Feeling like your relationship is one-sided can be painful and upsetting. It can make you feel like a spare part in someone elses life - as if you aren't as important to your partner as they are to you.
There are a variety of things that can make a relationship feel as if its one sided. Perhaps you find youre always making the plans while your partner is ambivalent or apathetic. Perhaps you feel like its always up to you to maintain contact when youre apart. Or perhaps its just a general feeling that youre putting the relationship first in ways they arent as if its one of the most important things in your life, but just something in theirs.
What does it mean?
The first thing to say is that feeling like your relationship is one sided doesnt necessarily mean your partner doesnt care about you as much as you care about them.
It may be that your partner has trouble expressing themselves when it comes to affection or emotion. It may be that they have trouble with commitment. Or it could be that they simply dont understand that these are the expectations that you have of the relationship and it hasnt occurred to them that youre finding this upsetting.
Although these are all relatively different scenarios, they each have a common solution: talk about it. Without gaining an understanding of why it is that your partner doesnt seem to be as interested in the relationship as you are, youre not going to get any relief and the tension and upset is only likely to keep increasing.
Talking it through
When you do talk to them about it, its important that you make it a conversation, not an interrogation. You might like to consider the following:
- Set aside some time. Dont bring things up when youre already feeling frustrated or upset. This is likely to make your partner feel as if theyre being attacked or that youre just saying them because youre in a bad mood. Make it a proper conversation: sit down without any distractions and take the time to explore whats going on.
- Listen as well as talking. When youre the one feeling aggrieved, there can be a temptation to simply vent without actually listening to what your partner has to say. But a conversation only works if theres two people in it. The whole point of the exercise is to gain a better understanding of each others feelings and thoughts, so, even if you find their explanations frustrating or upsetting, try to take them seriously.
- Take responsibility for your own feelings. Explain how things are affecting you, rather than just going in with accusations and anger. I phrases can be a useful way of taking ownership of your feelings and not turning everything on your partner, i.e. When you dont talk to me for days at a time, it makes me feel isolated, rather than Youre so distant! Whats wrong with you?!.
Thinking it over afterwards
After talking things through with your partner, you may be feeling relieved. You may have been able to reach a greater level of understanding, where your partner has come to better appreciate what you want from the relationship and youve been able to get a better idea of how theyre feeling too.
Or you may have discovered that your partner simply doesnt see things the way you do that they see the relationship as having a completely different role in your lives. This can be frustrating or upsetting, but ultimately its better to have this understanding of your relationship than no understanding at all.
Either way, you can now go forward with a better idea of what staying in the relationship would mean. You dont need to be part of something that isnt satisfying to you, but equally, knowing more about partners ideas or values may mean theres room for compromise or change.
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