9 Signs Someone Is Using You: How to Tell If Your Friend Is Using You for Money, Social Status, or Anything Else

Updated on February 15, 2018
thehands profile image

Jorge's relationship advice is based on experience and observation. He's seen many people—including himself—get seduced and hurt by love.

Can you tell when a friend is using you?
Can you tell when a friend is using you?

When Your Friend is Using You

Sometimes it can hurt to realize that someone is using you and they don't actually want to be a real friend. In situations like these, it's easy to shy away from the truth at first, ignoring the signs and living in something like a state of denial.

The fact of the matter is, though, that until you face the situation and truly take a deep look at your friend's behavior, nothing can improve.

Do you get a sinking feeling that your friend doesn't even really like you that much? Don't feel too bad about it. Some people are actually quite incapable of a real friendship, and they don't know how to do anything else besides use people.

If you suspect that one of your friends fits this description, take a look at the signs below:

1) Your Friend Doesn't Call You Unless They Need Something

If your friend is using you, the most glaring sign is that they don't contact you unless they specifically need something. It may not be obvious at first what they need, since they may be self-aware enough to obscure their intentions.

For example, maybe your friend calls to hang out with you. They spend a few hours with you, and sometime during the encounter, they mention a problem that they have. Maybe their car broke down, maybe they need to cut down an overgrown tree in their front yard, or maybe they are short on laundry money.

An expert user won't ask you for anything up front. They will build some rapport, then mention the problem. Before you know it, you might be offering to give them a ride to work, to fell their tree with your chainsaw, or to let them use your washer and dryer.

Obviously, there's nothing wrong with doing favors for your friends. That's part of friendship! The problem begins when your friend wants something from you almost every time they see you.

Another common scenario is when they've manipulated you into doing things for them automatically. Let's say for example that they often meet you for lunch, and yet they always seem to expect you to pay. Again, there's nothing wrong with paying for your friend--but if it seems like they're only hanging out with you to get stuff, then this is no friendship.

Try an experiment: politely refuse the next few times they ask for something, or play dumb when they hint that they need a favor. If they quickly stop calling you, then they're probably a user.

Personally, this happened unintentionally when I was friends with a dubious character and didn't realize it at first. She would mostly call me when she needed a favor or wanted emotional support in the midst of her tumultuous relationship.

For the most part, I obliged, but as my life got busier and her demands became more unacceptable, I started to naturally refuse. "Sorry, no, you can't borrow my car. Sorry, no, I can't lend you any money. Sorry, no, I can't help you get your ex back."

And you know what? Eventually, she wouldn't even answer my phone calls. I felt stupid that I hadn't realized what was going on earlier, but it was definitely a relief to be free of that one-sided friendship.

2) They Do Everything They Can To Give You As Little As Possible

When someone is using you, the whole point of the "friendship" is that they get more out of it than you do. If they're reciprocating too much--or worse, if they're giving more than you are--then it goes against their agenda, of course. You definitely have to give more over the long term for them to "profit" from your relationship.

First, notice whether they're willing to offer the same kinds of favors that they demand from you. Most solid friendships involve people helping each other, even if it's inconvenient at times. Are you the only one who is going out of your way, though?

Don't ask for anything outrageous; just test to see if they'll agree to something on the same level as what they tend to ask you for. If they consistently deny helping you, or they even seem bothered that you asked, this is a bad sign.

Worse still, sometimes they may grudgingly comply with your requests, but they won't be interested in actually solving your problem because they're just trying to appease you for reasons of appearance.

For example, maybe your bicycle snapped in half and now you need a way to ride to work. Instead of actually trying to solve the problem by giving you a ride or a bus ticket, your friend offers you a rusty old bike with flat tires that has been sitting in their garage for half a century.

This way, they can say "I helped you," but not actually have to invest any time or resources into actually caring about your life and your problems. Which brings us to the next sign...

3) They Never Seem to Think of You

Unless they need something from you, they never seem to think about you. They don't tend to say, "Oh, I heard this one song that I think you'll like!"; they don't tend to call you during the holidays; they don't tend to bring back gifts for you when they go on a trip.

You're low on their priority list, and they hardly ever think about you...unless they're thinking about how to get something out of you. Friends who are using you are almost always inconsiderate.

"Happy Holidays. It's a box of mini-candles because I just realized that I don't actually know you or what you like."
"Happy Holidays. It's a box of mini-candles because I just realized that I don't actually know you or what you like."

4) Your Friend Knows Surprisingly Little About You

Another sign that someone is using you is simply that they don't really care to get to know you. After all, it's not you they care about in the first place.

If your "friend" doesn't seem to pay much attention to what you have to say, forgets important things about you, and overall just seems uninterested, then obviously they must be hanging out with you for another reason.

This goes beyond being simply forgetful.

