Using someone in a relationship

Signs Someone Is Using You

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Save Article IconA bookmarkShare iconAn curved arrow pointing right. Read in app There might be a situation when someone is just using you. Paramount

Being used is never a good feeling, but unfortunately, it can happen in sneaky ways.

If it's all about them and never about you, that's a good way to tell that they might be using your relationship for their own benefit. Though having an honest conversation with them might sometimes help sort out the issues, if you get the impression that there's something one-sided about your relationship, ignoring it is only going to make things tougher on you in the long-run.

We rounded up some signs that someone is actually using you. 

The conversation is always about them.

Just talking about one person in the relationship isn't the best sign. HBO

When all of your conversations with someone revolve around them, they're likely getting more out of the relationship than you are, which makes it one-sided. Maybe they need someone to talk to and you're able to fulfill that role, maybe they prefer to be the center of attention all the time and with you, they're able to.

"If you feel like you are being used, you should assess the situation and check yourself to see if you are in the most healthy relationship you can be in," Katie Leikam, LCSW, LISW-CP, BC-TMH, a licensed clinical social worker, told INSIDER. "Is this relationship giving you joy? Do the benefits of this relationship outweigh being used? Do you realize you are better than being used? If you can understand you are being used, then it's time to change your situation."

They always let you pick up the check.

You shouldn't be told you always have to pick up the bill. ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Though you might not be comfortable letting them pay for everything all the time, you shouldn't be paying for everything either. And if they're always OK with letting you pick up the check, that could be another sign that they're really only using you.

"Discussions about money can be uncomfortable, but they're essential to a happy relationship, as finances are a primary source of conflict between intimate partners," Dr. Jess O'Reilly, Astroglide's resident sexologist, told INSIDER. "This is because money is tied to personal values including those related to family, culture, upbringing and status. I suggest you talk about money generally first and then address specific behaviors, as once you have a better understanding of their personal values related to money, it might help you to see their behavior in a different light."

No one should be insisting on the other paying all the time.

You always have to come to their rescue.

You shouldn't spend all your time bailing someone out. The CW

Though one of the nice things about relationships with family, friends, and, yes, partners, is that you have someone on your side. But if you're always having to bail them out, that's a pretty good sign that they could be using you.

"You shouldn't spend money bailing your significant other out of their problems in a relationship," Leikam said. "You should feel like you are cared for and that your significant other has concern for you always."

They never say thank you.

If you don't get signs of appreciation, that is a problem. New Line Cinema

"Whether you drive them to work, make a lunch, clean up after dinner, help with the kids, attend to their parents, consider their friends or do their laundry, you likely expect your efforts to be met with appreciation," O'Reilly said. "If your partner doesn't express gratitude (in some way — and preferably in a way that appeals to you), it's possible that they feel entitled to your services.'"

"This is likely to develop into a more challenging issue in the long run, so it's important to talk about your expectations and needs from the onset. It's better to have a tough conversation now than to remain silent and allow your frustration to grow into contempt or resentment. "

You shouldn't always feel obligated to be the one doing everything, particularly if they're not pitching in as well — or at least saying thank you every now and again.

They're always asking for favors.

Asking too many favors isn't okay. CBS

You shouldn't be afraid to ask for the occasional favor, but if someone is constantly asking you for favors and isn't willing to help out anytime you need their help, that's another potential sign that they're using you.

"If someone isn't enjoying your company and simply being together, and they always have a purpose for wanting to see you, once they get that job they want at your company or start dating your cute friend, then they will very often be done with you and your relationship," Heidi McBain, MA, LMFT, LPC, RPT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, told INSIDER.

You start to resent them.

Resentment can come along with one-sided relationships. NBC

If you're always the one catering to them, you might notice that you start to feel a bit resentful, which, is only natural, but can be an additional indicator that they're actually using you. In an interview with Bustle, Dr. Kim Chronister, PsyD, said that resentment can come along with one-sided relationships. If the two are you are equally invested, no one person should feel too resentful of the other.

