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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Drexel chapter.

I’ve always been the nice kid, the sweet kid, the kid who said yes to everybody, and the kid who everyone can (and will) take advantage of.

get in loser mean girls
Paramount Pictures


Part One: How to Recognize When You’re Being Taken Advantage Of

The world is a competitive and cunning place that isn’t fit for kind-hearted souls. I let people walk all over me, I say yes to things that I have no interest or care to partake in, I prioritize other people’s feelings over my own, I want to please everyone, and I crave validation that I am in fact a good person. All of this makes a person like me vulnerable to manipulation and being taken advantage of. 

I’ve been meaning to do the research to learn how to stop letting people use me for a few months, but I never had the motivation to force myself to do it, and I kept putting it off. But I had the light bulb moment where I realized other people out there in the world probably have a very similar issue, and in the spirit of helping other people, I wrote this article. 

The first step to recognizing this behavior is to recognize the signs (duh). The most frequent signs I read about, I’ve paraphrased here (you can scroll down to the bottom for a list of source articles if you’d like more information on anything mentioned). 

They don’t listen to you but expect you to listen to them. 

A relationship in every form should be two-sided. Both of you should be able to voice your opinions and vent about your bad days and have a shoulder to cry on. But, if your relationship is most definitely one-sided, and you’re the one that is always giving support and never receiving any in return, you should think about ways to explain to this person that you aren’t their personal therapist and that its unfair to you that they treat you as such. 

They constantly ask you for favors or to do things for them. 

If you’re starting to feel more like an intern or a personal assistant instead of a friend, that’s a big sign you need to start creating boundaries and limits for yourself. Learn to start saying no, and learn that its okay to say no to people, even friends. Favors every now and then are okay (picking them up a coffee while you’re getting yourself one, or taking their laundry out of the dryer when you go to put yours in) but if it feels like you’re their housekeeper, that’s just disrespectful of you and your time. 

They only ever reach out when they need help or they need something. 

This is a big and pretty obvious one. It hurts to see that someone you’re close to only reaches out to talk when they need or want something. For example, if you hang out schedule is based completely on when they want to hang out or are free…that’s fishy. It’s even fishier when they only reach out for advice or money or space to vent without giving you anything back. 

They don’t show interest in your personal life. 

Friends are always curious about your life and they always want to know about your wellbeing. If they never ask how you’re doing and they don’t show interest in your life the things you’re doing and they only want to talk about themselves…I’m sure you can take it from here. 

Some Advice Directly from TalkSpace 

“Your true friends will never want to take too much from you or try to manipulate you. Trust your gut, trust that if it feels like someone is being manipulative or if it feels like someone is trying to take advantage of you, they usually are. If you’ve noticed that you have friends who have shown one or more of these signs time and time again, you should consider having a serious talk with them about your relationship and how it makes you feel when they try to take advantage of you. If they don’t make changes to their behavior, it might be time to cut ties and break up with your friend.” (Laderer 2019). 


Part Two: How to Stop It

Learn to Say No 

The biggest part is learning how to say no. It seems anxiety-producing and overwhelming, but its honestly a really good skill to have as an adult. Here are some tips I’ve gathered. 

Lose the fear of what others think or might think. 

Within a reasonable boundary, you are the only person who has to be satisfied with your behaviors and actions. Who cares if you said no to going out? Only you should because let’s face it, Netflix is so much more fun than being DD while your friends have fun every single time. 

Accept that anxiety and being uncomfortable is a part of the process. 

You’re 100% going to feel anxious about saying no to your friend(s), and that’s completely normal. It’s new and uncharted territory and you can’t predict how they’re going to react and that’s scary. Don’t succumb to the feeling of wanting a brief emotional break when you know that you’re only going to have to face the situation later on. It’s just a detour, it’s not a resolution. 

Practice in front of the mirror. 

No, seriously. Do it. It feels really silly and dumb at first, but as you keep practicing you are able to picture yourself saying no in the mirror with confidence every time you say no in real-life, everyday situations. Speaking of practice, think of times you’ve said no in situations where no one got affected at all. For example, at a coffee shop where the barista asks you if you’d like whipped cream on your drink and you say no. No one expects you to defend your reason for not wanting whipped cream and it doesn’t bother anyone that you said no. Situations like this can help you build your confidence and assertive manner when standing up to your friend(s). 

Say no without much explanation.

If you don’t explain why you said no to going out or to loaning your friend a month’s rent, there is less of a chance for them to present you with an argument to convince you otherwise. Using the coffee shop example again, a simple “no” ( or “no thank you” because let’s be polite to baristas) is just fine, no one needs an explanation for why you don’t want whipped cream just as no one needs an explanation as to why you don’t want to go out.

I can\'t help you mad men sally draper
Lionsgate Television


Part Three: Freedom

This is the part where you reclaim your freedom from the person who has been taking advantage of you. This is the part where you use these skills and tips to help recognize and break toxic cycles with the people around you. Remember that you’re allowed to say no and you’re allowed to not want to do certain things if you don’t want to do them. You are your own person and no one else should have control over you to the point where you’re unhappy constantly.  Remember there are people that love you and that care about you. Good luck, and if no one has told you this, you’ve got this and I’m proud of you.



TalkSpace: Friend Taking Advantage of You

LifeHacks: How to Say No

LifeHacks: Stop Letting People Take Advantage of You

HealthyPlace: Respect Yourself

Psychology Today: 9 Ways Someone Takes Advantage of You

Psychology Today: 8 Ways To Deal With Someone You Can’t Stand Dealing With





I am a public relations major with hopes to work for an agency PR firm one day. I love writing and I'm always on the hunt for new article ideas and I love collaborating with like-minded people! Find me on my listed social media and reach out with any questions or comments, I'm happy to talk to you!
Her Campus Drexel contributor.