Friendships come in all shapes and sizes, and we will usually have one friend who is always asking for favors. Give and take is a normal part of friendship, but what can you do when it becomes a recurring theme?

Take a look at my suggestions as to how to deal with that friend who is constantly asking for favors, and how to create boundaries.

Recognize the signs of being used

One immediate sign of a friendship that is not genuine is a friend who is always asking for favors and offers nothing in return. If you have ever felt that a friendship is completely one-sided, you may be being used.

It is useful to consider what you are gaining from this friendship.

  • Do you enjoy their company, or dread having to meet up?
  • Are they funny and/or share your interests, or do you feel obliged to maintain contact?
  • Have they acknowledged the favors you have done, or taken them for granted?

Dealing with toxic ‘friendships’

If you reflect on a friendship and know that it is proving toxic, then there is only one answer; to move on.

This is the worst-case scenario, but you are responsible for your wellbeing, and cannot sustain a friendship purely because you feel obliged to. Toxic people drain your energy and your resources, and will not stop using you for the favors they are constantly asking for unless you put a stop to it.

Creating boundaries

Most of the time, friends who are always asking for favors do so simply because you let them. They might not even realize they are doing it, or that it is causing you distress.

The most important thing for you to do to sustain a friendship that you value is to talk openly about your concerns.

If you find yourself saying ‘yes’ to everything, even at great inconvenience, you are validating unreasonable behavior. Most friends will not take advantage of kindness intentionally, but people can be thoughtless and might be falling into the habit of relying on you without considering other options.

Preserve your space

Open discussion can be uncomfortable, but if you wish to keep your relationship, then honesty is essential. Tell your friend that you have concerns about them always asking for favours. They might have no idea that they are repeating this behavior, and if they place equal value on your friendship will be able to discuss it with you.

Alternatively, if you think this conversation may cause conflict, you can put in place your barriers subtly. If this does not change their behavior and they continue asking for favors constantly, then it is time for ‘the talk’.

Establishing control

Remember that you always have control over your actions, but not those of others. Consider why your friend is always turning to you and asking for favors.

  • Do you always say yes?
  • Have you ever tried saying no?
  • If you have said no, was that an end to the request?
  • Could you say yes, but within a timescale that is convenient for you?
  • Have you tried recommending another friend or resource that might be more suitable?

Sometimes we unwittingly reinforce bad behavior to avoid conflict. In doing so, we set ourselves up for a difficult time by confirming the validity of this behavior. In the case of a friend who is always asking for favors, if you haven’t ever said no, how do you know how they would react?

Managing contact

In this day and age, many of us are guilty of feeling like we have to be available 24/7. Doing this makes us open and available to anybody at any time, and neglects the importance of taking time for ourselves.

One of the key ways to establish and maintain your boundaries is to choose when and how you are available. This is very simple!

  1. Turn off your phone when you don’t wish to be disturbed
  2. Don’t feel obliged to check your messages when you are busy at work, or about to go to sleep
  3. Try not replying immediately to every message, and give yourself time to consider your response before replying

By establishing your own ‘rules’ about how you communicate, you take back control of your time and recognize the value of your space.

Building distance

If you are finding it hard to create boundaries, then a little distance may be what is needed.

It is hard to consider creating distance between yourself and a friend. But if the relationship is turning toxic and you are forgetting why you became friends in the first place, this is essential to preserve goodwill.

You could try creating a different ringtone for your friend who is always asking for favors. This gives you a choice about whether or not to pick up the phone, or whether to return a call when you are in a good position to talk and consider your answer if they are calling to ask for another favor.

Turning the tables

This is a tricky one, but if you are concerned that a friendship is turning sour and that your friend is always asking for favors to manipulate the friendship, you could try asking for one back.

I do not believe in creating scenarios intended to make somebody ‘fail a test’. However, if you think you might be being used but aren’t sure enough that you want to cause conflict within your friendship, next time you do need a favor, you could try asking this friend and seeing how they respond.

The chances are that if they are always relying on you for help that they trust and respect your opinion. Being able to ask for support from your friends is an essential part of making sure that trust runs both ways.

If your friendship means as much to them as it does to you, next time you need a lift somewhere, or for a friend to check in on your cat, make this friend your first call. Hopefully, they will jump at the chance to return your kindness.

And if they don’t? At least you know exactly where you stand.


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