The Difference between being Nice and getting Taken Advantage of

Whether you are in grammar school, high school, or college, or graduated from all of them, being nice may get confused with being taken advantage of.  Through this article, I will cover what it means to be friendly and what being taken advantage of means.  Why do people take advantage of you, and how do I stop being taken advantage of?    To make this more impactful, I will share personal stories from my life without the person’s name to preserve their anonymity.

Being nice is a choice; many others will react similarly when we act this way.  When we are friendly, others see us as pleasing, agreeable, and joyful.  Perhaps you have held a door open for someone before you, let another go ahead of you in the checkout at the store, carried someone’s groceries, bought them a meal, or offered to pick up their mail when they're away, etc.  One way to be nice is to wear a smile and laugh.  Use words like please, thank you, and you’re welcome in your daily travels.  Maya Angelou said, “They may forget your name, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”.  Thus, we should operate from the premise that genuine actions done for someone else will make them feel great and inevitably remember you.

Many of us will encounter others who are not nice, but there is also a third side.  Do I mean exceptionally lovely? No, I’m referring to people who appear fantastic, but they have an agenda to take advantage of you and abuse you.  These people seem to be your friends but only hang around as long as there is something they can get from you.  You may have discovered some of these people in grammar school, high school, college, work, or other places like the gym.  Their mission is to be an opportunist who looks to excel no matter how it may impact another person’s life.

The first question you might ask is, why would someone ever want to take advantage of you?  Simply because they can and will often disregard you or your feelings.  Maybe you are a new kid at school, a new neighbor on your block, and because you are desperate to earn friendships, you allow it without thinking. You never realized how important it is to set boundaries for different areas of your life, and since you were young, standing up for yourself was never comfortable. 

I know hearing the truth may be something you may not have a tough stomach for, but it needs to be said.  You are too easygoing and never want to disagree because the mere thought of conflict terrifies you.  You have never learned the importance of the value of your trust and others, and as a result, trust anyone at any time.

Now that you know why people take advantage of you and understand you are not letting them, it's time to stop them.  One of the ways that you can do this is by respecting and loving yourself, which I will talk about next week.  Before one can ever help or love another, one must start by doing that to themselves before being beneficial to anybody.

Regardless of whether it is general help, applying and using technical skills from various industries, give others more credit than you do to others.  Doing this instills them to believe that they can do this and not harp on you for everything.  How many times did you ask for help while learning in school?  Maybe you knew how, but figured the teacher/professor would do it for you.  Only the ones that say we can work on another set of problems as I’m not doing your homework for you was not the help you wanted.  You wanted them to do your homework so you would not have to; thus, one teacher probably acted this way toward you.

Set physical, emotional, sexual, and workplace boundaries, and you will be glad you did.  When others see you have these in place, they will be more likely to show respect or leave the field if they had planned on playing games to try to take advantage of you.  With emotional boundaries, it is vital to take ownership of your feelings and never allow others to make you feel inferior or responsible for how they feel.

Knowing what it is will be required before we can set a boundary type, like personal boundaries.  A personal boundary deals with your need for personal space and how close certain people may come or invade your bubble.  It also encompasses how comfortable you are with being touched and your physical condition to rest, eat, and drink without having to justify the reason. 

Whether dating or in a relationship, knowing you and your partner's sexual lines is vital to staying together.  Communicating your desires and what you are currently willing and not willing to do, may be open to trying may seem complicated. Still, it will help build a solid relationship with trust.  Know that it is okay to say no and not have to be chastised or apologize for feeling and not wanting to take that action.  When someone belittles you for not wanting to do something against your boundaries, it is disrespectful and a great time to warn that you are done if you continue.  Maybe you are comfortable with something occasionally but not every time and need to establish the frequency at which you welcome something.

People are often taken advantage of because they cannot handle conflict from a young age.  Dealing with conflict will make you more robust, healthy, loving, and respected.  Suppose your friend suggests to visit a zoo, but you don’t want to go to a zoo.  You might say something like this: “Hey Mike, I appreciate you want to do something with me this weekend, and I’m not comfortable going to the zoo, let’s do something else like miniature golf or a movie.  There is also the classic case where you feel that saying no to what your friend might want will push them away.  This can often happen when you disagree but are afraid to say it; I introduce you to agreeing to disagree. 

Tell your friend I understand your concerns, and based on how I feel, I will respectfully agree to disagree.  First, they will be shell-shocked by your sudden courage to share this, but it will allow you to not go with every flow you don’t want to be part of.

Every human has the right to be respected and never be taken advantage of, and sometimes, people take advantage of others because they equate no known boundaries to no boundaries.  Thus, I encourage you to write out your limits, make them known, and avoid miscommunications.  The difference between loving and enjoying life depends on what you are waiting for.


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