8 ways manipulative people take advantage of your kindness

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It’s one of the toughest life lessons:

You’re a kind person, a giver, always ready to lend a hand or an ear. But there’s this nagging sensation that people might be taking advantage of your generous nature.

You’ve tried to shrug it off, telling yourself it’s all in your head. But the feeling persists, somehow you’re being manipulated and it’s just not sitting right.

Often, it’s not even overtly malicious.

You simply have this lingering suspicion that your kindness is being exploited, even though every fiber in your being wants to believe otherwise.

Here’s how to identify the subtle ways in which manipulative individuals may be capitalizing on your goodwill, even if it’s going to sting a little.

1) Your generosity is always in demand

Kindness is your second nature. You’re always ready to help, share, and give. This trait is beautiful, but some people might see it as an opportunity.

Manipulative individuals are experts in identifying people like you, who have a generous heart. They can spot your kindness from a mile away and they know exactly how to exploit it.

It starts subtly. You may find yourself always being the one asked for favours. It seems like they can’t do anything without your help.

If you find that your generosity is constantly in demand, with little or no reciprocation, it’s time to be alert.

Manipulative people have a knack for turning your kindness into their convenience. They assume you’ll always be there, ready to assist, forgetting that you too have your own needs and commitments.

In short, if you’re feeling like a walking charity organization rather than a friend or a loved one, it’s time to reassess the situation. Which brings me to my next point…

2) You start feeling like a safety net

There was this one time, I remember it so clearly. A friend, let’s call her Sarah, was planning a trip. She asked me to keep my schedule free as a backup plan, just in case her original travel buddy couldn’t make it.

Of course, I agreed. It wasn’t the first time she’d asked something like this of me.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Sarah never confirmed if I was needed for the trip or not. And then, a day before the trip, she casually mentioned her buddy couldn’t make it and expected me to drop everything to accompany her.

That’s when it hit me – I was being used as a safety net. There’s a difference between being dependable and being taken for granted.

Manipulative people often use your kindness as their backup plan. They know you’ll be there, ready to jump in when needed, without considering the inconvenience it may cause you.

That trip was an eye-opener. It made me realize that my willingness to help was being exploited in ways I hadn’t considered before.

3) They hardly take ‘no’ for an answer

Something else that I’ve noticed is that manipulative people have a hard time accepting a ‘no’ from me. 

No matter how politely or firmly I say it, they seem to view it as a personal challenge rather than respecting my decision.

It often starts with them asking for something small, something I’d say ‘yes’ to without much thought. But then, the requests start getting bigger, more demanding, and more frequent.

When I finally muster up the courage to say ‘no’, it’s met with resistance, persuasion, and sometimes even anger. They make me feel as though my refusal is a personal affront to them.

And they make it seem like I’m mean and unkind

Believe me, it’s exhausting and stressful. It’s like walking on eggshells, always on edge about how they’d react to my ‘no’. 

This kind of pressure is a clear sign of manipulation. If someone can’t respect your decision, then they’re likely taking advantage of your kindness.

4) Your boundaries are constantly being pushed

Obviously, if they have a hard time taking ‘no’ for an answer, it points to a certain disrespect for your boundaries. Your boundaries seem to be more of a suggestion than a rule to them.

For instance, I’ve always been clear about my personal space, my time, and my limits. Yet, somehow, these lines in the sand keep getting crossed.

It starts with small things. A favour here, a demand there, slowly eating into my personal time and space. But over time, it escalates. 

This constant pushing of boundaries is a classic move by manipulative people. They test your limits, see how far they can go with you. 

And because of your inclination to help and accommodate, you might often find myself agreeing to things you shouldn’t.

It’s draining and leaves you feeling used, which is a huge red flag. If it feels like your boundaries are being disregarded and your kindness is being stretched thin, it’s time to take a step back.

5) Guilt-tripping becomes their go-to strategy

Have you ever heard of the term “emotional blackmail“? It’s a form of psychological manipulation where someone uses guilt, fear, and obligation to control the other person.

I’ve seen this play out in my life in various ways. Manipulative people have a way of making you feel guilty if you don’t comply with their wishes.

If I ever try to assert my boundaries or say no to unreasonable demands, the guilt trip is their weapon of choice. They paint themselves as a victim, making me feel bad for not bending over backward to accommodate them.

It’s a dirty tactic, using someone’s good nature against them. It’s manipulative and completely unfair, and you have every right to keep your distance. 

6) They use flattery to get their way

Another thing I’ve observed is that manipulative people often resort to flattery when they want something. 

They’d shower me with compliments, making me feel special and valued. But soon after, they’d ask for a favour or make a request that was difficult to refuse.

Looking back, I can see how the flattery was used as a distraction, a way to disarm me so I’d be more inclined to say ‘Yes’. It wasn’t genuine appreciation but a calculated move to exploit my kindness.

It’s always nice to receive compliments, but if they’re often followed by requests or demands, it might be time to question their sincerity. 

7) You notice a pattern of one-sidedness

Here are a few questions for you: 

Does every conversation seem to revolve around them? Do you always seem to be the giver, and hardly ever the receiver? 

If you answered “Yes”, then you probably know what I’m driving at here – they’re taking advantage of your kindness. 

One-sidedness is a real sign that something’s amiss. 

In my case, I noticed that whenever I did get the rare chance to speak, my words often fell on deaf ears or were interrupted before I could fully express my thoughts.

It was the same with favours. They would need my help, my advice, my time, but when it came time for me to ask for something? Suddenly, they were too busy or had something else on their plate.

This lack of balance is a clear indication of manipulation. True friendships and relationships are about give and take. 

8) They use your empathy against you

Here’s the thing – I’m a very empathetic person. I feel deeply for others, which is part of why I’m always ready to lend a hand. 

But I’ve realized that this trait of mine can be, and has been, used against me.

Manipulative people are quick to spot empathy in others. They see it as an opening, a way to appeal to my emotions and get what they want.

They’d share sob stories, personal problems, anything that would tug at my heartstrings. And of course, I’d want to help, to ease their burden in any way I could.

But over time, I started realizing these stories were often exaggerated or even fabricated. It was their way of manipulating me into doing what they wanted.

It was a hard pill to swallow – realizing that my empathy, something I value so much about myself, was being used as a tool for manipulation. 

If you’re an empathetic person and you often find yourself feeling manipulated into helping others even when it’s not in your best interest, that’s your gut telling you to step back and reassess.

Wrapping up

If you’ve recognized any of these signs in your interactions, it’s possible that your kindness has been manipulated.

But here’s a key point – understanding this doesn’t make you weak or foolish. It makes you aware, which is the first step towards change.

With awareness, you can start setting boundaries and ensure your kindness is not exploited. You can learn to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty and prioritize your needs without feeling selfish.

Kindness is a strength, not a weakness. But like any strength, it needs to be used wisely.

Being kind doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. You can be kind and still stand up for yourself. You can be generous with your time and resources, but also make sure your own needs are met.

In the words of research professor Dr. Brené Brown, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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