If it’s not you, chances are you know someone who is: a friend or colleague that seems to be in a relationship, whereby they put in all the effort and seemingly get little in return. Maybe the other person is a narcissist, or a commitment-phobe due to past treatment, or maybe they’re just not as into the relationship as the other person. Regardless of the reason, the relationship is one-sided, and the burdens that fall upon the load-bearer can seem insurmountable.
As someone who has recently (read: the last two months) come out of such a relationship, I can certainly see both sides of the story; she was everything I ever wanted, and everything I never knew I needed. When it was just us, it was amazing. We had plans for the future, and had commitments together – holidays, family engagements, etc. However, that apparently wasn’t enough. We weren’t enough. And, for quite a time, it seemed like I wasn’t enough, despite everything I did. On-again, off-again; are we, are we not? Why am I invited to her family gatherings, and why do we act like we’re a couple, when she won’t commit again?
However, once the decision was made to finally end it, I made a choice to accept it, make a (reasonably) clear break, and move forward rather than lament what could have been. Don’t get me wrong: I still love her, her family and her friends, and I genuinely want nothing more than for her to be happy; we never argued, we never fought. But in the end it wasn’t meant to be. And since it’s happened, so many things have changed so rapidly, that it wasn’t until this weekend that I realised how much it WASN’T working, and how much of myself I’d sacrificed in the blind belief that it was meant to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter, and I’m not trying to act out the martyr; rather, I want to give my side of a story, in the hope that others can relate. This situation happens to both guys and girls equally too, so hopefully this comes across that way.
Does this sound like you? If so, read on, because the next few points might ring true for you as well. And so, without further adieu, I present to you my five signs that you’re in a one-sided relationship (and what can change afterwards):
1. You can’t fathom a future without them, and nobody compares to them
*cue Sinead O’Connor*
Everybody else pales in comparison. You look around the bar or restaurant, and all you see is mediocrity; you have perfection personified sitting across the table from you, and you KNOW that everybody else in the room knows it too, and are green with envy. Don’t bother forming an orderly queue people, because I’m going to win; we were destined to be together, and while it’s hard at the moment, and that commitment is an issue, it’ll be ok. This will be totally worth it. Just you watch.
After: That girl from the cafe that I get my coffee from every morning? She’s actually pretty cute, and she remembered that it’s my birthday. Why haven’t I noticed her before? That guy from HR that always smiles while you’re walking past to grab your prints? He came up and spoke to you this morning, and he’s got quite the charm. OMG I’m walking through the Westfield and there’s HUNDREDS of ridiculously-attractive people! Take your rose-coloured glasses off, and suddenly you’ll realise that beauty is all around you, takes all forms, and is in fact right in front of you; you’ve just been too blind to notice.
2. You stop making plans, in the hope that you’ll do something with them
It’s Wednesday afternoon and everyone’s making plans for Friday night (because FORWARD-THINKING); however, you can’t commit, because you’re assuming (hoping?) that your significant other wants to do something with you, or they vaguely alluded to possibly going and seeing a movie. As you’ve told them before, you’d rather do nothing with them than something with anyone else. However, Friday arvo rolls around, and suddenly they have plans and can’t do anything anymore, because the work crew has a bowls day they forgot about; also, it’s too late to jump on board the plans of your friends, because all the tickets have been bought. Rinse and repeat: week in, week out. Eventually, your friends stop asking.
After: Tuesday night trivia? Sure! I love trivia, and sorry I haven’t been the last eleventy weeks, I’ve been totes…umm, busy. Saturday morning run along the beach and then brunch? Don’t mind if I do, even though it’s only Wednesday morning at the moment – because I know it’ll be fine. All of a sudden, you realise that saying yes to something isn’t a sin; equally, saying no to something is also ok – as long as you’re saying it for your reasons, not someone else’s.
3. Your health will suffer
“Babe I know this is your one night when you meal prep and play sport, but can I come over straight after work and we’ll get takeaway? I’m just, just…you know.”
“Sure thing Beautiful Girl, you’re my Number One.”
No doubt this is followed with many “sorry to do this again guys, but I can’t make it tonight” leaving your very important mixed netball team short for the third week in a row. Also, the fact you’ve ordered home-delivered Indian, with enough leftovers for lunch the next day, means your plans to meal prep are out the window – as are your health goals for the week ahead.
After: Knowing who and what you’ve committed to are fundamentals of your social construct; being able to commit without continued excuses means that you build trust within your friends and family. Suddenly, you’re enjoying your weekly mixed netball run-around, and can plan your life a bit better week to week. And when you know what you’re doing from one day to the next, you can also coordinate the other mundane tasks: meal prep, washing, cleaning, etc. With all these out of the way, you can concentrate on yourself, and suddenly getting out for a jog or getting to the game doesn’t seem like such a burden.
4. You’ll constantly worry when they haven’t contacted you
You’re continually checking your phone, wherever you go. And if your phone is anywhere near running out of charge, you give it some juice, just in case. “They normally message between 7:45 and 8:15 of a morning, but it’s 8:13am and they haven’t messaged” your inner pessimist jerk tells you; you’ve done your second set of legs at the gym, and they haven’t replied to your reply to their message from 5 minutes ago. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THEM DID THEY GET AXE MURDERED LIKE YOU SEE ON THE CRIME CHANNEL OR WORSE DON’T THEY LOVE ME ANYMORE OMG! Oh wait, they’ve texted at 8:14am saying “Morning babe.” Suddenly everything is right with the world…
After: You know what I did this morning? I went grocery shopping and to the gym and DIDN’T take my phone *gasp*. That’s right, I went off the grid, and left my phone charging at home, because it was at 14 per cent. And you know what happened? Apart from the fact that a lot of fucks weren’t given a second thought – the world didn’t explode, my social circle remained intact and I got a good sesh done at the gym. Winning.
5. You make excuses for them
“I’m so sorry, she was really looking forward to coming, but she developed a migraine about three seconds before we left. Yes I know it’s the third she’s had in a fortnight, but it’s her work and her posture and the doctor says that the only thing that will fix it is standing on one leg and rubbing her tummy with a harmonica, but she just doesn’t have time because EXCUSES.” Or “He didn’t mean what he said, he’s just had a tough time at work lately, and he’d been at after game drinks with the boys, and he genuinely didn’t mean it when he told your 6 year old son that Batman was a pussy.” Sound familiar?
If you’re out of a one-sided relationship, or in a relationship that isn’t one-sided, then there’s no need to make up excuses. Simple as that.