Ten Common Ways Family And Friends Use You, And How To Outsmart Them

Copyright © 2007 by Lisa Tyler


Everyone has to deal with a certain give and take in life, that involves what you are willing to do to get something else.  That something may be respect, companionship or money. 

Unfortunately, there are ways of going about this that get you something you want while not helping the other person get anything they want.  This results in someone being used. 

I’ll bet you are often a victim of this type of thing.  Someone you know calls and asks for a “simple” favor, and it ends up taking you all day to do, or puts you in a dangerous situation. 

Many times your built in “alarm” system is going off but yet you still feel obligated to say yes to something that you have a feeling is not good for you to do. 

Let’s look at 10 common problem spots and devise a plan to save you from them: 

1.  Running errands or doing chores for someone

2.  Babysitting their children or caring for their animals

3.  Imposing on your hospitality when you want to be alone or have other plans

4.  Listening to them rattling on, taking up your time

5.  Taking something from you that you want or need

6.  Co-signing or giving a loan

7.  Telling a lie for them, falsifying records

8.  Stealing for them or doing something dishonest, buying beer or another substance for them

9.  Supporting them or letting them live in your home

10. Having sex with them, or putting up with too close and uncomfortable behaviors


Most of these things could be avoided if you put some boundaries and safeguards in place beforehand.  Some boundaries, excuses or safeguards you could use are: 

The cover of your religion.  If you are a Christian, or believe in living a holy, spotless life, it should show enough in your behavior and speech that people wouldn’t ask you to lie, steal or buy them beer. 

If they haven’t gotten the message though, and do ask you to do these things, you can say “I’m sorry, that would be against my religious beliefs, or what I feel is right, therefore, don’t ask me that again, please.” 

Make sure you get the last part of that sentence in there – Don’t ask me that again please. 

No matter what someone is asking, the best thing to do first is put off giving them an answer until you can mull it over in your head, check your calendar and your pocketbook. 

Learn to say instantly, “I can’t answer this right now.  I will call you back in a short while.” 

If they ask why you can’t answer now, you can either say:

·        you always meditate on requests first

·        you have to check your calendar to make sure you’re free

·        you have to ask a spouse to be sure it won’t interfere with their schedule

·        or just make up something that you are in the middle of doing right now and must finish before you know the answer. 

If you’ve already decided that it’s not something you want to do, you can either say no now, or if you are too shy to say no without a thousand apologies along with it, you can deliver a pre-written speech, or a written note to the asker.  It helps to write it out and not have to face the asker in person as you speak it.  It would also help to use a tape recorder, leave a message on an answering machine, or convey the message through a trusted third party. 

A no should be short, to the point and not a subject for discussion.  Your reasons are private, and apologies and excuses should be handed out sparingly.  It is counter productive for outsiders to know your business and will defeat your “take charge” appearance if you constantly act like they were right in asking and you’re so sorry that you can’t oblige them! 

#1 and 2.  Do me a favor:  If they want your time or for you to care for children or animals, you can say, 

“I understand your request.  I am unable to do that however, and I hope you can find someone else.” 

"I am not able to help you this time, but I wish you luck with that."

You can add, “please don’t ask me that again”, or you can tell them how busy you are and that your time is the same as money, - that you are working on special goals and your time must be used where it will go the furthest to achieve your goals. 

#3 and 4. Taking up your time:  If you want to be alone and family always pops in for supper, watching TV or just to unload on you negative thoughts, you will have to take drastic action.  This is one of my own problems so I have a lot of experience here.   

You can send a letter or email to all of your usual drop in guests, or call them and say 

“To arrange our schedule better to suit our family, we’ve decided to limit visits to (name a day and time)_.  Please come to see us on that day and time so I can devote my attention at all other times to work and family obligations.  We will be turning out the lights and locking the doors at __(name a time of evening)__ and will appreciate your understanding.  Please honor our request of privacy for any time beyond (that hour).” 

Post a sign with this at your front door if necessary and another inside your house where your guests usually sit. 

It won’t take many weeks to train them and then the signs can come down.  You can also request that they call and arrange a visit in advance. 

If it seems to you that they’ll think you’re snobby or selfish, remember that rich people and people who are going somewhere in life, don’t have time to coddle and kiss up to everyone they meet who are standing in their way.  You must go on around people who are stuck in “neutral” and especially those in “reverse”! 

Telephone Calls:  Many busy people keep an egg timer or kitchen timer beside their phone.  They set it for 5 minutes or whatever amount you want to give to each call, and then when it dings or gets close to going off, you can find an excuse to end the call.   

If you have a portable phone, go to your front door, open it, ring the doorbell and announce, “Oh, there’s the doorbell, I have to go now.”  It’s certainly not a lie! 

Even better, get an answering machine and only return calls at your convenience. 

#5 and 6.  Taking from you something you want or need:  One of the most frequent requests is for money and if you have a kind heart, every bit of cash in your pocket that should be going to your kids or your bills, is going to everyone who makes a need known.  You have to realize that your responsibility is to your family first, and your goals. 

Being a parent, or running a household, or being a spouse is a responsibility.  Being an adult means that you have learned how to allocate money to pay your bills and follow that through.  You also know you have obligations of buying food, clothing, gas for your vehicle and covering medical expenses that come up.  You EVEN have an obligation to yourself to follow through on that planned vacation or bowling evening. 

If you stop all of your plans and change them so that someone else can have your money, for however noble a cause, you’ve short-circuited your own values and future.  You will feel miserable and hidden anger inside of you will begin to cause behavioral problems and negative thinking that will undermine your success in life. 

