You pride yourself on being kind, generous, and respectful. But for everyone who appreciates you for those things, there are those who want to take advantage of it.
Approximately 80% of Americans admit to having had a toxic friend at some point. But these people can only say that because they recognize those traits.
Are you being manipulated? Here are the main signs that someone in your inner circle is taking advantage of your good nature right now.
1) Their favorite topic of conversation is themselves
One of the signs that you’re dealing with a narcissist who doesn’t care about anyone but themselves is that they do nothing but talk about themselves.
Think back to the 2009 VMAs scandal when Kanye West leaped out of his seat to grab the microphone from Taylor Swift with the immortal words, “Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish. But Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!”
If that’s what talking to someone feels like, it’s a sign that they have got to go. And here’s a similar sign that shows the same thing.
2) They only reach out to you when it’s about them
Toxic people are all about themselves. Maybe it didn’t start this way, but are you the only one who ever reaches out?
If you feel like 80% of the relationship is all you, they don’t value you or what you bring to the table.
Moreover, they might only reach out to you when they need something as they view the connection as a relationship of convenience. Typically, this will involve you going out of your way to fulfill their latest request.
But don’t assume they’ll never put in the effort for you. Here’s what a user and abuser does when they decide to do something.
3) They help because they think they have to, not because they want to
During those rare times when they actually try to do something nice, the effort is minimal and feels cold.
That’s because people who use others are trying to keep the lie going. Every act is transactional, and, boy, will they bring up their nice acts in the future.
Real friends do things as a caring reflex action, not because they’re building up their credit for later. If you feel like no good deed goes unpunished in your relationship, it’s time to sit down for an honest conversation.
4) They look to you for a confidence boost
Feeling you’re the first person someone turns to in times of need may make you warm and fuzzy, but think about it. Do they do the same for you?
You’re a kind, caring person, so you always have a list of their best traits to reassure them. But when do they say anything nice to you?
If the answer is “Seldom,” you may also spot the following trait.
5) They don’t support you
Stress tests even the most resilient people. And according to The American Institute of Stress, Americans are among the most stressed-out people on the planet.
So, we all need someone to help us during dark times. But here’s the thing about manipulators, they don’t reciprocate when you’re the one who needs a shoulder to cry on.
They’ll often shrug you off or respond harshly to your concerns and worries.
6) They also don’t sacrifice
Good people will happily help out a friend in need. But if you’re starting to wonder whether you’re in a one-way relationship, you could be being taken advantage of.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Mean Girls and remember Regina George, this is what a relationship with someone like that entails.
Spot any similarities? Then it could be time for a permanent separation.
7) They only want to hang out when the stars align
We all live busy lives; I know I do!
When there’s an opportunity to hang out, I’m game, but if I’m always the one driving across town to their place, or if it always has to be worked around their schedule, I ask, is this person providing value to my life?
I’ve always believed that healthy relationships are all about give and take. So, if someone doesn’t value my time or schedule, I know they don’t value my friendship.
8) They’re always asking for a favor
Everyone has a friend or neighbor who always asks for a favor. If you feel like you’re being treated like an unpaid intern, you’re being taken advantage of.
Think Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders. If their garage is full of stuff that used to be yours, you’re wasting your time.
But going out of your way to help a friend is one thing. Here’s how it can get worse – if you let it.
9) They always make you pay for things
Footing the bill on somebody’s birthday is a nice gesture. But if your friend is like Alan Harper from Two and a Half Men and is always conveniently missing when the check comes (or their wallet is), they’re just taking your money.
For example, I once decided to take my relatives out for a modest meal at a modest establishment. All were appreciative, but one went out of their way to order the most expensive thing on the menu while offering zero dollars towards said expensive thing.
No prizes for guessing that it was the same relative who pulled this trick every other time I paid for dinner. I said nothing, but I’ve kept my distance ever since.
10) They make you feel taken advantage of
Doing favors and helping without any expectation of repayment is in your nature, and most people show you the proper respect in return.
On the other hand, when someone is using you, you’ll eventually feel it. You’ll notice that the vibes are off, and something feels wrong, like a breeze in the air before a thunderstorm.
Listen to your gut because it’s trying to tell you something!
11) They get to make all the decisions
Chinese food again? That’s right. It’s always Chinese food because your coworker/partner/friend always makes your decisions.
They don’t ask for your opinion because you’re cool with anything, right?
This can be challenging as some people are naturally overbearing, and there’s no malice behind it. Often, these are the people who genuinely believe that they are just trying to help.
However, there’s one secret way to tell whether this person is using you or has zero ability to read the room.
12) They make sure that you are in charge
People taking advantage of your friendliness will make all the major decisions, but you will be the one responsible for executing the plan.
In their minds, they are showing trust and appreciation by designating ultimate control to you. But this isn’t a kind action. They are shifting the stress of responsibility from their shoulders to yours.
And if things don’t pan out as expected: it’s your fault.
13) They like to sulk when they don’t get their way
Sooner or later, the cure for a manipulator is to take a stand and refuse to allow them to control you.
Whenever you say “No.” they will internalize it, either for scorekeeping or as an excuse to talk about you behind your back. They won’t remember the 99 times you helped them out. They will remember the one time you said no.
Call them out, and they’ll become suddenly aloof while blaming you.
14) They make you feel bad
Users are just emotional manipulators. There’s no other way to define them.
Resist their control or don’t give them what they want, and they’ll happily slap on a guilt trip. It’s a textbook type of manipulation that aims to make you feel as if you are the one in the wrong.
Fall for it, and you’ll be right back in their orbit and back to square one. Despite that, this is not the biggest red flag. Here’s a foolproof way of determining whether someone is exploiting you.
15) They provide no value to your life
This is the ultimate sign that someone is using you. Think about your friends and write down how each one improves your life. Some of the things you might write include:
- They always make me laugh.
- They help me when I’m feeling down.
- They’ve taught me a lot about X.
- They make me comfortable being myself.
- They inspire me to do better.
Strong emotional bonds are the essence of what it is to be human. We are community-minded creatures, after all.
So, if you suspect someone is using you, reflect on how they improve your life. If you’re struggling for a concrete answer, it’s time to re-examine the relationship.
Friendship Abuse is a Form of Abuse
Friendship abuse is a real thing because abuse can happen in any relationship. What matters is spotting the source of the cancer in your inner circle and extinguishing it.
By assessing your friends and how they treat you, you can spot a manipulator a mile away and have an honest talk with them.
How have you dealt with friendship abuse in the past?
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