In a perfect world, we’d all be considerate and kind to each other. But unfortunately, in reality, there are manipulative and selfish people who will do whatever it takes to get their way.
And if you’ve fallen victim to this, you may be wondering why you, and how to avoid this happening in the future.
Don’t worry – this article will explain the reasons why people take advantage of you, and exactly how you can make them stop!
Let’s start with the first reason:
1) Low self-esteem
If you have low self-esteem, you might feel like it’s difficult to stand up for yourself.
For example, in a work meeting, a colleague might take credit for your hard work, and rather than speak out against them, you may feel you don’t deserve the credit or respect for your contribution.
This then allows other people to take advantage of you as they know you won’t fight your corner and call them out on their sneaky behavior!
And this ties in with the next reason why people take advantage of you:
2) Fear of confrontation
Do you struggle to go head-to-head with people? Does confrontation over uncomfortable subjects make you squirm?
If so, you’re not alone. Many people try to avoid “having it out” with others.
But if you constantly let people get away with things or brush issues under the carpet, it makes it easier for people to take advantage of you.
Case in point:
Your mother-in-law barks orders at you at a family party. She knows you won’t want to make a scene by confronting her, so she piles on more chores and tasks, even though it’s not your responsibility and you’re simply a guest at this event.
The sad truth is, people will push as far as you allow them to!
If you have a very generous nature, this is another reason people might take advantage of you.
They’re abusing your kindness.
They know that you hate turning people away if you can help, and rather than respect you for this lovely quality, they keep asking for more and more.
An example of this is if you offer to help a friend in need by letting them stay with you for a few days. But then, a few days turn into weeks, and soon months have gone by.
This so-called friend knows how generous you are and that it would be highly uncomfortable for you to ask them to leave.
4) Trusting nature
Having a trusting nature is an admirable quality, but unfortunately, it can mean you’re easily convinced.
And to a manipulator who wants to take advantage of you, this is a dream come true!
Whether a stranger tries to scam you or a friend or colleague tries to take advantage of your time, money, or possessions, being too trusting too quickly can leave you vulnerable.
The brutal truth is, cruel people will think nothing about abusing your good nature!
5) Desire to please
Another sad reason people might take advantage of you is if you have a strong will to please others.
If this is the case, you’ll probably find it hard to say “no” or turn down favors when people come to you in need.
This might stem from your childhood, especially if your parents had very high expectations of you. As a child, you felt like you had to conform to their wishes in order to please them.
As an adult, you may still put your own desires and needs to one side to please your family, friends, or coworkers.
People who are out to take advantage will see how hard you want to make everyone around you happy – they’ll play on this and use it for their own gain.
6) Lack of boundaries
If you relate to any of the above, and you find that people do often take advantage of you, it’s likely that you don’t have strong boundaries in place.
So, what does that look like?
Let’s take my friend Lilly, she struggles with boundaries. Recently, a colleague kept asking her to cover his shift at work.
Lilly was already pretty tired and run down, but rather than say no, she kept agreeing. She didn’t want to let him down, even though it was physically and mentally draining her.
Lo and behold, her colleague kept asking.
What Lilly should have done was explain that she also needs a day off to relax, spend time with family, and disengage from work.
If she had done that, she would have been setting a boundary and letting her colleague know that he was crossing the line.
Depending on your life experiences, another reason people might take advantage of you is if you’re naive and not very clued up on how people behave.
For example, if you’re new to traveling, it’s much easier for a scammer to rip you off than say an experienced traveler who knows what to look out for.
The same goes for friends, family, coworkers, and even romantic partners.
Unfortunately, many people who haven’t had much experience in the love department find their first boyfriend/girlfriend might take advantage of their naivety.
They simply don’t know better or have never been modeled what a healthy relationship should look like, so they think this behavior is normal (to an extent).
Another sad reason people take advantage of you is if you’re heavily reliant on them for emotional or financial support. In other words, if you have codependent habits.
