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Am I Being Helpful or Just Being Used?

A post of a ranting nature...

PedroG

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I think I'm done with this guy. And I'm not sure if it's the right thing to do...

I've known this person for over 15 years now. We worked together for about 8 years. I wouldn't consider him a friend; just an acquiaintance I've kept in touch with for many years mostly via instant messenger.

I can't tell you how much I've helped this person throughout the years. 15 years ago I helped him pass an important class for his bachelor's degree, which he would have failed without my help.

For years now I've mentored him on learning to program.

He's admitted that the help I've provided him was directly responsible for him impressing his bosses, and getting great raises throughout the years.

As a result of my help, he went from being someone who would struggle to get a job after getting laid off, to someone who just recently had to turn down multiple job offers. He's now making more money than some engineers. All because of my help.

He's a software tester, not a programmer, but some programming is involved. I've helped him remain relevant in a changing industry where no programming knowledge used to be required.

Whenever he needs help he sends me a message. And I help him not just with his personal coding projects, but I also help him figure out programming problems he's having at work!

So what's the problem? With all the help I provide, I can't even get the guy to meet me for lunch for an hour. It's been years of this. Me telling him that we should hang out, grab a drink, and nothing.

We used to hang out like once a year with a group of people, but that group is no longer around.

The last time we had lunch, it was because he had a ton of programming questions for me.

A few days ago he sends me a message again: "need your help."

WTF? I enjoy helping people, but the way I see it, he's just been using me for years, and can't even give me an hour of his time.

If you don't care to meet up every now and then, how is it OK to continue to ask me for help, even with your 9 to 5 job?

Am I wrong here?
 
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AgainstAllOdds

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I think I'm done with this guy. And I'm not sure if it's the right thing to do...

I've known this person for over 15 years now. We worked together for about 8 years. I wouldn't consider him a friend; just an acquiaintance I've kept in touch with for many years mostly via instant messenger.

I can't tell you how much I've helped this person throughout the years. 15 years ago I helped him pass an important class for his bachelor's degree, which he would have failed without my help.

For years now I've mentored him on learning to program.

He's admitted that the help I've provided him was directly responsible for him impressing his bosses, and getting great raises throughout the years.

As a result of my help, he went from being someone who would struggle to get a job after getting laid off, to someone who just recently had to turn down multiple job offers. He's now making more money than some engineers. All because of my help.

He's a software tester, not a programmer, but some programming is involved. I've helped him remain relevant in a changing industry where no programming knowledge used to be required.

Whenever he needs help he sends me a message. And I help him not just with his personal coding projects, but I also help him figure out programming problems he's having at work!

So what's the problem? With all the help I provide, I can't even get the guy to meet me for lunch for an hour. It's been years of this. Me telling him that we should hang out, grab a drink, and nothing.

We used to hang out like once a year with a group of people, but that group is no longer around.

The last time we had lunch, it was because he had a ton of programming questions for me.

A few days ago he sends me a message again: "need your help."

WTF? I enjoy helping people, but the way I see it, he's just been using me for years, and can't even give me an hour of his time.

If you don't care to meet up every now and then, how is it OK to continue to ask me for help, even with your 9 to 5 job?

Am I wrong here?

Guy's not your friend. Definitely using you. Don't try to meet up with him for a drink (you're not friends).

If you want to keep helping him, quote him a consulting fee. When he replies with some bullshit about how you're friends, just be forward:

"Hey man, we haven't met up for a drink in years. Every time I asked you, you came up with a different excuse. It's obvious we're not friends so let's shift this relationship from me getting taken advantage of to something more fair. Otherwise, it was great knowing you and best of luck in the future."

Something along those lines. Basically get paid or delete the guy from your life and move on.
 
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Chef

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Guy's not your friend. Definitely using you. Don't try to meet up with him for a drink (you're not friends).

