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How do you let go of someone who used you?

Being used and taken advantage of by someone you care about can be extremely painful. It can make you feel betrayed, angry, sad, and confused. Learning to move on from this type of unhealthy relationship is not easy, but it is possible with time and effort. Here are some tips on how to let go when you feel someone has used you:

Table of Contents

Acknowledge your emotions

Allow yourself to feel and process the emotions this experience brings up like hurt, grief, resentment, shame, and anger. Don’t ignore them or try to downplay them. Journal about your experience, talk to supportive friends and family, or see a counselor if needed. Working through the emotions will help you move forward.

Gain perspective

Look at the situation objectively. Ask yourself questions like: What specifically did they do that felt unfair? What needs of mine weren’t being met? Did I allow certain behaviors or fail to set boundaries? Understanding the dynamics will help you learn for the future.

Take back your power

Shift the focus back to you. Make the conscious choice to stop giving this person power over you and your emotions. Remind yourself that you are worthy of reciprocity and respect. Vow to only engage in relationships where there is mutual care and understanding going forward.

Cut contact if possible

Create physical and emotional distance from the user by limiting contact. Unfollow them on social media, don’t reach out, and don’t let them manipulate you. This space will allow you to heal. Only interact if absolutely necessary.

Seek closure

Get closure by communicating your grievances, either verbally or in writing. Be honest about how their actions impacted you. Regardless of their response, you spoke your truth. Closure provides the finality needed to move on.

Forgive, not for their sake but for yours

Forgiving does not mean excusing their behavior or allowing them back in. It means releasing anger and resentment towards them. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself so you can be free.

Refocus your energy

Pour your energy into positive outlets like work, hobbies, friends, fitness, and self-care. Keep busy and continue activities that build your confidence and bring you joy. This rebuild your sense of worth.

Why Is It Hard to Let Go of Someone Who Used You?

It’s challenging to let go of someone who took advantage because:

You feel betrayed

Your trust was violated by someone you opened up to. This elicits deep hurt, sadness, and a sense of bitterness. It’s hard not to take the betrayal personally.

You’re grieving the loss

Even an unhealthy relationship meant something. Letting go requires mourning its loss like any breakup. You must process the denial, pain, and move to acceptance.

Your self-esteem is damaged

Being manipulated makes you feel foolish for letting it happen. It causes you to question your worth and judgment. Restoring your confidence takes time.

You worry about it happening again

The experience creates distrust in others. You may struggle to be vulnerable again for fear of being used and hurt again. Overcoming this requires taking it slow with new bonds.

You feel ashamed

Many feel embarrassment for allowing mistreatment, for not speaking up or walking away sooner. Shame can delay healing. Remind yourself you did the best you could at the time.

You hope they’ll change

It’s tempting to think they’ll apologize or start treating you well. But users rarely change without intensive self-work. Hoping for this will prolong ties to them. Accept reality.

You crave closure

When there is no closure, no accountability from them, it’s harder for you to move on. But closure can be gained without their participation through self-care.

You’re still emotionally bonded

Even if the relationship was unhealthy, emotional attachments don’t instantly dissolve. Grieving the loss of someone you cared for, despite their flaws, is painful.

How to Stop Idealizing Someone Who Used You

To fully let go, you must stop seeing them through rose-colored glasses. Here’s how:

List their flaws and wrongdoings

Make a list of their less than admirable qualities and behaviors, the times they lied, took advantage of you, didn’t have your back, etc. Refer to it when you start idealizing them.

Focus on their negative impact

When recalling the relationship, shift the focus to how they made you feel badly about yourself, less secure, manipulated, disrespected or mistreated. The negatives far outweigh the positives.

Look for inconsistencies

The person they portrayed to you was false and covered up their true intentions. They presented themselves as someone they were not. Remember the façade.

Ask why you were vulnerable

Look inward at why you overlooked red flags. Did you have self-esteem issues, loneliness, trauma, or abandonment wounds that clouded your vision? Identify these so you can improve.

