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Nobody likes to feel they’re being used.
When someone you love or care for deeply, either romantically or as a friend, seems to be constantly on the take and doesn’t reciprocate in the normal way, it can be demoralizing and undermines your self-worth.
In short, it hurts.
It could be that someone asks for a few too many favors, and yet is way too ‘busy’ to help you out.
It could be that they burden you with all their c**p and expect your support and advice 24/7, yet when you’re having a hard time, they’re nowhere to be seen or show no real interest in your problems.
Or it could be that you think you’re part of a loving couple, yet your partner seems more interested in sex than just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company.
All of these are massive clues that you are in a relationship with a user.
If your relationship feels one-sided, remind yourself that friendships and loving partnerships, are two-way streets, full of give and take and mutual support.
That support is given freely, night or day, with no hidden agenda, and it’s reciprocated without a second thought.
If you’re not sure, but just feel that there’s inequity in your relationship, 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 or relationships with housemates as opposed to romantic partnerships, although some apply to both.
Let’s take a 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…
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.
When they’re busy focusing all their attention on themselves, they’ll have no interest in what’s going on in your life.
They’ll expect you to devote plenty of time to listening to their self-obsessed monologue, though.
Your needs will never be given much consideration.
2. They don’t listen to you.
Since a user is ultimately only interested in taking care of number one, the details of the ins and outs of your family life, your friends, and your day-to-day existence will go straight over their head.
They’ll be unable to retain the information you share about your difficult boss or your ailing parents because it means nothing to them.
It’s easy enough to ask some questions to find out how few of the important facts in your life they remember.
The fact that they’re not interested enough to keep this information in their heads 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.
We all need a helping hand with finances from time to time, and it’s never a problem to help a friend out once or twice.
But a serial borrower is a different matter.
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, and they seem to depend on you as a source of funds, that’s not normal behavior.
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 this by doing a very small favor for you, but blowing it up into a huge deal, stressing that you owe them big time and making you feel guilty that you asked.
When they ask you a way bigger favor in return, you’ll be reminded just how much they’ve done for you already and play on the guilt they’ve already planted in your mind, making you feel indebted to them.
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 super sweet and thoughtful when they need a favor, some practical help, or to borrow something.
But you’ll find that they’ll give you short shrift once they’re successful in getting whatever it is.
They’ll shut down the charm when they’re no longer looking for something.
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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.
A good relationship is one which is balanced so that both parties take turns to plan both the fun stuff and handle the day-to-day essentials.
You shouldn’t be the only one who’s making the running.
7. They’re only in touch when they’re feeling down.
We’ve all heard of the fair-weather friend who’s only interested in spending time with you when everything’s light-hearted and fun but is far from a loyal supporter when the going gets tough.
This type, though, is in some ways the opposite of a fair-weather friend. 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 others into a position where you feel you can’t deny them.
It’s a kind of weird power play, with them pulling the strings and you dancing to their tune.
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 which 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, the chances are that 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.
Check their posts on social media. If it’s clear from Insta that your friend is having a whale of a time with others when you’re not invited, it’s time to look again at your relationship.
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.
This pattern of behavior ultimately undermines the trust in the other person and in the relationship.
12. They break promises.
Like the above behavior, users often break promises.
They perpetually choose to put someone or something else ahead of you.
You are not seen as a priority and they view you as a bit of a push-over, 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 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.
In a healthy, balanced relationship where both parties’ needs are met equally with a spirit of generosity and genuine care and concern, there is no cause to feel resentful.
If you’re experiencing a growing sense of bitterness and resentment about the friendship or romantic partnership, then 100% you’re being used.
Related article: How To Deal With Resentment In A Relationship: 12 No Bullsh*t Tips
14. They make you feel edgy or uncomfortable.
A relationship, whether romantic or platonic, should make you feel relaxed and comfortable.
Yet, the reality is that they can sometimes make you feel the complete opposite.
There can be a whole host of reasons for this, of course, but this tension is often caused by your innate feeling that there is something unequal about the relationship.
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 which 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.
A final word.
The last thing I’m saying is that you should feel resentful about doing favors for a friend, spouse, or significant other.
If someone you love or care for needs an occasional leg up with finances, some practical help, or they call at odd hours because they’re feeling down, those are things we do for our friends, family, and loved ones without a second thought.
What I am saying is that you should pay attention to these red flags as they multiply over time.
If you feel the balance of the relationship has shifted too far in the direction of your friend/partner and you’re the one making all the running, it’s definitely time to take an overview and re-evaluate where you stand.
Not sure what to do about someone who is using you? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.