If you want to keep helping him, quote him a consulting fee. When he replies with some bullshit about how you're friends, just be forward:

"Hey man, we haven't met up for a drink in years. Every time I asked you, you came up with a different excuse. It's obvious we're not friends so let's shift this relationship from me getting taken advantage of to something more fair. Otherwise, it was great knowing you and best of luck in the future."

Something along those lines. Basically get paid or delete the guy from your life and move on.
Problem solving 101 get it here while it's still hot ladies and gentlemen!

Can't get any more simple than that.
 
Last edited:

1step

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Why don't you just ask him for help with something? Doesn't need to be programming related, ask him to help move a couch or anything else that would take effort on his part.

Is it possible that he does value your friendship and just has been busy when you've asked to grab a drink previously?

If you no longer enjoy helping him and he's not willing to help you when you need it, it sounds as though the friendship is dead and you should cut it off or charge him for your time.
 

PedroG

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lowtek

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I've been asking myself this question a lot lately. I didn't even bother responding to his last message.

I wouldn't waste the opportunity. Reply and ask him for a consulting fee. Make it clear that he's been using you - at least provide some feedback on his behavior.
 

PedroG

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Guy's not your friend. Definitely using you. Don't try to meet up with him for a drink (you're not friends).

If you want to keep helping him, quote him a consulting fee. When he replies with some bullshit about how you're friends, just be forward:

"Hey man, we haven't met up for a drink in years. Every time I asked you, you came up with a different excuse. It's obvious we're not friends so let's shift this relationship from me getting taken advantage of to something more fair. Otherwise, it was great knowing you and best of luck in the future."

Something along those lines. Basically get paid or delete the guy from your life and move on.

Great idea. He definitely wouldn't pay. I've pretty much decided I'm done with him.
 

PedroG

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Is it possible that he does value your friendship and just has been busy when you've asked to grab a drink previously?

The problem is that it's been years of this, with several opportunities. So I'm pretty sure at this point that it's not that he's busy. He now works close to my job, and he still won't make the effort.
 
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Kinematic

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What would a generic consulting fee look like in this case (wording wise)? How would one word it to be professional but still remain cordial?
 

biophase

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I think there is a miscommunication between you and him. He is asking for your help, and you are giving it to them.

You should be helping him with no preconceived notion that he may help you and hang out with you in the future. If you are OK with this then continue to help him.

You and him do not have a contract that says if you help him with his programming he will go to lunch with you. However in your head you seem to think that is implied. I learned this from a book called thick face black heart, where people assume all sorts of things and then end up getting butt hurt when the other person has no idea what is going on in your mind.

For example, if a friend asks you to help him move for free beer and pizza afterwards. You also assume that when you ask him to help you move that he will say yes. But if he says no, who is really at fault here? Nobody. That is because you did not say, if I help you move now you will return the favor when I have to move.

If you do not feel like helping him, then just don’t help him. If you feel that this is a friendship, then you are obviously not getting what you feel you need in this friendship and you need to reevaluate that.
 
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PedroG

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Have you told him how you feel?

I haven't. I guess I was never sure of what that would accomplish. I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable hanging out after complaining about it. I would know he's only doing it because I said something, and I would feel like he's doing it only to make sure I continue helping him.

I think there is a miscommunication between you and him. He is asking for your help, and you are giving it to them.

You should be helping him with no preconceived notion that he may help you and hang out with you in the future. If you are OK with this then continue to help him.

You and him do not have a contract that says if you help him with his programming he will go to lunch with you. However in your head you seem to think that is implied.

I see your point. I guess my "rule" (as Robbins would put it) for friendships is that at the very least, a friend is someone you enjoy spending time with. The way I see it, if you don't even like spending time with someone enough to make the effort to make it happen, then you don't value that person as a friend at all.

Maybe not everyone sees it that way, but to me it makes sense. It's the very least you would do if you actually think of someone as a friend.
 

AgainstAllOdds

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I haven't. I guess I was never sure of what that would accomplish. I definitely wouldn't feel comfortable hanging out after complaining about it. I would know he's only doing it because I said something, and I would feel like he's doing it only to make sure I continue helping him.