Your emotional needs are never considered, let alone met.

Everyone's feelings need to be considered. Netflix

In a relationship that's balanced and healthy (and in which both people actually like the other), both people's emotional needs are not only considered, but attempted to be met. If your needs aren't ever met, that's another sign that the person might be in it for themselves.

"If you feel like you are the one doing all of the giving in the relationship and you find you aren't getting your emotional needs met, they could be using you," Leikam said. "If it's a self-esteem issue and you feel like you deserve to be used, please seek professional help and try to start therapy to learn to build your self-worth back."

They never make you feel appreciated.

Feeling appreciated is important. Warner Bros.

If you rarely or never really feel appreciated in your relationship with this other person, they might not actually like you. You should at least occasionally feel appreciated in each relationship you're in.

"Tell your partner that you want to feel appreciated," O'Reilly said. "If they respond by trying to make you feel needy, call them out. We all desire recognition and gratitude — they're universal needs, so tell them that if they expect the efforts, you expect the thanks."

Your family or friends have concerns about the relationship.

Your parents and friends know you, so if they don't think your relationship is a good idea, it might be a good idea to re-consider it. The CW

If your family or friends are worried that your relationship is one-sided, that too might be a sign that they're actually using you. In an interview with Cosmopolitan UK, relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein said that you often may not want to acknowledge that there are signs there telling you that your partner is using you, but that it can sometimes be easier for others to recognize these things.

If you start to feel as though someone might be using you, doing your best to acknowledge that and thinking about what you may want to do can be a good idea. "You can try to talk to them openly and honestly about how you're feeling, and actively listen to what they have to say," McBain said. "But, if your intuition is telling you that something isn't quite right with your relationship, don't just ignore it!"

In some cases, too many signs that someone might simply be using you may mean that it's time for the relationship to come to an end.

For more great stories, head to INSIDER's homepage.

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17 Signs You're Being Used In A Relationship & How To Fix The Problem

It can be really tough to tell when you’re being used in a relationship. Not only are there multiple ways to be used — including financially, sexually, or emotionally, just to name a few — there also tends to be a lot of deceit and manipulation involved, all to varying degrees.

“On the less destructive — but still problematic — end of the spectrum, a partner might be using you to avoid loneliness,” says Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist, speaker, and author of the Date Smart. They might start a relationship with you in order to fill a gap in their life, to find sexual fulfillment, or to alleviate a financial burden, without realizing that they’re being toxic and unfair.Manly calls these “convenienceships” because your partner is using you to meet a need without the intention of investing further or giving back equally. If the scales are always tipping in your partner’s favor, chances are you have a user on your hands.

There’s also an extremely toxic end of the spectrum, Manly says, where a partner might use you for sheer financial gain or to have someone to bully and control. In any case, “using” typically leads to dishonesty and manipulation — and that can take an emotional toll. “The deceit factor causes significant mental and emotional harm,” Manly says. “When you realize that a partner has been using you, it’s normal to feel sad, upset, and angry. Using another person is absolutely disrespectful, and it never feels good to be disrespected — especially by someone who says they love you.” Here are 17 signs your partner may be using you. If anything sounds familiar, it may be best to move on.

1. They Always Seem Checked Out

Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images

If someone maintains a relationship with you, while also showing little to no interest in your everyday life, take it as a sign that something’s up. “Most often when someone is using another they will show signs of disinterest in conversations, in the other’s activities of choice, and in their likes and dislikes,” says Tina Sadri, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist. They won’t ask about your day, they won’t ask your opinion on something, and they definitely won’t listen with interest as you talk. While long-term couples will go through periods of distraction, experiencing this on a regular basis is not OK.

2. They Don’t Do One-On-One Dates

Your partner’s real intentions may show up in less obvious ways as well, including asking other people to join you on dates, Sadri says. This is often done as a way to disperse the attention across a group.

If you always go out with others (most likely their friends), it means your partner doesn’t have to invest much time or energy into chatting with you specifically. They will, however, get to say they “took you out” as a way of feigning interest so the relationship remains intact.

