In an ideal world, a relationship has a lot of give and take. But relationships are rarely ideal — and being used in a friendship or relationship is way more common than we’d like it to be. It normally starts out simply enough, with someone who seems really sensitive and interesting and reflective and ‘not like everyone else’. You know the one, right? And yet before you know it, once they make you feel comfortable, you get this feeling that you are being manipulated and used. It’s happened to the best of us.
While it often sneaks up on us, we all know what being used looks like on someone else. So the key is to know the signs and make sure that we’re being honest with ourselves about what’s actually going on in our relationship. No matter how difficult it is to a admit. Here’s what you need to look out for.
1. You’re making excuses for being treated badly
Are you always explaining to your friends that your friend or partner is just tired or stressed — saying that’s why they’re being rude to you or not making the effort? That’s a huge sign. “The basic yardstick for telling whether you are being used or not is to take a good look at how you are being treated,” Aimee says. “…if you find that they are disrespectful, don’t treat you well, and you don’t feel good with the person then chances are you might be being used.”
The basic yardstick for telling whether you are being used or not is to take a good look at how you are being treated..if you find that they are disrespectful, don’t treat you well, and you don’t feel good with the person then chances are you might be being used.Aimee Hartstein, relationship therapist
Chances are, if this is happening, we won’t want to admit it. We either make excuses for their bad behaviour, or pretend it isn’t happening at all. In this instance, you really need to take a look at why you’re trying to bail this person out all the time.
2. They make you feel small
The person you’re with should build you up, make you feel happy. Life is better than it is without them. If this is a person who is nice to you, treats you well, and seems to enjoy your company then it’s likely you are not being used. But if you’re constantly feeling small, underwhelmed, let down — you know, that knot-in-your-stomach feeling — you need to take a look at the relationship. Something is really off and there’s a good chance you’re being used.
3. Your friends and family are worried
The reason it sometimes gets confusing is if people don’t want to see the signs and end up in a bit of denial. When you’re being used, you may not want to see something that’s right in front of your face, but your friends and family won’t have the same problem. So if they’re worried about you, you really should pay attention. They normally have a more objective view of the situation and they have your best interests at heart.
4. Your needs aren’t being met
You show up with soup and medicine when they don’t feel well, but they’re nowhere to be found when you’re under the weather? Pay attention if you’re the one
always making the effort. Whether you’ve been friends or dating for five days or five years, it should still be a two-way street. You can generally use your own feelings and comfort level as a good yardstick. If you find your needs aren’t being met or that you’re becoming resentful, something’s up.
5. You’re not ok with how the relationship is defined
Having mutual respect means that you’re both ok with the dynamic between you. It doesn’t matter what the relationship is, be it friends, dating or marriage. But you both have to be on the same page. If you’re not comfortable with the relationship and they know you want more than they do, they’re using you. And it’s not ok.
While everyone’s circumstances are different, here are some more signs that someone may be using you:
- The person asks you for money, favors, or other items. For instance, they may ask you to lend them money or pay their bills.
- The person imposes on you without consideration for your availability or preferences. For instance, they may move in with you unexpectedly or want to borrow your car at a moment’s notice.
- The person expects you to take care of their needs. For instance, if you go out for dinner with them, they may not offer to pay and simply expect you to pick up the tab.
- The person appears disinterested in you after their needs have been met. For instance, they may use you to meet their needs but may not want to spend time with you otherwise.
- The person is only affectionate or intimate with you when it’s convenient for them. For instance, they may be affectionate toward you until they get what they want.
- The person doesn’t make an effort to be there for you when you need them. For instance, even though they borrow your car regularly, they may not agree to give you a ride to the airport.
Being used is not a good feeling and it can lead to mental health difficulties as well as relationship-related issues. Identifying the signs that someone is using you, setting boundaries with them, and seeking help especially from loved ones can help you process how you feel about being used and in turn, work to help prevent it.