How To Handle a One-Sided Friendship

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Dear Selfless Esteem,
If a friendship is a bit one-sided and you are always the one calling to make plans to hang out, but they usually want to, how can you get the other person to make the effort too in a new relationship?
A Good Friend Stuck in One-Sided Relationships

Thanks for bringing up this dilemma because I think other people out there have the same question. It’s confusing and discouraging when a new friend seems interested in hanging out but doesn’t make any plans. 🤔 The potential solution depends on the cause so let’s explore some possibilities.

Newness in the Relationship

I imagine you’re at the beginning stage of getting to know each other. Once you identify some shared interests, then it’s easier to determine when and where to meet. Then, external circumstances may prompt your friend to initiate something. For example, if you both like to hike, then sunny weather might spur you to meet up. Or a time-limited discount at a restaurant with your favorite cuisine might inspire you to go to lunch.

Two women in spa robes with face cream on smiling at each other

Scheduling Issues

During my school days, I interacted with my peers daily and hung out with my best friends most weekends. I think other people can relate to that. But as people get older, more obligations, events, and people are added to their lives. For this reason, they’re unable to visit anyone on a weekly or biweekly basis anymore.

Your new friend may already have a full schedule. And so, they don’t know how to squeeze in a new relationship—as much as they’d like to. In this situation, the other person may only be able to hang out approximately once every few months or so. However, you can still develop a friendship even if you connect less frequently than desired.

Personality Characteristics

Some people aren’t planners unless it’s a special occasion, and even then, they may end up doing something last minute or belated. This is because their greater strength is handling whatever matter is at hand. They tend to have the best reflexes, reaction time, and spontaneity. This enables them to be more present in the moment, which is another positive quality.

For this reason, they usually don’t contact others in advance to plan a get together. One option is to accept this characteristic of your friend and continue to be the one, who does the planning.

One of the things that sometimes works for me is discussing at the end of our time together when we can meet again and what we’d like to do together next so that it’s already set in our calendars. Plans may get cancelled for any reason, but it’s still worth a try.

The Best Friend of All

No matter what the issue is, we can’t “get the other person” to do anything. We can only control our own behavior. Thus, we can choose to spend time with God, who is always available.

In The Message translation of John 14: 25-27, Jesus said to His disciples, “’I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.'”

In other words, we’re not alone; God is our everlasting friend, and spending time with Him brings us peace. (Please see “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,” “The Real Truth About God” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps” for more details. You might also be interested these other posts regarding friendships: “The Best-Ever Solution for a Friend Issue” and “Ungrateful Friend? Here’s How to Handle It.”)

Therefore, I close with a song about “a friend that’s well known.” Please enjoy “Tell It to Jesus” written by Edmund Lorenz and Jeremiah Rankin and performed by Kaoma Chende, a one-man quartet. 🎵

“Tell It to Jesus” written by Edmund Lorenz and Jeremiah Rankin and performed by Kaoma Chende

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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