Taking Advantage Of Someone’s Kindness: 20 STOP Strategies For Healthy Boundaries (2022)

6 min read

It’s an unfortunate situation when a person is taking advantage of someone’s kindness. In this guide, you’ll discover how to set boundaries so this doesn’t happen to you.

In my role as a life coach, I am always helping clients create stronger and healthier relationships with those around them. 

That’s why I’m keen to share this guide with you. 

So, let’s begin.

What Does It Mean To Take Advantage Of Someone’s Kindness?

This is to ask for a favor from someone, knowing that they probably don’t want to do it, but they’re too kind to say no.  

What Is It Called When Someone Takes Advantage Of Your Feelings?

The best catch-all term for this is exploitation. This would cover people taking advantage of any feelings in any way. 

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Word For Taking Advantage Of Someone’s Kindness

If someone is borrowing money or taking things that would otherwise cost money, it might be called freeloading or scrounging. 

If you wanted to put a positive spin on this behavior, perhaps you’d call it opportunism.

However, in this guide, I’ll be teaching you how to stop people doing this to you.  

People Who Use Others For Their Own Benefit

People who consistently take advantage of your kindness are not your friends. True friends would consider your feelings when asking for favors or money. They’d at least aim to give as much as they take.

The people we’re talking about in this article would do neither of these things.  

What Do You Do When Someone Takes Advantage Of Your Kindness?

Have you been taken advantage of in the same way as described above? Below is a list of 20 strategies to politely shut these people down. 

1. How Do You Know If Someone Is Taking Advantage Of Kindness?  

If someone is repeatedly asking to take from you, but rarely giving in return, that’s a clear sign they’re trying to take advantage of you.

Of course, they can only succeed if you let them.  

2. Get Used To Saying No

If you feel an excessive need to say yes to people, don’t beat yourself up too much. Our desire to be accepted by those around us is deeply biological.

It’s going to harm your mental health to be repeatedly taken advantage of though, so you need to get used to saying ‘No’ to things you don’t want to do.

This won’t break the relationship with a good friend or other kind people, especially if you use the strategies we recommend below. 

The more you practice saying no and witness this for yourself, the easier it will become.   

3. People-Pleasing Harms Your Mental Health

The action of doing things you don’t want to do in order to be liked is called people-pleasing. This can cause stress, fatigue and low self-esteem. It’s not good for you.

You can allude to this when saying ‘No’ to people. 

Want an example?

“No, I’m too tired.”

“No, I need some time to recharge.” 

Most people tend to be aware that it’s important to protect your mental health, so they’re more likely to accept your decision with grace.

4. Mention Your Personal Boundaries 

If someone has overstepped your personal boundaries, you can go ahead and mention that when you talk to them.

“Can you stop that? It’s overstepping my boundary.”

“No, that’s too much for you to ask.”

Honestly, that’s all you really need to say when you talk to these people. 

5. Realise That Your Emotions Matter

If you read the previous examples and think these are not good enough excuses, you might be struggling with a case of low self-respect.

Your emotions matter. Your mental health matters. So, don’t be apologetic for enforcing your boundaries.

Taking Advantage Of Someone’s Kindness
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

6. Be Assertive   

Be assertive when enforcing your boundaries. That doesn’t mean to yell or act aggressively, but to speak with confidence without making excuses. People respect those who communicate with assertiveness, and it will likely stop them trying to guilt-trip you into changing your mind. They’ll also be less likely to try and take advantage of you in future.

7. Call Out Exactly What They’re Doing 

If you’re repeatedly being taken advantage of by the same person, it’s time to call them out for it. If they’re only there for you when they need something, tell them. If they only take without ever giving, tell them. Again, be assertive, not aggressive.

Real friends would be horrified to realize you feel this way and (perhaps after some contemplation) will amend their behavior.    

It’s only those who aren’t your real friends who will respond aggressively, try to guilt-trip you or continue trying to take advantage.

8. Focus On The Action, Not The Person

When you point out why you feel taken advantage of, focus on the actions of your friend, rather than the friend themselves. This should help them to accept the feedback with grace.

