It’s disheartening and frustrating when people you care about are using you. It hurts. And this often leaves you struggling to figure out how to deal with people who use you without fighting. Thankfully, I have a solution for you that’s practical, effective and even non-confrontational.
The best way to deal with people who use you is to draw boundaries and learn how to say no without feeling guilty or ashamed. You have to teach people how to act in a respectful manner towards you by maintaining certain standards and codes.
What I’ve come to learn is that people will always treat you how you allow them to. In other words, if you allow someone to treat you lovingly, they will. However, if you allow people to use you, they will.
Because there are no consequences for their actions. If you don’t draw a line for what is acceptable, people will walk all over you.
There’s a difference between compromise and being used or taken advantage of.
If someone truly respects you, they’ll acknowledge their behavior and make changes without you having to make an ultimatum.
Unfortunately, those people who use you will often ignore you and continue to elicit things from you. And if they can’t, rather than do things to make things right, they’ll cut you off and move on to someone else who they can use.
In my experience, confronting people about being used rarely ever worked out.
They would get upset, angry or surprised. I’d also feel really awkward at the end of the interaction, especially if they were not understanding.
More often than not, I’ve had to deal with people who use me by making certain changes to my own behavior.
I learned how to say no to people who tried to take advantage of my generosity.
If someone kept borrowing money from me under the pretense of paying me back but not doing so, I’d remind them to pay me and ensure that I get paid back.
If they evaded me or refused to do so, I would simply not lend them money again.
Alternatively, if I felt like someone was lying to me about their reason for constantly taking money from me, I’d refuse and offer to get them what they apparently needed.
If going out with certain friends became a costly affair, I would suggest hangouts that would not cost money.
On some occasions, I would be forced to avoid or cut off someone who would use me and add nothing positive to my life.
In fact, if they added toxicity, I would be more inclined to walk away without really creating a scene.
At a certain point in life, drama from situations of this nature is unnecessarily draining and exhausting.
It’s better to just live by your own code and have a smaller circle of friends than to battle with loads of people who are not willing to have a real and honest relationship with you.
With that being said, let’s talk about some of the signs someone is using you as well as the reasons why.
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1. They only contact you when they want something
A real friendship or relationship is built on mutual desire to be a part of each other’s life.
The main currency is communication and shared experiences, not monetary or material gain.
When someone only knows how to contact you when they want something, need help or to gain from you, then there’s no question about them using you.
This is further perpetuated by a lack of effort to interact with you outside of that context.
2. They are unavailable when they can’t use you
This is more of an extension to the abovementioned sign someone is using but people who care about you will not disappear from your life when they can’t get things from you.
True friends and partners are looking to spend time with you.
They value your presence.
And the contribution you make to their life which they desire is actually being in it.
That’s the number one reason why they care about you.
Those who just want to use you will always find excuses for why they can’t hang out or be with you when they have nothing to gain.
As soon as you are able to give them something, they show up.
3. They don’t help you
“When days are dark, friends are few.” No truer words were ever spoken.
When circumstances change and you can no longer be as generous or giving as you once were, that’s when you’ll start to see who really cares about you.
Those who were using you will find every excuse in the book for why they can’t help you or why they aren’t in your life right now.
The people who care will show up.
They’ll find some way to help you, even if it’s by offering emotional support.
4. They expect you to pay for them all the time
A good rule of thumb in most friendships and relationships is to go 50/50 on most bills and costs.
Unless, of course, your intention is to cover the bill as a gift to your friend.
It becomes a problem when a friend starts to rely on you to pay for them all the time despite being able to afford it.
Generosity is a marvelous characteristic to possess but it can also be taken advantage of by someone who is manipulative or cheap.
If your friend can afford to pay for themselves and paying for them is hurting your pocket or feelings, it might be time to speak up.
If they’re a true friend, they’ll start contributing if they can. If not, they’ll get offended and guilt trip you into paying for them indefinitely.
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5. They count everything they do for you
When you claim to give a gift to someone only to expect something in return for them, that can be viewed as a form of manipulation, especially if they were unaware of your true intentions.
People who use you are often guilty of this.
Every so often, they’ll do or give you something only to take back tenfold.
When you offer resistance, they’ll be quick to remind you in a sly manner of what they gave you and the responsibility you have in returning the favor.
If that is something that resonates with you, it might be time to reconsider the dynamic of your relationship with this individual because they are trying to use you in a manipulative manner.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the reasons why people use you.
1. You’re too generous
Generosity is one of the best character traits a person can ever possess but it doesn’t come without risk.
Good things are often targeted by bad.
In other words, predators who are looking to feed off your generosity will pounce at the first chance they get.
They’ll take advantage of your generous and giving nature because they know it’s something that you can’t control.
Even if that means giving more than you can afford to.
Such people will use that generosity against you and to their own benefit, even at the cost of your own happiness and wellbeing.
I wouldn’t advise you to stop being generous! Instead, I would advise you to be pickier when it comes to allowing people in your life.
If you ever feel like you have to give someone things in order for them to be in your life, then they probably don’t deserve to be in your life in the first place.
2. You’re afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings
There’s nothing wrong with being soft-spoken or having a soft heart but trying to spare everyone’s feelings will often result in you sacrificing your own.
By this, I simply mean that there will be times in your life when you have to consider your own well-being over the selfish desires of someone else.
You don’t have to be rude or insulting to stop someone from using you.
When you draw boundaries, people will actually begin to respect you. Those who don’t will exit your life and that’s all you can truly ask for.
But, you have to be willing to stand up for yourself. The risk of hurting someone’s feelings is a reality but you have to consider whether they would even consider how you feel at all.
3. You don’t know how to say No
The best way to stand up for yourself is to simply refuse to do or give things that extend beyond level of comfort.
Nobody should force you to do anything you are not willing to do.
Those who respect you will take no for an answer. Those who don’t respect you will try everything in the book to manipulate you into giving them what they want.
They will go so far as to vilify you in an attempt to break you down so that they can use you.
Do not allow this to deter you from saying no.
When you decline someone, stand by your decision unless you feel like the right thing to do is help them or give them what they want.
When you realize how empowering it is to say No to someone who is using you, that fear and guilt of doing so will start to diminish.
As difficult as it can be to deal with people who use you, especially when they’re family and close friends, it’s something you can’t avoid.
Give too much of yourself away to the wrong people and you’ll be all used up.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong in drawing a line when someone takes advantage of your generous and kind nature.
Going forward, practice saying no to people who use you. Even if that means coming up with an excuse until you’re more comfortable to say no.
But, do not let them manipulate you into giving them things when their intention is to use you.
With that being said, I hope you found this article to be insightful and helpful. Please feel free to leave your thoughts or questions in the comment section below.
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