If someone is using you, they’ll display these 9 subtle behaviors

Navigating social relationships can often feel like walking through a maze. It’s not always easy to discern between genuine connections and those who might be using you for personal gain.

Recognizing when someone is taking advantage of you is no easy feat, especially when their behaviors are subtle. But, there are subtle signs that can help you figure it out.

In this article, I’m going to share with you 9 subtle behaviors that may indicate someone is using you. This isn’t about making accusations; it’s about empowering you to look out for yourself in your relationships. Keep reading, it’s going to get interesting.

1) They often take, rarely give

Life is a two-way street, especially when it comes to relationships.

Mutual giving and taking is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. But when someone is using you, this balance often tilts.

You might notice that they’re always on the receiving end – be it favors, attention, resources or time. On rare occasions they give back, it feels more like an obligation than a genuine act.

If you find yourself feeling drained, constantly giving without receiving much in return, it’s time to reassess. Is this person using you as a means to their end?

2) Your needs are often disregarded

In any relationship, respect for each other’s needs is fundamental. But when someone is using you, your needs might often be sidelined.

I vividly recall an old friend from college. We hung out a lot, had great times together. But every time I was in need of emotional support or a listening ear, she would be mysteriously unavailable or uninterested.

When we met, our conversations revolved around her problems, her life, her stories. My needs didn’t seem to matter as much.

It took me some time to realize that this wasn’t a balanced friendship. It was subtly draining and I felt my needs were constantly overlooked.

3) They disappear during tough times

In any relationship, whether it’s friendship or love, the true test comes during hard times.

People who are using you have a knack for disappearing when you’re going through a rough patch. They show up when they need something from you, but when you’re in need of support, they’re nowhere to be found.

Research shows that emotional support is a crucial element of human bonding. The stronger the bond, the more likely people are to support each other in tough times.

On the other hand, a person who consistently vanishes when things get tough might not be interested in building a genuine relationship with you. They may simply see you as a placeholder in their life. 

4) They only reach out when they need something

Genuine relationships are built on a balance of give and take, where both parties contribute to the connection. 

When you find yourself on the receiving end of a call or message only when someone needs a favor or assistance, it’s a telltale sign that you’re in a transactional dynamic rather than a meaningful relationship.  

In this scenario, you are perceived more as a means to an end rather than a valued individual. The person sees you as a resource for fulfilling their needs, which diminishes the depth and authenticity of the connection. 

The truth is: True relationships involve a genuine appreciation for each other, not just for what one can provide.

5) They’re not genuinely happy for your successes

True friends and loved ones celebrate each other’s accomplishments. They’re genuinely happy for you when you achieve something, no matter how big or small.

But if someone is using you, you might notice a lack of enthusiasm or even resentment when you share your successes with them. They might downplay your achievements or steer the conversation back to themselves.

This subtle behavior can be hard to pinpoint, but it’s a significant red flag. A person who can’t rejoice in your happiness or progress might be using you for their own benefits, rather than genuinely caring about your well-being.

6) They make you feel guilty for standing your ground

Standing up for yourself is not only important, it’s necessary. However, someone who’s using you might make you feel guilty for asserting your boundaries.

Imagine this: You finally gather the courage to say ‘no’ to a favor that you can’t or don’t want to do. Instead of respecting your decision, they guilt-trip you, making you feel bad for not bending to their needs.

My friend, remember this – it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to put yourself first. If someone consistently makes you feel guilty for standing your ground, they’re likely using your kindness for their gain.

7) They don’t value your time

Time is a precious commodity. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and how we choose to spend it speaks volumes about what we value.

I once knew someone who would frequently cancel plans at the last minute, or would often show up late without so much as an apology. It took me a while to realize that this was a subtle sign of disrespect towards my time and effort.

When someone repeatedly disregards your time by being late, cancelling plans abruptly, or expecting you to always bend to their schedule, it could be a red flag that they are using you.

8) They’re overly charming when they need a favor

Charm can be a wonderful trait. It can also be a tool for manipulation.

If someone is using you, they might turn on the charm when they want something from you. Their compliments might flow more freely, their interest in your life might suddenly peak, and their overall demeanor towards you might become more flattering.

But once they get what they want, this charm can quickly fade away. If you notice this pattern, be cautious. This is a subtle behavior that could indicate they’re using you for their own benefit.

9) You feel it in your gut

Your intuition is a powerful tool. It’s that gut feeling, that little voice inside your head that nudges you when something doesn’t feel right.

If despite everything, you constantly have this nagging feeling that something is off, listen to it. Your intuition might be picking up on subtle behaviors and signals that you’re not consciously aware of.

Trust your instincts. If you feel like someone is using you, they probably are.

Final thoughts: It’s about self-respect

At the end of the day, the crux of the matter boils down to self-respect and understanding your worth.

Recognizing these subtle behaviors is the first step towards asserting your worth. It’s about understanding that you deserve relationships that are reciprocal, caring, and respectful.

It’s important to remember that it’s okay to walk away from relationships that drain you or make you feel less than what you are. Protect your mental health, guard your peace, and always strive for relationships that uplift you.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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