Is My Friendship Unbalanced? 9 Signs Your Friendship Is One-Sided, According To Experts
I used to have a friend who would constantly need me to console them through any and every issue they were having. And while I'm glad she felt comfortable coming to me for advice, she would miraculously disappear any time I needed someone to confide in. I ended up having to let that friendship go because of how emotionally draining it was to essentially be treated like a personal therapist instead of a friend. It's actually been a huge relief to no longer be involved in an unbalanced friendship.
"Friendships are mutual because both parties are gaining from the relationships," Colleen Andre, a licensed mental health counselor, tells Bustle. "If an individual constantly and always feels drained and never poured into or invested than they are in a life-sucking friendship."
Friendship, like any relationship, is built on mutual love and respect. But unfortunately, not every friend puts in an equal amount of effort. If you have a friend that only comes through when they need something from you or has never initiated plans in the four years you've known them, your friendship might be unbalanced. Here are nine signs that your friend isn't as invested in the relationship as you are:
1. You're The Only One Making Plans
We all know someone who never texts first, and while we might tolerate it, it's actually a sign that your friendship isn't equal. Andre says a major red flag in a relationship is if "you are the one mostly or always initiating contact." If you genuinely think this person would disappear from your life forever if you stopped texting them first, then they're not worth the effort you're putting into them.
2. You're Always Bending Over Backwards For Them
If your friend always makes you rearrange plans to pick them up from across town or bring them ice cream after a rough day, but can't be bothered to help you assemble an IKEA cabinet, they're not investing an equal amount of energy into the friendship. "You are always willing to help," Andre says. However, when you are looking for support they are hard to reach or reply very late."
3. They Treat You Like A Personal Therapist
Andre says your friendship isn't balanced if "they come to you for advice and discuss their various issues" but they never give you the chance to talk through your problems. If your friend sees your hangouts as a free therapy session without ever offering to repay the favor, they might be taking advantage of you.
4. You Feel Exhausted After Being Around Them
A major sign your friendship isn't balanced is if spending time with them is emotionally draining. "Your tiredness is an indication that the friendship is life sucking instead of life giving," Andre says. Your friends should be building you up, not breaking you down.
5. They Don't Value Your Time
"If you have friends who are constantly late when meeting up with you or ask you to listen to their issues without listening to your problems, it's time to move on," Kimberly Hershenson, a licensed therapist, tells Bustle. Your time with your friend should be benefitting both of you and that can't happen if one of you always shows up an hour late and then proceeds to only talk about themselves.
6. Your Friendship Feels Like An Obligation
If you realize the only reason you're continuing a friendship is because you've known each other since childhood or feel guilty about letting them go, the friendship might not be worth keeping. Of course, not every long-term friendship is unbalanced, but if it feels like you're no longer benefiting from the relationship, it might be time to end it. "Friendships should be fun and not feel like a job," Hershenson says.
7. They Don't Celebrate Your Success
"True friends understand that there is enough success and happiness to go around, so they know that when you're successful and happy that doesn't infringe upon their ability to be so as well," Cheryl Hunter, a relationship expert, life coach and author, tells Bustle.
If your friend is suddenly MIA any time something goes well for you at work but they expect you to drop everything to celebrate them reaching 1,000 followers on Instagram, your friendship is probably unbalanced.
8. They Hide Things From You
If your friend expects you to be completely honest with them, it's only fair that they're always truthful with you as well. "You share everything with them but they don’t? That is a sure sign something is off," Hunter says. "They don't need to tell you every thought that crosses their mind, but when they start hiding the things that really matter, you should know something is up."
9. They Never Pay You Back
It's one thing to agree to put everything on one tab and have your friend pay you back later. But its another thing entirely if your friend never fulfills your Venmo requests. "When only one person pulls out their wallet time and time again, it will cause begrudging feelings which can eventually end the relationship," Hunter says.
Having let go of an unbalanced friendship, I've been able to focus more on the relationships that are providing the mutual support that I need. If your friendship is draining you because you're putting forth all the effort with nothing in return, it might be best to move on.