All kinds of connections between people should be based on mutual feelings. When you are the only one who cares, it’s an unhealthy union. This is when you know you are in a one-sided friendship.
Does your friend ask you for favors too often? Do they disappear when you most need them? Do they only remember about you when they want something?
Behaviors such as these are common in one-way friendships. Read through the signs below to know for sure.
What Is a One-Sided Friendship? The Definition
It’s when your genuine interest and affection are not reciprocated by your friend. You are the only one who is dedicated to the friendship and ready to offer help, support, and a listening ear.
Typically, it’s a friendship based on convenience. In other words, your friend doesn’t care about you and just takes advantage of you.
One-sided friendship hurts and often leads to disappointment in people as a whole. That’s why it’s important to be aware of its warning signs.
17 Undeniable Signs Your Friendship Is One-Sided and It’s Time to End It
1. Your friend doesn’t listen
Listening is one of the most important components of a healthy friendship. When you listen to your friend without interrupting them or changing the subject, you show them that you care. You are genuinely interested in what they have on their mind.
So what happens when your friend doesn’t reciprocate your feelings? They don’t listen. Or they just pretend that they do.
For example, you are telling your friend about the argument you had with your husband this morning. Instead of showing support or giving some advice, she says a couple of ‘uh-huh’s and shifts to another subject.
2. They take you for granted
One-sided friendships often leave you feeling unappreciated. You feel this way because you do things for your friend, but they don’t seem grateful. They just take your effort for granted.
For example, you helped your college buddy with an assignment a few times. Now, whenever he has issues with his paper, he turns to you without even asking if you are available for help. He doesn’t think about whether you might be busy or have assignments of your own. He expects your help as if you owe him.
In reality, your friend is exploiting your kindness.
3. They ask you for favors all the time
As we said above, one-way friendships are typically based on convenience. You will notice that your friend often needs something from you.
Okay, it’s pretty natural to ask favors from your friends now and then. But if requests have become an essential part of your interactions, then it’s about convenience, not true friendship.
Your shopaholic friend may be borrowing money from you all the time. The work friend who lives nearby may find it convenient to have a ride to the office every morning. These are some examples of one-sided friendships.
4. Your friend’s presence in your life is fleeting
Someone who is truly interested in you will want to know your news. They will also try to see you as often as possible.
Of course, with our hectic lives, we can’t always find time for our friends. But even though meeting up is more difficult to arrange, giving a call or texting is not.
So, if your friend disappears for weeks without even texting, it’s a huge indicator that your connection is one-sided. Deep down, you probably already know that you can’t rely on them.
5. Your friend is not there for you when you need them
Your friends’ true colors show when you are in trouble.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed”, remember?
Imagine that you had a difficult day – your boss yelled at you and then you also had a fight with your girlfriend. You are in desperate need of a listening ear. You call your friend and suggest meeting up or at least having a phone conversation.
But he says he gotta go. He can’t come, he can’t listen to you, he is not available right now.
Is this your friend’s typical response when you are asking for his support? Does he always find an excuse to not help you?
Then I’m afraid that your friendship is one-sided.
6. They show up only when they need something
Your friend doesn’t care to be a part of your life. We already said above that they may disappear for weeks and show up again as if nothing happened.
But an even more telling sign of a one-way friendship is that the other person texts or calls you only when they need a new favor.
If your friend never reaches out just to see how you are doing, it’s a huge red flag. At some point, you see a message from them, and you already know that they want to ask you something.
I’m sorry to tell you this, but this is not friendship. Don’t fool yourself.
7. If they have a choice, they always prefer someone else to hang out with
How does your friend behave when in a group? Do they talk to you at social gatherings or do they always seem to be busy chatting with someone else?
If it’s a one-sided friendship, then the other person will barely give you any attention at parties and get-togethers. It’s because they will want to have fun with the people they are genuinely attached to.
If your friend is just using you, they won’t aspire to spend their free time with you. They will always choose someone else to hang out with.
8. You never meet up outside of the workplace/classroom
Oftentimes, friendships arise when two people share the same work or study environment. Some of these connections happen to last, others are temporary and revolve around convenience.
You can easily tell the difference. A fake friend who is only taking advantage of you won’t care to get to know you outside of work or studies. They are not genuinely interested in you.
For example, your school buddy probably won’t want to hang out with you outside of the classroom. Why? Because he only needs your help with his studies and doesn’t want to be your friend.
Even if you occasionally meet up somewhere else, you will most likely talk about assignments and exams.
