3 signs you are being used
Those who know me, know all too well that I find a great deal of pleasure in helping. As a matter of fact, one of my mantras is “to be a part of the solution for God’s glory.” But I must say I’ve had my fair share of disenchantment that has caused me to think twice about helping, and with it came some lessons that are tell-tell signs that you are being used. Here are 3 that I have discovered through my experiences.
1. You’re asked for advice, but it's never used!
I remember, a while back, being approached for help on a personal matter. It was a relatively new experience because, to be honest, I had never thought of myself as someone worth approaching for help. Nevertheless, we arranged a time to meet and discuss the "urgent" situation. We engaged, and I quickly learnt that this individual’s experience was very similar to mine. So in my attempt to help, knowing fully well that the red flags on their horizon would translate into disaster, I gave my all. We met often to dig deeper to identify the root cause and figure out some solutions. It was with time that I began to see a pattern. For every discussion we had and advice I offered, this person would take it and apply the complete opposite. It became frustrating because I could see that the direction this was going was bound to hurt them. When they started to demand my time and expect that I drop everything at their beckoning call, I realized that I had become a venting outlet and burden carrier on their march towards disaster.
So what did I do? I eased off a bit. When I was busy, I let their calls go to voicemail. It was hard not to pick up, but I had to because my life matters too, as should anyone else’s dealing with a user. As time passed, we spoke less and less, and the outcome was, to be expected, a dead relationship.
Users are highly fond of “yes people.” Anyone who can sit there, listen to their nonsense, and always be present to carry their burdens is a best-use friend. You might want to consider walking away from advice-based discussions where your advice is never received, and you feel burdened to the point of stress when you’re done. You may be the victim of a user when your shoulder is consistently for dropping stress on and not a pat of appreciation.
2. Their life stories are mysterious, and you’re expected to be available for story time
The second sign is a bit of an interesting one because the tell-tell signs don’t show up right away. When you start a relationship, everything seems cordial and comfortable. As a matter of fact, this is how the walls of self-preservation tend to soften. A well-versed user will wait until the guards come down before their "friendship" turns into manipulation. Referring back to the scenario I shared in point #1, this individual though having asked for advice, managed to garner a sense of support and a shoulder to cry on from me. I didn’t realize until it was a tad too late that this individual had managed to work their way into my personal life as a way of learning which triggers produced certain outcomes. So as the relationship went on, they were able to manipulate me into being present at their beckoning call. I only learnt that I was being used when an exceptionally challenging experience hit this person, and they didn’t loop me in but, for some reason, expected me to be supportive and loyal no matter their decision.
Here’s the thing, a person who considers you important in their life will stay connected and transparent. You won’t hear life-altering events about them from the proverbial grapevine. It will come from them directly. Your availability won’t be questioned because when you check in on each other, it’s open, honest, and wholesome. If you find yourself out of the loop on their life, but they expect you to always be available for their phone call, email, SMS, you are being used.
3. You’re only important when it benefits them
The moment a relationship is one-sided is the moment abuse is in full effect. Any healthy relationship has avenues that allow for dialogue. Whether it’s via email, phone, or SMS, the conversation must always allow for mutual and reciprocal benefits. It becomes questionable when all you talk about when the person calls is them and their problems. It’s important to understand that we all have value, and one’s value is not more than the next. When entering a relationship of any nature, remember that the person you are dealing with has his or her own thoughts, feelings, and values that make them important. Users don’t see importance in people unless it benefits them. They see people as stepping stones for their ambitions and walls worth plowing through when these people aren’t meeting their needs anymore. It’s not worth it to exhaust your life and effort on people that consider you important no matter the situation. It’s not fair to be a person that uses people strictly for personal gain.
As for me and that user, we haven't talked since that aha moment. I was and am thankful for the lesson and have since healed from the hurt rooted in manipulation. There’s a reason why Abuser can’t be spelt without use. Don’t be used, and stop being a user.