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How do you know if a man is taking advantage of you?

Being taken advantage of in a relationship can leave you feeling hurt, confused, and insecure. However, the signs are not always obvious. Here are some ways to know if a man is taking advantage of you:

He rarely reciprocates or only does so when he wants something

Healthy relationships are built on reciprocity – both people make an effort. If your partner only does nice things for you when he’s after something, he’s likely using you. For example, he may shower you with affection and gifts for a week before asking to borrow money. Then, he disappears again once he gets what he wants. This lack of balance is a major red flag.

He dismisses your feelings and concerns

Partners who truly care will be attentive and empathetic when you express feelings or concerns. Someone who disregards your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis is self-centered and manipulative. For instance, if you try to have a serious conversation about the relationship and he brushes you off or makes you feel silly for even bringing it up, take note.

He isolates you from friends and family

Abusers often try to isolate their victim by driving a wedge between them and loved ones. They may convince you certain friends or family members don’t really care about you. Or they may occupy all your free time so you have no opportunity for outside relationships. This gives them more control and makes it harder for you to leave.

He has major mood swings

Does your partner fluctuate radically between loving attentiveness and cold indifference? These extreme highs and lows keep you on edge, confused, and constantly trying to please him. His stormy moods also provide excuses to blame you for his outbursts. Beware of dramatic mood swings and temper tantrums designed to manipulate you.

He puts you down

Words can wound deeply and undermine self-worth. Pay close attention to how your partner speaks to and about you. Does he frequently criticize you, call you names, or make disparaging jokes at your expense? Belittling, sarcasm and verbal abuse signal a lack of respect. You deserve better.

He pressures or guilt trips you

Your partner should never force, coerce, or guilt trip you into anything you’re uncomfortable with – whether it’s skipping work, engaging in certain sexual acts, or cutting off family contact. Real love doesn’t pressure or make demands. If you’re constantly feeling emotionally blackmailed, something is very wrong.

He’s excessively jealous and possessive

It’s one thing for a partner to feel occasionally jealous about outside friendships or activities. But constant accusations of cheating, interrogations about where you’ve been and who you’re with, or showing up unannounced to monitor you cross the line. Possessiveness signals a desire to control you, not love you.

He gaslights you

Gaslighting involves twisting facts to confuse you and make you doubt your own perceptions, memories, and sanity. For instance, you confront your partner about infidelity and he denies it ever happened – even though you caught him red-handed. When this kind of mental manipulation becomes a pattern, something sinister is at play.

He sabotages your success

A good partner wants what’s best for you, even if it means sacrifice on their end. An insecure, self-serving partner may resent or feel threatened by your success. Beware if they subtly undermine your goals and ambitions by sowing doubts or holding you back. Destroying your confidence keeps you dependent on them.

He exhibits Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality shifts

Abusers are skilled at concealing their true nature, at least for a time. They often come across as charming and doting initially, luring you into a relationship. Then, the mask slips and their cruel, controlling side emerges. These extreme personality shifts indicate serious emotional instability or even a personality disorder.

You feel afraid, intimidated, or on edge around him

Do you feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells, wary of triggering your partner’s anger or disappointment? Do you feel uneasy about disagreeing with him or bringing up certain topics? If the relationship causes more anxiety than happiness, your body may be telling you something is dangerously amiss before your mind wants to admit it.

He blames you for his behavior

Abusers tend to project blame for their shortcomings onto their victims. If your partner gets upset and then faults you for provoking him, ensures the responsibility lies with you. Similarly, if he makes excuses for selfish or disrespectful treatment by claiming “you made me do it”, recognize the irrationality. Poor behavior is a choice, not something forced by anyone else.

You feel trapped or powerless

Do you stay in the relationship despite mounting unhappiness because you don’t think you can make it on your own? Does your partner use threats and intimidation to keep you in line? Being emotionally or financially dependent can make victims feel trapped. But there are always alternatives if you reach out for support.

Your needs and well-being are dismissed

Healthy relationships involve mutual caretaking – both partners consider each others’ feelings, needs and welfare. When one person’s needs take priority or get ignored, while the other’s are catered to, inequality exists. You deserve a partner as invested in your well-being as you are in theirs.

You make constant excuses for his behavior

Do you find yourself rationalizing away cruel or questionable conduct from your partner, even to yourself? Making excuses for unacceptable behavior enables it to continue. Listen to your inner voice – you likely know, deep down, when someone is treating you poorly, even if you don’t want to admit it.

He lies to you

Honesty and trust are pillars of healthy relationships. Chronic dishonesty about big things (finances, fidelity) or small (whereabouts, habits) erodes emotional security. Once deception enters the equation, the violated party rightfully questions what else their partner might be hiding or lying about.

He doesn’t accept responsibility for wrongdoing

Mature people admit when they mess up and try to learn from mistakes. Those who refuse to accept responsibility will keep repeating negative patterns. Blaming others for misdeeds and flaws while expecting forgiveness signals immaturity and self-absorption. Don’t buy excuses.

He crosses established boundaries

Partners demonstrate care and commitment by respecting each other’s boundaries around privacy, comfort, finances, etc. When yours disregards mutually agreed upon rules, it signals dismissiveness and disrespect. Enforce your limits – disregard is often a test to see what someone can get away with.

You feel like a different person around him

Abusers often erode victims’ identity and self-worth via undermining tactics. If you find yourself dramatically changing to appease your partner – dropping friends, hobbies, wardrobe – you may be compromising your true self. Reevaluate any relationship that pressures you to abandon your individuality.

You’re more invested in the relationship than he is

When both people place equal value on and invest equal effort into a relationship, balance exists. Disparity, however, breeds insecurity. If you’re doing all the work to sustain the bond while he remains detached, you’re likely giving a lot more than receiving.

He damages your property or injuries you

This falls under the obvious red flag category, but still happens more frequently than one might expect. Outbursts that get physical – punching walls, throwing things, intentionally breaking your belongings – are unacceptable. Don’t overlook or make excuses for violent rage.


Experiencing one or two of these signs occasionally does not necessarily prove exploitation or abuse. However, when multiple factors are present consistently over an extended period, it likely indicates you’re being taken advantage of. Minimizing or rationalizing away unfair treatment only enables it to continue and worsen. You deserve better. Trust actions over promises and words, and know that walking away does not equal failure if a relationship becomes toxic. Your well-being and dignity should always come first.