Everyone wants to score high points with their friends no matter how self-sufficient people appear on the surface. Of course that’s not a problem except this need pushes people to please everyone so as to stay in their friends’ good books.
Yes, he that want friends should show himself friendly but why expose yourselves to nasty and selfish people who are only pretending to like you just to satisfy their own agendas? You have to know when someone is using you as a means to an end. There is a thin line separating being nice and being a fool. God wants us to complement one another and not to be exploited and abused.
But how can you decipher true friends from abusers in a relationship?
If being in a relationship means being your partner’s personal chauffeur, cook, running their errands, and paying for everything, you may be in trouble. If it means having to squeeze out cash every time he/she has a problem then there is a problem. Being in a relationship does not mean taking over someone’s life but complementing it. Before you stepped into their lives, your partner was handling more critical issue, why have you become everything now? As a counselor, I often encounter challenges like this… Your friendship should not turn you into a mother-hen. Giving your partner the moon and the stars as widely promoted by Nollywood and all the “woods”, especially in the beginning of your relationship, puts you in a situation where your friendship is “tolerated” because of what others can get from you.
Are your friends exploiting you?
Take a holistic, unemotional and critical study at the people you call friends. Do they genuinely care about you, or are they putting up with you due to an ulterior motive?
When you go out with friends, do you think it is coincidental that you are the one that keeps footing the bill, because they either forgot their wallets or are running low on cash? When you have a crucial need, does everyone suddenly have a date or a hospital appointment thus forcing you to do the extra work? Are you being included in activities only because you’re the sole provider of (free) transportation? Do you keep running the show because you don’t want to jeopardize your relationship with your dearest friends?
Genuine friendship should not cost you a fortune. As a matter of fact, friendship is not having a bunch of parasites and pests waiting for your next paycheck.
How about your family?
Last month you spent all your income paying the school fees of your younger ones. This month, you have to pay the rent and then next month’s salary is for mama’s town’s meeting contribution and another month is dedicated to paying a loan your jobless brother got from the bank.
It is okay to be generous but if you constantly bail out your siblings, financially or otherwise, then you risk becoming their backbone for life. I know this because until recently, my mom did that for her family and exposed we her children to difficulty. Worse still, most of these so called charitable services go unappreciated. Let others carry their own burden for a while. Help is vital but playing super-man for everyone is like putting yourself on a suicide mission.
And in the work place?
The office is another place where people often fall victim to exploiters because it is easy to slip into the role ofthe office donkey. Taking responsibility for other people’s mishaps and doing their work may be your way of scoring points.
This is not about being proactive or valuable. If you were, why didn’t your company double your pay? The company doesn’t pay for your extra work because others were assigned to the work already and you are only serving as their work horse. In fact, you may as well wear a tattoo that reads “sucker” on your forehead.
To say the truth, chances are that you are not getting the respect you deserve. You have to learn to stick your nose where it belongs and let others take care of their own work. The workplace is especially tricky because there isn’t any emotional attachment like the one you have with loved ones at home. Therefore, your colleagues may not feel as guilty when they take advantage of you.
1. Stop giving, for giving sake!
Not everyone is taking advantage of you but you have to separate those who are real from those who are using you. So for a while, pretend to forget your wallet when you hang out with your friends. Take a break when there is a dirty job to be done and even decide not answer the call of your needy friends. Yes, you have to do it. Stop your obsession with giving your time and money foolishly. Those who really care about you will stick around when you don’t give. Those who were just using you, on the other hand, will likely take the exit door, doing you a huge favor in the process.
Gather up whatever courage you have and speak out if someone steps on your toes, but with decorum. Don’t smile and say it is all right and silently wring the pain. If you feel as though you are being mistreated, make sure you let whoever is mistreating you know. No one deserves to be treated as a doormat.
3. A new beginning
Make a conscious effort to move away from people using you as a doormat. This will afford you the opportunity to start afresh and meet new people who will value your new state of mind. Believe me, there is nothing as refreshing as the company of true friends and a healthy relationship. If your situation is dire, I will advice a change of job or environment, if you can.
4 – Protect yourself, without putting a fence-up
Protect yourself by maintaining a bold outlook towards life, but do not build a fence to keep people away. Let them appreciate the real you and those who cannot do that have no reason to be near you. Your well-being should come first, and if you find that your good deeds aren’t being reciprocated, it’s time to break that relationship and move on.