Most of us would stop at nothing to be there for our friends. We help them move. We comfort them during breakups. And we're never far away with snacks and movies whenever a boring evening needs to be salvaged. But every now and again, you might find yourself in a one-sided friendship, where that supposed "friend" doesn't ever come through for you.
Healthy friendships, like all relationships, are all about balance. You help them move, they buy you pizza. They call crying over an ex, and you know it's OK to do the same. On and on it goes, without either of you feeling like you're putting in more work, or making more effort.
One-sided friendships, however, simply don't work this way. And they certainly don't feel right. "All relationships have a natural ebb and flow to them when it comes to giving and receiving love. This giving comes in the form of listening, making the effort to get together, spending resources on the friendship... you get the idea," said counselor Melanie Gormon on HuffingtonPost.com. "The sign that a friendship is becoming toxic and out of balance is when this give and take becomes overly one-sided ... Stressful times aside, we need to feel that if we took score, that somehow we’d come up even."
Of course you don't need to actually keep score, but if you did, how would it look? If the friendship truly is unbalanced, you might notice some of the signs below.
1. They Only Call When They Need A Favor
If ever there was a sign of a one-sided friendship, this would be it. I'm talking about the friends who only call when they are upset, or when they need a favor. It just goes to show that they don't value you as a friend — someone who adds to their life, is fun to hang out with, etc. They simply view you as a therapist, a personal assistant, or a moving company. And that's not always a good thing.
2. They Never Show Up On Time
Good friends respect your time. They make plans, and then stick to them. But bad friends? Not so much. These are the people who cancel last minute, or show up hella late. It's clear they don't truly value seeing you, and they certainly don't value your time.
3. He Or She Does Most Of The Talking
It's fine to let your friend have the floor, especially if they are going through difficult times. If that's the case, by all means, let them chat away. But on regular days, the two of you should be switching off equally. "A healthy friendship should be an exchange, with both friends giving as much as they take from each other," said Iris Goldsztajn on HerCampus.com. Both of you are heard, and both of you get to say your piece.
4. They Can't Seem To Listen
Some friendships consist of one talkative friend, and one doting listener. If you're cool with that arrangement, then keep doing your thing. But if you aren't OK with it, then you may be leaving your lunch dates feeling like nothing you said was heard. It can grow old fast.
5. Your Friend Is Always "Borrowing" Things
I say "borrow" with big quotation marks, because your friend is constantly taking stuff home, and never bringing it back. Not that it's a problem on its own — we've all borrowed sweaters, or dresses, and accidentally kept them forever. But an unending borrowing habit can be a sign that your friend is using you, or that she's disrespectful of your things. Either way, it's not very nice.
6. They Never Say Thank You
Have you made your pal a million dinners and never received any thanks? This could be a sign of a problem, said Andrea Bonoir, Ph.D., on Psychology Today. Most friends are quick to offer up thanks, even if you just pour them a glass of water. So keep an eye out for those friends who seem to take everything (especially your grandest gestures) for granted.
7. You Always Have To Make The Plans
If this so-called "friend" of yours is never the one to make plans, it could be a sign that you're investing more into the relationship. "Nine out of 10 times you’re the one to call your friend, or suggest spending time together. You’re always buying tickets to a concert or play. You’ve cooked dinner for him several times and he’s never even invited you over," said Jody Braverman on Livestrong.com. It's great that you're full of ideas, but you shouldn't be the only one expressing desire to meet up.
8. They Don't Seem To Care
If your friend constantly comes off as apathetic, take note. "In an unbalanced friendship, one person repeatedly 'keeps the friendship going' while the other seems to care less about the relationship," said friendship expert Cherie Burbach on About.com. Whether they take forever to call back, or seem checked out during lunch dates, it might not be something worth dealing with.
9. They Have Unreasonable Expectations
You know that moment when the check comes at a restaurant, and everyone starts figuring out how to divvy it up? Well, this doesn't always happen, especially for those in one-sided friendships. Perhaps you picked up the tab once, and now your friend has grown to expect it. Or, she always has "money" issues or "will get you later." Either way, it's clearly unreasonable of her to expect you to pay 100 percent of the time.
10. They Are Unreliable
Yes, your friend bails on plans last minute. But they are unreliable in other ways, too. Maybe you can't count on them to pick you up at the airport, or remember to water your plants. "The key characteristic of an unbalanced friendship is consistency," said Burbach. When isn't there, the friendship suffers.
11. You Always Have To Travel
Where and how you guys meet up can be another opportunity for some unfairness. If you are always the one driving to your friend's place, or spending forever on the subway, then it could be that your pal is taking advantage of your kindness. See if he or she will be willing to make the trip next time. And if not? Well, it could be that you have a one-sided friendship on your hands.
Keep in mind, however, that friendships are often unbalanced for short periods of time. So try not to keep score whenever your friend asks for favors. And don't get all upset and suspicious if she is super chatty. (That could just be her personality.) But do pay attention to how you feel, and if things are decidedly unfair, do what you can to even things up.
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