What Can You Do When You’re Feeling Used In A Relationship?

By Tanisha Herrin|Updated June 22, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lisa Childers, LCSW

Relationships require a team effort. Both partners create a balance that is essential to growing the relationship. So, when one feels used by the other, it may signal something is amiss. You may feel hurt, shamed, or unappreciated. Giving your partner a helping hand is one thing, but when it becomes a regular thing, it is time to reassess your situation. A relationship is built upon maintaining strong ties between both partners who should be willing to help each other equally.

There Are Two Sides To Feeling Used

You Deserve To Feel Appreciated In Your Relationship
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There are several reasons why a partner may feel used in their relationship. The two sides of the problem include assessing the role of your partner and yourself in the relationship. When considering your partner, are there things about them that stand out that contribute to your feelings of being used? Some people grow to be dependent on their partners because they lack understanding of the initiative. A partner may not bother doing certain things if they think it won’t meet their partner’s standards, as if they were walking on eggshells.

Your priorities may be different, affecting the level of motivation or time a partner would devote to an issue. A partner may also be self-centered by putting their needs first over others. A partner may have personal anxieties that influence the actions of their partner. A partner can have a tight schedule affecting how they choose to get things done. It may create conflict with their partner by pushing them away. A partner may struggle working up the nerve to confront them. Unfortunately, a partner can get burned out when doing too much. When responsibilities are not shared among partners, it creates tension, increases the risk of conflicts, and leaves one or both partners feeling uncertain about the state of their relationship.

Red Flags That Signal You’re Being Used

Doing things for each other is the benefit of a healthy relationship. If you run an errand for them or help with a project, they should be willing to do the same for you. There is nothing wrong with having reasonable expectations of your partner when you need help with something. But an imbalance of helping each other can leave one considering the possibility of being used. When someone is feeling used, they can experience the following signs:

  • Feel uncomfortable around their partner. The feeling comes from personal anxiety because of the expectation their partner is going to ask them to do something they don’t want to.
  • Feel afraid to say no. Some partners have a subtle way of working around their partner that tries to reject their demands. Sometimes a partner tries to make the other feel bad on purpose if they don’t help them out.
  • Feel emotionally led on. Your partner may act nice toward you when seeking a favor, but wouldn’t usually pay attention to you or your needs. In other words, a partner will play nice when they want something in return.

  • Feel guilty when something didn’t meet their standards. You may feel bad about not doing something for them. A partner can make you feel this way as their way of getting you to do things for them.
  • Feel resentment. Over time, a partner may grow feelings of resentment when they feel disrespected or that they are not being treated fairly.
  • Feel as if your needs are not important. Your needs are not met because you’re busy meeting the needs of others and lose out on time for yourself.

A partner may expect you to do favors for them but won’t bother doing them for you in return. Sometimes such inclinations lead to a partner getting ahead in their life career-wise or financially. If your partner isn’t returning favors, there is a relationship imbalance you can’t ignore anymore.

Could You Be Contributing To The Problem?

People feeling used by their partner could have set themselves up without realizing it. A person who lacks boundaries or doesn’t know how to put their foot down and say “no” could make it easier for a partner to take advantage of them. In this case, a partner may do things they don’t want to do to keep their partner satisfied because they are afraid of getting a negative response if they say no. Sometimes a partner may think they won’t be loved as much.

Communication issues can contribute to feeling used. A partner may have expectations that don’t match expectations their significant other may have for the relationship. Sometimes such expectations are influenced by previous relationships or how your parents behaved when you were a child. A person may do things their partner didn’t ask them to do because they assume, they should do it anyway. At this point, a partner is guessing what they should be doing instead of talking things out.

Simply overdoing it by doing too much is another reason why a person feels used in a relationship. A person may do things thinking they have to earn someone’s love. It is different from doing things out of love. When partners are on the same page, they may do things motivated by their love for each other. A person may think the more they give and do, leads to a trade-off to receiving a certain amount of respect. When it is not received, the love felt for your partner decreases. Some get caught up in a cycle consisting of doing more things to get love, but unfortunately, the love they had for their partner lessens or diminishes.

Sometimes a person may feel used by people outside of their relationship like family or friends on top of feeling used by their partner. It may indicate an underlying issue you need to deal with that is preventing you from understanding how the pattern of being used got started. Such a hindrance may sabotage your happiness and success in different areas of your life. Getting help for this can improve your personal and family relationships while helping to see yourself in a new light.

If The Relationship Is Getting Worse, Can It Be Saved?

You Deserve To Feel Appreciated In Your Relationship

Feeling used isn’t easy to ignore, and it can be challenging trying to raise the issue with your partner. If you think the relationship is headed in the wrong direction, it is crucial to communicate with your partner. When talking, be clear and positive to ensure both parties understand each other’s needs. As you know, your partner’s needs and habits, use them as a guide to help you respond to them. You’re more likely to do things you want to do while meeting your partner’s expectations and feel less used.

Learning how to say “no” and how to cut back can help establish boundaries in the relationship. Things will get more comfortable for you, and you’ll gain the respect you deserve from your partner. Saying “no” is an affirmative action that helps you stay within boundaries set by you. Ask for what you want from your partner in a way that encourages them to want to do more for you. Asking helps reduce the amount of work you do while subtly initiating your partner to follow your lead.

You can be the person you want to be. You should be with someone that keeps you inspired and wants to grow and build a relationship with you. After talking to your partner about how things have been in the relationship, they should be willing to work with you to make things better. When partners care about each other, they are eager to do things and give their time without question.

Unfortunately, feeling used may create more emotional hurt, causing you to rethink the relationship. Some people intentionally use others to see what they can get. They may have little interest in the relationship but focus on material things, want a personal maid, sex, or other benefits. When they say, “I love you,” their actions don’t line up with their words. They know ways to manipulate their partner and the relationship to get as much as they can before moving on to another person. When being used gets to this point, it is a form of rejection. You can get help ending the relationship.

How To Take Action

You don’t have to be in this position. There are things you can do when feeling used to put yourself in a better position to take appropriate action. There are effective ways to help you assess your situation and your emotions to understand the best steps to take to achieve a favorable outcome. Take action with the following suggestions:

Know Your Worth. Your self-worth should not be defined by letting others take advantage of you. When a partner values their significant other, they will want to give or do things for you naturally. When they do, they show how they value you as a person with substantial meaning in the relationship.

Be Confident In Yourself. Learn to build self-confidence and love yourself. Doing this keeps you connected to the things you love that make you who you are. When engaging in activities you enjoy most, they build your confidence and give you a sense of purpose.

Assess The Dynamics Of The Relationship. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Talk about your feelings with your partner. Work on your communication. Engage in productive conversations about each other’s emotions and actions. Use a calm tone during the discussion to avoid an argument. Talk to a friend or family member to get things off your chest and to help you open up to your partner.

Get Help For Your Relationship. It may be challenging tackling relationship problems yourself. It is okay to seek professional support to help you regain control of the situation. Couples’ counseling provides an unbiased perspective of your situation. You can learn how to improve your wellbeing, where to start when working on your relationship, and how to address underlying issues that may affect your relations with others.

Unhealthy behaviors in a relationship can lead to feeling used. It is essential to acknowledge these feelings instead of ignoring them. You deserve a loving relationship with someone willing to give and do as much as you.

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