How to Stop Feeling Used by Your Friends

Healthy relationships give positive feelings about your value and about the relationship. When you feel manipulated or used by a friend, that feeling may damage the relationship. Creating positive friendships requires that you take the responsibility to work things out when things do not feel right. To stop feeling used, take steps quickly to communicate your feelings, change the relationship or move on to healthy friendships with people you feel do not use you.

Step 1

Write down the situations where you feel used by a friend and then write how you felt during those incidents. Note for each situation whether you expressed any objections, or if you went along with what the friend wanted. Then write down what you want to happen in the relationship, suggests John Ragle of the University of Texas Counseling Center. Repeat this exercise for each friend you feel uses you.

Step 2

Decide, for each situation when you expressed no objections, whether you went along because you wanted to avoid conflict or whether you feared speaking up might end the relationship. Talk to friends you feel confident with first, to gain experience in resolving conflicts, then move on to those you think might stop the friendship.

Step 3

Write down exactly what you plan to say. State specific examples of the situation and express how it made you feel, without attacking, blaming or accusing the other person, suggests Frame the situation in “I” statements, such as “When you ask me to drive all the time and do not help with gas, I feel used,” instead of “You make me feel used” sentences. Continue to practice and rewrite what you want to say until you think you can talk without losing control. Consider using a recording device to listen to yourself.

Step 4

Contact the friend, state that you want to discuss your relationship and ask for a time when you can meet and talk privately. Meet with the person away from other friends to help decrease the stress and conflict. Ask the person to let you talk until you finish and then promise to listen to her without interrupting.

Step 5

Monitor your emotions and take a break from the talk if you become angry or upset, Ragle advises. Once you finish, listen to your friend talk without interruptions. Try to see the situation from his point of view and acknowledge his feelings even if you do not agree. Discuss the changes you need to make the relationship feel fair. Resolve one issue at a time before addressing another problem, advises Ragle.

Step 6

Consider asking for outside help, such as parents, teachers or counselors, to handle unresolved issues, suggests Walk away from the relationship if the person refuses to discuss the problem or becomes abusive.