3. They’re Only Nice When They Want Something

LumiNola/E+/Getty Images

While they may seem distant and disinterested most of the time, take note if this person comes on strong whenever they want something. They’ll switch from being checked out to super nice and affectionate — and then ask for a favor soon after.

Now, that’s not to say that a partner who does something nice is automatically a “user.” If they come over with your favorite takeout food, for instance, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have nefarious intentions. It’s only a problem if there’s a consistent pattern of not caring, followed by over-the-top kindness and requests.

One way to tell is if things feel unbalanced, says clinical psychologist Rachel Greenberg, LCP. You may also detect a feeling of uneasiness, almost as if you can tell that their kindness isn’t genuine. When that’s the case, “something is awry in the connection and should be addressed,” Greenberg says.

4. They Use You To Network

If your partner is using you, they might have extra high expectations when it comes to your achievements — but not because they’re cheering you on or rooting for you to achieve your goals. Rather, they’re invested because you success can do something for them, Sadri says.

It’s why your partner may not want to watch movies or go on dates, but suddenly becomes available for parties where they might get to rub elbows with some of your influential friends. The same is true for work events, where they might get to network if they attend as your plus-one. To them, your relationship is a means to an end.

5. They Encourage You To Take High-Paying Jobs

Vladimir Vladimirov/E+/Getty Images

In the same vein, they might also encourage you to take higher-paying jobs and then guilt-trip you if you aren’t interested, Sadri says. It’ll feel like they’re being sweet and encouraging, but if you look close enough, you’ll see it’s mixed with light mentions of how your success would benefit them and/or your relationship.

6. You Feel Uncomfortable Around Them

According to Amalia Sirica, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, your body can tell you a lot about someone’s intentions, so pay attention to how you feel whenever you talk to or hang out with your partner. Do you get jittery? Do you tense up? Do you feel angry for seemingly no reason? Physical and emotional reactions like these might be a sign your partner doesn’t have your best interests at heart, even if you can’t put a finger on why.

7. They Cross Your Boundaries

Halfpoint Images/Moment/Getty Images

If your body is reacting negatively, it might be because your partner pushes past your boundaries to meet their own needs. Pay attention to moments where they cross the line, as well as how they respond when you call them out or say “no.”

“You can learn a lot about someone by the way they respond to your boundaries,” Sirica explains. “A person who is in a relationship with you because they like you will respond to boundaries with ease and understanding.” If your partner is being extractive or “using” you, the opposite will be true.

They’ll likely get really angry and push back against your boundaries or find a reason why the boundary is “dumb” or “unfair” instead of adjusting their behavior as they’ve been asked to. “In other words,” Sirica says, “they won’t be respectful.”

8. The Relationship Feels Unequal

“A partner who is using you will generally have a lopsided, inequitable approach in the relationship,” Manly says, which can manifest in financial, emotional, and physical ways. It might feel like you’re always the one paying for things, planning dates, buying gifts, and doing chores — and they never seem to expend the same amount of effort to meet you halfway. “If your partner seems unwilling to return the favor, or unexcited to give back, chances are they’re using you on some level,” Manly says.

9. They Always Want To Stay Home


While there’s nothing wrong with relaxing at home (especially right now), things might start to feel off if your partner only wants to Netflix and chill — especially if you’re always the one trekking to their place.

According to Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, this type of laziness sends a strong message. Confining the relationship to their apartment, without any sort of friendship-building dates or trips outside, is a clear indicator of disinterest in taking the relationship to the next level.

Do they refuse to go for walks? Meet up with friends? Or even get a coffee? If you aren’t looking for anything more than a casual hookup, this set-up is totally fine. But if you want the relationship to grow, this type of treatment can be hurtful and esteem-deflating, Heller says, as well as a sign that they’re using you.

10. They Only Take You On Dates

On the flip side is someone who takes you on fancy dates all the time, says relationship coach Leah Carey. The thing is, they aren’t doing it because they want to spend time with you, specifically. Instead, it’s more about status or the idea of having a partner, perhaps to impress friends.

