No one wants to be that person — the one that everyone else knows is being used, but is too blind or unwilling to see it for themselves.
There are plenty of ways to spot a manipulator and stop them in their tracks. Sometimes it takes completely pulling yourself out of the situation to see it clearly, but other times, they leave insidious little clues that you can spot with just a little sleuthing.
Check out the list below if you’re concerned that your latest relationship has turned lopsided, and find out how to stop it before someone gets hurts:
You never pick the activity or outing
Do you always find yourself doing activities that the other person picks out? If so, good for you for being flexible, but make sure you’re not simply giving in to the whims of a pushy partner. It’s possible you might be being used instead of valued as an equal partner in the relationship.
Next time your date (or even your friend) suggests an expensive restaurant that really isn’t your taste, or an activity that you just can’t get behind, gently insist on doing something that you can both agree on. Take note of their response.
They only want to hang out with you in times that fit their schedule
Everyone these days has a side hustle, or a part time job that keeps them busy at all hours. If this is the case, it’s completely normal to only be able to see someone at odd hours, like midafternoon, or super late at night.
However, that’s not always the case. Start being wary if you know that your new squeeze works 9 to 5, but can only find time to see you after all the clubs have closed.
You can never get a hold of them when you need them
In our modern world, getting a hold of someone really isn’t that hard. Most people are glued to their phones, and excuses of “I had my phone on silent” just don’t hold water any more, especially if it’s a chronic excuse with no good explanation.
Be wary if your new friend gushes about how much they like spending time with you, but are continually unable to pick up the phone when you call.
This usually means that they want to see you on their schedule, not yours.
They have expensive tastes, but their lifestyle doesn’t back it up
Being young doesn’t mean that you have to be poor. Many people are lucky enough to get a good job straight out of college, and if they’re still supported by their parents, this means that their paycheck is going to primarily entertainment and luxury items.
However, be careful of the person who works a dead-end job, but still professes to love luxury items like fancy cars and 5-star dinners.
This may mean that they’ve figured out other ways of getting VIP access — like you and your wallet.
You don’t know any of their other friends
Feeling like you’re in a little bubble at the beginning of a relationship is totally normal — you just want to enjoy spending time together, and figure out if the relationship will progress without involving your entire network of friends and family. However, be on your guard if it’s been a few months and you haven’t met anyone else in their life. This may mean that you don’t matter as much to them as you think.
You don’t have to meet their parents right away, but even a night out with work friends would go a long way to making you feel like a bigger part of their life. If you push the issue and they lash out, it may be time to break off the relationship.
You’ve never actually spent any time at their place
Maybe they’ve given you the excuse that they have a roommate, or it’s too far away. However, if it’s been several months of being ‘friends’ and you’ve never set foot in their house, it could be because they prefer the luxury of being able to hang out in your (much nicer) pad.
This situation can also be applied to a dating relationship — have you spent a lot of time in their bed but have never actually slept there?
If you can’t see them at their place in the light of day, rethink the relationship.
There’s always a way you can help someone in their family or close friend group get back on their feet
If you’re continually being bombarded by yet another sad tale of their friend/roommate/sister/uncle who just needs a couple hundred dollars to help them get back on their feet, chances are they aren’t just looking for sympathy.
This is especially true if you do pony up, and are rewarded with a much kinder friend or partner — but only for a little while.
The routine will repeat every time they need something, and your gratitude will quickly be forgotten in light of the next family tragedy.
If you were the same gender, you know you wouldn’t get along
There are certain things that we accept from a date that we would never accept from a friend.
Don’t fall into a trap of excusing someone’s attitude or demeanor because you’re attracted to them. If you think their behavior is appalling but are too thrilled by how they look to challenge them, they’re probably using you.
You never actually talk on the phone
If you’ve never actually spoken to this person on the phone, you should figure out why it is that they’ll never pick up your calls.
They’ll probably say it’s convenience, or make fun of you for not moving with the times (‘everyone texts now!’), but if you truly like a person, you’ll want to hear their voice occasionally.
If most of your conversations happen in emojis, you may be lower down on their priority list than you thought.
The conversation always revolves around one thing
Every relationship should have some give and take. Even if you do have very similar interests, it’s natural to discuss what else is going on in your lives, or work through problems together.
If your friend or partner is constantly talking about the next fancy restaurant you’re going to go to together, or the next trip they’re expecting you to pay for, you’re probably being used.
You’re afraid to say no
If your friend has a history of sulking and getting angry when you say no to one of their ideas, chances are they rely on your willingness to indulge them more than your friendship.
Try to nip this in the bud by explaining why you’ve said no to something. If they continue being irrationally angry, you should start looking for another friend – one who will give as much to the relationship as you do.
They always ‘forget’ their wallet
When it comes time to pay, if your girlfriend always makes a half-hearted show of reaching for her purse and then fumbling around for a wallet that isn’t there before accepting your offer to pay, be on your guard.
Some people love to be chivalrous, and if that’s you, more power to you. However, if you’ve paid for every single date with the exception of one or two, you may be being used.
You don’t feel supported by them
Being in any relationship should allow both people to feel supported. This support may not be felt in exactly the same way – for example, sometimes mutually beneficial arrangements do develop, in which one person gives a lot of one thing and gets a lot of something different in return.
Even if you are the one paying for everything, you should at least be getting something out of the relationship.
If you’re always the one pulling out your wallet, but your partner still makes you feel like you’re not being generous enough, try and figure out what exactly they want. If it’s just more of your money, quit seeing them.
You love the thrill of the chase
Unfortunately, sometimes the person being used walks right into this one.
If you’re using your cash or your social standing to woo someone else, it could be because you value the thrill of the chase more than an actual relationship. Think about what you truly want and make sure you’re making choices that will get you there.
There are multiple sets of rules: one for you, and one for them
Do you feel like you’re being forced into arbitrary rules that conveniently don’t apply to the other person in the relationship? If the answer is yes, figure out why the double-standard exists. Sometimes it makes sense – but sometimes, it’s a big red flag.
If they insist that your money gives you more freedom, or that you should always be the one to cook, to clean, or to change your plans, make sure that the sacrifices feel equal on both sides. If not, you’re in a relationship with a user.