9. Your friend doesn’t understand you
You can’t say that you two are at the same wavelength. You are pretty different and your friend doesn’t share your values, aspirations, and passions.
Maybe there are topics you never discuss with them because you know you will face misunderstandings. Or they simply don’t give a damn about the things you are interested in.
Even if you are convinced that this person is your real friend, deep inside, you will know the truth. You will feel that the connection isn’t there. You never feel accepted and understood in their company.
10. The things that unite you are superficial
Since there is a lack of deep connection in your friendship, things that unite you lie on the surface. As we said, you have different values, goals in life, and interests.
So your friendship could be situational – as in the example of studies/workplace. You basically have nothing in common except for living in the same street or sitting in the same office or classroom.
Alternatively, you may have a common acquaintance or relative, and that’s all you share.
11. All your conversations are meaningless
How to tell if your friendship is one-sided and superficial? All your conversations will revolve around meaningless stuff. True friends feel free to discuss more intimate topics and share their personal problems with each other.
Of course, some people don’t feel the need to have deep, intimate conversations all the time. They consider someone a friend if they have fun and do things together. But there comes a time when one of you is in trouble and wants to share something personal in order to get support or advice.
So, if it never happens or all your attempts to get more personal fail, then something isn’t right. If you only talk about mundane subjects, and discussing something more intimate feels inappropriate and awkward, then this person is not your real friend.
12. They never reach out first and have no idea about what’s going on in your life
When your friendship is one-sided, the other person isn’t interested in you. Even if you tell them a lot about yourself, they don’t really pay attention.
So, when you mention something you said a few days ago, they have no idea what you are talking about. They may confuse your children’s names or forget that you moved to a new neighborhood a week ago.
In essence, your friend has no idea about who you are, what you are passionate about, and what’s going on in your life. It all stems from a lack of genuine interest.
13. They want to hang out on their terms
You are usually more proactive when it comes to suggesting activities to do together. But it’s only half a problem.
Your friend never agrees on something if it’s not at their convenience. For example, when you suggest having a coffee together, you always go to a coffee shop that is close to your friend’s home or office.
When you hold a home party, she won’t come unless you come and pick her up in your car. She refuses to go to your favorite restaurant and you always end up meeting up in the places of her choice.
The reality is that your friend is selfish and your connection is one-sided.
14. Your friend has no time for you
Another important indicator of a one-way friendship is when you are the only one who is ready to devote time to your friend. They never pay it back. Your friend is always busy at work or with family responsibilities.
Yes, it may indeed happen since there is not much space for fun and socializing in adult life. But there is a difference between a real situation and a mere excuse.
Does your friend always happen to be busy when you need their help? Or whenever you ask them to keep you company at a social event they wouldn’t normally attend?
In reality, they just don’t want to waste their time on you if there is nothing to get. They turn to you only when it’s convenient for them.
15. Most of your conversations are about your friend or their interests
A tell-tale sign of a one-sided friendship is that you always talk only about your friend and whatever interests them. It may feel like there is no space for you, your problems, and your passions. Everything is always about them.
Your friend may also show signs of conversational narcissism. Whenever you try to talk about yourself, they quickly switch the conversation back to themselves.
For example, you are telling your friend about the grudges you are holding against your brother. She barely listens to you, and when you are finished, she immediately starts telling you a story about a similar argument she had with her sister a year ago.
16. They repeatedly violate your boundaries
A one-sided friendship doesn’t necessarily mean that someone openly disrespects you. It’s more about a lack of interest and affection. But they will likely not respect your boundaries.
Since your friend takes you and what you do for them for granted, they may think it’s normal to invade your personal space.
They may call you late in the evening because they need some information or help. Or they may show up at your door unannounced to ask you for a favor.
17. They don’t introduce you to their friends
When someone really wants to be your friend, they want to make you a part of their life. They want to spend time with you and let you into their circle.
When you constantly feel left out, something is wrong with your friendship. Of course, your friend may have excluded you from his plans because he knows you wouldn’t like this type of social event.
But when it happens over and over again, it’s time to think about his real motives. Does he always hang out with his other friends, leaving you out all the time? Does he ever invite you to the events he attends? Has he introduced you to his circle?
How to End a One-Sided Friendship and Heal from Disappointment
If the above rings the bell, it’s unlikely that you can fix your friendship. Most probably, the person you consider to be your friend is just using you and is not your friend at all. I’m sorry to tell you this, but this friendship was never real.