See the manipulation tactics

Manipulators use tactics like love bombing, gaslighting, lying, guilt trips, ego stroking, flattery, and intermittent reinforcement. Educate yourself on tactics.

Acknowledge deal breakers

Make a list of the qualities and behaviors you will never tolerate again like dishonesty, disrespect, poor boundaries, etc. Refer to your deal breakers if you start rationalizing their behaviors.

Cut off contact

Zero contact eliminates temptation to slip back and removes openings for manipulation. They no longer get access to you. Out of sight, out of mind.

Signs Someone Is Using You and Doesn’t Care About You

Here are signs to watch out for:

They lack empathy

Your thoughts, feelings, and well-being don’t seem to concern them. They brush off your grievances and needs. Everything is about them.

They don’t keep agreements

They frequently break plans, run late, or fail to deliver on promises. There is little dependability or follow through. You can’t count on them.

Conversations are one-sided

Talking revolves around their life and problems. They show little interest in hearing about yours. You feel unheard.

They lack reciprocity

The relationship feels one-sided with you giving far more than you receive in effort, care, time, or money. They gladly take without giving back.

They blame others

It’s always someone else’s fault when things go wrong. They don’t take personal responsibility for their actions or mistakes.

Your needs are dismissed

Expressing your needs and concerns is met with annoyance, denial, changing the subject, or lip service. They make you feel needy or high maintenance.

They lack respect

Mistreatment, frequent lateness, broken promises, lying, and inappropriate remarks are treated as no big deal. They don’t modify their behavior.

You feel manipulated

Conversations often leave you doubting yourself and confused. Something feels calculated, covert, and controlling about their way of communicating.

Hot and cold behavior

They flip flop between being attentive and completely ignoring you. They run hot, then go cold. It’s difficult to know where you stand.

Criticism outweighs praise

Negative, nitpicky comments about you outnumber the positive. Instead of feeling uplifted, you feel picked apart.

Healthy Ways to Move On from Someone Who Used You

Try these healthy coping strategies:

Express your feelings

Journal, vent to supportive friends, or use art and music to process the emotional fallout in a constructive way. Avoid repressing feelings.

Build your self-worth

Engage in positive activities that make you feel empowered, talented, and boosted like learning new skills, helping others, taking classes, and pursuing passions.

Set boundaries

Practice saying no, expressing needs calmly, and walking away from unhealthy situations. Know your limits. Protect your peace.

Practice self-care

Make your well-being a priority by eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, enjoying me-time, and limiting unhealthy habits that numb feelings.

Change your inner dialogue

Replace self-blame with self-love. Be your own cheerleader. Kindly challenge negative thoughts and choose to refocus on the positive.

therapy or support groups

If you are really struggling with the aftermath, get professional counseling or join a support group. Connecting with others helps you know you’re not alone.

Learn relationship skills

Read relationship self-help books, take a class, or work with a counselor to gain tools for developing healthy bonds, setting boundaries, and boosting assertiveness.

Practice forgiveness

Forgiveness is for you, not them. Holding on to bitterness and resentment only hurts you, not them. Forgiveness brings peace.

Things to Remember When Letting Go of Someone Who Used You

Keep these things in mind:

Their behavior says more about them than you.

How they treated you reflects their issues, insecurities, and relationship patterns. It’s not a reflection of your worth.

Your trust was misplaced.

You chose to trust the wrong person but can learn from this experience. Examine any red flags you overlooked.

This pain will pass.

As difficult as it seems now, you will heal with time. The intensity of the hurt will fade. Have faith in your resilience.

Setbacks will happen.

It’s normal to go backwards some days and romanticize the past. Be patient and persistent with yourself during the process.

Your needs matter.

Don’t ignore red flags or suppress needs in new relationships. Walk away from anyone who doesn’t value or reciprocate.

You have support.

