16 Signs Someone Is Using Their Niceness Against You

16 Signs Someone Is Using Their Niceness Against You

There are plenty of people in this world who aren’t quite what they seem. Some “friends” actually hide a mean streak behind their veil of niceness. Here are 16 signs to look out for if you think they are using their niceness to take advantage of you.

1. Their kindness feels performative.

If their nice deeds seem exaggerated or done for an audience, be wary. Genuine kindness doesn’t need to be broadcast. If they’re making a show of what a good friend they are, preening for applause, that’s a red flag. They may be more interested in looking generous than being generous. True kindness is quiet and has a bit of humility to it — it’s not attention-seeking.

2. They act clueless to get away with things.

When people want to protect their image of niceness, they act totally confused or ignorant so that they never get blamed when people see them being cruel, Big Think explains. It’s all a performance, and sometimes you will get taken advantage of by being friends with them. They’d much prefer you get caught in the cross-fires of their actions than them!

3. They keep score.

If they constantly remind you of favors they’ve done or hold their so-called good deeds over your head, watch out. True kindness doesn’t keep a tally. If they treat kindness as currency, always expecting something in return, their motives aren’t pure. They may be banking favors to cash in later. Genuine kindness is given freely without any expectations attached.

4. They use guilt as a weapon.

If they use their past kindnesses to make you feel guilty or obligated, that’s manipulation. Statements like “After everything I’ve done for you…” are emotional blackmail. They’re trying to leverage their niceness to control you. Don’t fall for it. Real kindness doesn’t come with emotional ransom notes. It’s not a tool for strong-arming you.

5. Their kindness comes with conditions.

two businessmen having meeting together

If their warmth turns cold the second you set a boundary or say no, their niceness is conditional. It’s a manipulative tactic, turning on the charm when you’re useful but withdrawing it when you’re not. That’s not real kindness, it’s coercion. If they were really all that nice, they would stay that way even when you assert yourself. It doesn’t hinge on your compliance.

6. They’re nice to your face but mean behind your back.

man looking skeptical at woman

If you catch wind of them gossiping about you or putting you down to other people, their kindness is fake. They’re two-faced, using niceness as a mask but revealing their true colors when you’re not around. That’s not a friend, that’s a frenemy. Real kindness is consistent. It doesn’t have a public and private version.

7. They butter you up before asking for favors.

two friends having a chat outside

If they always preface requests with over-the-top compliments, be cautious. Flattery can be a form of manipulation, priming you to feel obligated to say yes. If their praise feels insincere and conveniently timed, they may be buttering you up to take advantage. Genuine appreciation is constant, not just a preamble to asking for something.

8. Their apologies are totally insincere.

two guys chatting at a cafe

If they hurt you, but their apology feels like going through the motions, that’s concerning. Fake niceness often comes with fake apologies. If they’re just saying what they think you want to hear without genuine remorse, they’re not really taking accountability. They just want to smooth things over so they can continue their behavior. Real apologies come with changed actions.

9. They treat niceness as a “get out of jail free” card.

two friends having serious conversation

If they use their past “niceness” to deflect criticism or avoid consequences, that’s manipulative. They’re trying to cash in kindness tokens for a free pass on bad behavior. But niceness doesn’t erase wrongdoings. If they think it should, their niceness has strings. Accountability matters more than empty gestures.

10. They’re generous… with strings attached.

If their gifts or favors always come with implicit expectations, watch out. Maybe they got you a job but now feel entitled to your loyalty. Or they paid for dinner, so now you “owe them.” That’s not generosity, it’s a trap. True gifts don’t create debt. They’re given without conditions, not as a down payment on future demands.

11. Their emotional support is inconsistent.

If they’re all ears when you’re praising them but suddenly busy when you need support, question their motives. Fair-weather friends use niceness to charm you when it’s easy but bail when you’re low. One-sided emotional support is a warning sign. Genuine friends show up for both the highs and lows. Their care isn’t contingent on constant flattery.

12. They use niceness to bypass your boundaries.

If they’re all ears when you’re praising them but suddenly busy when you need support, question their motives. Fair-weather friends use niceness to charm you when it’s easy but bail when you’re low, Psychology Today notes. One-sided emotional support is a warning sign. Genuine friends show up for both the highs and lows. Their care isn’t contingent on constant flattery.

13. Their praise feels objectifying.

If their compliments focus mostly on your looks or feel overly intimate, trust your instincts. Predatory people often use flattery as grooming, pushing your boundaries bit by bit. If their “niceness” makes you uncomfortable, you don’t owe them the benefit of the doubt. Genuine compliments make you feel seen and valued, not objectified or uneasy. Trust your gut if praise feels off.

14. You feel indebted to them.

eenage women walking with flowers through city

If their kindnesses leave you feeling like you owe them, that’s a warning sign. Gifts with invisible strings, favors that bind you, support that feels like a snare — these are signs their niceness has an agenda. Tread carefully when kindness feels like a trap. Real kindness is given without expectations. It shouldn’t leave you feeling beholden or anxious.

15. They never disagree with you.

If they excessively flatter you and avoid any hint of conflict, that’s concerning. A real friend will respectfully disagree when needed. Yes-men who pander and praise without substance may just want to ingratiate themselves to you. Their “kindness” rings hollow. Genuine friends have your best interests at heart. They’ll challenge you when needed, not just tell you what you want to hear.

16. They use kindness to fish for information.

If they ply you with charm to elicit secrets or gossip, be on guard. Digging for dirt under the guise of friendly bonding is a manipulation tactic. They may play nice to get the scoop, then use that information against you. Beware of niceness with an ulterior motive. Real friends respect your privacy. They don’t exploit your trust for ammunition.

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Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.