20 Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Cues That Your Friend or Partner Is Just Using You

The world is a scary place that’s filled with two-faced people. Sadly, it can be challenging to discern whether the people in your circle genuinely care about you or are just sticking close to you because they believe they can get something of value out of you. Because of this, it’s important to be aware of certain signs and cues that point to people who only use you for their benefit. If you want to learn more, check out our list!

They Chuck You Aside After Their Needs Have Been Met

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If you’ve experienced a genuine friendship, you understand it’s a mutual partnership. No side should feel superior because both of you respect each other’s worth. Therefore, if someone you know consistently dismisses you after you’ve fulfilled their needs, they’re likely only using you.

They Want You to Be There for Them All the Time, Yet They’re Never There When You Need Them

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Showing up for your friends is one of the most important things you can do for someone you care about. You must make yourself available and show them that you care. However, remember that this goes both ways; you can’t be the only one in the relationship showing up!

They Only Help You When It’s Convenient for Them

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People in your circle should have your back as much as you have theirs. They should be there to cheer you on or fight beside you, even when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable for them. If they’re the type to leave you hanging, especially when you need them, you might need to reassess your relationships.

They Fail to Deliver on Their Promises

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Actions speak louder than words. So, if you’re friends with people who are all talk and no act, then it’s time to rethink your friendship. Promises Behavioral Health shares, “Whether the commitment is to yourself or to someone else, making a promise is a commitment that you will keep your word. It is a commitment that reinforces trust.”

They Never Say Thank You or Show Gratitude

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When someone has done something nice for you, it’s normal to express gratitude and say thank you. So, if your friend or partner never acknowledges what you do for them, then it’s a big red flag that they only use you to fulfill their needs. They don’t see you as someone equal or important to them. Instead, they view you as a convenient source of help.

They Don’t Make an Effort to Really Get To Know You

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Genuine relationships thrive on mutual trust, respect, and love. Sadly, many relationships and friendships today can seem transactional, and you might feel like people are only your friends because you have something they want. When they don’t try to really get to know you and tend to focus on more material things, they might not be true friends.

They Act Nice or Contact You Only if They Need Something From You

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Transactional friendships are sadly becoming more and more of a thing nowadays. In this kind of toxic relationship, your so-called friend might only be hanging out with you because they want to use you to get ahead; it’s very one-sided, and in more ways than one, it can get abusive. So, if you feel like your relationships with other people are getting transactional, watch out and take a step back.

They Constantly Ask You for Money, Favors, or Other “Loaded” Requests

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Doing your friends a favor or helping them out occasionally is normal and healthy, especially if you initiate it. However, if the people around you are making the first move and constantly asking you for help, favors, money, and other hard-to-do requests, then there’s a possibility they might only be using you.

They Try to Sweet-Talk You and Offer You Trinkets and Praise

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Sweet-talking you, drowning you in praise, and offering you trinkets and gifts are ways for a user to keep you on a leash. If someone is using you and they know you like these kinds of things, they will constantly do them so they can control you. They know people won’t do something for nothing, so they’ll give you things that won’t cost much, such as a sweet compliment here and there, a gift card from a random store, or even empty promises.

They Always Ask You for Things Without Giving You Something in Return

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People have said for years that when you love or care for someone, you’ll give them what they want without expecting anything in return. While this may be true in some cases, if it happens too often or is the only thing that happens in your relationship with someone, it’s a big red flag. What they give you doesn’t even have to be something that needs to be purchased; it could just be a helping hand or a show of support. So, if you can’t remember the last time your friend or partner was there for you, then you’d better run for the hills!

They’re Only in Touch When They’re Feeling Down or Sad

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Being your friend or significant other’s go-to person will make you feel good. However, have you ever considered whether they can also be your go-to people if you feel down? No matter how good a relationship seems on the outside, if they only reach out to you when you’re in a rough spot, and you can never reach them when you need help, then there’s something wrong.

They Never Consider Compromising With You; Only Their Needs Must Be Met

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One of the most important things in any relationship, especially in healthy friendships and social interactions, is compromise. According to Everyday Speech, “The key elements of compromise include active communication, empathy, flexibility, and a willingness to find common ground.” So, when your friend or partner refuses to compromise or even discuss issues, it means the only solution they see is their needs being met—not yours.

They Keep Score and Frequently Point Out Everything That They Do for You

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Reciprocity is important in any kind of relationship. However, while it won’t always be 50/50, if someone is using you, you’ll realize that you’ve given them almost all of yourself while they haven’t even given you half. Worse, they’ll keep score of the things you’ve done for them, telling you it’s not enough.

Their Love Is Conditional

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The love between lifelong partners and genuine friends should be unconditional. It’s not a matter of if you do one thing then they’ll love you more. Imagine Emotional Wellness adds, “Unhealthy conditional love is a hallmark of toxic relationships in which one party uses coercion, conditions, and rules to ensure the other person complies with their demands, all to preserve their dominance and control.”

They Don’t Care About Your Concerns or Feelings

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Narcissism and being a user lie on the same ends of the spectrum because they are both fueled by self-interest. They both take advantage of a person to get something of value from them. So, if you recognize some narcissistic tendencies in your friends or partner, such as them not caring about you and your feelings, then there’s a possibility that they’re only using you.

They’re Only Nice When It Suits Them

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Users will display kindness at the beginning of the relationship—a lot like narcissists. They will hook you and make you think a certain way of them. Then, when you’re on their leash and are following their every demand, they’ll show you their true colors.

They Make You Feel Like You Owe Them

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People using you make you uncomfortable because they constantly reinforce the thinking that you owe them something, especially when they’ve done you a favor. They’d say things like, “You owe me this because I did this for you.” However, reciprocity in relationships is all about authenticity and willingness; it’s not something that should be forced or dictated upon you.

They Get Defensive When You Point out the Imbalance in Your Relationship

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The moment you confront your friend or partner about the imbalance you feel in your relationship, they’ll immediately deny it and find excuses as to why it’s not true. Most of the time, they’ll start listing all the things they’ve done for you as a way to back up their statements, even if what they did was minimal compared to what you’ve done for them.

They Brag About How They Can Manipulate and Use Other People

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Manipulation is never something to be proud of. So, if the people around you are proud of themselves for doing things like this, then you’d better stay on high alert. After all, there’s a big chance that they’re doing the same to you!

You Feel Like You Are Being Used

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There’s no bigger red flag that you’re being used apart from the fact that you feel like you are! When you feel undervalued or unappreciated in your relationship and as if everything is one-sided and not reciprocated, it’s a big indicator that your friend or significant other is only with you because they know they’ll get something from you.

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Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.