The nature of all kinds of relationships causes us to use one another. Like it or not, that’s the way it is. We add value to others, and they add value to us. But there are also people who drain us and every resource we have for their benefit. Since we’ve been burned in the past, we developed invisible scales to weigh our contribution versus theirs. The results are likely skewed in our favor. I can’t recall how many times I’ve held a relationship under careful scrutiny.
If there is one party I know how to throw, it’s a pity party and no one else is invited! In all seriousness, the thought that we are only being used can leave us feeling terrible. But keep in mind, it is just a thought, which might not represent the truth. It might only be how you feel and not even close to what the other person may be thinking. Only they know with absolute certainty. You can try to guess, but you might be wrong and can actually stir up trouble where there wasn’t any.
I’m starting to wonder if, most often, the other person doesn’t even realize they are using us. They are so engrossed in their own world that they forget about ours, even though they are in it. They simply don’t see things from our perspective. If we are honest with ourselves, we probably don’t see things through their eyes either. Part of what makes relationships work well is clear communication. Knowing what the other person is thinking is crucial to understanding them. If you don’t know what they are thinking, try asking them.
It’s not always easy to open up and share our feelings. This type of behavior may never have been demonstrated to us by parents or role models. In other cases, when we did open up, that information was used against us in a negative way. When trust like that is broken, it may be hard to open up again. The thing to remember is that every person deserves a fresh, clean slate. Do not hold someone responsible who did not mistreat you.
The sad part of relationships is that there are times when all you do is give and all they do is take. It’s up to you to determine where the other person is on the scale. They may add little or even no value to your life. That’s when the scale actually matters. Don’t be surprised when takers take from you; it’s their job to take. Doing otherwise would be out of character for them. However, you must decide if that is a person you want to keep in your life. I am not advocating leaving spouses or children, someone to whom you are responsible. Nor do I recommend disowning people in your life because they can’t do anything for you. The point is, there are times when you may need to discontinue relationships with people in order to maintain your own wellbeing. You have a choice of how much time and energy you want to commit to people.
Know when you are simply freaking out, feeling sorry for yourself about how everyone “uses you”. Chances may be high they have done a lot for you, but you are not focused on that in this moment. It’s up to you to help them understand what you are thinking and feeling. You might even be surprised and relieved to know they have similar concerns about being used by others also. At the same time, know when its time to cut people out of your life.