5) They Speak Poorly of You to Others

It's true that some people just can't stop themselves from gossiping. It's like an addiction.

One of the hallmarks of a user, though, is that they won't think twice about throwing you under the bus. They'll speak poorly of you when you're not around because they don't actually care about your reputation.

Anyway, if they have tons of complaints about you, and yet still hang around, then clearly they're not friends with you for your beautiful personality.

Getting Used to Being Used

Do you think that one of your friends could be using you?

See results

6) When You Have a Crisis, They Disappear

Did something suddenly derail your life and you need some support? Sometimes it's not even about money or resources--on occasion, we may just need someone to talk to when our world is crashing down.

When something tragic happens, does your friend show up for you? Or do you hear nothing but crickets chirping?

It's one thing if you're a Negative Ned and are always complaining about every little thing in your life--that would drive anyone away. But if you're a reasonably positive person who is having an emergency, you should be able to expect a real friend to sympathize.

"Oh good! He didn't see me."
"Oh good! He didn't see me."

7) You Only Hang Out With Them Under Specific Circumstances

Sometimes the fact that your friend is using you can be obscured by circumstances. For example, maybe you only ever meet each other when you're going out to your favorite nightclub. In this situation, if they were using you for your social status because you are popular and it makes them look good to be seen with you, it may be hard to tell.

Switch things up a bit. See if your buddy is willing to hang alone or do something that's totally different from what you usually do. Unless it's an activity that your friend hates, they should be happy to spend time with you--if they actually like you.

8) They Get Pushy or Manipulative If You Don't Give Them What They Want

Good friends understand boundaries. Crappy friends who only want to use you for resources might get angry if you don't give in to their requests. Often, they may even try to manipulate you by guilt-tripping, or saying things like, "I thought you were my friend!" when you tell them no.

Watch out for this controlling behavior. Real friends respect your free will and they'll like you even if you have nothing besides your friendship to give.

9) They've Told You That They're Using You

This may seem way too obvious, but sometimes it's not. Many times a friend who is using you will disguise their own confession as an apology.

"I know I keep asking for stuff. It seems like I only ever call you when I need something, I know. I'm sorry."

If someone tells you this, but doesn't make any effort to change the way that they approach your friendship, then they've basically told you themselves that they're using you. Listen to them!

Pro Tip: A dog will always be your friend and never use you--except for treats.
Pro Tip: A dog will always be your friend and never use you--except for treats.

A Friend That is Using You is No Friend At All

The basic principle to keep in mind is this: a fake friend who is looking to use you will be focused on all the wrong things. Everything in your friendship will be a means to an end, and you'll find that you have a hard time enjoying the moment with them.

A genuine friend, on the other hand, will never hold the friendship hostage to conditions. Since they like you for who you are, even if your external life circumstances change--like your social status, your income, or your youthful glow--they will still care about you nonetheless.

In that sense, you could say that a true friendship is unconditional, but a "friendship" with a user is highly conditional. After all, when a friend is using you, they just want to get something out of you. Anything else in the friendship is at best a distraction from the ultimate goal, and they may even be frustrated with your pleasantries.

So be picky with who you spend your time with. Don't waste your life entertaining people who only want to use you. That time is much better spent forging real bonds with people who love you for who you are.

Your Usability

Do you feel like people "use" you a lot?

See results

Questions & Answers

  • How do I walk away from a person that only cares about what I can do for them?

    No, but seriously, you might want to sit down somewhere quiet and think deeply about why you feel that you "need" them in your life. What is it that keeps drawing you back? Sometimes we develop weird patterns with people. For example, sometimes we might be co-dependent and not realize it, and a part of us enjoys being with a selfish person because we feel needed.

    In your situation, I don't know, of course. There's not a whole not of context there for me to go off of.

  • How do I deal with someone who only wants to hang out when it's convenient?

    If you like hanging out with them, then only hang out when it's convenient for both of you. Nothing wrong with that. If it's never convenient, or you feel like you're the only one going out of your way, then stop if it bothers you.

  • How can I stop my friend from using me?

    You can't make anyone do anything. As implied in the article, if someone is using you, that's just their pattern of behavior--they use other people, too, probably.

    The best you can do is accept them for who they are, and then distance yourself from them. There are plenty of other people in the world to be friends with.

  • I'm not the one being used but I think my best friend is being used by her other friends. I told this to someone else, but they just assumed I was jealous. How can I tell her without seeming jealous?

    Well, when you talk to her about it, try to be as non-judgmental and objective as possible. For example, instead of saying, "Sally, I think George is using you," you might say, "I'm worried about you, Sally. It seems like George only calls you when he needs a ride to work or wants to borrow money. When was the last time you two just hung out?"

    Just state the facts as you see them, and let the other person draw their conclusion. Don't force the conclusion "He's using you!" on her, and she'll be more likely to listen.

