Relationships are about give and take, but if you suspect that your boyfriend is less about the give and more about the take in your relationship, it's likely he's taking advantaging of you. Put your feelings for him aside and look for the signs that the balance of power is off. Whether you find yourself paying for every date or he's simply taking your generosity for granted, seeing your guy's true intentions is key.
Two of you are in your relationship, but lately, it's been seeming like just one of you is really into making it work. If you're beginning to feel as if the focus is all about your guy, then chances are that he is taking advantage of you. Instead of asking you about your day, about that big bio test went or how your job interview was, your take-and-take boyfriend will turn it all back to himself. He'll put his needs first, and possibly won't even consider yours. For example, if you're exhausted after a long day at school and work, but he's hungry -- he may insist that you cook him dinner.
Over-the-top, forced flattery is a sign that your guy is trying to take advantage. While it's normal, and often expected, for a boyfriend to compliment his significant other, when flattery seems excessive, consider that maybe something is up. Think about the situation when your guy turns on the flattery charm. Ask yourself if he is laying on the compliments only when he wants you to do something. For example, you're suddenly the world's best writer when he wants you to "help" him with his book report or the top chef when he wants a home-cooked meal.
Giving you a sweet surprise may seem like a sure-fire sign of generosity, but in some cases, it's manipulation. If his gift-giving comes with strings, your guy may use this tactic to take advantage of you. For example, if he gives you a $15 gas card and then asks you for rides, all the while reminding you about that "gift" that he gave you, then he is taking advantage of your gratitude.
Your boyfriend doesn't always have to outright ask you for something to take advantage of you. Instead of a constant stream of questions like, "Can you do this for me?" he may use guilt as a tactic to manipulate you. The main role of the guilt trip is to control behavior, according to psychologist Guy Winch on the Psychology Today website. Using guilt enables your guy to take advantage of your nice nature to get what he wants, because those who use guilt to manipulate are focused wholly on getting the result they want and are blind to its damaging consequences for the other person, Winch says.
- YourTango: 5 Signs You Are Being Taken Advantage Of
- PsychCentral: 21 Tips to Stop Being a People-Pleaser, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
- Psychology Today: Defense Against Manipulative Dating Games 3: Tricky Giving; Jeremy Nicholson
- Psychology Today: The Psychology and Management of Guilt Trips; Guy Winch, Ph.D.
- Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images