There comes a time in virtually every relationship when someone questions whether or not they’re being used. My aunt, who has been married for more than 20 years, once told me “In this life, you are one of two things: The user or the usee. You have the choice to decide which role you want to play and when you want to play it.” Her profound words didn’t mean much to me until I started dating in my 20s and discovered that everyone, including myself, uses someone, which means we’re all a bunch of users and usees. During this time I also discovered that being used wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you’re being used by someone who actually loves and cares about you. So with this in mind, I stopped asking whether or not I was being used in relationships — because everyone is — and started asking “Am I being used excessively in this relationship?”
Here’s the thing: In a relationship, you both have to be willing to compromise. If only one person is compromising all of the time, the relationship is over as soon as that individual becomes burned out. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow eloquently illustrated this point when she discussed what she believes is the primary reason for divorce:
When two people throw in the towel at the same time, then you break up, but if one person’s saying: ‘Come on, we can do this,’ you carry on.