“Why do people take advantage of me?”
The answer is simple. It’s because they can.
Now, I know that sounds like a glib answer, but I’m not saying it to undermine or disrespect what you’re going through.
I’m saying it because you need to understand that many takers have no limits. They will take everything from you if you let them take it. That is why it is so important that you are the one who decides how much you want to give, instead of just opening the door so other people can take.
Some people really struggle with that. They have poorly defined boundaries, think they are being kind by letting other people walk all over them, or just can’t stand up for themselves because they are afraid of conflict.
Some folks think that other people have the same kind of heart that they do. So they give because they would want that person to give back to them and get their heart broken when they find the taker doesn’t care nearly as much.
What’s the solution? Well, it depends on why you’re doing what you’re doing. So let’s look at some common reasons why people take advantage of you and the potential solutions for each.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you understand why people take advantage of you and how to stop them from doing so. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
1. You feel that you need to earn friendship, love, or respect.
Some people believe that friendships and relationships are transactional in nature. That kind of belief often comes from surviving child or domestic abuse where the abuser would withhold affection unless certain circumstances were met. This conditions the person to associate love and affection with a particular action.
For example, an abusive parent might totally ignore or neglect their child if they don’t get good grades or haven’t cleaned up the house. That communicates to the child that love is conditional, and if they don’t meet those conditions, they aren’t good enough.
You can probably imagine how this plays out as an adult. As an adult, it can cause the person to carry over the same behaviors. For example, they may feel that “I’m not worthy of being loved, so I need to make sure I am earning the affection I receive.” And that pretty much leaves the person open to anyone who is willing to take advantage of that trauma.
Solution: It’s going to start with therapy. Often, the person will need to address that childhood trauma, develop better boundaries, and learn how healthy relationships work. They will need to learn that friendships and relationships aren’t transactional in nature. You don’t give with an expectation of receiving affection. In a healthy relationship, both partners give because they want to give. They give because they want to lift the other person up, not bring them down.
2. You feel that you don’t deserve equal respect.
Some people struggle with self-image and self-respect. They may let other people take advantage of them because they don’t feel they are good enough to warrant respect. Being treated with kindness or even fair consideration may feel really uncomfortable. They don’t stand up for themselves because they may feel like they deserve to be treated poorly or punished for whatever transgressions.
But often, these transgressions and poor self-image aren’t actually theirs. Instead, they come from the unkind words and actions of other people.
People who have survived domestic violence and emotionally abusive relationships may fall into these patterns. Their partner may have spent years undermining their self-confidence and perception of self, making them easy to control, more willing to receive abuse, and not leave.
For example, suppose you have a partner who tells you that they are the only one that loves and cares about you while constantly telling you how unlovable you are for years. In that case, you can easily believe that is the truth.
But it’s not. It’s just a lie and a manipulation to trap their partner in the relationship.
Solution: Again, it starts with therapy. Unmaking this kind of harm and changing these beliefs is a long-term project that will require the assistance of a professional. You’ll need to address those incorrect beliefs and then learn to make different choices when your brain tells you that you aren’t good things. You don’t deserve to be treated poorly. No one deserves to be treated poorly.
3. You have poor boundaries.
Some people tend to function in extremes. It’s all or nothing, black and white, completely polar opposites. You can see this at work in the media or even in your own personal circles. You probably have some people that mostly function in those extremes.
Boundaries are a limitation on those extremes. They help you define what is acceptable and unacceptable. Sometimes boundaries are total and rightfully should be. But other times, boundaries are a middle ground where you sit because you want to be a giver. Still, you also want to ensure that other people aren’t taking so much that you are left entirely drained.
How can you tell if you have poor boundaries? Well, when was the last time you said no to a thing that totally inconvenienced you? For example, let’s say you are totally exhausted from work this week, looking forward to that coming day off, but your friend says they need help moving. Can you say no? How would you feel if you did say no? Would you be okay with it? Would you feel incredible guilt? Or would you just say yes because you don’t want to rock the boat?
But, as previously stated, a boundary is often a middle ground. Maybe you are dead tired and ready to die to death in bed when that day off rolls around. But hey, this friend is also the one that helped you move when you needed the help. You may be tired but still decide to say yes because this person was there for you when you needed them, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Solution: The only solution to poor boundaries is to create stronger boundaries. That doesn’t mean that your boundaries need to be rock solid or entirely absolute. What’s important is that the decisions that you’re making aren’t coming from a sense of guilt.
4. You don’t feel comfortable standing up for yourself.
People who cannot say “no” are easy to take advantage of. Humans are messy, emotional, sometimes irrational creatures. Conflict is inevitable as emotions boil over, people maneuver to get what they want out of life, and look to advance their own goals.
Sometimes you’ll get swept up in that behavior. Sometimes a person with less than pure intentions will see that you’re an agreeable person or that you’re trying to be good and think, “Jackpot!”
The only way you can deal with these people is by using the word no and being okay with the resulting conflict. The setting and establishment of boundaries will feel deeply uncomfortable to you if it’s not something you’re used to. You will likely also find that many of your friends, and I use that term loosely, start falling away when you’re no longer serving your purpose in their life.
Solution: Learn how to set and enforce boundaries. Get comfortable with the discomfort.
Let’s use an example to better illustrate this. Maria’s friend Chris is always complaining. Chris calls every day to unload all of his problems and woes with the world onto Maria. But you know what Chris never does? Chris never asks Maria how she’s doing, what’s going on in her life, or anything else that might be relevant to who she is as a person. That’s because Maria is Chris’s emotional dumping ground. Maria finally realizes this and decides to set limits on their socialization. She decides she will no longer listen to Chris complain. They can talk about anything else, but she doesn’t want to talk about or hear about problems anymore.
