11 signs you’re being used by someone you trust

While a healthy relationship is defined as an equitable give-and-take, a one-sided relationship indicates one party is doing most, if not all, of the work. 

Is that party you? 

When someone you love, either romantically or as a friend, seems to be constantly needy and doesn’t put into the relationship what they take out, it can make you feel bad about yourself and doubt your self-worth.

It really hurts your feelings. 

If your relationship tends to feel one-sided, remember that all types of loving relationships are two-way streets of reciprocation and mutual support.

This support is given gladly and freely with no hidden motives muddying the waters. Most importantly, support is reciprocated by the other person without a second thought.

If you wonder if your relationship has that level of inequality, there are certain behaviors that should immediately raise a red flag if you’re dealing with a user. 

1) Attentive … when they need something

Users will make a lot of grand gestures for you to use as ammunition to secure future favors.

They approach every single interaction they engage in from this perspective. 

Every relationship, every situation, and every “favor” a user grants you is a “bargaining chip” that they carefully save until they need it. 

2) Nice … when they need something

People who are users are smart enough to know that to get what they want, they’ll have to play nice.

So they’re unusually sweet and thoughtful when they need a favor from you.

But once they get what they want, users lose interest in you and shut off the winsome charm like water from a spigot.

Remember, it’s all about them.

3) The conversation is always about them

When users ask how your day went, they’re struggling to pretend they care even one little iota. In two seconds flat, they’ll bring the conversation around to their favorite subject – themselves. 

Being used doesn’t only refer to the material things you provide. People can use you up emotionally leaving you like a wrung-out sponge. Self-absorption is a hallmark of that behavior. 

4) Users don’t listen to you

Since a user is ultimately self-absorbed and only about taking care of number one, the details of your day-to-day existence will barely cause a blip on their radar.

They can’t retain the information about your ailing parents because it doesn’t affect the user and therefore it means nothing to them.

These people won’t even spare you a little of their inner bandwidth.

Unless it’s someone with ADHD, mind you. Because I really want to remember the details of your life, but I can’t even remember the details of my own. My heart is in the right place, I promise. 

Being clueless regarding everything about your life won’t stop users from hitting you up for money, however.  

5) Users ask to borrow money

Now, most of us need a helping hand every now and then, and there’s certainly no shame in that. That’s what friends are for. 

But if you have a serial borrower on your hands, that’s quite a different story.

If your friend inundates you with repeated requests for money whether it’s just a few bucks or a few hundred bucks, be on guard. 

Ask yourself how often you’re the one footing the bill when you go out together.  If you’re routinely expected to pay their way or lend them cash.

That’s not normal in a healthy, reciprocal relationship. It’s a strong indication that your value to them is directly proportional to the cash flow from you to them.

And if, by chance, you should ever benefit from a user’s generosity, understand it’s etched in stone on their inner tally sheet.  

6) If their favors come with strings, they’re users 

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Users are super-helpful. Just ask them, and they will be very quick to tell you. 

If a person who’s using you does you a small favor, they’ll play up that handful of tissue like they gave you a kidney.

They will remind you that you owe them big time and make you sorry you ever asked them for help. 

Users are manipulative and experts at getting what they want.

7) Users are manipulative 

Users are masters of manipulation. They can swiftly and almost effortlessly maneuver you into a position where it’s almost impossible to deny them.

If someone insists that denying them what they need from you would mean the end of their world, you’re most likely dealing with a user.

They might threaten to end the friendship or dump you romantically, but fear tactics need to be recognized as the abuse it is: a form of emotional blackmail left in the wake of their broken promises. 

8) Promises broken 

Users can cloud their actual agenda by promising to do something for you, then they’ll fail to deliver on that promise. You’ve kept your side of the bargain, but the user breaks their word time and time again.

This type of behavior gradually undermines the trust you have in the other person and in the relationship itself.

If the person consistently chooses to put someone or something else before you, they’ve devalued you as a wishy-washy push-over, whose trust they feel comfortable betraying.  

If your hurt feelings mean so little to them, then this relationship is so one-sided that it’s toxic.

9) No concern for your well-being 

If this person doesn’t care how you feel about what they are asking you to do, it looks like you got yourself a user.

Because none of this is even remotely about you as a person, it’s about how the user can benefit from an association with you. That can involve you ending up in uncomfortable scenarios or being manipulated into doing things you don’t want to do.

The user will take and take and take until you’ve nothing left to give, and ignore your emotional discomfort while doing so.

They have no problem leaving you unable to cover your bills or asking you to skip important appointments so you’re available when the user needs you to be.  

And financially isn’t the only way they’ll let you down. They won’t support you emotionally, either. 

10) Users don’t support you

Supporting someone close to you through a rough patch takes time, energy, and, of course, compassion. Since a user is all about the taking and not the giving, they won’t make sacrifices to be there for you when you need them most.

If you try to confront them on this, or anything else, they’ll become and try to shift the blame to you. 

11) Defensive about your relationship

If you try to address the unequal nature of your relationship, the user will get very defensive and give you dozens of pointless reasons why that’s not the case. 

They will insist that you both give and take in equal measure even though all evidence points to the contrary.

Over time, this can cause you to resent the user no matter how much you care about them. 

Next stop: resentment

A relationship, whether it’s romantic or platonic, should leave you feeling relaxed and understood. However, in reality, they make you feel the complete opposite at times. 

If you’re in a relationship with a user, this tension often springs from your gut feeling that there is something seriously inequitable about the partnership.

The incessant guilt-tripping, the temper tantrums, and the glaring lack of any sort of reciprocation inevitably lead to a formidable build-up of resentment. 

If you feel growing resentment and bitterness regarding the friendship or romance, it might be time to re-evaluate the status and purpose of the relationship.

Picture of Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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