Is He Using Me? 23 Signs He’s Using You For His Own Gain

Navigating relationships can be a complex journey, and one common concern is whether someone is genuinely interested in you or simply using you for their own benefit. It’s essential to recognize the signs that someone might be taking advantage of your time, emotions, or resources. If they are, you need to get out ASAP — you deserve so much better!

Below, we’ll explore 23 clear signs that can help you determine if he’s using you. These signs are grounded in real-life behaviors and can assist you in making informed decisions about your relationship.

1. He’s completely inconsistent.

Inconsistency in a person’s behavior can be a major source of frustration and confusion. If the guy you’re seeing is hot and cold, showing intense interest one moment and then complete indifference the next, it can be a clear sign that he might be using you. This inconsistency keeps you guessing and emotionally invested, making it easier for him to maintain control of the relationship without committing.

2. He only reaches out when he needs something.

One of the most telling signs that someone might be using you is when they reach out only when they need something from you. Whether it’s emotional support, financial assistance, or a favor, they are noticeably absent when you seek their companionship or help. This behavior is a clear indication that they see you as a resource to fulfill their needs rather than a partner in a mutually caring relationship.

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4. He just won’t commit.

Avoiding commitment is a classic sign of someone who may be using you. This could manifest as avoiding defining the relationship, keeping things ambiguous, or refusing to discuss future plans together. By maintaining this distance, he keeps his options open and avoids genuine emotional involvement.

5. He makes no effort to understand you or where you’re coming from.

In a healthy relationship, both parties make an effort to understand each other’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. If he consistently dismisses or ignores your needs and emotions, it’s a sign that he’s not interested in building a genuine connection. He might see you more as a convenience than as a person with your own hopes and dreams.

6. He’s secretive about his life.

Transparency and openness are essential in meaningful relationships. When someone is secretive about their life, such as their friends, activities, or personal experiences, it creates a sense of mistrust and distance. They may be hiding something, or they simply might not want to let you into their world on a deeper level, which can be a sign that they are not fully invested in the relationship.

7. He rarely invests his time and energy.

In a healthy and balanced relationship, both individuals make an effort to spend quality time together and invest energy in building a connection. However, if he consistently avoids planning dates, making an effort to see you regularly, or engaging in meaningful conversations, it’s a sign that he may not be genuinely invested in the relationship. This lack of effort can leave you feeling undervalued and unimportant.

8. He’s emotionally distant.

Emotional intimacy is a crucial aspect of any meaningful relationship. When a guy remains emotionally distant, it means he’s not willing to open up or share his feelings with you. He may avoid discussing personal experiences, concerns, or deeper emotions. This emotional disconnect can prevent the relationship from deepening and evolving into something more substantial.

9. He makes promises he has no plans of keeping.

Consistently making promises and failing to follow through is a manipulative tactic used by individuals who are using others for their own gain. He might promise to make plans, commit to future engagements, or provide emotional support, but these promises often remain unfulfilled. This behavior keeps you hopeful and engaged while he benefits from your loyalty without reciprocating.

10. He manipulates or guilt-trips you.

Manipulative tactics, such as guilt-tripping or emotional blackmail, are clear signs that someone might be using you. When he uses these tactics to make you feel obligated to meet his needs or cater to his desires, it’s a manipulative ploy that keeps you entangled in a one-sided dynamic.

11. He prioritizes his needs and desires over yours.

A healthy relationship thrives on mutual consideration and balance. When a guy consistently prioritizes his own interests, desires, and needs over yours, it’s a glaring sign that he’s not interested in fostering an equitable, respectful partnership. This self-centered approach can leave you feeling unimportant and undervalued in the relationship.

12. He’s not interested in meeting your friends or family.

A guy who’s genuinely interested in you will be eager to meet and interact with the important people in your life, such as your friends and family. However, if he consistently avoids these opportunities and is reluctant to introduce you to his own circle, it could be a sign that he’s not interested in building deeper connections or a future together. This avoidance may indicate a lack of commitment.

13. He’s only available to talk/hang out late at night.

Late-night interactions, such as calls or texts for casual encounters, but limited daytime interactions, can be a strong indication that he’s primarily interested in physical intimacy rather than establishing a meaningful, well-rounded relationship. This behavior suggests that he views you as a convenient option for fulfilling his desires.

14. He doesn’t respect your boundaries.

Respecting each other’s boundaries is a fundamental aspect of a healthy relationship. However, if he consistently disregards your boundaries, whether they are physical, emotional, or personal, it demonstrates a lack of respect for your autonomy and comfort. This disregard for your boundaries can leave you feeling emotionally drained and undervalued.