I see your point. I guess my "rule" (as Robbins would put it) for friendships is that at the very least, a friend is someone you enjoy spending time with. The way I see it, if you don't even like spending time with someone enough to make the effort to make it happen, then you don't value that person as a friend at all.

Maybe not everyone sees it that way, but to me it makes sense. It's the very least you would do if you actually think of someone as a friend.

Friendships are 80/20.

80 percent of people you try to be friends with suck or are mediocre at being friends. That's simply because they don't like you or are socially inept (doesn't really matter). 20 percent reciprocate.

Invest more time into those that reciprocate. Your time, effort, and emotional caring has a value attached to it. Give most of that value to friends that reciprocate and create a net benefit for both parties. No need to "invest" in areas where the expected value is negative.

A Few High Quality Friends > A Lot of Shitty Friends
 

MidwestLandlord

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I think there is a miscommunication between you and him. He is asking for your help, and you are giving it to them.

You should be helping him with no preconceived notion that he may help you and hang out with you in the future. If you are OK with this then continue to help him.

You and him do not have a contract that says if you help him with his programming he will go to lunch with you. However in your head you seem to think that is implied. I learned this from a book called thick face black heart, where people assume all sorts of things and then end up getting butt hurt when the other person has no idea what is going on in your mind.

For example, if a friend asks you to help him move for free beer and pizza afterwards. You also assume that when you ask him to help you move that he will say yes. But if he says no, who is really at fault here? Nobody. That is because you did not say, if I help you move now you will return the favor when I have to move.

If you do not feel like helping him, then just don’t help him. If you feel that this is a friendship, then you are obviously not getting what you feel you need in this friendship and you need to reevaluate that.

Exactly.

OP, read the book "No more mister nice guy" by Robert Glover

He talks about "covert contracts" (specifically for guys attempting to be in romantic relationships and have covert contracts with women, but it's a useful concept across all areas of life)

Basically it's where you have unspoken expectations of a certain result, or unspoken expectations of reciprocation.

The best way to identify a covert contract is if you catch yourself thinking "I do X for them, and they never do Y for me!!"

If you "help" someone with expectations of reciprocation, you aren't really helping them...you are attempting to help yourself.

A lot of people can pick up on the ulterior motive of a covert contract, and will respond by not reciprocating because they are "turned off" by it (for lack of a better word)

Common examples:

"If I buy her dinner she'll have sex with me"

"If I help him move, he'll help me move"

Etc.

Be more outcome independent. Don't care about the end result. You agreed to help, and the only expectation you have is the one you place on yourself to help like you said you would. If they return the favor, great. If not, you never expected it to begin with.

Communicate your needs and desires when it make sense to do so:

"Yeah man, I can help you move. I'm moving next month though, can you return the favor?" (overt contract)

And help out without expectations of reciprocation when it makes sense to do so:

"Yeah man, I can help you move" (no contract. no expectations)

I bet that if you drop the unspoken expectations (do you expect people to read your mind?), then 7 out of 10 or so will reciprocate anyway, because you are coming from a place of genuine selflessness and not selfish (and covert) expectations.

And those 3 out of 10 that don't ever reciprocate? Drop them and move on.

(not meant to sound harsh dude)
 
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PedroG

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Exactly.

OP, read the book "No more mister nice guy" by Robert Glover

He talks about "covert contracts" (specifically for guys attempting to be in romantic relationships and have covert contracts with women, but it's a useful concept across all areas of life)

Basically it's where you have unspoken expectations of a certain result, or unspoken expectations of reciprocation.

The best way to identify a covert contract is if you catch yourself thinking "I do X for them, and they never do Y for me!!"

If you "help" someone with expectations of reciprocation, you aren't really helping them...you are attempting to help yourself.

A lot of people can pick up on the ulterior motive of a covert contract, and will respond by not reciprocating because they are "turned off" by it (for lack of a better word)

Common examples:

"If I buy her dinner she'll have sex with me"

"If I help him move, he'll help me move"

Etc.

