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How to Handle Friends Who Use You: 14 Ways to Break the Cycle

You thought they were your friends, but it looks like they weren’t genuine at all. It’s time to break the cycle and put a stop to the friends who use you.

When I moved to another country, I had my first encounter with friends who use you. At the time, I was alone in a new country. All I wanted was to find people I could connect with. And in my head, I did find that group.

It was a mixed group of young men and women who liked the same music and movies as me. I felt safe around them. But then some of them started to ask me for money, and because I liked them, I would give it to them. But after a while, I noticed this was all I was good for.

I wasn’t rich, but in their eyes, I was. When I realized what was going on, I knew I needed to make a change.

Break the cycle: How to stop friends who use you

Making that change and breaking ties with people you thought were your friends isn’t easy, especially when you know you’ll be friendless after it. But it was something I had to do. I wasn’t feeling good hanging around them anymore and knew it was going to eat me up in the end.

If you’re spending time with people who use you, it’s not a good feeling. If you’re not feeling good, then make the tough decision. Break the cycle and start to live an authentic life with or without friends.

If you need help figuring out how to stop friends who use you, well, you’ve come to the right place. Because you need real friends.

#1 What does your gut say? Before you make any moves, what is your gut telling you? If you feel you’re being used, then you probably are. We often ignore those feelings, but those are the ones you should pay attention to and follow. If your gut says these people aren’t good, then listen to it.

#2 Do they have a history of using people? I remember befriending one girl who I later discovered would befriend people for free meals and drinks, literally. We hung out a couple of times, but after I found this out, I knew I would be another casualty. If they have a history of using people, they’re going to do it again.

#3 What do they use you for? If they’re using you, figure out what they’re using you for. Is it for money? Accommodation? Status? Before you confront them or make a big decision, figure out what they’re taking from you. That way, you confirm your gut instinct and take the next step forward.

#4 Decrease how much you share with them. If they’re someone you would share personal information with; it’s time to limit it. As of now, they’ve used this information to manipulate and take advantage of you. You can chat with them, but be careful about what you share with them.

#5 Don’t let them get the best of you. These situations can easily make you feel resentment and sadness. But don’t let this person get the best of you. Yes, they’re using you, but there are plenty of other people who care about you. This is just a bad egg.

#6 Say no. You need to start saying no as soon as possible. If they ask you for money, say no. If they ask you to buy them dinner, say no. It’s time to create those boundaries so they get the picture you’re not someone they can use anymore.

#7 Don’t give in to guilt. If they’re using you, they won’t be happy when they feel it’s ending. Whatever they’re getting from you is important to them, so they’re going to try to keep everything in line. Expect them to throw some guilt your way. The best thing you can do is dodge it. Don’t feel guilty because you recognized their poor behavior.

#8 Talk face-to-face with them. If you want to talk to them about their behavior, you can. Some people choose to simply detach themselves without notice, while others want to talk about the situation and hear the other person’s side.

You can do either, just prepare to filter through their excuses. They may try to manipulate the situation. But, talking face-to-face will help bring you some closure.

#9 Take space away from them. Instead of running towards them for attention and validation, take a step back, and pause the situation. You need to see things clearly, and this is probably an emotional time for you. If they’re in your face, ask for your space until you’re ready to talk. 

#10 Spend time with other people. Instead of hanging out with them, spend time with other friends and family. This doesn’t mean you cut them out immediately, but hang out with people you trust and make you feel safe and secure. You’ll see the situation better once you step back.

#11 Accept they weren’t real friends. These “friends” were never real friends. If they were, they wouldn’t take advantage of you time and time again. Work on accepting they weren’t a real friend and use this experience as a learning lesson for next time.

#12 Slowly back out of the friendship. If you believe you’re being used by your friend, then it’s time to end the relationship. If you continue, you’ll know deep down, you’re making a mistake. So, slowly move out of the friendship. Avoid going out with them, slowly cut the communication, and move on.

#13 It’s going to take time to heal. We like to think we can get over these types of issues easily, but listen, this will sting. No one bounces back fast from being used. You feel betrayal. Once cutting them off, you’ll experience a range of emotions. Let yourself walk through them.

#14 Don’t let this stop you from meeting new people. Sure, you may be a little more guarded when meeting new people. That’s understandable. But don’t cut yourself off of making new friends. You ran into some bad people, that’s life. There are countless kind and warm-hearted people who would make great friends. Don’t stop until you find them.


Breaking the cycle of friends who use you isn’t easy, but if you want to live your most authentic life, you must do it. You don’t need them.

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