Whether they want to stay in, or only ever want to go out, you’ll obviously want to make sure it matches up with what you’re looking for. As Carey says, “If the other person is getting their needs filled and you’re not, it’s time to re-examine the relationship.”

11. They Feel Entitled To Your Time

elenaleonova/E+/Getty Images

What happens if you tell this person no? As Manly says, “People who are users often feel entitled to give nothing or ‘get’ more than they give.” It’s why they’ll get upset or angry if you can’t do something for them, if you want to spend time by yourself, or if you don’t rush to their side the moment they call. They’ll also likely find a way to make you feel guilty about it as a manipulation tactic.

At the same time, you might notice that they don’t come over or pick up the phone when you need something. “A partner who is using you will often have a sense of indifference,” Manly says. “A lack of investment in your thoughts, feelings, and needs is often a sign that you’re being used — and not being given the consideration and respect you deserve.”

12. The Relationship Never Grows

If your partner claims to want a “relationship,” but doesn’t seem interested in actually committing to one or moving things forward, take note. As Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort says, a user won’t want to move the relationship past the early stages where they get everything they want — physical intimacy, attention, someone to hang out with — without any of the commitment or responsibility.

And there could be any number of reasons for this. “We are a culture that prioritizes being in a couple and sometimes people want that feeling more than they actually want to be with the actual person,” Cohan says. “For someone being used, this can really take a toll emotionally because a person might feel like they are not good enough, that they are not high enough priority for someone, that they can be easily taken advantage of — and then they’ll question their overall sense of worthiness.”

If you want more out of the relationship, don’t wait ages for someone to decide if they’re ready or not.

13. They Get Defensive

Marko Geber/DigitalVision/Getty Images

When a supportive, committed partner is accidentally selfish, you’ll notice that they’re willing to apologize and make changes once it’s brought to their attention. But if someone is using you on purpose, you’ll likely notice that they get defensive and argumentative instead, says Keischa Pruden, LCMHCS, LCAS, CCS, a therapist and owner of Pruden Counseling Concepts.

Instead of talking about how things are off-balance, they’ll shut the conversation down quickly and angrily because they got caught. “If a person in a relationship is not willing to listen to the other person's concerns and work towards a mutually satisfying solution,” Pruden says. If not, it may be time to move on.

14. There’s A Sense Of Resentment

With all the favors, guilt-tripping, and outlandish requests, you may notice that you feel a sense of resentment on top of everything else, says clinical psychologist Kim Chronister, Psy.D. If you’re genuinely being used, you’ll start to feel like a dried-up well with nothing left to give.

Manly echos this saying, “When a partner tends to engage only for superficial reasons,” like a desire for physical intimacy or to fill a loneliness void, or needing a companion for an event, “you’re being undervalued and under-appreciated.” And that can be draining in more ways than one.

15. They Don’t Want To Sort Out Problems

ljubaphoto/E+/Getty Images

According to Carey, a healthy connection happens when both partners take the time to name their needs in a relationship, so that everything can run smoothly. This means addressing problems as they arise and coming up with solutions and compromises so that everyone is happy. Someone who is in a relationship for personal again, and not because they actually care about you as their partner, won’t take the time to have these types of tough conversations. Again, it’ll feel very one-sided.

16. You Feel Drained All The Time

Because a “user” demands a lot of time and energy, you’re likely to feel burnt out on a regular basis, Carey says. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you spent a weekend on your own, or the last time you saw friends. This is a huge red flag that your partner is taking more than they’re giving, and that your relationship is unbalanced.

17. They Act Different Behind Closed Doors


If you find yourself wondering, “Am I being used?” you should look at how your significant other acts in private. “Users can often be tremendously charismatic and their appealing qualities can make it hard to see what’s really going on,” Manly says. “However, partners who use others tend to give themselves away through serial red flags that share a common theme of being self-entitled.”