© 2017 Jorge Vamos

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Kiwi 

      3 days ago

      Thanks for this! Really helped - great righting, I wouldn't be surprised if you were in a job of journalism or writing of some sort haha.

      Have a nice day person who is reading this. :D

    • profile image

      Makenzie Morris 

      7 days ago

      one of my friend´s i´ve been best friends with since 3rd grade talked to me the whole last week, and yesterday all of sudden she didn't even talk or hangout with me so i think she only might of been hanging around me is because so she can get answers for other people because she is friends with my cousin and were not that close or anything but it´s like everytime she wants to talk to me is only when she needs answers for my cousin and her best friend but i feel used so i need your help please.

    • profile image

      aileen 

      10 days ago

      i have a bff and she, well i think she is using me... first of all, she's like

      "hey are you gonna get me a present for my birthday?" EVERYTIME, it bugs me and also she's like "hey im only using you for presents... JUST KIDDING" like dude.. wtf and everytime im with her. she's goes with someone else and tries to stay away from me. and every time i wanna talk to her she's like "oh what did u say?" i have a feeling she's using me... and im here for her i help her out with her problems.. but nope! seems like she is using me..

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 

      4 weeks ago

      Neighbor - always asks for things, rides presents and money - I said no for the first time - she will not answer phone and I need my appliance. She is 60 years old and still a child.

    • profile image

      anjo 

      4 weeks ago

      pls dey gossip me and i always think im a fool to trust em

    • profile image

      Ella 

      4 weeks ago

      A girl in my class really likes this boy, but the boy likes me, so she said that she wanted to play with me, and me being me, not wanting to be rude said okay. A bit later in this 'friendship', she said that she only hangs out with me because I do what she says. Several times, I tried to hang out with other friends of mine, but she makes it seems like I am forbidden to hang out with me. I don't want to be rude, but I been in many... situations where this happened to me. And, after I find out that happens to me, I get like unsure if I should hang out with others because I don't want to get hurt again. I don't know what to do in those situations. I never would want to be rude or mean to others, but I feel like that girl is using me because I am popular at school, as to the fact that many people in my school know me although I don't know them. How do I handle this although I don't want to seem mean or unpolite in any sort of way? Besides that, the girl also is really popular, and the group of friends she has is the group of girls that if you don't do or upset them in any way, they make your life miserable. (I know that from experience) like, they start rumors about you (Bad rumors), they bully you, and they make everyone that isn't your good friend hate you. Also, she gets really mad if I say that I don't want to do what she says. So, she 'gets all upset' and if I still don't submit, she finds someone who will do what she says. And, when some other girls in her real friend group come around, that girl ignores me and acts like I don't exist. How do I handle this without being rude?

    • profile image

      Dan 

      2 months ago

      I have known a woman for over a year now, she was from another country, well to cut a long story short about how we met and not going into too much details, well not long ago she said she had to go back to her country for something personal and she needed me to send her money due to a problem, but on Facebook she looked like she was good and having a great time, and she asked me to send money, but whenever I text she very rarely replied and only I made effort to keep in touch and she did very little. What would you say that is?

    • profile image

      Lauren 

      2 months ago

      Well now I understand what it really was he used me a little bit he never brought me back anything from his trips but it could've been that he doesn't have that much money to spend on anyone he only comes around when I compliment him like when I tell him he's sweet everything is fine it's just when I disagree with him on something he has a problem he really doesn't treat me like a big priority or a priority at all sometimes all I've ever asked him for is some time with him and that he lets me give him a little love

    • profile image

      Lauren 

      2 months ago

      I had a friendship end recently he made me feel like I wasn't good enough for him maybe I should have explained that to him but I didn't he constantly put his girlfriend first and never made me feel like a priority sure he texted me and gave me support but I know it takes more then that to be a good friend to someone but he wasn't being a good friend to me he put his girlfriend first all the time

    • profile image

      Daniel 

      4 months ago

      My friend Richard, who i thought was a friend and is actually not. Only calls when he needed help with his girlfriend. was not there for me when my mum had a heart attack told me to keep my family stuff private, after all i have done for him and been there for him. he lied to her about me and bad mouthed me. only calls when he needs something, complete toxic person.

    • profile image

      Linda 

      5 months ago

      All i wanted was a friend at school in my class who stands up for me, keeps you in company, thinks about me, includes me, won't speak bad about me, doesn't ignores me and help me out with any problems.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 

      9 months ago

      10. You're always the one who pays for everything!

      Just as there are takers and users sadly there are people so desperate for friendships and love that they'll attempt to buy people in order to get them to "like them" or spend time with them.

      They give and keep giving until it because painfully obvious this person will never value them. It's your job to look out for you!

      Each of us (chooses) our own friends, lovers, and spouse.

      Each of us has our own screening process/must haves list.

      'A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.”

      – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pairedlife.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pairedlife.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)