Once someone has started taking advantage of you, stopping them without causing big problems can be difficult to do, the reason being human relationships, whether they be friendship-based ones, romantic based ones, family-based ones, workplace-based ones, whatever, 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 it is also a fact that leads to those who do not intend to take advantage to take advantage, which is another reality that those who wilfully take advantage use to their advantage.
But the question is how do people take advantage in the first place, and what can you do to stop it? In this post and I try to answer both questions, and of course this is all just in my opinion but seeing as in the past I was someone who people used to take advantage of, whereas now people seldom get the chance to do so, hopefully it will be of use to anyone who may be in a similar situation to the one I once was.
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 people take advantage of others
All human relationships have boundaries, and people often and frequently test those boundaries to see if they can get more from a person.
And it is not just bad people who do this, obviously bad people are the worst offenders, but all of us in some ways are guilty of it. 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 that someone frequently we will try to get more from that someone.
There are many who will dispute this statement. I used to be one of those people, but I’ve learned otherwise, and let me give you a few examples to show why, imagine going to a shop, seeing something for sale, but believing that the price is too high and that you can get it cheaper elsewhere. Are you going to pay the higher price or are you going to go get it from the place where you can purchase it for less?
The fact is if you think it’s a fair price, you may just buy it anyhow. But if you don’t, you’re going to try to get it for less.
Another example, imagine seeing something for sale but believing that you can persuade the seller to accept a cheaper price, so to give you more for less, how many people would attempt to get that more for less?
Not everyone, there are those who if they believe the price is fair that will simply pay it, but if people don’t think it’s a fair price, and believe that it’s worth less, they are going to either simply decide not to buy it or they are going to try to get it for less.
We treat human relationships the exact same way, we all assign values to the relationships we have to with people, it is simply inescapable. Some relationships we see as high-value and so are willing to give a lot of time and effort to, others we don’t and so aren’t. But the fact is we do assign values to our relationships, and by doing so we by default decide just how much we are willing to pay to keep them functioning.
And when it comes to relationships, some of us simply want a fair deal, while others want the best deal they can get; but all of us want to pay the price that we think is right and not a penny more. It is simply human nature, no matter what people say, how much they try to say otherwise, it is an indisputable fact based on all our behaviour. We all want the best deal we can get, to some of us that is paying what we believe to be a fair price, to others it is paying as little as possible.
This brings me to how people take advantage of others, and it is very simple in truth, the way those who take advantage of others take advantage is by trying to get as much as they can from a person for as little as they can offer in return.
The way they do this is by making a person believe that they are worth a lot less than they actually are while they themselves are worth a lot more than they are, or rather the person trying to take advantage tries to sell themselves as being of high-value, while at the same time tries to imply that the person they are taking advantage of is of really low value.
The most common reason people get taken advantage of
Above all the most common reason people get taken advantage of is that they always give things to people whenever they ask but never ask for anything in return, which implants into people’s heads the notion that you are worth less than you are.
The fact is we set our own value, and we set it based on how we allow people to treat us, and what we expect people to do for us when we do things for them. If we allow people to treat us badly and allow people to constantly take things from us for very little in return, then we are telling that person that that is our price, that that is our worth.
When we set our values low, or more often is the case let people make us believe that our values are low, even good people take more from us than they should, not by intention but because we tell them that they can, which means when bad people come along things are going to go really bad for us.
So the most common reason people get taken advantage of is that they set their worth so low that liberties are taken from all directions. And because their values are so low, when bad people come on the scene they reinforce those beliefs and exacerbate them.
Note: I should add that a lot of the time people have a low sense of worth because bad people have in the first place manipulated them into believing that they have a low sense of worth, I initially had this problem from being bullied at school. However, for the purposes of this post I wish to focus on the part that we ourselves play in setting our worth, because the fact is the only person we can try to change is ourselves.
How to stop people taking advantage of you
We all deserve to be given things, even if it’s just thanks for the things that we give. We all deserve it, and the best way to get it is by never being afraid to not only expect it, but to call out those who don’t give it.
That means one of the best ways to stop people from taking advantage is not only learning to say no when people ask you for things, but remembering that it’s okay to ask others for things, even if just a thanks, a little bit of appreciation. You deserve it, everyone does and if it’s not given you deserve and have the right to ask for it to be given.
Most people will by default give these things, but it’s okay to remind those who don’t that nothing in this world is free and you are worth more than the value they are assigning to you. And the way to stop people from taking advantage of you is to drill that fact into your head. You have a value and if people are not assigning you that value, it’s okay for you to tell them that that is not on.