Be more outcome independent. Don't care about the end result. You agreed to help, and the only expectation you have is the one you place on yourself to help like you said you would. If they return the favor, great. If not, you never expected it to begin with.

Communicate your needs and desires when it make sense to do so:

"Yeah man, I can help you move. I'm moving next month though, can you return the favor?" (overt contract)

And help out without expectations of reciprocation when it makes sense to do so:

"Yeah man, I can help you move" (no contract. no expectations)

I bet that if you drop the unspoken expectations (do you expect people to read your mind?), then 7 out of 10 or so will reciprocate anyway, because you are coming from a place of genuine selflessness and not selfish (and covert) expectations.

And those 3 out of 10 that don't ever reciprocate? Drop them and move on.

(not meant to sound harsh dude)

I see what you're saying and I don't disagree. Except I'm not really expecting any favors in return. I guess I don't consider hanging out once in a long while, a favor. I see it as something that if you think of me as a friend, you naturally would want to do.

I've helped this person for years without expecting anything. Every now and then I would bring up that we should hang out. And I don't even mention that around the time I'm helping him with something, so I don't think he can claim I'm asking to hang out as payment for my help.
 

MidwestLandlord

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Except I'm not really expecting any favors in return. I guess I don't consider hanging out once in a long while, a favor.

Aren't you expecting friendship from him?

Just something to think about. I struggled with this stuff for a long time.

I see it as something that if you think of me as a friend, you naturally would want to do.

Exactly.

And those 3 out of 10 that don't ever reciprocate? Drop them and move on.

^^^^
 

G-Man

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@biophase + @MidwestLandlord are right. Unspoken expectations are interpersonal poison. It's true for all kinds of relationships.

After about 6 months of marriage I started basically training my wife to just tell me exactly what she wants. It was weird at first. Mostly for her, because I'm always direct anyway. End result: She's not walking around with secretly hurt feelings, and I'm not trying to be a damn mind reader.

It might not fit some people's notions of romance, where we're just supposed to "know" everything the other person is thinking, but given that real life isn't a romantic comedy, it works pretty well.

It worked so well with her that I started doing it with both my boss and employees. Worked just as well there.

Don't have secretly hurt feelings, and don't expect this guy to read minds. He may very well be using you, but he may just be oblivious. Cowboy up and be out with it.
 
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MidwestLandlord

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After about 6 months of marriage I started basically training my wife to just tell me exactly what she wants. It was weird at first. Mostly for her, because I'm always direct anyway. End result: She's not walking around with secretly hurt feelings, and I'm not trying to be a damn mind reader.

My wife knows I will ask *once* what is bothering her. At that point she knows the ball is in her court, and she can either tell me what's wrong, or tell me "yes, something is bothering me, but this is a bad time. I'll bring it up later" (overt contract)

In return, she knows that I will listen to her concern without getting defensive or critical. (overt contract)

If she never brings it up? Not my problem. (outcome independence)

................................

And how the heck did you figure this out in 6 months???? Took me years. (I'm not a smart man lol)
 

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Talk to the dude. Tell him you have been happy helping him. That now you do it for your consulting business and would love to have him as a client. Does he know anyone else you could help so you can grow your business? Could he get you a consulting gig from his workplace where he is the PM and you both look like geniuses?

Flip this to value and make sure your time to this point is seen as 'sunk cost' and not brought up again. Let it go.

Doesn't have to be tit for tat. Just value on both sides.
 

G-Man

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And how the heck did you figure this out in 6 months???? Took me years. (I'm not a smart man lol)

I blew up an engagement because of this very thing. Decided I didn't wanna blow up an actual marriage with the same thing.

It's a very predictable pattern. Wife doesn't tell you what she wants. You don't do what she wants. She gets feelings hurt, lashes out about something unrelated. You get pissed because she's pissed, become an a**hole, and now she has legitimately hurt feelings. Why not just short circuit the whole shitshow?

