If they aren't borrowing huge sums of money, or demanding all of your time and attention, you might not think your partner is taking advantage of you. But did you know it's possible to do so by asking for small favors, too? If it happens regularly, and if it feels unfair, consider their actions a red flag — especially since this habit can quickly get out of control.
It's important, though, not to assume the worst. While some people take advantage of others on purpose, not everyone has bad intentions. "Oftentimes, we don’t realize that we’re asking too much of a partner," Dr. Jess O'Reilly, Astroglide's resident sexologist, tells Bustle. "We become accustomed to being loved, supported, doted upon, or assisted in specific ways and we come to expect these favors and take them for granted."
Every situation is different, though, and you'll want to trust your gut. And, of course, have a conversation with your partner as soon as things feel unbalanced. "If you feel that your partner is taking advantage of you in one area, it has the potential affect the whole relationship," Dr. O'Reilly says. "If, however, you speak up about how you feel and specifically identify the behaviors that bother you, it’s likely that you can both make adjustments to meet one another’s expectations."
Read on below for some favors your partner might ask if they are taking advantage of you, as well as what you can to do about it to make your relationship feel fair again.
They Count On Your For Everything
Simple requests aren't a big deal if they only happen occasionally, or if they're part of an agreement you've worked out as a couple. But if the requests add up to the point where you're doing everything for your partner, you may want to speak up — especially if you've done so much giving they officially feel entitled to your time or money, Graber says. While you should always feel free to help them out, if you're able to do so, it's something you'll want to talk about first.
They Ask You To Do Chores
It may be a sign your partner is taking advantage of you if they ask you to clean the apartment, pay bills, or take care of their pet without first having a conversation about it. And this is especially true if they aren't contributing their fair share to the relationship, in return.
"Division of labor is a significant source of contention in many relationships, and an uneven division of labor may put your relationship at risk, as conflict and resentment increase along with the risk of a breakup," Dr. O'Reilly says.
If they ask to do certain chores or errands, and it seems unfair, let them know. "If you feel your partner is taking advantage of you (e.g. they make excuses, claim that they don’t know how to perform a task, insist that you’re better at it, suggest that you enjoy it more, etc.), speak up now before the resentment builds," Dr. O'Reilly says.
They Expect You To Go Out Of Your Way
Things can't always be perfectly equal in your relationship. There will be give and take, and that's OK. But if your partner frequently asks you to go out of your way for them — of if they ever come across as lazy — take note.
"For instance, being asked to pick up dinner on your way to see [them] isn’t a red flag [in and of] itself," therapist Amy Bishop, MS, MFTC, tells Bustle. "However, if the act feels unfair (e.g. your partner has had plenty of time to pick something up and you’ve been working late), it is worth discussing a more collaborative approach with your partner."
And keep in mind, it's possible your partner has no idea they're being unfair, or that they're coming across as entitled. But that's all the more reason to talk about it.
They Ask Favors From Your Friends
If your partner has a big goal in mind, they might try to ask your friends for favors, especially if these folks "have connections for events, to restaurants, or even connections for jobs," Stef Safran, matchmaking and dating expert, tells Bustle. But that can easily slip into dangerous territory.
While it's always OK to network and ask questions, it isn't cool for your partner to go behind your back, befriend people for selfish reasons, or use your relationship as a way of furthering their career. As Safran says, "The bottom line is that they should not be asking for favors that you are not OK with."
They Want You To Grab The Bill
All couples are different when it comes to how they handle bills in restaurants, who pays for movie tickets, and so on. You might split it 50/50, switch off, or decide to treat each other.
Any arrangement is fine. But you may want to have a conversation if your partner asks you to pick up the tab more often than not.
"If [...] your partner seemingly never pays you back, they could be potentially taking advantage of you," Mackenzie Riel, a sex and wellness educator for TooTimid, tells Bustle. "If you're constantly shelling out the money, that's a huge red flag."
They Never Pay You Back
While it's fine to lend each other money, it should never feel like your partner doesn't care about your cash, or where it comes from. "If they don’t treat your money with the same respect with which they treat their own, it’s possible that they’re taking advantage of the situation — even unknowingly," Dr. O'Reilly says.
They might borrow twenty bucks and then never pay you back. Or they might ask for money to buy something they couldn't otherwise afford. If things like this are rubbing you the wrong way, it's possible they're taking advantage of the situation. And you need to speak up.
It's possible they were taking advantage of you on purpose, or being a bit greedy. But many times people act this way without even realizing how it comes across. If your partner is doing any of the above, have a chat as soon as possible. You can set up better boundaries, and define your expectations, so neither of you ever feels used.