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Are You Being Taken Advantage Of?

In theory, it should be easy to answer this question. But in reality, many people have lost their ability to tell when they’re giving too much. Oh, in your gut you might know, but you’ve stopped trusting your gut.

So here’s how to figure it out.1) You’ve frequently anxious, resentful, or both.

The anxiety means you feel you’ve lost control of your time and your world; it operates in service of others. The resentment means that on some level, you know your life should belong to you.

Resentment is not particularly healthy, but what underlies it is anger. And anger can be healthy. It’s instructive. It tells you when you’re being taken advantage of, actually, and that you deserve better. The anger is righteous.

Why don’t you feel anger, you might wonder?

Because you’ve probably gotten in the habit of suppressing it, maybe for the good of your relationship–the very relationship in which you’re being taken advantage.

2) You don’t tell your friends and family what’s really going on in your relationship.

It’s likely that you’re embarrassed, or you’re not ready to hear what you can’t yet face. You know what they’d think, and they’d be right: This relationship isn’t serving you; it’s serving the other person. His or her needs are primary, and yours are secondary.

That’s what it means to be taken advantage of, in a nutshell.

3) You can’t count on reciprocation.

Think of what you’d do if your partner was sick. Now think what he or she would do for you if the tables were turned.

Think what you do for your partner on his or her birthday. Think what’s do for you on your birthday.

If it seems ludicrous that your partner would take care of you on the same level, then you have your answer. You’re being taken advantage of.

Now, I’m not saying every relationship should be tit for tat. Only doing in equal amounts, always measuring–that’s a recipe for unhappiness. But think in broad strokes about what you give and what you can expect to take.

All of the answers are probably in line with what your gut was already telling you, but maybe you needed the confirmation. And some validation: You are worthy; you are valuable; you should be treated with love and respect.

Sick husband photo available from Shutterstock

Are You Being Taken Advantage Of?

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2015). Are You Being Taken Advantage Of?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Nov 2015
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