I hope you’ve been well over on your end of the world.
I would love love LOVE to hear your thoughts on the what the difference is when it comes to being kind/generous with friends/loved ones and then being taken advantage of and/or milked silly. Specifically – at what point do alarm bells and red flags go off, where do you draw the line, what do you do about it, how do you handle it… what issues are deal breakers etc.
Hugs over your way.
Your concerns are straight to the point and so I will provide an answer accordingly. First, start by reading Balancing on Thor’s Hammer, a little article I wrote some time back about ensuring that balance is maintained more often than not in any relationship platonic or otherwise. Now, to answer your Qs one by one…
What is the difference between being kind/generous and then being taken advantage of?
It is where there is imbalance. In every single relationship, there will be an ebb and flow to the needs of the two involved. There will be times when you need more help than your friend, balanced out by the times when they need more help from you. Always, however, there must be balance, just like being on a teeter-totter. The difference between being kind and being taken advantage of occurs when what you are giving out is not being equally met in return.
The fact that you are asking indicates that your gut is currently telling you something is amiss in one or more relationships in your life. To that, you need to pay attention because God / the Universe, they speak to us in a multitude of ways, one being our instincts. Ask yourself the following three simplest Qs in order to navigate the sort of pool in which you’re swimming:
Does your friend only contact you when they are in need?
Does your friend respond in kind when you need them?
Do they make time for you, or is it more than 60% only about what is convenient for them?
The answers to the above will at least elp you better understand the sort of personality with whom you are dealing. What you do with this information is ultimately up to you but here’s hoping the following will be of some help.
At what point do alarm bells and red flags go off?
The not-so-simple answer is when the individual begins to manipulate you to meet their own ends. The great thing is that you will know. You will know, because people are not as smart or as stealth as they believe themselves to be. Additionally, and as I have always said, the Universe sides with those who are taken advantage of, lied to, and manipulated. Pay attention and the Universe, she will tell you when the person across from you is attempting manipulation. Always, always, keep your eyes wide open once your intuition is peaked.
The more simplistic answer is when you are forced to send a query of this sort to me, and when your gut instinct is yelling for you to pull back. Again, it is all about balance; if you are feeling like they jumped off the teeter totter and you have come crashing down on your a/s, then we have a problem.
Where do you draw the line?
This varies from one person to the next and has to factor in a multitude of realities including, but not limited to, the length of time which you have been friends, the current circumstance and environment (ie is your friend currently living some sort of a trauma, self-inflicted or otherwise), and the history of im/balance.
As I don’t have any siblings, my friends are my chosen family. When one of them needs something, my response is immediate and it is never ever about me. Always, it is about what they need, in order to be better and stay better. I don’t factor into the equation unless I start to feel like I am enabling destructive behaviour of a friend I love (at which point, I tap out of that portion of the conversation only while keeping all else on the table).
When I have — and I have — felt like the person before me is not as interested in giving me the balance I need to not want to punch them in their self-involved, then I tap out entirely. But first, I fire a warning shot, which is the perfect segue into…
What do you do about it?
I first address it, give the friend the room and space to not fail me at that level again and then move forward. While there are some scenarios where our friends should absolutely never ever fail us such as illness or death, there are others where more room is allotted for them to have their own s/it to go through and not be available. Once. Twice. With a conversation and a clarification that things are out of their hands right now and so they can’t be there for us and here the onus is squarely on them. Three strkes and it’s done (for me).
From this, no one is immune in my world and whereas I once used to walk entirely from said individual, what I do now is render conversations very shallow instead. The nature of our interraction changes; and, where they would have previously had my complete and total attention and loyalty when they required it, this becomes diluted. If they’re not interested in being a security blanket in a relationship, then neither am I. This, a simple rule of thumb for all interractions.
You have four choices:
Do nothing about the situation and keep feeling like your good will is being used up.
Stop dealing with only that portion of the friendship. Meaning, if this friend only wants to talk to you about their most recent break-up, tell them that this particular conversation is no longer welcome when you see one another. Tell them that you are feeling as though it is all-consuming and there is nothing left of your friendship and in order to save your friendship then you need to engage something else.
Dilute as I do above while noting that maybe some day down the line the friendship will reshape itself (or not).
Cut them off entirely. No more bullsh/t, no more feeling like the person before you is sucking out all of your energy like a an emotional vampire.
Once you have made your decision and actioned it, and equally as important, please then look to your own behavior. Ask yourself if you give too much of yourself away repeatedly to folks who have either not yet proven their worth, or who are more inclined to be takers rather than givers.
Based on this, you may need to reconsider who you welcome into your life with open arms because trust me when I tell you that those who will take advantage of our good will are many. MANY. Because they are bottom line self-involved wankers who, by definition, are only intimately interested in their own well-being and not ours. The move to protect yourself and ensure that they do not take advantage of you? It rests with you. And them…always…Karma sees them, baby.
May your path only be filled by those who are worthy of your kindness and generosity of spirit, E.
With all my love,