It’s not always easy to tell when a friend is simply using you.
You’re friends after all, and the trust between the two of you will blind you to even the most obvious signs.
That’s why it’s important to know how to tell when you’re being used so you can be on guard.
Here are 11 behaviors that show a friend is definitely taking advantage of you.
1) They take and take, but rarely give
Friendships are not meant to be transactional. You’re not meant to measure one another by how much you owe each other. They take advantage of this goodwill.
They might ask for money or favors without hesitation, but balk when it’s your turn to ask—even if all you ask is their time and company.
It’s not like they can’t give back, because you know they can.
2) They always try to “maximize” your friendship
People who have a habit of exploiting others will always try to squeeze out whatever they can from anyone—including their friends.
They pause and think “Hmmm, how else can THEY help me elevate my life?” or “What favor should I ask this time?”
They see their time with you as an “investment” and they should get something from it if they’re to be wise.
3) They make you feel indebted towards them
They go to great lengths to make people feel indebted towards them.
They would do things like love-bombing you, flattering you, and being extremely generous towards you.
They’re your instant BFF who deserves a “Best Friend of the Year” award!
It’s a little too much that you might have even wondered if they’re doing it because they need something from you later on.
And of course, you’d be proven right. But that won’t matter, because they’ll have spoiled you so much that even if you know what they’re doing you’ll still feel bad about telling them “no”.
4) They “borrow” things they won’t return
It should be no surprise that people who take advantage of others are, well… entitled.
They’re the kind of people who think that what’s yours is theirs just because you two are friends.
So they have no problem with borrowing things from you—including money—because, as far as they’re concerned, that’s what friends are for.
To make things worse, they won’t even care to return your stuff unless you ask them to. It’s almost as if they think that they actually OWN your stuff.
5) They force you to buy whatever it is they’re selling
It’s normal for us to excitedly share our interests or to ask our friends to support our business.
But then there are people who go beyond merely asking, and downright shove their sales pitches down our throats every opportunity they can.
They try hard to impress you and win your friendship, and you might even think that it’s genuine at first. But then they earn your trust and then start pressuring you into buying from them.
It becomes obvious then that they only really think of you as a client, and not a friend.
Genuine friends, in comparison, might ask you to drop by and buy their stuff, but they won’t try to make you feel bad if you choose not to.
6) They only talk about themselves
They’ll run to you for comfort when things are going badly for them, and then talk your ears out about how good life is or how happy they are when things are going well.
But they won’t even bother to ask you “How are you, really?” or “What have you been up to these days?”. Not even when they can see that you’re sad and need company.
And in fact, if you ever approach them to cry about your own troubles, they might even get a little annoyed and tell you it’s not a good time.
They want you to be there for them when they’re in need of someone to share their feelings with, but they couldn’t be bothered to return the favor.
7) They hang out with you to network with your friends
Someone who will befriend you just to take advantage of you is not going to be content with just knowing you.
They’ll also use you to get in touch with other people they hope to manipulate. In fact, you might not even be the person they’re after—they might be after one of your friends!
They might try to befriend you, for example, if they’re a musician and you know people who are well-known in the music industry.
Sometimes they will be obvious with their intentions.
But most of the time they can actually hide it really well. You’ll likely only find out once they’ve gotten the connections they want from you and then start neglecting you.
8) They don’t care about your boundaries
It perhaps won’t be too surprising to know that people who simply want to know you in order to take advantage of you are not inclined to respect your boundaries at all.
They might respect it at first, but the moment you’re close enough with one another, they’ll treat it how they see it—as a suggestion, rather than a rule.
To them, putting your foot down and insisting on your boundaries is a sign that you don’t actually see them as a friend.
It might seem reasonable enough to many, but this is the opposite of how things should be—if they’re truly a friend, they’ll respect the limits you set and have no problems with you saying “no”.
Someone who makes you feel like a villain for setting your limitations is someone who’s sour for not getting all the perks they can get from you.
9) They enjoy the good times but are rarely present during the bad
That is to say, they’re fair-weather friends.
They like hanging around you when things are going well for you. They’re always quick to come when you invite them to a party or a night out, and they’re always around so long as you’re happy and smiling.
But then they aren’t exactly enthusiastic about hanging out with you when you’re down, take you in when you’ve lost your house, or take you out on a trip to cheer you up.
While there’s nothing wrong with hanging out with people like these, it’s hard to truly say if they’re actually your friends.
10) They won’t show up if you have nothing to offer
In the same vein, even if things are going well for you, they’re not going to show up if they know you have nothing to give them.
Invite them to lunch and they won’t be enthusiastic at all. Tell them that it’ll be your treat, and they’ll be there before you can say anything more.
It’s almost as if they simply don’t see any reason to spend time with you when they have to spend time and money on your friendship.
And honestly, the truth might be somewhere along those lines.
11) They take advantage of others
When in doubt, you only have to take a look at their track record to know if they’re indeed taking advantage of you or not.
The best way to know if someone has a tendency of taking advantage of you is when they do it to others.
Don’t think that you’re special.
If your friend has no problems using others—even if those people are not their friends—they’ll have no problems taking advantage of you.
And so even if they show kindness towards you, be wary! They’re probably just manipulating you so they can get what they want from you.
So, while you were reading the list above, did someone cross your mind?
Then it’s time you pay attention to them. They might indeed be using you and it’s a good idea to keep your distance.
And yet at the same time, be careful you’re not throwing the baby with the bathwater. Being so suspicious and guarded can chase away those who genuinely care about you.
You see, friendship is difficult to navigate because there are no hard rules.
You could simply have different expectations and views on how relationships should be, and they’re not necessarily abusing you for crossing the line sometimes.
So the best way to go is to confront them directly the moment you feel you’re taken advantage of. That way you won’t unnecessarily cut off the good ones.