Therefore, the best idea would be to end this unhealthy connection and focus on the people who genuinely care about you.
Here is how to do that:
1. Stop saying yes all the time
The first step is to stop satisfying your friend’s requests. Don’t automatically say yes when they ask you for a favor or suggest a social event of their choice.
If you find it difficult to say a blunt ‘no’, then use an excuse. Say that you are busy or already have other social plans. You can do the same if you are the one who suggests meeting up, and your friend insists on doing it on their terms. You can always say,
Okay, no problem, we can do it another time.
Your friend may be used to taking your understanding and support for granted, so they will probably be surprised to get this kind of response from you. Say no a couple of times and see what happens. Most likely, the next time your friend needs something, they will choose to turn to someone else for help.
If you are still unsure whether this friendship is one-sided or not, this is also a good way to check your friend’s motives. If it is, then most likely, they will quickly disappear from your life.
This is when you will know for sure that your friend hung out with you out of mere convenience.
2. Don’t pick up that phone
Is your friend a fan of late-night calls and unexpected visits? Then you absolutely need to establish firm boundaries.
Stop picking up that phone! Ignore their texts and don’t open the door when they show up unannounced. For example, you can reply to your friend’s text or missed call the next day or the day after. You can always say you had no time for that.
In the case of an unannounced visit, you can just pretend that you are not at home. Or you can say through the door that you have company and it’s not a good time.
This works in a similar way as saying no to your friend’s requests. You basically make them understand that you are not available 24/7. You have a life of your own.
3. Don’t reach out first
If you always reach out first and invite your friend to events and activities, then stop. Do they ever suggest anything that doesn’t involve getting your help and support? Or do they only call you when they need a listening ear or a favor?
Think about it. One-sided friendships waste your time and energy without giving you anything in return. Do you really need friends who are just using you? You deserve better.
So, make a firm decision to stop reaching out first. Stop asking your friend how they are doing. Resist the urge to suggest meeting up.
Realize that this friendship is a waste of time and you are better off without it. Then distance yourself from this person in every possible way.
4. Socialize with other people
Socializing with the people who truly care about you is a great way to heal from a one-sided friendship.
One-way friendships can damage your self-worth and trust in people. The disappointment from being used by a person you believed was your friend can be tough. That’s why you need to focus on activities and people that make you feel happy and powerful.
You should also not stop socializing and meeting new friends. If someone used you, it doesn’t mean that everyone has shady intentions toward you.
Spend your time with your friends and family members who make you feel accepted and loved. It will help you restore your sense of self-worth and feel connected to others.
5. Don’t let the feeling of rejection take a toll on your self-esteem
One-sided friendships inevitably lead to disappointment. But even worse is that they make you question yourself. Rejection leaves you feeling used, worthless, and not good enough.
You ask yourself,
Do I deserve it? Am I so boring that no one wants to be my friend and everyone is using me?
It’s your inner critic lying to you. Rejection fuels self-deprecating thoughts, and it’s quite normal to feel this way.
But it’s important to confront these thoughts as soon as they pop up in your head. Reply to your inner critic with a positive statement about yourself, such as:
I am an interesting and likable person.
I deserve to have true, loyal friends.
The people who surround me see the beauty in me.
You can learn more in this guide to affirmations for self-esteem.
In all, realize that your friend is using you because they find it okay to take advantage of others, not because this is what you deserve. You just trusted the wrong person. It can happen to anyone.
6. Learn your lesson
Are you tired of one-sided friendships? Do you feel like you attract people who use you? If it’s not the first time you let a selfish friend into your life, some of your behaviors could be to blame.
Are you a people pleaser who can’t say no to others? Do you tolerate violating your boundaries? Do you struggle to stand up for yourself?
If you always let other people have the upper hand, they may start to think that you are weak and have no opinion of your own. You are a follower and will do whatever they ask you to.
So, learn your lesson and stop saying yes to everyone. If you don’t like someone’s behavior, let them know. If you don’t want to do something, say it. Learn to voice your opinion and speak up for yourself.
If you are sick of one-sided friendships, it could be that you let other people take advantage of you. Therefore, you need to learn how to set strong boundaries and say no. Without this vital skill, you will keep attracting selfish people.
To sum up, ending a one-sided friendship is pretty easy. You stop satisfying your friend’s requests and they soon move on to a new target. But healing from the disappointment of being used is much more difficult.
The most important part is to confront your inner critic and not let the feeling of rejection ruin your self-esteem. Remember that you deserve better than hanging out with friends who use you.