Once someone has started taking advantage of you, stopping them without causing big problems can be difficult to do, the reason being that human relationships, whether that be friendship based ones, romantic based ones, family based ones, or workplace based ones are bound by one desire, to keep the peace.
In this desire is the problem, when someone starts to take advantage of you to stop them, you have to break the peace. This is a fact that people who wilfully take advantage of others use to their advantage, but is also a fact that leads to those who do not intend to take advantage to take advantage, which is another fact that those who wilfully take advantage use to their advantage.
But how do people take advantage, as ever with the Equations Of Life Series I start with an equation:
(What you want + What you want to give) – (What they want + What they want to give) = the balance of a relationship
How do people take advantage?
The simple answer is very slowly, all human relationships have boundaries, and people often and frequently test those boundaries to see if they can get more from a person. It is simply human nature, we all want the best deal we can get, and that means if we can get more from someone and we want more from that someone and we think we can get more from someone we will try to get more from that someone.
Those who find themselves being taken advantage of let others push those boundaries in an effort to get more but don’t push back in return which leads them to giving a lot more than they are getting.
How do you stop people taking advantage of you?
The solution is to remember that human relationships are fundamentally a transaction, that means don’t give somebody something unless you are happy with what you are getting in return.
That guy at the office, the one that messed up big style, don’t clean up that mess for him unless you’re happy with what he’s going to give you in return, because if you do it once he will expect you to keep doing it again and again for the same price. So if you do it for nothing, he will keep expecting you to do it for nothing.
That girl at the office, the one that keeps being late, the one that you keep covering up for, if you keep covering up for her she will keep being late, so make certain you are happy with the price you are paying for covering up for her, because if that price is nothing she will keep expecting you to do it for nothing.
Your lover, who wants you to do something for him/her, don’t do it unless you’re happy with what you are going to get in return, because if you do it for them once for that price, they will keep expecting you to do it for them for that same price. If that price was nothing, they will keep expecting to get it for nothing.
Isn’t expecting to always get something in return selfish?
No, it is not, to expect a person to give you something in return for doing something for them may at first seem selfish, but it is not. Selfishness is constantly expecting someone to do something for you but refusing to do anything in return.
And if you have let people take advantage of you for a period of time, people will refuse and will feel that they have a right to refuse, the reason being if you do something for nothing and keep doing something for nothing but then out of the blue demand to be paid for doing that something people are going to feel hard done by.
For example, imagine paying twenty pounds a month for your phone contract, then out of the blue your phone company demands that you pay them one hundred pounds a month to keep the same terms that you have, how would you feel?
Now consider this, if you only had the phone contract for a few months, and the standard rate for a typical phone contract of the type you have taken out was a hundred pounds and not twenty, then being asked to start paying the full hundred pounds won’t be the end of the world, now imagine if you had had that contract for years, how would you feel suddenly having to pay full price?
Basically the longer you allow it to go on, the harder it is to change those terms, and the more chaos that you will bring about should you try.
This is why it’s so important at the beginning of any relationship, whether it be a romantic one, one of friendship, a workplace one, or whatever, that you set solid boundaries and make clear that if you’re going to give something you expect something in return, even if that something is a thank you because if you don’t you’re putting yourself at great risk of being taken advantage of.
What do I do if I’m already being taken advantage of?
You have two choices, either fight to change the terms and demand to be paid what you believe to be your true worth, or do nothing and accept that the price of having this person in your life is them taking advantage of you.
And perhaps you are happy to pay the price, in which case they are not taking advantage of you. Only you know the answer.
That’s all from me for today, stay safe!