You might notice, for instance, that they drop the act behind closed doors or after they do one kind thing. They’re also likely to be argumentative and defensive, with an eye towards how the relationship benefits them.

But don’t blame yourself if you get swept up in this type of relationship. Often, due to their charisma, it’s easy to get sucked in and think things are a-OK — right up until you realize they aren’t. Take a step back and assess how you feel in the current dynamic. If something doesn’t feel right, it likely isn’t!

What To Do If A Partner Is Using You

OK, so let’s say some of these red flags stand out and it really does seem like your partner is using you. The first thing you should try to do, if it feels safe, is have a conversation where you explain the imbalances you’ve noticed in the relationship and how they affect you.

“Address the issue directly and respectfully,” Manly says. “For example, if you feel that your partner has been using you financially you might say, ‘I’ve realized that I’m paying all the rent and most of the expenses. It would feel fair and balanced to share expenses equally.’”

Then see how they respond. Do they apologize, step up, and make a change to the best of their ability? Or do they get defensive and claim that you’re being ridiculous? If it seems like you’ve caught them being manipulative, Manly says the wisest thing to do may be to cut your losses and move on.


Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, speaker, author

Tina Sadri, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist

Dr. Kim Chronister, PsyD, clinical psychologist

Amalia Sirica, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker

Deborah J. Cohan, PhD, associate professor of Sociology at University of South Carolina Beaufort

Dr. Rachel Greenberg, clinical psychologist

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, licensed clinical social worker

Keischa Pruden, LCMHCS, LCAS, CCS, therapist

Leah Carey, relationship coach

This article was originally published on

16 tips for anyone in a relationship

December 22, 2020 Relationship

How to find the right person and live happily ever after with him or escape from an unhealthy love story in time.

You can not only read this article, but also listen to it. If it's more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.

1. Remember that opposites do not attract

Of course, you can have different hobbies and views, but exactly as long as they do not invade the territory of the partner's key worldview positions. The joint life of a supporter of patriarchal views and a feminist, a monarchist and a liberal, and even fans of Spartak and CSKA is unlikely to be cloudless. In key questions, you must look, according to the precepts of Exupery, in one direction. nine0003

2. Set the rules

Arrangements are not a desire to restrict someone's freedom, it is an attempt to develop a common language that your couple speaks. Your partner’s views on the distribution of responsibilities, financial issues, the possibility of sex on the side, joint and separate holidays, and even who goes to the shower first in the morning, can be completely different from yours. It is not necessary to wait for a major quarrel to find out what he thinks about this. Set rules ahead of time and follow them. nine0003

3. Hear someone else's "no"

Do not do "the best" if the partner has clearly expressed his disagreement with something. "No" does not mean "maybe" or "yes, but I want to be persuaded."

4. Do not tolerate a partner who does unpleasant things to teach you a lesson

Taking the position of a teacher, a person ceases to be an equal partner and begins to act from the point of view of a higher level, a subject who is allowed more. What's next? Will he give you grades and expel you from home for poor performance? Someone who intentionally makes you feel guilty is not good for a relationship. nine0003

5. Don't try to be smarter

You must have heard advice from the series: "Be smarter, keep quiet and do it your way", "Just do it, then she will understand that it's better this way." These are all tricks and manipulations that harm relationships. If you cannot openly agree and continue to do what is unacceptable for your half, you should either reconsider your position or change your partner.

6. Do not demand telepathic abilities from your partner

Nature has given a person a speech apparatus, use it for its intended purpose. Tell your partner what you like and dislike, what you expect, what actions upset you. And certainly you should not blame a person for not knowing what you are offended by. nine0003

7. Solve problems without involving a third party

No need to run to parents, friends or anonymous people on the forum for advice. You always know better what is happening in a relationship, since it is you who know all the circumstances of the conflict.

