How to Handle a One-Sided Friendship


Do you have a one-sided friendship?

Ask yourself- have I ever cringed when I saw an incoming call from someone?

Or how about an incoming text from that same someone?

You know how it is- they only call or text you when they need something.  When they need a favor.

Perhaps it’s when they need you to pick up their kids.  Or they need you to grab something from the store for them.

They are doing this because you never say no.  You always grit your teeth- and say yes.  They ask you to jump, and you ask, how high?  This can be a prime example of a one-sided friendship.

And I don’t think this is just a “working mom” thing.- It’s an “anyone” thing.  It just feels  harder on us working moms because we are already juggling a million other balls in the air.

Don’t take it personally

I have a friend who does this to me constantly.  I don’t think that she even realizes that she’s doing it.

I won’t hear from her for a while.  Then out of the blue- I’ll get an incoming text.  And I know before I even open it she’s going to ask me for something. We’ve started to get into a little bit of a one-sided friendship.

One thing to know is when people do this to you, don’t take it personally.

It’s probably not intentional

First of all, they probably don’t even realize they’re doing this.  You’ve somehow became a reliable go-to person for them, so it’s natural for them to keep returning to you.

They are going to keep going back to the well until it dries out (until you say no).

It’s like being co-dependent.  Almost childlike.

They’re probably doing it to other people too

Secondly, realize that they are more than likely not doing this just to you.  They probably are needy, or high maintenance, and do this to anyone that is there for them.

You’re probably not the only one-sided friendship they’ve got.

What should you do about this

Remember the good things about that person.  Maybe the few times you needed something and turned to them.  How did they react?

If they were there for you- no questions asked, you know it’s not a completely one-sided friendship.

When to turn down the spigot

Sometimes people get into a rut.  Maybe they’ve switched jobs, and are still getting things situated with a new schedule.  Or maybe they’re going through a divorce, and need a little extra help in the interim. That’s ok, stuff happens.

But what if it’s been awhile, and they aren’t making the situation better? Maybe they’ve gotten used to all the extra help, and keep asking out of habit, even if they don’t really need it.

This could be a good time to start saying no.

At some point, you have to be the adult and start setting boundaries. This could be the wakeup call they need to get things better situated.

When to turn off the spigot

Are you finding that whenever you need something, they aren’t there for you. Or they blow you off and never call you back.

Are they are the type of person where everything is a fire drill, and full of drama? You know the type of person, the one who doesn’t seem to mature even as they pick up adult responsibilities.

Ask yourself- do they really have that kind of bad luck following them around? Like a cloud filled with water that’s about to burst?

Or are they actually just constantly bringing this upon themselves?

If they’re never there when you need them, or constantly making poor decisions, and getting themselves into a bind, it may be time to start putting some distance between yourself and them.

If they’re not there for you when you need them, are they really even a friend?

You’re a parent.  You have serious responsibilites. You have to prioritize these things over someone else’s drama.  You can’t constantly get wound up in someone else’s problems without putting your own family at risk.

When this happens, it’s time to start to turn the spigot off.

Be mature about it

If they’re a friend who’s just being a little too needy at the moment, start to dial it back a little. If you say no once or twice, without making a big deal out of it, they might get the message and adjust their behavior.

But one thing you really shouldn’t do in this situation is to tell everyone about it.  The last thing you want to do is to start some drama, or embarrass them, when all you wanted was to get them to ease back a little.

This is especially true if it’s someone who you’ve decided to create some distance with.  You don’t want to make a bad situation worse by gossiping or putting them down.

Maybe it’s a Woman thing

Women are taught to bond.  Build each other up.  Be there for each other.

It’s easier to be nice to someone than to avoid or not help them.  But that doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat and let someone walk all over you.

Set some boundaries. It takes a little effort, but it will payoff for you in the long run.

Use minor adjustments to right the tide

Are they there for you when you need it? Then they’re probably worth keeping as a friend.

If the friendship has become a little one-sided lately, then just use a measured approach, like what I’ve shared above, to help dial that one-sided friendship back in a little.

They wouldn’t call it tough love if it wasn’t something you use with those who are closest to you.

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