I am having difficulty with how to reference individuals on two sides of a non-mutual relationship based on perspective.

For example, consider two people in an extreme scenario: Person A and Person B. For reasons unknown, Person A sees person B as their friend. However, Person B thinks of Person A as an enemy.

If I want to categorize the participants of relationships, I need some way of explaining how Person A thinks of Person B without ascribing the same viewpoint to both of them. In this example, it would be improper to say they are friends, just as it would be improper to say they are enemies. Instead, I want to establish the relationship from the perspective of how Person A views Person B and vice versa.

My question is, what is the term to describe the person whose perspective the relationship is viewed from and toward?

The best similar example I can come up with involves employment. You have an Employer and an Employee. You know that the Employer is the one projecting employment on the Employee. Is there a proper way to describe this in terms of a relationship?

The Employer is projecting employment of construction on the Employee.

The _______ is projecting a relationship of friendship on the _______.

Edit: This is pretty abstract... perhaps a use of this would be in a book about relationships. A part might read something like:

"Perspective in relationships is critical to understanding personal drivers and motivations. The _______ of the relationship needs to understand that the ________ does not always agree with the terms of the relationship."

Some ideas with the best words I could come up with:

The projector is projecting a relationship of friendship on the recipient.

"Projector" is ideal based on the definition of one that is projecting something. But it sounds awkward. Synonyms don't seem to be any better.

The instigator is projecting a relationship of skepticism on the recipient.

"Instigator" is not ideal because it contains intent, but it's another attempt. Ideally, the word would be without any hint of intent and could be used in any relationship.

I looked up antonyms for "recipient" (which appeared to be a fitting receiver for the relationship) but nothing fit the bill for the "projector".

Thanks for any help in this!


After reading quite a bit more into this, I may have found a more suitable word combination... Would it be correct or acceptable to use the terms "actuator" and "receiver"?

So my example use would read:

"Perspective in relationships is critical to understanding personal drivers and motivations. The actuator of the relationship needs to understand that the receiver does not always agree with the terms of the relationship."


Do actuator and receiver make sense in this context? Now receiver seems out of place.

  • Person A is clueless. Person B is a user.
    – Jim
    Oct 16, 2015 at 16:46
  • Here are some terms that might be useful: 'one-way friendship', 'unrequited love', 'unreciprocated friendship', 'asymmetrical relationship'. Oct 16, 2015 at 16:47
  • Added an edit for clarification :)
    – Kivak Wolf
    Oct 16, 2015 at 17:11
  • 1
    Someone once said that the 'Special Relationship' between Britain and the US was so special that only one side knew of its existence.
    – JHCL
    Oct 16, 2015 at 18:07
  • @JHCL You are actually not too distant to the context I wish to use this terminology. I want to explain political relationships between sovereign entities - which are not mutual. The key to this whole problem is knowing which direction the relationship is oriented. Which side has the perspective about the other so as not to confuse a reader which entity views the other in what way.
    – Kivak Wolf
    Oct 16, 2015 at 18:10

2 Answers 2


It seems to me that the terms objectifier and object would apply to both parties, mutually. Person A objectifies Person B as a "friend," and Person B objectifies Person A as an "enemy." Both appraisals are inaccurate to the extent that they include any sense or expectation of reciprocal feeling by the object of their inaccurate objectification; and of course the relationship between the two people is highly unstable because it is built in part on a faulty understanding of the other person's feelings.

The more probable outcome is that sooner or later Person B will do something to reveal his or her animosity toward Person A in a way that Person A can't help but recognize, and Person A will abandon his or her previous misreading of Person B's feelings. But it is at least possible that Person A will eventually do something that unmistakably reveals his or her feeling that Person B is a friend, and Person B's view of Person A will be transformed by the magic of that positive feeling. Jane Austen made a career out of plots in which precisely that transformation occurs.


The would-be friend is projecting a relationship of friendship on the object of their affection. (?)


I think you need to give us a less abstract-sounding sentence. What would a real example be and how would it be described in conversation? (still with blanks if necessary)

Or do you want a technical term?

  • Technical term would be best. Also maybe a clarification to this... "relationship" doesnt have to be a human relationship either. It is simply the relationship of something to something else. I know this is pretty abstract so a human relationship is the best example I could determine.
    – Kivak Wolf
    Oct 16, 2015 at 17:02

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