Let's say you still turned to your mother for support and she agreed that your partner is wrong and generally a bad person. Only you and the offender will then make peace, and for your mother (friend, the entire Internet), he will remain a scoundrel. nine0003

8. Take out the rubbish from the hut

At first glance, this advice contradicts the previous one, but it is not. If you find yourself unable to cope with problems in a couple, you should seek help. With suddenly emerging different views on life, a psychologist will help to cope. In case of mental or physical abuse, seek help wherever possible: from friends, in special centers, in the police. Not everyone has the resources to get out of an abuse situation on their own.

9. Do not compare your relationships with stories from books and films

Stop trying to repeat a love story from your favorite movies, books, and especially fairy tales. You are not Cinderella and the Prince, you are not Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (or Bridget Jones), you are not Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, your relationship develops differently, and that's okay.

And then, before plunging into the vanilla abyss called "happily ever after", the characters go through a series of difficulties, because the conflict is the engine of the plot. Create your own "happily ever after" without serial wisdom and without regard to the fantasies of screenwriters and writers. nine0003

10. Move at your own pace

Even if all your friends got married a year after they met, two years later they had a baby, five years later they bought a house in the suburbs suitable for a large family, it is not necessary to try to fit your relationship into a similar scenario. Each couple moves at their own pace, just keep going.

11. Don't ignore the red flags

Most relationships have a presentation period when both partners try to appear better than they really are. And if already at the candy-bouquet stage you see danger signals, do not ignore them, trust your intuition. nine0003

Unreasonable outbursts of aggression, rudeness towards waiters, unflattering remarks about exes and other things that bother you can easily be written off as “it seemed” and “he / she will improve.” Most likely, it didn’t seem to you and your partner will not improve. Soberly think about whether you are ready to face such negative manifestations on a regular basis.

12. Check if relationships make life easier

If your love story consists entirely of difficulties, overcoming, quarrels and rare but bright bouts of happiness, this is an unhealthy relationship. People quickly become accustomed to emotional swings, when despair and delight alternate, and can consider themselves quite satisfied with this. nine0003

But be honest with yourself: does your partner make your life easier or more difficult? Do you feel happy more often than unhappy? Don't wait for your love's Titanic to sink, get on the boat. Otherwise, you may not have enough space on the saving door.

13. Leave each other personal space

Not everything that people come into a relationship with becomes common. Reserve the right to conduct private correspondence, have personal savings that you spend on things you only need, and engage in your favorite hobby. And most importantly, your partner can do all this too. Just accept it. nine0003

14. Don't chase the ghosts of your exes.

If you didn't meet in kindergarten, your partner has most likely already been in a relationship. Just leave them in the past, you don’t need to constantly compare yourself with the former, check their pages on social networks and count how many likes they give to your half.

By the way, you probably also had a relationship. And forget about them too. It is very easy to begin to idealize the person with whom you had a romantic story. But consider this: if an ex was great, he wouldn't be an ex. nine0003


Do not consider jealousy as an indicator of high feelings

The demand to stop communication with all persons of the opposite sex, ambiguous reactions to every glance in the direction of an attractive person, attempts to control correspondence do not indicate great love and fear of losing a partner. This is a way of control and the very alarm signal that should not be ignored.

16. Talk about love

Have you confessed your feelings to your partner once and do you think that is enough? Do not take the person next to you for granted, be grateful that he chose you. Remind that you love, say compliments. It's simple and free, but a very valuable token. nine0003

Read also 🧐

  • What to do if you have changed
  • 10 most important things we can do for loved ones
  • 2 rules that will change your love life forever

Psychologist Elena Stankovskaya: Why do we need close relationships

How to quarrel for good and how to get closer for good? How to build a relationship with a loved one? Why do we need close relationships at all? Let's discuss the topic with Elena Stankovskaya, Candidate of Psychological Sciences, Associate Professor at the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

Close relationships are essential for a happy life.

You have a lecture called "Why we need close relationships." The word "why" is redundant here. Well, what does it mean - why? Isn't it clear? nine0102

Elena Stankovskaya: In principle, of course, it's understandable. Close relationships are essential for a happy life. To maintain peace in the family. To jointly resolve domestic issues. For raising children. Yes, even for the status. And one of the main reasons why modern people enter into these relationships is the desire for unity, the desire to be emotionally significant for each other. It's hard to be yourself without a close relationship with someone. It is known, after all, that babies do not develop unless they are looked at, touched, or talked to. nine0003

In your opinion, are close relationships between someone and whom?