I can’t tell you how important it is to say no in this area.  Believe me there is more than one way and more than one person to get a loan from.  If you say no, the asker will find another way.  You can set aside a category of your allotted money towards helping the poor, so that you’re not feeling selfish and uncaring.   

Tell your family and friends that your budget is planned and your obligations are tight.  You will help when and if you can, but all of your needs must be met first. 

Co-signing:  On the issue of co-signing a loan, you should know that not only do many of those loans come into default and ruin the credit of the co-signer, but the loan companies usually go after the co-signer FIRST to get their money, because that is the person with the better credit and there’s a better chance of getting it out of you. 

Never co-sign a loan, make that an absolute NEVER in your book.  Even the Bible says it must not be done.  At least never do it unless you are perfectly willing and able to make the loan good today. 

#7.  Telling a lie for someone, or falsifying records:  Never help someone get a vehicle on the road by putting it in your name or the insurance in your name!  There is a reason why that person is having difficulty doing it himself and it usually means the person is not trustworthy or is considered high risk.   

I know a couple who got a car on the road by the man’s mother being on the title with him, so she could get the insurance in her name.  The young man had a minor car accident, and several months later the other woman involved sued this young man and his mother, winning a huge settlement that will take both the mother and the young man the rest of their lives to pay off. 

In order to keep their licenses, every payment must be made to the attorney on time.  The mother is just as responsible financially and criminally for what goes on in that vehicle as her son is. 

Falsifying documents or bearing false witness:  It may seem like a harmless little white lie, that defrauds no one but the government (such as at tax time, using someone else’s kids on your tax return), but these are highly illegal acts.  Before you do anything like this, ask yourself this question:  Can you afford to spend time in jail, pay an attorney several thousand dollars, lose all your possessions and possibly have your reputation so tarnished that your friends and family will avoid you like the plague?  If you’re willing to accept these punishments, then perhaps you can afford to say yes to a crazy request like this. 

#8.  Stealing or obtaining drugs for someone:  I believe it was Einstein who figured out that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  This holds true for everything we do in life.  We are rewarded in kind for our works, or we “reap what we sow”.  If you stoop to doing illegal acts, taking something from someone that doesn’t belong to you, or buying beer for minors, you can be pretty sure that God or the universe itself will demand consequences for it. 

At the very least, know that you are known by your actions quicker and more surely than by your words.  Your reputation will follow you and that is one thing you can’t afford to lose. 

#9.  Supporting them, or letting them live with you: If your problem is that everyone wants to live under your roof, then understand right now the Biblical principal of a home.  God said a man and woman should leave their parents and cleave together forming one flesh, and carry on as a separate unit from the parents and from every other in law and out law the couple has.  Friends, family and strangers have no place in your home.  It’s YOUR HOME! 

If you have people living off of you now, and you’re all upset over bills, money they owe you, or privacy you don’t have, just cut it all loose.  Don’t worry about getting the past due money, it’s likely never coming, not even if you go to small claims court. 

Just cut your losses and move out or have the other people removed. 

#10.  Having sex with them or some compromising activity: If sex is your problem, perhaps you missed the last 20 years or so of TV ads and school talks about “good touch, bad touch”.   

There is no excuse for someone to be pressuring you to have sex with them, or to simply be near you for the thrill it gives them, if it’s one sided. 

First, say no, second get away.  If those two mild requests are not successful, go to the police.  DO NOT DO THIS if it is NOT a true stalking or threatening case.  Some women call the police when they’re mad at their boyfriends, and all fraudulent reports are serious crimes. 

You must however call the police when your life is threatened, or you are being made to feel used and the person won’t back off when you ask and demand them to. 

You must call the police and get all the help you can get if you are being stalked, or your life is in danger. 

Let’s think of an example.  You have a neighbor who stops in to visit and he looks at you in a way that makes you feel creepy and afraid.  You worry that he may not remain satisfied to just look, but may begin to get closer and assume you don’t mind since you didn’t put any restrictions on his behavior. 

You are now going to put a few restrictions on him.  You write him a letter or politely tell him that his presence makes you feel less than virtuous and you will not accept him as a houseguest again while the two of you are alone. 

You ask that he understand and acknowledge that he must follow the rules of propriety, which say men and women should not be alone together without a chaperone.  There are many good reasons for this, one of them being the high number of reports of rapes, even some that never really took place but someone was punished in jail for them.  BOTH the man and woman NEED to protect their integrity. 

You will also need to lay your cards on the table and make it known what you feel or don’t feel about him.  Let him know that you think he’s at least mildly attracted to you, and if you don’t feel the same, it’s only fair to tell him so in the beginning. 

DON’T use a man for money or personal gain, just because times are tight and you need some extra rent money, unless you give something in return that he perceives is of equal value.  That “something” is entirely between the two of you, but should be laid out in advance in plain talk. 

I only include this possibility because it is happening so often, not because I feel it is justified or should be done.  BEWARE, there will not come any good from doing this.  There are consequences to EVERY behavior, and they can keep on popping up for years after the event.  Even sometimes for a lifetime. 

The bottom line is, if there is any opening or opportunity given to people to use you, they will!  Don’t be a victim, be strong, fight back, set boundaries and rules and demand that your friends and family respect you at least enough to honor your rules. 

You may use this article to post on your site or send to a friend in an email, as long as the following bio remains with the article and nothing is removed.  

Lisa Tyler pastors the Blessing Meadows Ministries Church and is a writer and artist.  You can read more of her work and devotionals at www.blessingmeadowsministries.com.


© Lisa Tyler 2007

Return to Articles

Return to Home Page