For example: If you rely on your partner to pay for you and your living expenses, you might be more inclined to give in to their demands and do what they say so they don’t punish you financially.
And your partner, if they’re taking advantage of you, will hold this financial control over you as a way to get what they want.
Now, I understand that if you are codependent, it might be hard to know how to break out of this cycle.
Don’t worry – after we’re through with the reasons why people take advantage, I’ll be giving some tips that should help you.
If you struggle with a lot of insecurity, you may be vulnerable to manipulators and people who want to take advantage of others.
You see when you’re insecure, you might:
- Struggle to make decisions quickly.
- Find it difficult to see your own worth and value.
- Resort to people pleasing as a way of being liked.
All of the above is a recipe for being taken advantage of – you’re more likely to believe/accept what people tell you rather than question them and make your own informed decisions.
10) History of abuse
And finally, if you’ve experienced a lot of abuse in the past, this might affect what you consider to be “healthy” relationships.
If all you’ve known is maltreatment and abuse, you may struggle to spot the red flags when meeting new people and forming new connections.
And sadly, this may lead to people taking advantage of you.
But if you’ve related to one or a few of the points on this list, don’t worry, we’re now going to look at how to make sure no one takes advantage of you again!
5 ways to stop people from taking advantage of you
The truth is, even the most secure, confident person can still be a victim in this situation – those who take advantage are often clever and manipulative. But with that being said, you can make changes to protect yourself and avoid this happening on a daily basis!
Set clear boundaries
The very first thing to do if you don’t want people to take advantage of you is to set clear and strong boundaries.
- Getting clear on what your boundaries are (i.e, if a friend continuously asks to borrow money, you might say something like, “I’m happy to help you occasionally but I can’t cover your expenses all the time. Let’s work together to help you put together a financial plan.”).
- Enforce your boundaries – state them clearly and calmly. Don’t beat around the bush, don’t over-explain yourself, and let the other person know what you are comfortable doing, and what you don’t want to do.
- Stick to your boundaries – no matter how much someone begs or pleads. And people will push back until they realize you’re serious.
This may feel challenging, especially at the start, but when you get the hang of it, you’ll realize how much more empowered you feel.
And eventually, it will get easier to put these limits in place and stop people from walking all over you!
Learn to say “no”
And alongside setting boundaries, you’ll also have to get comfortable with the word “no”.
This may be tricky if you’re a people pleaser or you have a fear of confrontation, but remember, saying “no” from time to time can actually make your relationships better.
- Practice saying “no” in low-stake situations, for example, declining to take a sample in the store. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll become.
- Speak assertively – speak clearly and loudly. Maintain eye contact and avoid looking down or apologizing as this can undermine the message you’re trying to convey.
- Be direct and don’t make excuses or give reasons behind why you’ve said no.
- Offer an alternative if you have to. For example, a friend asks if you can host their anniversary party at your house. In this situation, you might want to say, “No, unfortunately, that won’t work for me. Why don’t you reach out to the local community center or sports hall and see if they have availability?”
Develop your self-esteem
None of the above is useful unless you develop your self-esteem as well.
And the best way to do that is:
- Surround yourself with positive, uplifting, and genuine people.
- Set yourself small goals and achieve them (this could be as simple as setting the goal of going for a 20-minute walk every day).
- Reward yourself when you achieve your goals (and slowly increase the size and seriousness of them as your self-esteem improves).
- Practice positive self-talk.
Self-esteem takes time to develop, but each step you take will help. And the more you’re able to see your worth and value in this world, the less likely you’ll be a target for people who want to take advantage.
Seek professional help
And finally, if you find yourself still struggling with the issues we’ve mentioned above, and with people taking advantage of you, it’s well worth speaking to a professional.
They can help you identify the areas of your life that need a bit of help, and they’ll guide you through the process of rediscovering your worth and setting strong boundaries.
So, now we’ve gone through the reasons people take advantage of you and how you can stop them – know that only you can stand up for yourself and set limits against cruel people.
Take some time to reflect after reading this article, and then make a plan to take back control over your life!