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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

8 Discreet Signs You’re Being Taken for Granted—and What to Do About It

Being helpful is a good trait. But, let's face it: There are those people in your life who take your willingness to assist for granted.


He takes credit for something you did

If someone tries to steal your glory at work, that’s a sign he is taking advantage of your kind nature. “We all know the co-worker that accepts praise for the part of the project you did,” says Erika Martinez, PsyD, a licensed psychologist in Miami. “These behaviors communicate a sense of entitlement from the person that’s benefiting from the relationship.” Watch out for these signs that you can’t trust your co-worker.


She’s unwilling to balance favors

Social fails include not saying thank you for something, or not offering to pick up the slack next time. When no thanks are given if you help or do something for someone, this is an indicator your friend doesn’t take your feelings into account. “There’s no reciprocity in the relationship. You listen to them, do favors for them, help them when they’re stuck, but they never do the same for you,” Dr. Martinez says.


He pushes you to be amenable

Learn to say “no” sometimes. “Before you respond, ask yourself, ‘Will I feel resentful about this later if I say ‘yes’? If the answer is ‘yes’, then kindly decline,” says Dr. Martinez. “If he pushes you, kindly repeat your ‘no.’ The point is: Don’t accept the additional responsibility if you have the slightest inkling that saying ‘yes’ to someone or something will leave you feeling resentful.” If you are a people-pleaser, here are some tips on how to create boundaries.


The friendship is not equally fulfilling

Your friend leans heavily on you, but isn’t there when you need her. This is a sign that selfishness is in the equation. “You are there for lots of long text sessions and phone calls to help her handle her on again/off again romance, but when you need her, she is slow to get back to you or disappears altogether,” says Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder and chief relationship advisor of Relationup, an app that provides real-time, anonymous relationship advice from professionals. “The friendship does not feel equal and you notice that you are growing resentful and feel used. If it’s a close friend then it may be worthwhile having a conversation and sharing your feelings. If the person is less meaningful, it may be better not to put too much energy into trying to repair things.”


You’re on the receiving end of deceptive flattery

If there’s a co-worker showering you with admiration, marveling at how you do everything so well, this may be a sign he’s buttering you up for the wrong reasons. “Blinded by the rosy glow of false flattery, you fail to spot his true motive: using you to do his work,” cautions Wendy L. Patrick, JD, PhD, a San Diego-based attorney and behavioral expert. “And since you ‘know everything,’ he never has to look up any information on his own, he can just ask you,” Patrick says. Don’t fall for this flattery scheme.


You’re ambivalent

Having an unbalanced relationship can produce health drawbacks. According to an article in the New York Times, research shows that ambivalence in a relationship—the feeling that a partner may be unpredictable with his or her support or negativity—can take a quiet toll on the health of an individual.


You’re made to feel unworthy

It’s important to remember that if we don’t value ourselves first, we can’t expect others to value us. Samantha Ettus, a work/life expert based in Los Angeles and author of The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction, recommends doing a self-worth check if you’re questioning whether you’re being taken for granted. Ask yourself: Are you constantly apologizing? Do you tend to stand in the back of the room rather than take a seat at the table? “If you answer yes, you may be undervaluing yourself. This enables others to take advantage of you,” she points out.


You’re missing boundaries

If you feel that you are always giving, it might be time to create fresh boundaries, says Ettus. Consider how you feel when being continuously asked by mom pals for favors. “When asked to do yet another favor, decline without an excuse,” Ettus says. “Once you get caught up in concocting excuses, you end up feeling bad about yourself. Saying ‘I can’t pick up Jack on Friday’ is enough. The more you practice setting those boundaries and standing your ground, the stronger you will feel.”

Erica Lamberg
Erica Lamberg is an experienced travel and business writer based in suburban Philadelphia. Specializing in family travel, cruise experiences, and tips for enriching and affordable vacations. Beyond travel, Erica writes about personal finance, health and parenting topics. Her writing credits include Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Parents Magazine, Oprah Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. Her favorite city is Paris and she dreams about visiting Greece and Israel. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and is married with two children.