Being in a relationship with someone else can be a great thing, or it can be a painful experience all around. While some people make the perfect partners, others make it more challenging for us to connect with them and trust them. This is especially true for the greedy partner, or the person who always takes advantage of your time and energy. When we invest ourselves in those who only want to take from us, we can end up empty and alone. In order to protect ourselves, we have to wake up to their patterns and the signs we’ve been ignoring.
Relationships are a two-way street.
There can be no doubting that relationships are a two-way street. Whether you are friends with someone, or intimately involved, both partners have to put time and effort into connecting and relating to one another. You have to ask one another questions, be interested in the other person’s life. When it’s all about gratifying the needs of one partner over the other, love gets stale — fast.
Are you getting as good as you give from your partner, spouse, or loved ones? Do they put as much time and effort into you, as you put into them? Our partners and our friends should love us and cherish us for who they are. They should think of us when we’re not around, and they should want what’s best for us no matter what.
You can’t build a happy life with someone who only expects tribute from you. You can’t be happy constantly serving the needs of another person over your own. We have to give as good as we get and put in the same amount of physical and emotional energy that our partner does. Building a life with someone is a team sport, not a spectator’s event. If you want to be happy, do it with someone who wants you to be happy too.
Signs they’re taking advantage of you.
When someone is taking advantage of us, there are always some concrete signs we can look from. From a tendency to ask for favors (while never returning them) to playing blame games and refusing to listen to you — these are the signs that you may be wasting your time with someone who is only interested in taking advantage of you.
Always looking for favors
Are there people in your life who only reach out when they need help, or want someone to pay attention to (or listen to) them? The person who is always looking for favors should be the quickest to pay them back, but that’s not always the case. Those who always ask without giving anything back themselves are a sure-fire sign you’re being taken advantage of by someone who claims to want the best for you.
Never asking questions
What happens when you talk on the phone with your friend or partner? Do they show a lot of interest in your day? Ask how you’re feeling? Those who are trying to take advantage of you will generally take no interest in your personal life. They’ll never ask you questions about yourself or the good things you have going on in your life. And they’ll rarely get excited about your accomplishments. They may be happy to feed on your grief, but they aren’t there to celebrate your triumphs.
Only available part-time
Being mentally, physically, and emotionally present for our friends is something that’s so crucial in order to establish trust and affection. When we don’t make ourselves available in any way, it drives our loved ones away, and that’s exactly what happens when someone is taking advantage of you. Is your partner only available when they need something? Do they leave you high and dry when you have needs of your own? They’re taking advantage of your love for them.
Horrible listening skills
Do your loved ones listen to you when you talk? When you have a problem, so they really engage with the details so that they can provide quality feedback? If they don’t listen to you when you address issues or try to discuss your life, then there’s a good chance they’re not as invested in you as you are in them. When we care for someone, we listen to them (even when we don’t want to).
No relationship can thrive when only one person in the equation is putting in the time, effort, and mental, physical, and financial effort it requires to be together. When it comes to going out or splurging — are you the one who always pays for things? Whether you’ve become the relationship check book, or you’re doing most of the physical or emotional work in the relationship, it’s time to think about who is contributing and who’s taking advantage.
Playing blame games
When it comes to taking advantage of someone, it’s not always about the effort or the material goods you can gain. Believe it or not, you may be getting taken advantage of in another way. Some people keep us around because we’re convenient scape goats. They can shift blame for their own mistakes and put the responsibility on us. If you’re always the one taking responsibility for what goes right or what goes wrong, you need to take note.
Not all the signs of a one-sided relationship come from the other person. Often, we have to look at our own feelings and the way we react or behave when someone is around us. What happens when you’re around your partner or loved one? Do you ever feel aggravated, irritated, or otherwise plagued by resentment? Does hanging out with them leave you exhausted or on-edge? You may be dealing with someone who takes more than they give.
How to protect yourself.
In order to build stability into your life and future relationships, you have to learn how to protect yourself from those who want to take from you. Don’t settle for those who tear you down or “keep you in your place” start standing up for yourself and lean into your self-esteem and your sense of pride and presence.
1. Lean into your self-esteem
Self-esteem is an invaluable tool, and one of the first places we should begin when dealing with a partner, spouse, or loved one who takes advantage of us. Our self-esteem is the foundation point from which we source all the other needs and values in our lives. We have to believe in ourselves and our right to be happy in order to stand up to those who would take our happiness from us.
It’s time to take a self-esteem inventory and figure out what happened to your belief in self. Consider your life as a whole and look for the learning experiences which taught you to settle for unsatisfactory partners. Where did you learn that it wasn’t okay to stand up for yourself? Where do you learn to put others always before yourself?