Same thing happened with my assistant. She spends more time with me than my wife, so it only took about a month to happen. :rofl:
 
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JAJT

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I bet this is Hanlon's razor at work, which states: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Chances are this guy isn't malicious to you. Or thinks he's taking advantage of you.

His mind may very well be working along the lines of "I know this guy online, he's awesome and wicked smart, any problem I have he knows the answer and works through it with me, it's damn awesome".

When you ask to get together he may very well just think that's "weird" since you aren't friends, you're not part of his social circle, and it's an uncomfortable dynamic, so he makes up excuses.

If you come at him with a consulting fee and a bitching-out, chances are he'll think YOU are the bad guy and not understand where this is coming from after so long.

By all means ditch him, but as others said I wouldn't necessarily assume his intentions.
 

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Guy's not your friend. Definitely using you. Don't try to meet up with him for a drink (you're not friends).

If you want to keep helping him, quote him a consulting fee. When he replies with some bullshit about how you're friends, just be forward:

"Hey man, we haven't met up for a drink in years. Every time I asked you, you came up with a different excuse. It's obvious we're not friends so let's shift this relationship from me getting taken advantage of to something more fair. Otherwise, it was great knowing you and best of luck in the future."

Something along those lines. Basically get paid or delete the guy from your life and move on.
If it's awkward asking for payment .... Setup an account at an online freelancer site and tell him you're getting busy with all your other 'mentees' so you have to start doing it that way. Just bill him by the hour.

Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
 

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I see what you're saying and I don't disagree. Except I'm not really expecting any favors in return. I guess I don't consider hanging out once in a long while, a favor. I see it as something that if you think of me as a friend, you naturally would want to do.

I've helped this person for years without expecting anything. Every now and then I would bring up that we should hang out. And I don't even mention that around the time I'm helping him with something, so I don't think he can claim I'm asking to hang out as payment for my help.
This actually sounds like a situation i am familiar with except when I hung out with "friends" I would be the one paying. Paying for drinks, cabs etc. They were just using me, so i recently had to drop thank quick like a bad habit. They call me to hang out but I don't even pick up or respond to texts, infact I just blocked their numbers.

The last conversation I had with one of my "friends", I told told him "Look, if I continue to hang out with losers. I will become a loser. So this bullshit ends now."
He was shocked because he never saw me so blunt.
 
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Price - is what you pay.
Value - is what you get.

If the value you get from your friendship is equal or less than the price you pay - ditch your mate and re-invest your resources into a more lucrative relationship.
 

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I think I'm done with this guy. And I'm not sure if it's the right thing to do...

I've known this person for over 15 years now. We worked together for about 8 years. I wouldn't consider him a friend; just an acquiaintance I've kept in touch with for many years mostly via instant messenger.

I can't tell you how much I've helped this person throughout the years. 15 years ago I helped him pass an important class for his bachelor's degree, which he would have failed without my help.

For years now I've mentored him on learning to program.

He's admitted that the help I've provided him was directly responsible for him impressing his bosses, and getting great raises throughout the years.

As a result of my help, he went from being someone who would struggle to get a job after getting laid off, to someone who just recently had to turn down multiple job offers. He's now making more money than some engineers. All because of my help.

He's a software tester, not a programmer, but some programming is involved. I've helped him remain relevant in a changing industry where no programming knowledge used to be required.

Whenever he needs help he sends me a message. And I help him not just with his personal coding projects, but I also help him figure out programming problems he's having at work!

So what's the problem? With all the help I provide, I can't even get the guy to meet me for lunch for an hour. It's been years of this. Me telling him that we should hang out, grab a drink, and nothing.

We used to hang out like once a year with a group of people, but that group is no longer around.

The last time we had lunch, it was because he had a ton of programming questions for me.

A few days ago he sends me a message again: "need your help."

WTF? I enjoy helping people, but the way I see it, he's just been using me for years, and can't even give me an hour of his time.

