How I’ve Stopped Attracting One-Sided Relationships That Leave Me Feeling Empty

“Curiosity will save your soul.” ~Danielle LaPorte

My mother was an active volunteer at the nursing home when I was five years old. She was a stayat-home mother so it was mandatory that I tag along.

While she would wheel all the residents into the front room and sing prayers and read devotionals, I simply couldn’t sit still for 2.5 seconds. My life was full of plans and I had a lot to do. I was always busy and had lots to do.

Weekly, I would pop in and out of residents’ rooms while mom banged on the piano down the hall. In and out of each room I would float, loaded with question upon question for each resident.

When I was five years old, I saw something in these people that others struggle to understand. I didn’t see them as sick, helpless people preparing to leave this world.

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Yes, it was obvious that many of them would spend their last days here. It was clear to me that the majority of them sat there day after day without any visitors, families, or community. And while that broke my heart, I saw these people as productive individuals—teachers, attorneys, homemakers, accountants who had stories to share and things to offer.

They were human beings who contributed to society and used their talents to make the world better.  

It was so much fun to cruise those hallways in the dark, just to make sure someone made eye contact.

My curiosity wasn’t just contained to the hallways of the nursing homes. Many times, my mother would find me at a neighbor’s house down the street, following them along while they tilled or pulled weeds in their garden, asking question upon question to experience just a snippet of their worldview and hear their life stories.

I believe my mother was often taken back by these behaviors, believing it to be intrusive and not a gift. Many times I was instructed to not bother people or be quiet. She didn’t do it to be cold hearted or cruel, I think sometimes my endless curiosity and questions just felt exhausting to her.

While I have come to see my curiosity as a beautiful gift and one of my strongest skills, I didn’t always see it that way.

Teachers and coaches often said that I was too socially-minded, talkative, or both. My love and curiosity for others wasn’t something a lot of other people appreciated. My childhood was filled with empathy and I felt it. Everything. I was very attuned to other people’s feelings and emotions.

I didn’t really know what my boundaries were, and so I often was overly attuned to others and took responsibility for their emotions, neglecting my own needs and preferences.

Looking back, I can see how I have always been the cheerleader and the “yes girl” within my friend groups. I was the one who would rally the girls and include everyone because I believed from an early age that everyone mattered, and everyone’s story mattered.

This precious gift is mine and I refuse to give up on it. I would not be honest if I didn’t use my curiosity to build relationships. It would also mean that my authenticity wouldn’t be shown.

In the past years however, I realized that my relationships with people whom I loved so much started to become a bit more one-sided. Most folks love being around me. I am fun, vibrant, always asking questions and always holding space for others. I love deep conversations and getting to know someone’s heart.

However, I started to realize that while I was getting to know someone, they really weren’t getting to know me.  

After being with certain people, I began to notice how my feelings were. After spending time with certain friends, it became clear that I was feeling empty when I returned home. Sure, we may have had a “good time,” a few good laughs, but for me, something was missing.

I turned my own gift of curiosity on myself to explore what that might be.

I began to realize that many of my relationships were in fact one-sided. To be healthy, a relationship must have both sides.

It is a pleasure to meet people and get to understand them better, but I also crave the friendship and understanding of others.

It is important for me that my relationships are two-sided.

This is because it’s a sign that you are in a good relationship. Take and give. One-sided. One another’s space.

It’s easy for me to allow my curiosity to run rampant when building relationships, but now that I am aware of this deep need within myself there are a few questions I ask myself before giving my time and energy away. Perhaps these questions will prove helpful for you.

1. Are you open to sharing different aspects of your life?

2. What do they know about you and your troubles?

3. Do they reach out to your? Is this the first person to initiate?

You must identify and eliminate unhealthy relationships if you wish to build healthy ones. It’s hard to forge healthy friendships if you’re spending your time and energy on dead-end relationships. It’s not easy to let go of old friends, but it is necessary to allow room for new friendships.  

Healthy relationships aren’t created by luck. Knowing what’s important and knowing your priorities is the first step to creating healthy relationships. The second step is asking for or seeking it out in your life.

Communication and understanding our needs are key factors in intimacy and openness within our relationships. This step is a way to teach others how to have a successful relationship with you. It is up to them to determine if they are able or willing to satisfy our needs. We can use their feedback to move forward, create more depth and/or back away. It is important to understand that we may not want to make this a close friendship.

Recovering people pleasers were taught that:

  • Be nice.
  • Enjoy getting along with other people.
  • Always be polite
  • Don’t rock the boat.

It’s not enough to be nice and have good manners. You need to work hard for your friends. It’s how you become a wonderful houseguest.

More is what I desire. You deserve more.

We need to be able to pull away from unhealthy relationships and instead find healthy ones.

Friends who can share our joys and cheer us on are what I hope for.

Friends who are knowledgeable about us should be our friends.

In order to have relationships like that—even just one relationship like that—we are going to need to decide we deserve two-way relationships with people who cherish and adore us for who we are, and we’re not willing to settle for less.

Krista Renick

Krista Resnick is a Master Coach for women. Her mission is to empower women and help them master the art, of boundaries. It is her greatest passion to help women make the connections they crave and create the space that they want. You can find her on Facebook/Instagram where she talks about people pleasing, boundaries, and codependency, but sometimes likes posting pics of her wild adult-ish sons and salty English Bulldog. Grab the free workbook The Secret to Empowered Boundaries here.

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