And guess what happens?
Chris stops calling. Chris stops calling because he was never Maria’s friend in the first place. Maria was just a person with poor boundaries that Chris could use as an emotional dumping ground. Now that she’s no longer willing to serve her purpose, Chris will move on to find someone else he can use as an emotional dumping ground. The reality is that Maria just didn’t perceive that relationship healthily.
And this is the kind of thing that happens when you start establishing boundaries. It’s normal, and it’s a good thing. What happens is that the people who were just using you fall away. Still, the people who genuinely care about you will want to understand your boundaries so they can treat you with respect. You will also meet new people who will respect your boundaries and treat you with respect.
5. You are too nice and agreeable.
People often mistake niceness and agreeability with kindness. The thing is, kindness is not always nice. In fact, the type of kindness that many people need may not be nice or feel very good at all.
Kindness can look like being honest with a person about the terrible actions that they’re making, the bad way they are treating themselves, or mistakes that need to be called out. Kindness done may not be nice, but it is done with love and care for the person, even if it’s ugly. That is, so long as it’s not disrespectful.
“You’re an idiot for doing that” isn’t kind. “You made a bad decision by doing XYZ” is. However, some stubborn and hard-headed people out there (like myself) prefer the first version. Raw, blunt, and brutal.
But nice people? Agreeable people? People with rougher personalities just look at them as doormats to be walked over because most of the time, they are. Rougher people don’t respect others who are too nice and agreeable because they are viewed inconsequentially. Like, what are you going to do about it? Cry?
And if any of this reads like I’m a total assh0le, allow me to assure you, dear reader, I was for a very long time. It took almost two decades for me to pull my head out of my backside and realize I shouldn’t treat soft people with disrespect or avoid them altogether just because they’re soft. But, unfortunately, that’s how the people in my world treated each other, so that’s how I treated other people. And if you got chewed up, it was your own fault for being weak.
But is that right? Is that just? No. It’s BS that destructive people use to justify their bad choices and actions.
Solution: Learn when to be nice and agreeable and when to be an assh0le. Never do anything for anybody with an expectation of what you can get out of it. If you’re going to do something for somebody, do it because you want to do it, not because you feel bad for them. If a manipulative person knows they can make you feel bad, they know they can play you like an instrument. All they have to do is make you feel bad, play on your desire to be a good person, and get you to do what they want you to do.
6. You look for the good in people to a fault.
“Look for the good in people” is a common piece of advice I’ve heard thrown around all of my life. Personally, I think it’s stupid advice. Who gives a sh*t how good another person is? Instead, I think you should look for the bad in people. How bad are you, exactly?
Okay, maybe Jason donated a bunch of money to an animal shelter and made sure everyone knew it to maintain the image of a good person, but then he also beats his kids and doesn’t feed them as a punishment. So maybe Jason can take his performative charity and go f*ck himself.
“I want to believe that everyone is good, deep down inside.”
L. O. F*cking. L.
No. Some people live purely to take advantage of other people, cause chaos and havoc, and enrich themselves at the expense of others. They’re not just misunderstood lost souls who need a little kindness to be saved. They are people who will do irreparable harm if they are left to their own devices to act unchecked.
People who look for the good in others, blinding themselves to evil’s real nature, are the perfect patsies to take advantage of. They’re not critical, they don’t cause problems, they don’t say no, they don’t say, “Hey, I don’t think that’s right.” They’re just a speed bump on the highway that is life. And like any speed bump, they just get driven over and forgotten about.
And if you are one of those people, it’s okay. Really. I’m sure you probably feel attacked by what I wrote here, but that was my intention. I want you to understand how people who aren’t so good view you so that maybe, just maybe, you’ll get angry enough to be willing to tell these people to go f*ck themselves too. We need you to not lose your own kindness because we sure as sh*t aren’t people to aspire to be.
Solution: Don’t look for the good in people. Strive to see people as they actually are by looking at their actions. Words don’t do the right job. It’s easy to lie, and most people severely overestimate just how well they can read other people. People who say “I have a good BS detector” are usually people with no ability to read people at all, or they’re just really confident in their baseless conclusions.
Take people for what they are. If they’re doing terrible things to other people, then they’ll do terrible things to you. If they’re lying to other people, they’ll lie to you. If they’ll cheat on their partner with you, they’re capable of doing it to you too.
Can people change? Sure. But most people don’t because change is hard, requiring a lot of introspection and self-work. They could if they felt motivated to change. But they don’t.
Or, in the words of Mr. Olympia bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman, “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-a** weights.”
Still not sure why people take advantage of you or what you can do about it? Talking to someone can really help you to handle whatever life throws at you. It’s a great way to get your thoughts and your worries out of your head so you can work through them.
Speak to a therapist about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours. They can help you to create a healthier mindset toward others so that you can then set and enforce proper boundaries and not get taken advantage of.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.
You may also like:
- How To Deal With Someone Who Repeatedly Disrespects Your Boundaries
- How To Get People To Respect You: 7 No Nonsense Tips That Actually Work
- 22 Clear Signs Someone Is Using You: How To Tell For Sure
- Are You Tired Of Being Nice? Read This.
- How To Stop Being A People Pleaser: 15 Tips That Actually Work!
- How To Stop Letting People Treat You Like A Doormat: 5 No Nonsense Tips