Targeted energy transfer (TET) represents the phenomenon where energy in a primary system is irreversibly transferred to a nonlinear energy sink (NES). This only occurs when the initial energy in the primary system is above a critical level. There is a natural asymmetry in the system due to the desire for the NES to be much smaller than the primary structure it is protecting. This asymmetry is also essential from an energy transfer perspective. To explore how the essential asymmetry is related to TET, this work interprets the realization of TET from a symmetry breaking perspective. This is achieved by introducing a symmetrized model with respect to the generically asymmetric original system. Firstly a classic example, which consists of a linear primary system and a nonlinearizable NES, is studied. The backbone curve topology that is necessary to realize TET is explored and it is demonstrated how this topology evolves from the symmetric case. This example is then extended to a more general case, accounting for nonlinearity in the primary system and linear stiffness in the NES. Exploring the symmetry-breaking effect on the backbone curve topologies, enables the regions in the NES parameter space that lead to TET to be identified.