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How to Tell Someone Is Using You: 16 Signs a User Just Can’t Hide

Whether your partner, friends, boss, or family, you can be used. It sucks, but it’s unavoidable. But learn to spot how to tell someone is using you.

When it comes to being used, it can happen to anyone. Actually, I believe you’ll encounter at least one person who will try to use you in your lifetime. There will be some people who manage to dodge the bullet, but the only way to know how to tell someone is using you is actually to be used.

It’s a crappy way to learn, but it’s the best way. Now, I’m not telling you to put yourself in a position to be used. In fact, I don’t wish that upon you at all. So, that’s why I wrote this—to provide insight on what to watch out for.

How to tell someone is using you

These signs aren’t just for intimate relationships. These are signs you might see in family members, colleagues, teachers, and even your next door neighbor. However, there’s one thing you should know. Knowing these signs is only half of the work. Learn how to act on them too.

[Read: 10 guilt-free ways to handle guilt trippers in your life]

If you’re aware that someone is clearly using you, doing nothing won’t change the situation. But, before you turn to action, first, identify the traits of a user. That way, you can avoid them.

Let’s make it stop before it happens.

#1 You feel off. When someone uses you, you feel it. We all have this ability, but most of us ignore our gut instinct. Connect with it. Your body will tell you whether or not this person is someone you want in your life.

You’ll feel uncomfortable as if there’s a lack of balance in the relationship. And you don’t want an imbalanced relationship. [Read: Can you actually fix a one-sided relationship before it ends in failure?]

#2 You can’t say no. Physically, you can say no, but when it comes to them, you can’t. You’re scared to say no and worry what will happen if you do. Does this sound healthy to you? Does this sound like a healthy relationship? Of course, it does not. If they make you feel guilty for saying no, then they want to manipulate you.  [Read: How to say no to people and feel awesome about yourself instead]

#3 Call out of convenience. When you call or text them, they hardly reply on time. Sometimes it even take days for them to call you back. But when they need something from you, they call non-stop. They only want something from you. This is what you need to understand. This isn’t a genuine relationship, it’s a relationship of convenience.

#4 They live on favors. Not only are you someone who does a lot of favors for them, but they also never do anything for you. This is a self-interest based relationship, so they’re only doing what benefits them. Maybe they’ll do a small favor for you, but that’s only because they need to continue using you.

#5 They’re selectively nice to you. We all have the ability to control our moods. If you’re wondering how to tell someone is using you, pay attention to their behavior when they don’t need you. Do you find that they ignore or are rude to you when they don’t need you? Being selectively nice to you isn’t by chance. Only being kind to you when you do something for them isn’t a good sign. It’s a huge sign of someone who’s trying to use you.

#6 They betray your trust. Maybe they started hitting on a guy you like or use your ideas to push themselves higher in their careers. But the point is, they’re betraying your trust. You told them your ideas or dreams because you trust them, but it’s not a two-way street. This person is using you for their own personal gain.

#7 They don’t give back. You may have taken them out for dinner, lent them money, or gave them support during a breakup, but they never did anything for you. They’re not paying you back in any way. You’re starting to look like a welcome mat they can walk all over. [Read: How to take care of yourself emotionally]

#8 You dislike them. Even though this may be your sister or close friend, the more you’re around them, the more you dislike them as a person. With all the favors and guilt-trips, how can you not feel resentment towards them? This isn’t a balanced relationship if you’re feeling bad about yourself.

#9 They’re hot and cold. When you’re just about to make a move and cut them off, they do something extremely kind and sweet for you. You think they changed, but that’s not the case. They’re going to use you again, drop you on the side of the road, and pick you up when they need you. You’re walking on eggshells. [Read: 3 stages to understand why some people blow hot and cold]

#10They don’t know you. When you break it down, this person doesn’t actually know anything about you. They don’t call you out for coffee or listen to you vent about work. I’m not even sure they know what you do for work. If this person cared about you, they would invest their time and energy in the relationship.

#11 They’re very pushy. When they’re not getting their way, they’re extremely pushy and manipulative. In these situations, it’s hard to say no. They use crafty words to make you feel guilty. It’s common to hear, “I thought you were my friend” or “You’re not being a good friend right now.”  If they weren’t using you, they would never push you to do something you don’t want to do. [Read: 10 devious signs of manipulative behavior to know]

#12 When you need help, they’re gone. If you’re trying to figure out how to tell someone is using you, this one is quite common. When you need a helping hand, they’re not there for you. Maybe they’re not feeling well or have a really busy schedule. There will always be some excuse. And it happens over and over again. They’re using you!

#13 They only text. Maybe they call, but only when it’s an emergency. Usually, they stick to texting because why would they put any more effort into the relationship? If they never text you for anything outside of a favor, they’re using you. It’s clear you’re not worth the phone call. 

#14 They’re in charge. If you thought you had control over the relationship, you’re crazy. If you’re being used you’re not in control. You’re the doormat, not them. If they have full control over the relationship, then they’re using you. They will only do what serves them, and this isn’t right. 

#15 They actually tell you they use you. Okay, they may not literally say, “I’m using you,” but, they’ll say things like, “I know I’ve asked you for help lately and only hang out with you when I need something. I’m sorry.” This is an attempt to make you feel empathetic, but they’re just a jerk. They have no plans to change. [Read: How to instantly tell the difference between real and fake friends]

#16 They never pay. When people are using others, they do it out of self-interest. What makes you think they’re going to pay? Hell, no, they won’t take out their wallets for you. They tell you they’ll get the next lunch or dinner, but it never happens. Never.

[Read: 13 traits of toxic people that can hurt and emotionally damage you]

No one wants to be used. But how can you avoid it if you don’t know how to tell someone is using you? Well, aren’t you happy you read this article? Now, you’re all set.

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