait for the dynamic to change. If you feel that you are overwhelmed by this process, then it can be helpful to go to therapy and have a safe place to understand this dynamic,” she concludes.
It’s ultimately up to you to decide if this or any other relationship is right for you. But ideally, it will be one where you feel like you’re part of a true partnership and team. No matter what the outcome, just know that you don’t have to settle for anything less than you want and deserve, which includes having a partner that rides just as hard for you, as you do for them.
Diana Dorell intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again
Christie Tcharkhoutian, licensed marriage and family therapist and professional matchmaker at Three Day Rule
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