The Difference Between Helping Out and Being Played

Many of you may be familiar with this type of situation. You get a phone call or a text from your girlfriend or boyfriend expressing that they are in dire straits. Being the empathetic person that you are — or just wanting to look good in order to build up some cred with them — you immediately swing into full “help mode.”

If they inform you that for whatever reason they cannot make their rent, or that they are behind on their car payment, or that their credit cards were just canceled — there you are cutting them a check to get them out of their jam. If that sort of situation is a sporadic event, then you probably wouldn’t even give it a second thought. What, however, when it starts happening with increased frequency — what if it’s becoming a pattern?

Are You Helping Out or Being Played

While it is perfectly normal in the majority of relationships for one partner to need a helping hand every now and then, there are those circumstances when your kindness and generosity could be taken for granted. Even worse, when they are abused and exploited.

We all like to think that our partners are always honest and sincere with us. When you hear stories about someone getting played you probably take comfort in thinking to yourself that such a situation could never happen to you. Unfortunately, it CAN happen to you. Statistical probability indicates that at some point in your lifetime you will be played by one of your partners — no matter how alert you think you are.

— Ways You Can Get Played —

We will focus on how you can get played once you are already involved in a relationship. This sort of betrayal is logically more painful than when you get played in the early stages of getting to know someone. Sadly, there are people in this world who purposely behave in an exemplary fashion during the early stages of a relationship only to take advantage of you once you have given them your trust.

The most common way that they can play you at that stage is for financial gain. This can come by feinting financial distress as in the examples given at the top of this article. It can also come by enticing or luring you into purchasing expensive gifts for them even though they know that such expenditures might adversely affect your financial stability.

Other ways that you can be played include those instances when your partner leverages your relationship for some sort of professional gain. This can happen when the both of you work in the same location and you happen to have a higher-ranking position than your partner. It can also happen if your partner wants to get a foothold into the specific industry or business sector in which you work.

When you are played for professional gains, you may not be affected financially in a direct sense, but your reputation and prestige with your employer or business can suffer tremendously.

— What to Look Out For —

Signs You're Being Played

It is often said that the person getting played will be the last one to notice that they are being played. This isn’t because you’re naive. It happens because emotions and physical attraction can divert your attention and intuition from what is actually happening. In other words, instead of seeing things for how they are, you see things as you wish them to be.

This is why you should be vigilant for the following types of behavior from your partner.

1- Tugging at Your Heartstrings

If your partner constantly tugs at your heartstrings whenever they need something from you — by this we mean that if they do not get what they ask of you they either start crying incessantly, get demonstrably angry or fall into an exaggerated state of depression — it could be indicative of them being manipulative, not overly emotional.

By reacting so outwardly with exaggerated sentimentalism, they may be trying to steer you into giving them what they want.

2- The Blackmail Game

If your personality is more introverted than that of your partner’s, they may be bold enough to passively or actively blackmail you in order to get what they want. This can come in the form of threatening to leave you if they don’t get their way. It can also come by suggesting that they might reveal embarrassing or compromising information about yourself to your family, friends, or co-workers.

3- They Are Keenly Aware of Your Financial Status

If your partner is going to play you for financial gain, chances are that they would have first made sure that you have the means to give them what they want.

If your partner takes a keen interest in your bank balances, available credit card limits, cash reserves, etc., you should take that as a potential warning sign — especially if they have never done so in the past.

The reason they do this is to know how much they can squeeze you for and also to be able to box you into a corner so that you cannot say “no.” After all, if they know that you do not have $5,000 in cash but they also know that you do have the ability to get a credit card advance for that amount, they will be better prepared to put you in a situation in which it will be very hard for you to say “no.”

— How to Prevent Getting Played —

Prevent Being Played

1- Establish Information Equilibrium

One of the best ways to avoid getting played is to establish an equilibrium in the amount of information that you share with each other. In other words, if your partner is evasive or extremely unspecific about important segments of their life — such as work, family, finances, etc. — don’t try to lead by example by making your life an open book in the hopes that they will open up to you in turn.

Reveal those intimate aspects of your life in the same proportion that your partner reveals them to you.

2- Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

If your partner is becoming bolder in what they are requesting from you, you must be ready to say “no.”

You shouldn’t feel bad or guilty about failing to give in to your partner’s demands when they are malicious or selfish in nature

3- Call Them Out on It

If a relationship is on solid footing it should easily bear the stress that comes with moments of extreme honesty. If you feel that you are being played you should come out and ask your partner directly if that is what is happening.

This doesn’t mean that you should do it haphazardly or blindly — you should be ready to present specific reasons why you believe it is happening. Likewise, you should also give your partner the necessary opportunity to respond to your question.

4- Be Mindful but not Cynical

It is important to be mindful in the early stages of a relationship that the possibility exists for you getting played. However, that should not make you cynical. You shouldn’t be spotting ghosts if none exist.

The best piece of advice is to be on the lookout for incremental patterns in your partner’s Behavior. It is one thing to ask you for 50 bucks to help cover a light bill one month, but it is another thing entirely if month after month they start taking your financial help as a given.

— In Conclusion —

Essentially what you need to do is to be able to distinguish between a situation when your partner is in genuine need and when they are greedily trying to take advantage of your kindness. That is what will allow you to continue being a loving and helping partner while shielding you from the pain and hardship of getting played.