Exploitation doesn’t just happen in a professional environment. If someone is exploiting you, it may also be happening in your own platonic, romantic and family relationships. Anyone can try to take advantage of you or manipulate you, and this can make building relationships scary.

10 signs someone is exploiting you

Exploitation can be very cunning and covert . But if you can recognize the signs, you can nip them in the bud before they get out of control and take over your life.

1. They seem to be interested only in specific things

The easiest way to determine that someone is exploiting you is to pay attention to what they seem to be most interested in about you. Yes, some relationships are mutually beneficial due to certain aspects, but the union itself should not depend on something that you can or should give them.

Someone who takes advantage of you will probably spend time with you for selfish reasons, to get something out of you. These things can include:

  • Privacy
  • Money
  • Food
  • Reputation
  • Transport
  • A membership to a franchise, store, gym or other similar establishment
  • Help
  • Emotional charge

If someone only shows interest in being around you when any of these aspects are involved, this person may be exploiting you .

Sit down with them and talk about your concerns, or set a clear limit on what you suspect they may be using you, or stop offering them any of the above list or other things at all. With this his true intentions will eventually be revealed.

2. You feel guilty all the time

An exploiter often uses feelings like guilt and shame against you to convince you to give him what he wants. If you find yourself constantly feeling guilty to the point that it is affecting the decisions you make involving this person, they may have manipulated you to take advantage of you.

This can make you feel in a number of ways:

  • You feel like you’re never giving or doing enough for them
  • They have done too much for you, and now you owe them
  • You’re always making mistakes that you need to repair
  • They are always suffering in one way or another, making you look like a bad person for saying “no” to them.
  • Their actions, needs, or requests make you uncomfortable

It is important to remember that you should not feel guilty about something forever. If you have made up for a mistake, you don’t need to make up for it for the rest of your life.

A single action should not lead to a permanent need for atonement. If a mistake you’ve made has ruined your entire relationship with someone to the point that it continually needs to be fixed, it’s best to part ways.

3. They seem to control you at all times

Someone who is exploiting you often will also try to control you. After all, they need you at their fingertips to keep you compliant, and it can be challenging to take advantage of someone you can’t control to some degree. Someone who controls you may try:

  • Prevent you from doing certain things
  • Encourage you to participate in specific actions
  • Avoid spending time with other people
  • Influence your decisions

The difficult part of this is that an exploiter may not be transparent about its control. They can use reverse psychology, mind games, and emotional manipulation to convince you to do what they want you to do, so you need to be very cautious about spotting this behavior.

If someone is clearly and directly actively controlling you by blackmailing you, using fear or threatening you with violence, seek immediate help from the authorities.

4. If someone is exploiting you, they punish you indirectly

Indirect punishment is often not easily grasped, as it does not involve any obvious actions such as hitting, yelling, or directly expressing a punishment. Instead, it involves a lot of passive aggression.

But even when passive punishment isn’t immediately apparent, you’re likely to notice it in some way. This negativity will cut off your positive thinking. It is through this method that an exploiter can punish you while maintaining an innocent and understanding facade .

Some examples of indirect punishments are:

  • An expressionless and silent treatment
  • Make things harder for you
  • Breaking promises and failing to support
  • Ambiguous compliments
  • Say things that can hurt you

5. They are dishonest

There is no reason for an exploiter to be honest. If they were honest, they would tell you what their intentions are up front, but that’s not what these manipulators do. They intentionally trick you into achieving the results they want. There is no limit to the lies of an exploiter. Some examples include:

  • Their personal lives
  • Past or background
  • Personal values ​​or opinions
  • Motivations
  • Emotions or feelings

If you have reason to believe that someone is exploiting you, you should take everything they say with a grain of salt. Don’t expect them to be honest with you.

However, you can complain about their behavior and specifically ask them to be honest, and see if they change their attitude. Still, someone so deceptive will need to regain your trust through positive actions, and you don’t have to give it so freely.

6. They pay attention to your weaknesses when they take advantage of you

An exploiter cannot exploit you if they can’t find anything they can use against you. That is why they pay more attention to your weaknesses.

They may try to learn to push buttons to manipulate you. These weaknesses could be anything from trauma or strong issues, to your loved ones, to things for which you are especially sensitive.

Although these weaknesses make you more susceptible to manipulation, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them. What we call weaknesses is not necessarily something negative: they are part of what makes you human.

Of course you take care of your loved ones and you hate when they speak ill of them. And of course you have beliefs and things that you are passionate about. That is normal and healthy!

But it is essential that you bear in mind that an exploiter can and will use these things against you. By knowing this beforehand, you can be more prepared.

7. Your confidence is declining

A sudden and for no apparent reason change in your self-esteem could be because there is an exploiter in your life . Toxic and abusive behavior is a widespread cause of decreased confidence, self-esteem, and positive thinking, and it can stay with you for years.

The manipulators and exploiters often can wear you and ruin your self – esteem because they make you feel like an object continually specific use.

You may wonder if you are really nice or if you are worth spending time with. You may wonder if you will ever be able to do something right, or if everything you do is doomed to fail.

It is crucial to keep in mind that your self-esteem is not defined by anyone else. Only you can change it. If someone is exploiting you , they don’t have to detract from you in any way.

8. They make you question your reality

This is a very common behavior that usually involves making the victim feel like they are going crazy or losing control of reality.

They exaggerate and change events and situations in their favor, which implies that it is you who is remembering those events badly. They can use phrases like:

  • “Maybe you just weren’t paying attention.”
  • “You are too emotional.”
  • “Wow, is your memory getting worse?”
  • “That is obviously not what happened.”
  • “You are taking this too seriously.”

But this manipulation is more complicated than just saying a simple sentence or two. It involves making you question past events slowly and deliberately.

If you are not aware of the manipulation, you can slowly begin to believe it, gradually losing your confidence and positive thinking as time passes. This is classified as abusive behavior.

If someone manipulates you in this way, you can respond with the following phrases:

  • “That is not my reality.”
  • “I understand your perspective, but that is not how I see it.”
  • “We experience that differently.”
  • “You can’t change what I experienced.”

9. They seem to have wildly different personalities.

When you live with an exploiter, it seems like you meet a different person every day. In various settings, they put on different masks, sometimes they become unrecognizable.

As an example, they can be extremely polite and friendly in public, but then turn into insulting and derogatory people behind closed doors.

Why do they do this? Someone who is taking advantage of you may need to appear more positive or like a “good guy.” This way, you can ensure that everyone around you has no reason to be suspicious of your motives.

Also, this will make it more difficult for you to seek help.

Another example is that they may appear kind and sweet one day, then cruel and insensitive the next. This is a form of indirect punishment and they usually do it to inform you that you have done something that they do not approve of.

10. They expect you to sacrifice

Someone who is exploiting you will want you to keep sacrificing things so they can get what they want. When you don’t, they can treat you like you’ve hurt them.

There is nothing wrong with making sacrifices for someone, but if you make them over and over again while feeling like you are never giving enough, you are being exploited, even more so if they seem to expect this from you.

You should also pay more attention if this person never seems to want to make similar sacrifices for you. If every favor you ask for is turned away by a host of excuses, even after you’ve done so much for them, this person may be taking advantage of you .

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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