Lean on loving friends and family during this challenging time. Don’t isolate. You are loved.

You will love again when ready.

This painful experience doesn’t mean you won’t find healthy love again on your own timeframe. Believe in possibilities.

How to Overcome Depression After Being Used By Someone

If you’re experiencing depression following this betrayal, here are ways to cope:

See a therapist

Professional counseling provides support, perspective and coping strategies tailored to your unique needs. Therapy can help depression lift.

Practice self-care

Make sleep, nutrition, exercise and stress management priorities. Don’t neglect basic self-care as this worsens depression.

Take medication if needed

See a doctor about antidepressants. Medication combined with therapy is often an effective approach for significant depression.

Limit isolation

Continue social activities even when you don’t feel like it. Time with supportive loved ones improves mood. Avoid too much alone time.

Express yourself

Keep a journal, create art or music, dance, sing, write poetry or do other creative activities to get emotions out constructively.

Help others

Volunteer, support someone going through a hard time, or care for pets. Helping others boosts feel-good endorphins and purpose.

Join a support group

Connecting with others who have been through similar experiences combats loneliness and reminds you that you’re not alone.

Practice self-compassion

Be kind to yourself. Silence the inner critic. Acknowledge you’re hurt without judgment. Imagine consoling a friend.

How to Rebuild Your Self-Esteem After Being Used

Being taken advantage of can damage your confidence. Here’s how to restore self-esteem:

Tactic Example
Identity your positive qualities Make a long list of all your strengths, talents, skills, values and attributes you admire about yourself.
Celebrate your wins Reflect on accomplishments large and small. Give yourself credit for achievements.
Limit negative self-talk Notice negative thoughts and intentionally reframe them with kinder language.
Visualize your best self Envision yourself as confident, worthy and living your dreams. Imagine future success.
Try new activities Step outside your comfort zone, take risks and build mastery. Pursue a passion project.
Make self-care a regular habit Do relaxing, fun and nourishing activities that make you feel replenished and centered.
Boost your support network Spend more time with positive people who uplift you and less time with those who are draining.
Ask for help Don’t hesitate to enlist support from friends, join a support group or see a counselor.
Practice mindfulness Living in the moment, meditation and yoga help relieve rumination over the past.
Forgive yourself Let go of shame or self-blame. You are worthy of self-forgiveness and love.

How to Become Stronger After Being Used So It Doesn’t Happen Again

Here are ways to avoid repeating the pattern:

Reflect on vulnerabilities

Look inward at why you overlooked red flags. Did you have abandonment wounds, low self-worth, trauma? Becoming aware empowers change.

Learn warning signs

Educate yourself on signs of manipulation like love bombing, gaslighting, lies, and erratic hot/cold behavior. Stay vigilant.

Communicate needs assertively

Practice expressing your standards and needs clearly, calmly, and firmly. Don’t hint or expect others to read your mind.

Trust actions more than words

Talk is cheap. Watch what they do more than what they say. Believe someone who shows you consistency through their behavior.

Have deal breakers

Decide what behaviors you will never accept again like dishonesty, disrespect, broken commitments. Stick to your standards.

Go slow when dating

Take time getting to know new partners. Don’t get overly invested too fast. Watch for consistency and reciprocity over an extended time.

Learn to say no

It’s okay to decline requests and offers you don’t want to fulfill. Say no firmly without guilt or over-explaining yourself.

Trust your gut instincts

That uneasy, anxious feeling is often your subconscious signaling something is off. Listen when your gut warns you, even if you can’t pinpoint why.

Therapy can help

Work with a professional counselor to identify unhealthy patterns and build new relationship skills. Therapy provides valuable guidance.


Recovering from being used by someone you cared for is challenging but very possible. Give yourself patience and compassion during the process. Prioritize self-care and lean on supportive loved ones. Establish healthy boundaries going forward and believe in your worth. In time, your heart will heal stronger and wiser than before.