Human relationships are fundamentally a transaction, accepting this is a great help for anyone who wants to avoid being taken advantage of
I mentioned this earlier, but I think it’s such an important reality to comprehend that I wish to talk about it again. One thing that it is good to remember is that human relationships are fundamentally a transaction, which means when giving somebody something it’s okay to think about what you’re going to get in return. So even if it’s just a thanks or even if it’s nothing, actually think about what you want and expect in return, again, even if it’s nothing, actually consciously think about it.
Or rather think about it like this, I could say don’t give somebody something unless you are happy with what you are getting in return. But if I said that without saying that you must first think about what you will get in return before giving somebody that something, how could you work out whether you are happy or not until you have actually given it? You couldn’t, which is why you must always think before you give. Think what do I expect in return.
And then more importantly, convey that that expectation exists.
How to convey that your expectations exist
Through your actions. For example, 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. So if you don’t want to do it for nothing, assign a value to it, a value that matches your worth. And if you don’t think he will give you that value in return, don’t do it for him, and if you’re unsure whether he will or not, then do it once and if he doesn’t don’t do it again.
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 expecting you to cover up for her, 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.
So if you don’t want to do it for nothing, assign a value to it, a value that matches your worth. And if you don’t think she will give you that value in return, don’t do it for her, or again if you’re unsure whether she will or not, then do it once and if she doesn’t don’t do it again.
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 is nothing, they will keep expecting to get it for nothing.
So if you don’t want to do it for nothing, assign a value to it, a value that matches your worth. And if you don’t think he/she will give you that value in return, don’t do it for him/her, or again if you’re unsure whether he/she will or not, then do it once and if he/she doesn’t don’t do it again.
The fact is, when we treat our relationships like a transaction, despite those who say that it makes everything feel cold, what you actually do is teach yourself to convey to people what your true worth is. And you teach yourself to convey it at the most important point of any relationship of any sort, at the beginning.
Isn’t expecting to always get something in return selfish?
No, it is not, and that’s exactly the thought process that leads people to be taken advantage of, 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 long period, or if you give people things for nothing or for very little for a long period, people will refuse and will feel that they have a right to refuse should you ask for more in return, the reason being if you do something for nothing or for less than your worth, and keep doing something for nothing or for less than your worth, but then out of the blue demand to be paid what you believe to be your true worth for doing that something, people are going to feel hard done by.
For example, imagine paying twenty pounds a month for your phone contract, and believing that to be the fair value of the contract, but then out of the blue your phone company demands that you pay them one hundred pounds a month to keep the same terms, 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 had taken out was a hundred pounds and not twenty, would you feel hard done by if one day you’re asked to pay full price? Perhaps a little but if you like the contract, you’re most likely going to be willing to pay it.
And consider this as well, if you don’t have to pay for your phone for the first three months but you have to pay back those three months at some point, and you know this at the beginning, you’re not even going to bat an eyelid when you’re asked for the money because you already knew you were going to have to pay at some point.
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 just a thank you, you must make clear that it is expected because if you don’t you’re putting yourself at great risk of being taken advantage of.
Or better yet, if you express your true worth at the beginning nobody can complain about feeling hard done by at a later point, and that is how those who take advantage take advantage, they complain that you gave them something for much less than you are now asking. And they claim that that is not fair.
They are wrong. It is never not fair to ask for your true worth. And if you ask for it from the beginning, there can never be any problems down the line. This means the best way to stop people from taking advantage of you, is to express your true worth from the beginning.
What do I do if you are already being taken advantage of?
In my view there are two options available to those who are already being taken advantage of, 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.
But if you choose to fight, know this, even those who did not intend to take advantage of you in the first place will likely put up protestation, they will likely feel endlessly hard done by, but the fact is no matter what they say you must be firm. And in truth, you will be doing them a favour because it benefits nobody being given a free ride, so by teaching them that they can’t get something for nothing, you’ll be doing them a favour.
And if they don’t accept the new terms, then you must remove this person from your life. Otherwise, they will continue to take advantage. And after you’ve left, find new people who don’t take advantage. Or rather people who know that nothing in this world is or should be free. Not even love, because what is the benefit of loving someone who doesn’t love you?
All in all, one thing that is good to remember is that you are not worth more than anyone, but at the same time, no one is worth more than you. And any person who tries to make you believe otherwise, is wrong. You are worth just as much as everyone. The best people in your life to have, are those who know this fact.
That means the best way to stop people taking advantage of you is by always, and I mean always remembering your worth, and making certain to convey it to people. The reason being that only you can set your worth. And by remembering to set it, what you will do is make certain that the people in your life treat you the way you deserve to be treated, which is with the same respect that you are willing to give to them.
That’s all from me for today, stay safe!