Elena Stankovskaya: In lectures, I reveal this in different ways. There are close romantic relationships. There are close relationships in a broader sense. It is friendship, mutual affection. This is the desire to share the pain, anxieties, experiences of another person. This is the fear of separation. Intimacy is also interpreted by psychologists as a joint willingness to take risks: to be vulnerable, to show oneself and withstand conflicts. But unlike love, intimacy is always mutual. nine0003

Someone develops or does not develop a close relationship with someone. How can a psychologist help here? Is his role exaggerated?

Elena Stankovskaya: If people want to find close relationships and are ready to work with a psychologist for this, then a lot can be achieved here. Firstly, people sometimes do not really understand what kind of relationship they want. And then it is useful to talk to them about it.

People sometimes do not really understand what kind of relationship they want. And then it is useful to talk to them about it

Secondly, there are barriers: mentally built expectations from relationships and ways of interaction that once helped to adapt to the environment, but now prevent building happy relationships. Most often, a person is not aware of these methods, but falls into their traps. For example, the anxiety that a loved one will soon disappear somewhere will disappear from your life, which forces you to "cling" to contact. Or a deep conviction that nothing good will come of the relationship, and it is better to avoid them. In this case, there is little chance that attachment will arise between you. This important concept is attachment. It was proposed by the English psychologist John Bowlby. He described attachment as "a stable psychological bond between people". Children, Bowlby explained, have a need not only for their parents to feed them, but also for mom and dad to be a safe "base" from which to explore the world. Children need these relationships so that their curiosity, their research interest can be realized. Bowlby and his students identified different types of attachment. For example, secure attachment. It is most favorable for building close relationships. This feeling that a loved one most of the time will satisfy most of your needs. Later, researchers showed that the mechanism of attachment plays a key role in building close relationships in adults. nine0003

Attachment can be insecure

What is dangerous attachment? The cordial attachment of two people to each other looks idyllic from the outside, but in reality it can be selfish, demanding, on the verge of emotional terror. And then this attachment becomes burdensome for both parties, doesn't it?

Elena Stankovskaya: This is one of the variants of what is an insecure attachment. Most often, this is an anxious type of attachment. It's when I feel like I can't survive without the other, and so I let him abuse me. There are also mutually destructive relationships where partners cause a lot of pain to each other, experiment with each other's boundaries, and destroy intimacy. This suggests that a secure attachment has not been formed. But if it is, then close relationships are always good. They relieve many psychological problems. In addition, there is an "avoidant" type of attachment, when people avoid relationships, live alone. And they try not to allow the other to be significant to them. While some feel good, others develop symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even if you are an "avoidant" person, you actually need attachment. You need a relationship, you need someone to talk to about how you don't need a relationship. nine0003

Close relationships are always risky

Can close relationships be dangerous? I don't mean here what is called "promiscuous connections".

Elena Stankovskaya: Close relationships are always risky. They are fraught with the pain of loss. Because if we enter intimacy, then the other person becomes a part of our life, and losing him means losing part of ourselves. Therefore, they say that intimacy is built on mutual trust and willingness to take the risk of rejection, misunderstanding, betrayal and loss. nine0003

In lectures, you say that an emotional response is needed in close relationships. Which one? It can be both positive and negative. Or are both important?

