The Characteristics of a One-Sided Relationship

Today's article will discuss the characteristics of a one-sided relationship.
The Characteristics of a One-Sided Relationship
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

You’re caught in a one-sided relationship if your significant other expects you to guess what’s wrong with them. When you can’t, they get angry. Although this is quite unreasonable and childish, it’s a lot more common than you may think. Indeed, many people expect their partners to read their minds.

Some people just can’t be assertive and state their concerns, disappointments, or worries, so they adopt a passive attitude. Thus, their significant other should be able to guess the reason for their discomfort. This leads to double frustration because their realization that their partner can’t guess what’s going on only adds to the problem.

This isn’t gender exclusive. In fact, not only women who expect their partners to investigate, like Sherlock Holmes, what’s wrong with them.

Most people can’t read minds. Furthermore, loving someone doesn’t give you magic powers over them. Thus, your partner will only know what’s going on if you tell them and vice-versa. As you can see, love is actually about mutual sharing and understanding.

“People can’t hear what you don’t say. Thinking isn’t communicating.”

-Frank Sonnenberg-

A woman yelling at a man.

Are you in a one-sided relationship?

“What’s wrong with you?”


“Are you worried about something?”

“You should know.”

You might have had this conversation at some point. While it’s true that there could be an obvious reason for this tension or anger, it’s also quite possible that one of the two isn’t fully aware of this reality.

However, saying “I’m fine” or “You should know” is a bad communication strategy. The person who doesn’t empathize and doesn’t realize there’s a problem is just as bad an emotional manager as the one who isn’t clearly expressing it.

Thus, shielding, irony, or defensiveness don’t contribute anything positive. The amazing part is that this situation is common. Continue reading to understand why.

One-sided relationships are expectation traps

Something’s definitely wrong when your significant other expects you to guess what’s wrong with them. One of the causes may lie in their false expectations, such as:

  • Assuming and taking for granted that being in a relationship is about mutual understanding at every second and in every nuance. Thus, your “soulmate” should immediately notice that you’re in pain, that something’s worrying, scaring, angering, or bothering you. After all, that’s what love is all about.
  • Another dangerous expectation is to endow love with magic. The idealized concepts of “soulmate” and “better half” lead to the wrong idea that you should be capable of feeling what the other feels, and it damages many relationships.

These are self-constructed realities you must redefine in a healthy way. Only then will you stop hurting yourself.

Lack of assertiveness and passivity

Passive people abound in romantic relationships. In other words, some people make the minimum effort on an emotional level and opt for silence instead of being assertive. These people don’t share their problems either because they’re always on the defensive or due to poor communication skills.

There’s a determining factor in these cases: the need for the other person to do the work both of them should be doing. Thus, they’re convinced it’s their partner’s duty to find out what’s wrong with them and make their life easy if they really love them.

Your partner expects you to guess what’s wrong with them because they don’t know how to express it

“Nothing is wrong with me, but everything is wrong with me, and I expect you to be the one to solve this situation.” Your partner has poor emotional management skills when they expect you to guess what’s wrong with them. They may have a hard time perceiving, understanding, and regulating their own feelings. Hence, there’s an emotional blockage.

You must be patient and try to help your partner learn to express what’s going on. Thus, studies such as those conducted at Columbia University are reminders that this lack of self-regulation and assertiveness is a big problem in interpersonal relationships.

Everyone should work on this. At the end of the day, nobody can read minds. As such, you must always be objective and clear about the sources of your distress.

Two plant heads.

Learn to assert your concerns

Your partner may expect you to guess what’s wrong with them because they have a wrong idea of what love really is. Indeed, they may want you to be more empathetic. But be careful, because empathy isn’t about guessing what your significant other is thinking. You may perceive you did something wrong but might not know what.

Everyone needs to learn to say what’s causing them pain. This is because expressing what’s bothering you is healthy.

Thus, if your partner offended you but you remain silent and wait for them to realize it, you’re simply resorting to a childish strategy that speaks of your lack of assertiveness.

A romantic relationship isn’t magical and requires daily work. This is because loving is investing in what you want. Things won’t resolve on their own and your significant other can’t read your mind and solve your problems. You have to do it together, so you must learn to communicate.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Harris, Victor. (2012). 9 Important Communication Skills for Every Relationship. . American Scientist, 91(July-August), 330-335.
  • Rosenberg, M. B. (2003). Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Life. Encinitas US: PuddleDancer.
  • Segrin C. (2014) Communication and Personal Well-Being. In: Michalos A.C. (eds) Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research. Springer, Dordrecht.
  • Weger, H., Castle, G. R., & Emmett, M. C. (2010). Active Listening in Peer Interviews: The Influence of Message Paraphrasing on Perceptions of Listening Skill. International Journal of Listening, 24(1), 34-49.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.