How to Deal With People Who Use You

Wondering how to deal with people who use you? Read on. No one wants to be used, especially by someone they love. But, it unfortunately happens, more often than we’d like it to. It’s a part of life and no matter how savvy you are, it’s not as preventable as it should be.

As you get older, you realize this more and more, and understand that sometimes being used is malicious and sometimes the person who has used you didn’t even realize what they did to you. You unfortunately also realize that the using can come from anyone — colleagues, new friends, old friends, a best friend, and even family members.

It hurts. It’s upsetting. It makes us feel like sh*t about ourselves.

It makes us feel like we’re foolish. And it makes us not want to trust anyone again. Those are all normal feelings.

But, as with anything in life, it’s something for you to bounce back from. How can you do that? The best way is by remembering who you are, focusing on your mental health, and starting to recognize toxic people and toxic relationships.

To help you, here are some ways on how you can deal with people who use you whether it is a best friend, coworker, or even family members.

How To Deal With People Who Use You

Remember to respect yourself.

The first step is to remember your self respect. If you don’t show yourself respect, you can’t expect other people to show you respect either. Also remember that there is a big difference between having self-respect for yourself and having an ego — you do not want to have an ego.

Self-respect is about you trusting yourself, being confident, and having a healthy image of yourself. Be proud of yourself!

People can tell when you are, and when you are not proud and confident. And unfortunately, if you aren’t proud of yourself and if you don’t have respect for yourself, others won’t either, and it may make it easier for you to be taken advantage of.

Know you’re being used.

The next step? You also need to know that you are being used. Take a step back from the situation and look at it from all angles. If you’re still not sure, talk to someone you trust completely such as one of your true friends, parent, sibling, or therapist.

Gauge their perspective and see if it aligns with what you were thinking. Sometimes in the heat of the moment and a lot of emotion, we can’t see things clearly. It’s always good to take a step back, calm down, and look at the situation as a whole. It’s also sometimes easier to see a healthy relationship or a toxic one when you get another viewpoint.

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Understand where their behavior is coming from.

If someone used you, this toxic behavior has to be stemming from somewhere. Chances are, this isn’t the first time such people behave this way. You are most likely not at fault, you were just there for them to take advantage of. Has this person been going through tough times in their own life?

Are they channeling their emotions in the wrong way? Try to remember that this behavior is coming from somewhere and it could also be from the way they were raised or from past situations still affecting them. Our inner wounds can affect us for a long time.

Maybe they have a substance use disorder or need professional help to find their way. Or maybe, they’re just a toxic person whose ultimate goal is to do whatever it takes to get what they want. No matter the root cause, you do not deserve to be taken advantage of.

Do not call the person out on their behavior.

Much easier said than done, but don’t call the person you think used you out on what they did. You 100% need to have a conversation with them, but you should do so in a calm and adult-like manner… rather than just screaming and crying at them.

That will not only get you nowhere, but it will not let you say your true feelings and showcase your true hurt. You want them to know how hurt you are and you also want them to know they need to be more considerate of your feelings.

By speaking calmly, you are also lessening the chance that their self-defensiveness will come out in full force. During this conversation, you should also encourage them to be better, rather than yelling at them for all the things they did wrong.

It’s all about making it known that you’re not happy, not just brushing it off, but addressing it in a calm, cool, collective manner. You do not want to come off as though you’re attacking the person, but instead that you are making your unhappiness known and care enough about your relationship with this person that you want to get past this and not have it happen again.

And whatever you do next, don’t take it to social media. At the end of the day, airing these situations publicly will not make you feel better. Instead, take deep breaths, focus on small things like a great friend who stood by you, to help you let go of the hurt of such a fake friend.

Remove yourself if they refuse change.

After you calmly explained your feelings and concerns with this person, pause to see how they react. If they automatically get self-defensive or don’t see what they did wrong, the conversation may not be worth pressing on.

You clearly aren’t getting through to them. If you’ve reached this point, it’s time (and best) to remove yourself from the situation and distance yourself for a bit. You don’t need to cut the person out of your life right away.

You can let them know that you need to distance yourself from them. During this time, don’t reach out to them.

They’ll either notice your absence, realize how much they miss you in their life, and reach out to you with a clearly perspective and willingness to work on things…or they won’t. If they don’t reach out and are totally cool with you not being there, did you really need them in your life anyway?! Life is too short to have a bad friend, a selfish person, or deal with difficult people in your life.

Focus instead on cultivating true friendships that give you a good feeling rather than a hard time. The person who used you may not be a bad person, they may just be someone with low self-esteem going through bad times. But that’s not your weight to carry.

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Use this as a learning and growing experience.

We are not saying that it’s your fault that you were used—that’s an important thing to remember! But you can use this experience to learn and grow as a person. They say hindsight is 20/20, so think back.

Were there red flags that this person did or said before whatever happened, happened? Did those close to you warn you about this persons intentions? Is there anything that happened that may have shown you this could’ve been a toxic relationship or that this person didn’t have your best interest at heart?

Think of all of these questions and more so that you can be more conscious of it next time. It’ll also help you see who your real friends are so you can surround yourself with people who care about you, has your best interests in mind, and care about your mental health. Everything is a learning experience, even the crummiest of situations.

You will meet new people, and you will have different types of friends. The best thing is develop yourself and focus on finding a friendship with a good person or a good relationship with someone who won’t take advantage of your kindness.

About the Author

Michelle Ioannou

Michelle graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Arts ’13 and a Master of Arts ’14. She is currently working on social media and event planning in the nonprofit world while blogging on the side about the Mets. Her interests include The Mets, The Patriots, iced coffee, Greece, and escaping to tropical islands. Her long term career goal is to continue to share her story and experiences to help as many people as she can.