Elena Stankovskaya: A careful emotional response is important. Because intimacy is an exchange of emotions. And when we trust another person with our tastes, fears, desires, dreams, thoughts, discoveries, we want empathy. And it hurts us if the answer is indifference. There are modern neurobiological studies that show that the lack of a safe emotional response is tantamount to physical pain. "It hurts me when they don't hear me" - this phrase should be taken literally. Ideally, we need a fair response, correlated with our ability to accept this response. It should not be a "carrot", but it should not be a "stick". What is a fair response? It is a response that corresponds to the inner truth of the other person. How to present this truth - what is called emotional literacy, the ability to express it so that the other person can more easily understand and accept it. One of the modern researchers of intimacy says: take tenderness out of intimacy and you get cruelty. And in this sense, we need tenderness, we need mercy towards another. Although a fair negative response is also useful. It shows how we should not be treated, often - that relationships are important to us. nine0003

Conflict gives a chance to transform relationships

Quarrels, conflicts between loved ones destroy relationships or only strengthen them?

Elena Stankovskaya: Both. There are quarrels that strengthen relationships. Because in conflict, we finally tell each other the truth, declare our needs, present our desires. And in this sense, the conflict gives a chance for the transformation of relations. But this chance is not always realized. My colleague Vadim Petrovsky calls this "non-negotiability in relations." In this case, conflicts are dead ends, they lead nowhere. There are many perspectives in psychology on why and how we fight. For example, there are conflicts that occur as an attempt to keep the relationship close and secure. The conflict is a cry that I want more affection from you, I want more energy in our relationship. But there are conflicts that are completely destructive. If we attack another, if we use power, if we go to conflict in order to suppress someone's will, then such an attempt is obviously fruitless. Sometimes we clash because our parents did it and we learned the same. And this is where a psychologist is needed. He can help a person see this repetition and stop it. nine0003

Is it really necessary to sort things out? If relationships are constantly in need of clarification, then why are they needed?

Elena Stankovskaya: There is no universal recipe here. Some things sometimes need to be clarified, spoken out, not accumulated in oneself. Because we are all different. It seems to us that the other person is arranged in the same way as we are, but he is arranged differently. One and the same event, one and the same abandoned phrase can be perceived differently. And here there is a reliable tool - the word. Simply put, you need one person to explain to another what is happening to him. Although it happens that words are powerless. I usually separate the two levels of problems in pairs. There are communication problems. This is where words help. We sit down, have a conversation and find some solution. But most of the problems are on a different level. This is when you need to find a new way to live together. You can't do this in one sitting. This is something that is not solved at the level of words. Therefore, as a result, both will have to change their behavior and learn to respect the differences between them. We cannot solve such problems by talking. We can designate them, give them significance, but in fact we need to change a lot in ourselves in order for these problems to disappear. But of course, a good relationship also requires some basic level of mutual understanding. There are things that should be understood without words. nine0003

A close relationship is a relationship where most of the time you can be yourself

"To love another, first love yourself" - this recommendation, due to its paradox, looks wise, full of deep meaning. But it is easier and faster for most people to complete only the "initial" part of this program. How do you feel about such recommendations? They claim to be universal.

Elena Stankovskaya: I adhere to the point of view that we learn to love ourselves through the love of other people for us and through love for other people. There are people who are convinced of their insignificance. It seems to them that others are more interesting, brighter, humanly larger. It is useful for such people to increase self-esteem. Allowing them to "love themselves" as they love others will help them understand that they are no worse than others, that they also deserve respect and self-respect. And there are people who put themselves above others, for whom others do not exist as equal individuals. In this case, in order to build close relationships, a person needs to say to himself: "Love another as you love yourself." Actually, this is not even a recommendation from a psychologist, this is a biblical commandment. nine0003

It is not customary to publicly criticize colleagues, but if you do not name names... What recommendations and advice from psychologists do you consider charlatan?

Elena Stankovskaya: Any by which the psychologist manipulates the client. Any where there is a simplification - for example, "there are three types of women and five types of men." It also seems to me that any advice where a person is invited to lose his individuality and adapt to certain behavioral standards seems to be charlatanism. Close relationships in my understanding are those relationships where most of the time you can be yourself. nine0003

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Photo: Alexander Korolkov

Elena Stankovskaya - Candidate of Sciences in Psychology, Associate Professor at the Higher School of Economics. He teaches at the master's program "Counseling Psychology. Personology". In 2007 she graduated with a degree in clinical psychology from Moscow State University.

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