If it constantly feels like your
relationship is unfair, there's a good chance something isn't quite right in terms of how you and your partner interact. They likely demand too much of you, and may even have unrealistic expectations. And, as a result there's a lopsided power balance that's impossible to ignore.
Of course, being in a relationship
means giving and taking, so you can't expect things to always be 100 percent even. "From paying rent to raising kids — a life lived together involves a lot of work," Amica Graber, a relationship expert for the background checking site TruthFinder, tells Bustle. And sometimes that means one person will occasionally rely more on the other.
But if your
partner has unfair expectations, and never gives back, it can start to take a toll. As Graber says, "If [your partner] refuses to put in their fair share, you’ll end up feeling burnt out and resentful." And possibly even unseen, as well as misunderstood.
In any case, you'll want to let your partner know how you feel, Graber says, so you can work together to
set better boundaries. "It’s better to have an awkward conversation rather than let your resentment build up over time," she says, since that will only make the situation worse.
Read on below for some signs your relationship isn't entirely fair, according to experts, as well as how to
strike a better balance with your partner.
They Want You To Check In 24/7
While it's certainly fine to check in while at work, and give each other updates when you're out of town, it's not cool for your partner to expect a play-by-play of your day.
"This type of behavior is
controlling and possessive, and it hints at an unbalanced power dynamic in your relationship," Graber says. This is especially true if they don't hold themselves to the same standard, or bother to let you know where they are.
Of course, it may be something your partner does without realizing it's unfair. If it's bothering you, be sure to bring it to their attention, and give them a
chance to change.
They Make All The Decisions
If you're in a balanced relationship, you'll both have a say in how your lives play out, from the big things — like where you'll live — to the small things — like where you'll go out to eat.
If your partner is always the one who
makes these decisions, however, even though you'd really like to share your input, it's a good sign things aren't as fair as they could be.
As Graber says, "If your partner leaves you out of the decision-making process altogether, they’re not taking your feelings into account." And that's an issue you'll want to talk about sooner, rather than later.
They Expect You To Pick Up The Check
Life is tough, and you might need to occasionally help each other financially. But unless you have an agreement, it's not fair for your partner to expect you to pay their bills, or pick up the check.
"If you find that you’re
paying more than your fair share in rent and bills, something is off in your relationship," Graber says. "It’s one thing to help your partner out during a rough patch, but if you’re consistently lending them money or being a source of financial support, they may be taking advantage of you."
They Want You To Wait Around
People get busy, and that means your plans won't always go as, well, planned. But if your partner is always running late or canceling dates — and they expect you to just be cool with it — it's a sign your relationship isn't entirely fair.
"We all run into situations where we can’t make a date or event and have to cancel," Graber says, "but if someone makes a habit of flaking at the last minute, they
don’t value your time."
This is something you two can discuss, as a way of
establishing healthier boundaries and "rules" for your relationship. If your partner realizes the error of their ways and wants to be more fair, they'll be open to change.
They Demand All Your Spare Time
You have a right to solo hobbies, and
evenings spent alone. So it's definitely a red flag if your partner doesn't allow you this time to yourself, or gets upset when you ask for it.
"In 'unfair' relationships, your partner wants you to only spend time with them and not have other friends and interests,"
psychotherapist Dr. Jennifer Howard, tells Bustle.
In extreme cases, it can even be a
sign of emotional abuse, Dr. Howard says, so don't let this behavior slide. If your partner has your best interests at heart, they'll be OK with maintaining individuality within the relationship, including supporting your hobbies and interests.
They Expect You To Give Up Your Social Life
Similarly, if your partner expects you to
give up your friends in favor of hanging out with them, it's not something you have to put up with.
"As long as you and your partner spend quality time together often, it’s unfair for your partner to insist that you never see your friends or only do so as a couple," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle.
Behaviors like this can
quickly become controlling, too, which is why you'll want to talk about it ASAP.
They Want To Skip Important Holidays
Does your partner expect you to remain quiet while important dates — like major holidays, your birthday, or anniversaries — pass by uncelebrated? If so, that's all sorts of unfair, especially so if you've made it clear these things are important to you.
"If you make a big effort to make them feel special on important days, but they don’t reciprocate the favor — you may be more
invested in the relationship than they are," Graber says. And that's entirely unfair.
They Expect Support But Don't Return It
It's never OK for your partner to ask for your support, but
give nothing back in return. "This is a classic symptom of unfairness in a relationship," Graber says. "A healthy relationship is mutually supportive. If a partner can’t support your dreams or aspirations, you should reconsider your relationship."
They Want You To Make All The Plans
Many times, partners who have high expectations can be quite passive in the relationship, which is why yours might kick back and expect you to do everything, including making plans and organizing your schedules, Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of
The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle.
Of course, that doesn't mean this is necessarily a sign of a problem. "Fairness has much more to with how you each feel versus what you do," Dr. Klapow says. "You may always make plans, but if that’s what you enjoy, it’s not as taxing."
If something does feel unbalanced, though, let your partner know. As Dr. Klapow says, "Bottom line is that if your partner is asking you to do something that you don’t believe is fair you need to communicate with them." Once it's brought to their attention, it'll be easier to spot unfair situations as they occur, and work together to
find more balance. Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org .