Being Taken Advantage Of

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My friend has gone thru a terrible divorce (still is). The husband in her story had very aggressive spells She is an intelligent, very creative person, but generally vague in her communications. She has had for as long as I know her a way of not paying back for stuff, always saying she owed me. It got worse over the years, but we sympathized her bad financial situation after divorce. Yesterday I paid an airline ticket to see her, she paid coffee saying:don’t worry you can pay for lunch. She then took me to a hotel grand lunch buffet, ordered wine and let me pay, not offering to share. At the car-park pay station she managed to pretend something with her ticket didn’t work and in all hurry I took my credit card. She promised to pay me back. In past years we would go Dutch but she would then order little to nothing because she had no money. In reaction to that I often offered to treat since my financial situation is better. Now she’s turning it around, and openly profiting from me. All this goes together with a growing suspicion that she doesn’t tell the truth about the ex-husband and divorce. Is there a disorder behind all this? She asked me to work together on a creative project, but I start to not trust her at all. I look forward to your comments.

A. There is probably no disorder associated with her behavior. She’s taking advantage of you and your generosity. People take advantage of others whom they perceive as being easy targets. She asks you for money and you always say yes. In her view, there is no reason to stop asking you for money because you keep giving it to her. She takes advantage of you because you allow it to happen.

For some people, saying no to others is difficult. People who have difficulty saying no are sometimes referred to as “people pleasers.” Saying no often causes a confrontation or hurt feelings. Saying yes is much easier. People are much happier when you comply with their requests.

When you say yes to everything that is asked of you, you are effectively training others to keep asking. If you were to say no, after having had continuously said yes for so long, they’d be surprised and perhaps even be indignant.

When someone will not change their behavior, then you must change yours. In this case, it requires saying no to some of her requests. Undoubtedly, that may be difficult for you. She may become upset if you were to say no to her. She’s used to you saying yes and it will likely surprise her when you say no. Expect her to be unhappy when you say no.

Going forward, it will be important to develop relationships that are equal, fair and balanced. If you continue to struggle with these issues, you may want to consult a psychotherapist to assist you in changing the way you interact with others. Understanding relationship dynamics may help you to have healthier and more satisfying relationships in the future. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Mar 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Being Taken Advantage Of. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/03/10/being-taken-advantage-of/