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9. If They React Aggressively, Stay Calm  

Calmly tell them you won’t accept being spoken to that way. Refuse to answer them until they calm down. You should expect to be treated with kindness at all times, especially by people asking for generosity from you. 

True friends and kind people with good intentions won’t react aggressively, so you don’t need to worry too much about this. 

10. Recognize When You Feel Uncomfortable 

No-one enjoys having an uncomfortable conversation, but these are often the most important and urgent conversations to have. So, learn to realize when you’re afraid of having an uncomfortable conversation, then push yourself to have it in the next available moment. 

11. Plan Ahead

A good strategy for uncomfortable conversations is to plan what you’re going to say beforehand. That way, you can be clear about your current feelings and your own needs that aren’t being served.

12. Understand The Mindset Towards People-Pleasers

A people-pleaser will break their own boundaries to do favors for people, in the hope that they see him as a kind person.

But, if they have any sense of social acuity, these people don’t perceive this behavior as kindness; they see it as weakness.

You’re more likely to be liked and respected by others if you stick to your personal boundaries.

This will also make people more grateful for the occasions when you do say yes.  

13. Realize You Are Not Responsible For Other’s Feelings

This is a difficult fact for empaths and people-pleasers to swallow, but it’s true.

You need to protect your mental health above everyone else’s. It makes no sense to shield others from pain when you’re hurting. 

In fact, you’re in no position to serve your friends and family members when your mental health is suffering.  

Focus on living your best life first. Then, you’ll often notice a considerable difference in the  energy you have to put towards generosity.

14. Stop Trying To Force Harmony

You can’t be the only one putting effort into a relationship. Overwhelming a selfish person with generosity will rarely make them respect you more or inspire them to change their lives.

If a so-called ‘friend’ is chronically selfish in your relationship, keep an emotional distance then go find some other friend.   

15. Realize That Only You Have The Ability To Set Your Boundaries

If someone says your boundaries are silly or selfish, ignore them. They obviously have a poor understanding of how boundaries work. You’re the only one with the power to decide your boundaries.   

Related: “Why Do I Attract Toxic People?” & How To Change

16. There Needs To Be Consequences for Repeat Breaking

You need to be willing to cut ties with people who continue trying to take advantage of you. These aren’t your real friends, so it’s no real loss.

This gives you the time and energy to donate to a real friend. It might also teach this other person a valuable lesson about the right and wrong way to treat people.

17. These Self-Love Exercises Should Help

If you’re having a hard time implementing the advice in this guide into your own life, this list of self-love exercises should make it easier with time. 

18. Taking Advantage Of Someone’s Feelings 

This advice doesn’t just apply when someone is taking advantage of your kindness. It works just as well if someone has taken advantage of your anger, sorrow or joy. 

19. Give People A Second Chance 

There’s great power in forgiving people who overstep your boundaries.

After all, you can’t expect people to read your mind and predict your boundaries with your 100% accuracy.

When you practice forgiveness, it can strengthen your relationship and make this friend respect you even more.    

Of course, if they continue to overstep the same boundaries in future, it might be time to cut ties with this friend. 

20. Reserve Your Kindness And Generosity For Friends Who Appreciate It 

Kindness and generosity makes us feel good, but only if it’s appreciated. When it’s not appreciated, it leaves a sour taste in the giver’s mouth and does very little for the receiver in the long run either.

Unappreciated kindness is ultimately pointless. And that’s why you shouldn’t feel bad about setting boundaries with people who don’t deserve your generosity.

Never Take Advantage Of Someone’s Kindness

You’ve learned a lot about setting boundaries in this guide. For further guidance, I recommend you check out this guide on people-pleasing and this Best Setting Boundaries Exercises PDF.

Don’t you take advantage of a kind person in the way this guide has described either! They’ll eventually learn not to be kind to you. They might even be put off from spreading their kindness and generosity to people who deserve it.

All in all, it makes the world a worse place.  

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Any Questions? 

Thanks for reading my guide. It was a pleasure to write for you. 

Don’t forget: if you have a question to ask or a point to make about how to treat people who take advantage of your generosity, you can leave a comment below. Feel free to include an example from your own life if you have one.   

I’d love to talk further about this subject, so I’ll do my best to respond with a great answer to your comment.

It would mean the world to hear from you.