You need to counteract those lessons and find practical techniques which allow you to re-establish that self-confidence you need to turn away toxic partners. Without an inherent belief in your right to say “no” you can find yourself slipping into people pleasing habits that allow you to give far more than you receive. Don’t look for validation without. Find it within and know that you’re enough exactly as you are.
2. Figure out your values
Values are another important thing to consider when it comes to protecting ourselves from the people who take advantage of us. Our values are another level and facet of self which can help guide us through this life. They incorporate the things we like and don’t like, but they also incorporate the things we believe in ideologically as well.
You need to figure out where your value lines lie, so you can align the right people with them in your life. What means the most to you in this world? What brings you joy? A sense of meaning? A sense of community or belonging?
We must have a deeper sense of who we are if we want to find those who will treat us with respect. You must know what you value in this life, and you must also learn to value yourself. Once you know how much you’re worth, the world generally starts to agree with you. Stand strong beside your integrity and find others who stand beside their integrity and their sense of values too.
3. Establish iron-clad boundaries
There’s not enough that can be said about boundaries and the power they have to transform our lives and our relationships. Setting boundaries is one of the best things we can do to protect ourselves against those who use us or take advantage. When we set boundaries, we communicate what behaviors we will and will not tolerate; but we also communicate our expectations and how we believe the other person will fit into our lives.
You’ve got to establish iron-clad boundaries for yourself and for those around you. We all have lines that we don’t allow others to cross, and that’s okay. Figure out how you want to be treated and start from there. What behaviors are you absolutely unwilling to tolerate in a partner, lover, or friend?
Knowing where you’re going to draw the line is only a part of the process, though. You also have to get effective at enforcing those boundaries. Unless you make it clear that crossing the line comes with a consequence, then those who take advantage of you will continue to do so. There needs to be an equal response when they disrespect your boundaries. Try first by restricting their access to you and your emotional time and energy.
4. Give yourself time to process
Many times, those who get taken advantage of are people pleasers. This means that they put the needs of others before their own, or that they struggle with saying no or turning down opportunities. Instead of questioning their own needs and satisfaction, they instinctively pursue those of the people around them. In order to avoid this urge, we have to give ourselves time to think things through before agreeing or giving way.
Always take time to think before agreeing to anything someone asks you to do. Firstly, you need to make sure you have the time and schedule to do it. But you also need to weigh your mental and emotional needs.
Are you in a place right now where the favor that’s being asked could cause you great upset in your life? Are you stressed to the max and struggling to keep up with your own tasks and to-dos? It’s okay to say no, and it’s certainly okay to take some time to think. Anyone that pressures you into an instant answer is someone who is looking after their own gratification first and foremost.
5. Speak up for yourself
You will never defeat “the takers” in your life if you don’t learn how to speak up for yourself. Our voice is a powerful too, and it is one we should rely on every single day. We have a right to speak up when our feelings are hurt, and we have a right to say what’s on our minds or to express our beliefs. You need to draw the line between yourself and the people who take from you, and that happens by learning how to stand up for who you are and what you want.
Stop playing second fiddle to people who only care about themselves. It’s time for you to care about yourself and see to your own needs for a while. If you don’t want to do something, say so. If your feelings have been hurt, or there’s something important on your mind — say it and don’t feel guilty for saying it either.
Focus on respect and always keep your integrity in sight as you learn to branch out in the name of your happiness. There’s nothing inherently aggressive with speaking your mind, as long as you do so without hostility and without needless aggression. Stick to the facts and avoid blaming anyone or aggravating the situation. Speak your mind calmly and focus only on your point of view, your perspective, and the reasons you don’t want to take part.
Putting it all together…
Are you living with a partner or a spouse who takes more than they give? Do they expect you to listen to their problems, but fail to manifest when you have trouble of your own? Do they only come into your life when they want something or need help from you? We can’t build happy lives with partners who take more than they give. Once we’ve identified someone who is taking advantage of us in their lives, we have to take active steps to protect ourselves.
Lean into your self-esteem. You deserve to be treated better, and you deserve to be valued as a partner and a friend. Don’t settle for people who don’t acknowledge your worth as equal to their own. Figure out what your values are and then pursue those who hold the same values in their hearts. Establish iron-clad boundaries for yourself and those around you. Don’t cross the line and don’t allow them to push you past the line either. Always give yourself time to process before you agree to anything you aren’t sure about and learn how to speak up for yourself early and often. There’s nothing wrong with saying no. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best things we can often do for ourselves when it comes to those who take advantage of us.
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