15. He criticizes or belittles you.

A guy who uses you may employ tactics to undermine your self-esteem and confidence. This can manifest as consistent criticism, belittling remarks, or attempts to make you doubt your decisions and capabilities. Such behavior aims to control and manipulate you, further highlighting his selfish intentions.

16. He never acknowledges your achievements.

In a healthy relationship, both partners celebrate each other’s successes and accomplishments. However, if he consistently fails to acknowledge or support your achievements, it indicates a lack of genuine interest in your personal growth and happiness. He might view your accomplishments as irrelevant to his own interests, emphasizing his self-centered approach.

18. He never shows appreciation for you.

In a healthy relationship, appreciation is a two-way street. Both partners express gratitude and acknowledgment for each other’s efforts and contributions. However, if he rarely expresses appreciation for what you do or fails to show gratitude, it’s a sign that he might be taking you for granted.

19. He refuses to compromise.

Healthy relationships thrive on compromise and mutual decision-making. If he consistently refuses to compromise or make concessions in the relationship, it can indicate a selfish and controlling attitude. A guy who’s using you may expect you to cater to his needs while refusing to consider yours.

20. He avoids discussing the future like the plague.

Meaningful relationships involve discussions about the future, whether it’s making future plans together or discussing long-term goals. If he actively avoids talking about the future or dismisses such conversations, it may suggest that he’s not interested in a committed, long-lasting relationship.

21. He’s inconsistent with his affection.

A guy who uses you may show affection when it suits his agenda but withdraw it when it doesn’t. For instance, he may become affectionate when he wants something from you but pull away when he doesn’t. This inconsistency in his affection demonstrates that his feelings and actions are primarily driven by self-interest.

22. He only contacts you when he has no other options.

One telltale sign that someone might be using you as an emotional crutch is when they reach out to you only during their low moments. If he consistently contacts you after a breakup, when he’s feeling bored or lonely, or going through a rough patch, it suggests that he sees you as a source of comfort and emotional support, rather than as a partner in a mutually beneficial relationship. This pattern can leave you feeling like a backup plan rather than a valued part of his life.

23. He never invests in your happiness.

In a healthy relationship, both partners prioritize each other’s happiness. They actively seek to enhance each other’s well-being and emotional fulfillment. However, if he shows little interest in your happiness and rarely goes out of his way to make you smile or support your goals, it indicates a self-centered approach. A guy who’s using you may only focus on what he can gain from the relationship without considering your needs and desires.

Why might he be using you

1. He values convenience over connection.

He sees you as a convenient option for fulfilling his immediate needs, whether they are emotional, physical, or social. He values what you can provide for him in the moment but doesn’t invest in building a deeper emotional connection or long-term relationship. Your presence is mainly for his comfort or enjoyment.

2. He’s afraid of commitment.

Some individuals who are using others may have a deep-seated fear of commitment. They avoid serious relationships because they fear emotional vulnerability or the responsibilities that come with commitment. As a result, they may engage in casual, one-sided connections to avoid the emotional intimacy that a committed relationship requires.

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4. He’s emotionally manipulative.

Using emotional manipulation, such as guilt-tripping, gaslighting, or silent treatment, is a tactic employed by those who want to maintain control in the relationship. By manipulating your emotions, they ensure that you continue to meet their needs while ignoring your own. They may exploit your kindness and empathy to their advantage.

5. He’s self-centered and has screwed up priorities.

A guy who uses you often places his own interests, desires, and needs above yours. He may see the relationship as a means to fulfill his personal agenda, rather than as a partnership built on mutual care and respect. Your goals, aspirations, and well-being may take a back seat to his self-centered priorities.

6. He’s terrified of being alone.

Some people fear being alone or experiencing loneliness, so they keep others around as a safety net. They may use you as a source of companionship and emotional support when they need it, but they don’t genuinely invest in your happiness or the relationship. This fear of loneliness can lead to on-and-off interactions without a deeper commitment.

Recognizing these reasons can help you assess your relationship and make informed decisions about whether it’s worth continuing or if it’s time to seek a more balanced and mutually satisfying partnership. Remember that you deserve a relationship built on trust, respect, and genuine care for each other’s well-being.

Sinead Cafferty is a writer who has authored four collections of poetry: "Dust Settling" (2012); "The Space Between" (2014); "Under, Under, Over" (2016); and "What You Can't Have" (2020). She's currently working on her first novel, a dystopian romance set in the 22nd Century, that's due out in 2024.

Sinead has an MFA in creative writing from NYU and has had residencies with the Vermont Studio Center and the National Center for Writing.