If you don't care to meet up every now and then, how is it OK to continue to ask me for help, even with your 9 to 5 job?

Am I wrong here?

You're wrong here, because you're being used like a doormat and not only that, you're lapping it up happily while he uses you like a disposable tool.
I can relate because I've encountered stuff like this before. It's all because you're too nice, too helpful and this ended up with people taking advantage of you.

My situation was similar to you. It brings back rage in me.
Had a "friend", we got along well. Whenever he needed help in life or design projects, I would help him unconditionally. Plus, because I treated him as a good "friend", there was a long period of time where he was out of job, so whenever we meet up, I would foot all the bills for him. Each time, every time. Hell, even movies, even bowling sessions! Because friendship is everything, and you don't leave your friend behind, right?

And when the guy got a job finally, we went out as usual for dinner and meetup, and he flat out refuses to pay, citing all kinds of reasons.
It didn't happened only once, but multiple times. It got to a point one day where we went to eat pizza (my treat due to salary raise), and not only was this guy unhappy about it, he even lost his temper and begrudgingly asked me why the F are we eating at this restaurant (he feels it's not good enough, even though I'm paying for everything).

I've known him for almost 5+ years, and it was during this time I realized I'm being used like a pushover doormat and I decided it had to stop.

I've since learnt that being too nice and helpful in society usually results in people taking advantage of you, and it's definitely so in your case.
Many folks in society are self-entitled. Not only that "friend", but many others with the same behavior like him.

He needs you, he calls you.
He doesn't need you, you don't exist.
You need his help, he's busy.
You ask him out for a guy's night out, he's not interested.
It's the same pattern all time everytime.

No more Mr. Nice Guy, learn to say No to people, no more being a weakling. Stop being a beta male.
If he asks why are you not helping him and/or makes nasty remarks or tries to guilt-trip you, tell him "I left the money on your mom's dresser". No respect for folks like these.

What I did with that "friend", was to cut off contact with him and re-condition myself to see him, and others like him, as a parasite that needs to be exterminated with insecticide if possible. Plain and simple. Continue helping him and folks like him? OVER YOUR DEAD BODY!

I see all this sort of personality-reconditioning as essential for the fastlane journey.

Ever since I read Unscripted & TMF , I always ask myself : What would MJ do if another guy do <insert action> to him?
 
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WJK

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I think I'm done with this guy. And I'm not sure if it's the right thing to do...

I've known this person for over 15 years now. We worked together for about 8 years. I wouldn't consider him a friend; just an acquiaintance I've kept in touch with for many years mostly via instant messenger.
Am I wrong here?
So, he's using you. You can try one of these...
Plan A -- Next time he wants your help, negotiate your consulting fee with him. Yes, he'll get mad. -- Probably never talk to you again.
Plan B -- Next time, don't reply to his messages. Do you think he'll run you down to get your help?
Plan C -- Call and ask for his help on something that you need. See what he says. It probably won't be repeatable.
Plan D -- Say no right to his face. Maybe it will personally satisfying.
Plan E -- Learn a lesson about your future potential. What you know and can do is very valuable.
What have you taught him that has been so valuable to him?
Can you package and market that knowledge?
What else can you teach to others?
This is situation is uncomfortable for you, but hopefully it will be your wake-up call.
 
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MJ DeMarco

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Sounds like you're getting used like a rented Uhaul without the rent payment.

Next time, don't reply to his messages. Do you think he'll run you down to get your help?

Or better, yet, ask him to "Buy you dinner over it." and see how that goes.

If the guy wants nothing to do with you outside of help that benefits him, he ain't no friend.
 

rc08234

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Is he using you, or are you using him?

You said you like helping people, so you continue to help him to satisfy yourself. When I help someone change a tire, or buy their food at the convenience store cuz they are short a few bucks it's not about them, it's really about me. I feel the need to help people when I can which makes me feel better. It's not really about the person, it's really about me. Deep down it's a selfish act I am doing for myself.
 

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