We all think we are nice people who do nice things, but when does our caring and patience turn into being taken advantage of?
Being taken advantage of is an awful feeling. It means you are not only putting in more effort than you’re getting in return, but you are also not being appreciated.
People are taking the amazing things you do and passing it off as their own, not reimbursing you, or just straight up using you. Not only is it unfair to be treated like this, but it can even give you a complex.
Do you already think you are being taken advantage of?
If your gut says you are putting in more effort than you get in return, you are probably being taken advantage of. And that sucks.
But sometimes, we get into ruts where we feel we are being taken advantage of, but aren’t. Maybe at work, you feel like you never get the recognition for what you do. It can feel like that, but maybe you are the only one getting a bonus check.
During a time in your relationship where your partner is going through something, it can feel like they are just expecting you to be there. But, think back to the last time you needed them to drop everything for you and they did it without complaint. In the moment, we feel like what we do doesn’t count, but in the bigger picture, it does. [Read: How to instantly tell the difference between real and fake friends]
Look at who you think is taking advantage of you. Is your boss paying you more than fair for your work, but not patting you on the back and saying job well done? That might feel bad, but not everyone shows their appreciation through words or gifts.
See how the person you focus on returns the favor and the effort. They may not bring the same as you to the table, but it doesn’t mean they bring nothing.
Signs you are being taken advantage of
If you still are not quite sure if you are being taken advantage of but want to know before accusing someone, these signs may just help you get there.
#1 You only get negative feedback. We usually know whether or not we are doing a good job at work or in a relationship. We know when we have put our best foot forward. So, when your boss or partner or even friend only complains about what you may or may not do wrong rather than praising all you do right, you are being taken advantage of.
We should not expect everyone to say thank you and make a fuss for every little thing we do. But, if you always make dinner for your partner and one night you are tired and order out and they call you lazy, they are taking advantage of you. [Read: Understanding how people use emotional manipulation]
#2 You’re asked to do things below or above your pay grade. If your boss asks you to fix the copier or answer the phones when those are nowhere in your job description, they are taking advantage of you. Same goes for if they ask you to take on a project for someone who gets paid more than you. Your abilities deserve to be compensated fairly.
Or your partner asks you to do something above and beyond your role. It can be something you are not comfortable with or something they can easily do themselves. Your kindness and effort should be appreciated, not expected or forced.
#3 You constantly apologize. Apologizing is important when you actually did something wrong, but, “I’m sorry,” should not be something you feel the need to say regularly. If your boss asks for a file that they didn’t ask for earlier, say, “I’ll get it now,” not, “I’m sorry, I’ll get it now.”
If you have nothing to be sorry for, this person should not be blaming you or making you feel like you need to say sorry. But, sometimes you put yourself into this situation by doubting yourself. Know your worth and don’t apologize if you did nothing wrong.
When first in the workforce, I would apologize every time my boss asked me to revise something I wrote, but I did not need to. I did not do anything wrong. Now I realized that I let myself be taken advantage of. So, I question a superior’s idea if I think they are wrong or could use another opinion.
And if I need to change something, I say I will get right on it. I will not apologize for doing my job and you shouldn’t either. You apologize for spilling coffee on someone, not for doing what you were hired to do. [Read: How to gain confidence and turn your life around]
#4 You are called pet names. This is a big one, especially for women. It can certainly happen to men as well. It is no secret that pet names can be hidden slurs under the guise of endearment.
A boyfriend or boss can call you honey, babe, sweetie, or any sort of name like this to seem nice and sweet when they are actually taking advantage of your kind and caring nature. It can be when your partner asks you to make them a sandwich they could make themselves or your superior or even equal at work asks you to get coffee.
#5 You are overlooked when it matters. When someone is being taken advantage of, they are often overlooked and not taken seriously. Although you may do the work to deserve a promotion, your boss would not even consider you.
#6 You never complain. Even though in your head you may be screaming and are exhausted at the end of the day, you never let them see you sweat. Someone taken advantage of is often groomed to think they should be capable of going above and beyond.
#7 You cannot rely on them. The person who takes advantage of you often relies on you for everything. Remember that Sandra Bullock movie, Two Weeks Notice? Hugh Grant’s character took advantage of Bullock’s. They depend on you for everything.
But, when it comes time for them to do something for you, they cannot commit to it. They are flaky. They cannot keep promises. And they knock down community centers they promised they would save. Okay, maybe not that last one, but Hugh Grant did it *well, almost!*. [Read: 13 traits of toxic people who will hurt you]
#8 You’re constantly interrupted. Pretty much if you are a woman this happens to you every day at work and home. We are often taken advantage of by men and even other women.
If you notice you cannot get your point across or even complete a sentence without someone else butting in and no one speaking out for you, your colleagues or friends may be taking advantage of you.
How to stop being taken advantage of
Now that you know whether or not you are being taken advantage of, this does not mean you are weak or an easy target. You did nothing wrong.
These people often know you are worthy of respect and appreciation. They recognize what you are capable of. That is why they conditioned you to stay in your lane so to speak. Whether they are intimidated, fearful, ignorant, or a combination instead of changing their minds, demand respect.
It all starts with your confidence. Believe that you are worth it. You deserve to be treated equally and to be paid what you earn. I wish it was as simple as telling someone they are taking advantage of you and then they stop.
But this behavior is unfortunately learned and practiced and a pattern difficult to break. So, it is up to you to stop apologizing, learn when to say no, know your worth, and demand to be heard and respected at home and at work.