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22 signs someone is definitely using you (spot these early!)

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Nobody likes to feel they’re being used.

When someone seems to be constantly on the take and doesn’t reciprocate in the normal way, it can be demoralizing and it undermines your self-worth.

If things feel one-sided, remind yourself that friendships and loving partnerships are two-way streets full of give and take and mutual support.

If you’re not sure whether you are being used, there are certain behaviors to look out for which should raise a red flag and trigger your user-radar.

The signals to be wary of differ between friendships as opposed to romantic partnerships, although some apply to both.

Let’s look at some examples of typical user behavior to give you the tools to analyze your own relationship for signs that you are being used…

Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you figure out if you are being used (and what to do about it if you are). You may want to try speaking to someone via for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.

1. They’re focused only on themselves.

A user’s number one priority is him/herself.

They see themselves as the center of the known universe, around which everything else rotates.

It’s all about their jobs, their problems, their successes, their families.

And it’s all about what they want, what they need, and what you (and others) can do for them.

You and your needs will never be given much consideration.

2. They don’t listen to you.

A user is only interested in taking care of number one, so the details of your family life, your friends, and your day-to-day existence will go straight over their head.

They won’t remember anything you say to them, no matter how important. They simply aren’t listening to you.

This is a strong indicator that they’re not a true friend/partner and are using your friendship/relationship to satisfy some other (self-serving) need.

3. They want to borrow money.

A serial borrower is very different from someone who asks for a helping hand once or twice.

If there are repeated requests to help out, whether it’s just a few dollars here or there or larger sums, you should definitely be wary.

You should also keep tabs on how often you’re the one reaching for your wallet, covering dinner, taxis, and other expenses when you’re out together.

If you’re constantly being asked to pay their way or lend money, it indicates that your value to them is closely linked to the flow of cash from your wallet into theirs.

4. Favors are ‘loaded.’

Users are adept at painting themselves as being super-helpful.

They do a very small favor for you, but blow it up into a huge deal, stressing that you owe them big time.

When they ask you a way bigger favor in return, you’ll be reminded just how much they’ve done for you. They will play on the guilt they’ve already planted in your mind, making you feel indebted to them.

In short, they only help you because they want to get something in return.

5. They’re only nice when it suits them.

Users are sly enough to know that they have to be nice to get what they want.

They can be sweet and thoughtful when they need a favor, some practical help, or to borrow something.

But you’ll find that they’ll shut down the charm when they’ve gotten what they want from you.

6. They never make any effort.

A one-sided relationship, where you’re the only one who seems to be making plans, buying gifts, having ideas, or putting the effort in, is really not a relationship at all.

If you have a user for a friend or partner, you’ll probably be fed up with having to be the one who maintains that relationship while they take you for granted.

7. They’re only in touch when they’re feeling down.

A user is the opposite of a fair-weather friend in many ways. They only want to hang out with you when they’re down and having a hard time.

When they’re on top of the world and everything is going great for them, you don’t see them for dust.

You need to recognize that you’re being used as their security blanket, to be discarded when the need for your support has passed.

8. They manipulate you so you can’t say no.

Users are masters at manipulating you into a position where you feel you can’t deny them.

If someone puts pressure on you to act by saying that denying their request would spell the end of the world for them, you’re being used.

It may be the threat of being un-friended or dumped that makes you feel powerless to resist, but such fear tactics should be seen for what they are: a form of emotional blackmail.

9. They only call at night.

This is classic user behavior. If your romantic partner only calls you up or texts late at night suggesting a hookup, then it’s a sign that you’re something of a last resort when nothing better is on offer.

10. They only call when their other friends are busy.

Their other friends are busy and they don’t want to be alone, so they call on you to fill the void.

If you feel that this is your role, they only see you as being on the edge of their friendship circle—handy for keeping them company when it suits them, but otherwise dispensable.

11. They’re all talk and no action.

Users often disguise their true agenda by saying they’ll do something, but they fail to deliver time and time again.

Typically, their promise depends on you doing something for them. You keep your side of the bargain, but they fail to keep theirs.

12. They break promises.

Users perpetually choose to put someone or something else ahead of you.

