How do I stop being used?

I was used by a guy who I was deeply in love with. I came to his house and the last time this happened, he told me to piss off when we were lying in bed. So I’m wondering, what happened for me to end up in a situation like this? Obviously he’s a horrible person if he doesn’t care about my feelings at all or even wants to hurt me but I probably also had character traits that made this possible. So, how did this happen and what do I have to change so it never will again?


Don’t worry. You got this.

02-10-13-35-42 / 28


Hello Diner. Your normal, natural ability to trust and love made you susceptible to this betrayal. But trust and love are the very ingredients of your humanity. However much human emotions puzzle us, Diner, we Fortune Cookies will never advise you to give up the traits that make your spirit beautiful.

We must therefore find another way to help you. Let’s take a look at your ex-boyfriend.

The abruptness of the break-up—going from pure romance to total disregard—tells me that the relationship was relatively new. Yet in that short amount of time, he made you feel very deeply in love. That is a sign of a master manipulator at work. Without the trappings of empathy for you, he—very convincingly—told you whatever he believed you wanted to hear to get attention, care, and sex from you.

We described in this Fortune that the “dark triad” of personality traits—manipulativeness, cockiness, and emotional detachment—are proven to be very attractive. These traits also literally describe your ex.

Understand, Diner, that I’m not calling you gullible. This trinity of predatory traits are perfect for a hunter and leader. At one point in prehistory, it helped your tribe survive in scarce times. Your attractions may simply be instinctively responding to an ancient need.

Does this mean you’ll be fighting your very instincts to avoid another horrible boyfriend? Not at all.

Think back again at that image of a tribe having barely enough to survive. Realize that you’re no longer physically in this harsh position, but you may be emotionally starving. However you grew up as a person, you crave the affections and forcefulness someone with these traits can easily provide—at very much your expense. So how to solve this?

Be emotionally self-reliant.

When you learned to feed yourself as a young adult, your hunger no longer depended on someone bigger and more capable than you. Likewise, emotional “food” does not have to be made and packaged by Boyfriend, Inc. Challenge yourself to be single. It may be months or a year—whatever you feel comfortable with.

In that time, you are trying to learn two things: that you can get affection, validation, and attention in completely different ways than having a partner; and that you didn’t need as much as you thought to feel fulfilled.

Once you’ve learned that, your tolerance for manipulation will be much lower. You would have the confidence to be on your own instead of constantly checking your messages for meager pellets of attention. Instead of being overwhelmed by his apparent kindness toward you, you can step back and look at how he treats others to see if his kindness is truly genuine.

The more you can take care of yourself emotionally, the less you’ll need it from someone like your ex. Learn to fend for yourself. Good luck, Diner.