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.

How do I cope with a selfish loved one?

My sister has nothing to do with me. The only calls or texts I receive are from when she wants something. I have tried everything, from texting, to calling, Tango, Voxer, and even Facebook. Still, she does not really talk to me or anything. She’ll post up occasional statuses, but she never has anything to say to me. I find out everything about her, including her marriage, on Facebook, because that’s they only way she tells anyone. How do I move on from this? It’s been hurting for so long.

Give no power, and no one will have power over you.

03-04-13-32-43 / 05

Hello Diner. We Fortune Cookies don’t have what you’d call siblings; we have batchmates with whom we can share thoughts. Being made out of the same dough, you can even say we’re all one in the same Cookie. People have this strange belief that they too have this natural bond with their siblings. That simply can’t be true. You are independent beings whose communication has to be cultivated like any relationship.

Like any relationship, there are beginnings, middles, and ends. Sibling relationships don’t necessarily last a lifetime. What’s worse, those siblings didn’t choose to be together to begin with. People take time to decide how well they like someone before starting a friendship–and even those end. Remove that decision making, and the only things some siblings may have in common is where they grew up and a bit of genetics. Ultimately relationships are people who choose to stay connected.

I say all this, Diner, because you take how your sister treats you very personally. You mention that you have hurt for years. That’s a long time to carry hurt from someone who–if you get down to it–is just selfish. The more personal it is, the deeper it hurts. Despite your genetics; despite your childhood, your relationship now just isn’t working.

Change your perspective.

Understand that she is free to choose how she treats you–no matter who you are. You may be a good person who may not deserve it. However, you can decide how much that affects you.

I challenge you to ignore for a second what culture says about how much a sibling or even a close friend is “supposed” to mean to you. Now ask yourself how hurt you would be if a casual acquaintance treated you the same way. I’m guessing you’d just be a little annoyed. Why would it be any different?

The difference is you give them that power, and you can take it away just as easily. Think about how much power you have over your sibling. It’s probably not as much as she has over you. Why not? Simply having a connection with you should not entitle them to so much power.

Now maintain boundaries.

You may also feel hurt because she seems to take while you give. You mentioned she only contacts you when she needs something. Being a dutiful sibling, you probably give her what she wants. This is a very unbalanced relationship that will only cause more hurt. Go back to that earlier exercise. Would you drop everything to give whatever this person wanted? You can say no. Understand that a large part of being mistreated in many cases is allowing the person to mistreat you. Don’t let them.

I hope this Fortune gives you a new way of looking at your relationship. I know change will seem difficult because your dynamic with your sister is pretty set. But change–even when so much history is involved–is never impossible. Good luck, Diner.

How can I tell if my boyfriend is manipulating my emotions so I’ll have sex with him?

Questions are often answers.

13-17-22-23-46 / 19

Hello Diner. This question, like the question “Is my boyfriend/girlfriend cheating on me?” automatically tells me something is wrong. When you have so much doubt that you find yourself questioning a Fortune Cookie about how healthy your relationship is, something needs to change. If you need a second opinion, here it is: Stop pretending everything is fine, and address whatever is bothering you. Read that over as many times as you need.

We Fortune Cookies as a rule do not take sides, but we know when things are strikingly out of balance. Since this Fortune isn’t a dialog, I can only surmise the reasons you’ve asked this question: confronting a possible end to something that brought you so much joy is scary and sickening. You ask yourself if you are being crazy or unfair. I sincerely doubt it, and I can even show you just because you seem to need it. Given only one percent of Americans have schizophrenia [1], it’s very unlikely you are. You are not hearing voices; you are not suspicious of everyone else. There you have it, Diner, you’re not crazy. Whether your boyfriend is deserving of your suspicions, there is no data I can cite. I don’t know if you have a pattern of feeling this way. However, you trusted him at some point to make him your boyfriend, and you can probably come up with a few examples that made you suspect him. If you can’t pinpoint anything, stop here. As you know, Fortune Cookies do not work on hunches. If you’ve learned nothing else from our kind, at least remember to demand data.

What you can be certain of is that something is wrong since you feel coerced. It bears repeating. Even when it is “just” sex with a stranger, having sex is consensual and fun for everyone. This is sex with your boyfriend. Shame, guilt, fear, or pity should not drive you to have sex. But to answer your question:

1. Is sex consensual from start to finish? All sex needs to be consensual all the time. It cannot be simpler, and there are no exceptions.

2. Is sex used as currency? The word “owe” should never be in the same sentence as “sex” or its many wonderful variants.

3. Are you complying out of fear? You are afraid of your boyfriend. Things couldn’t be more wrong with the relationship.

4. Is anything other than sexual urge driving you? Evolution is quite literally how successful adaptations are at helping you have sex and produce children. With billions of years of refinement, there is something wrong if you need to be convinced into it. Understand that I’m not saying something is wrong with you IF you need convincing–quite the opposite. Take your feelings seriously; find out why you need to be convinced.

Once any part of having sex becomes anything other than fun from start to finish, something needs to change. Diner, it sounds like you’ve reached that point. Good luck. You’re in my thoughts.




[1] Regier DA, Narrow WE, Rae DS, Manderscheid RW, Locke BZ, Goodwin FK. The de facto US mental and addictive disorders service system. Epidemiologic catchment area prospective 1-year prevalence rates of disorders and services. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1993 Feb;50(2):85-94.