You are not seen as a priority but rather as a pushover who won’t make trouble even when you’re constantly disappointed by their breach of trust.

If your hurt feelings in the face of repeated disappointments are so insignificant to them, something is clearly wrong and you are being used.

13. They never show any gratitude.

Users don’t seem to have the phrase “thank you” in their vocabulary. No matter whether it’s something big or small that you have helped them with, they neglect to show any gratitude whatsoever.

Either they are entirely absent-minded and don’t realize they haven’t said thank you, or they feel so entitled to whatever it is that they don’t see the need to.

14. They don’t respect your boundaries.

If someone is using you, they won’t pay any heed to your boundaries if those boundaries prevent them from getting what they want from you.

They’ll either plainly ignore them, or they’ll poke and prod at them until you relent and do as they wish.

This is disrespectful behavior that demonstrates their contempt for you and for the relationship you have together.

15. They’re not concerned with your well-being.

If this person doesn’t care how you feel about the thing they are asking of you or making you do, you’re probably being used.

It’s not about you at all—it’s about how they can benefit. That might mean putting you in situations where you feel uncomfortable or manipulating you into doing things you’d rather not do.

And it’s not just your emotional pain or suffering they’ll ignore either; it’s the practical side too.

They might be prepared to leave you unable to cover your rent or bills, or ask you to rearrange important meetings or appointments you might have so that you can be with them when they want you to be.

16. They are dishonest.

The user’s main goal is to get what they want from you. Their commitment to the relationship ends once they have gotten that thing.

So, it shouldn’t come as much surprise to learn that a user will lie to you if that means achieving their goal.

If you’ve ever caught someone in a lie they told so that they could get something from you, that person was using you.

17. They ignore your wishes and do what they want.

Decision-making involving a user tends to be very one-sided.

They will make it abundantly clear what they would like to do and then proceed to ignore your opinion when you give it or fob you off with reasons why their choice is better.

There is no compromise in your relationship. It’s their way or the highway.

18. They avoid talking about your future together.

With regards to a romantic partner, not wishing to talk about the future or label your relationship is another potential sign that they are using you.

If they don’t want to have “the chat” and rarely mention the two of you in a long-term context, they may just be trying to keep you around for as long as possible to take what they want from you.

19. They don’t offer you any support.

Supporting someone through a rough patch in their life takes time, energy, understanding, and compassion.

But a user is mostly about the taking, not the giving, and they won’t want to make sacrifices of their own to be there for you.

Even if you live with this person, they will either try to avoid you or act like nothing is wrong. They won’t be the pillar of emotional support you’re looking for.

20. They get defensive when you point out the imbalance in your relationship.

Should you ever try to raise the unequal nature of your relationship with this other person, they will get defensive and make excuses as to why that’s not the case.

They will state, in clear contradiction to all of the evidence, that you and they give and take in equal measure.

They’ll bring up small things they have done for you, whilst ignoring the favors you have done them that required far more commitment.

And if you continue to make your case, they may even blame things on you for being such a pushover. They’ll try to make it your fault that it seems like they are using you.

21. They cause you to feel resentful.

It’s not surprising that all the guilt-tripping, the favors, the demands for attention, and the lack of any reciprocation leads to a build-up of resentment.

If you’re experiencing a growing sense of bitterness and resentment about the friendship or romantic partnership, ask yourself whether it’s because you feel used.

22. They make you feel edgy or uncomfortable.

While all relationships have their ups and downs, when you’re being used, you instinctively know that there’s something not quite right, and this leaves you feeling uneasy.

It’s most likely a combination of some of the above user behaviors that have triggered your gut reaction.

Listen to your instincts and move on to spending time with people in whose company you feel relaxed and content.

Still not sure whether or not you are being used? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out.

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About The Author

Working as a freelance copywriter, Juliana is following a path well-trodden by her family, who seem to have 'wordsmithing' in their DNA. She'll turn her quill to anything from lifestyle and wellness articles to blog posts and SEO articles. All this is underpinned by a lifetime of travel, cultural exchange and her love of the richly expressive medium of the English language.