About a year ago, I became acquaintances with a guy who I thought just needed a little help getting things started. He has asked me to lend him money a few times, and I have always refused since I don't think he'd ever pay me back (even if he could). However, I have helped him with transportation quite a few times, including helping him move to different apartments more than once.

My problem is, this is clearly a one-sided relationship. I only ever see him when he needs or wants something from me, and he has never once done anything in return, aside from saying the words "thank you", then disappearing until he needs something again. He also seems to be very presumptuous in just assuming that I will help him as long as I have the time: if I tell him no, he usually expects me to have some reason for it aside from "I don't want to help you anymore."

On top of all that, he has asked me some very personal questions, such as directly asking me what my car cost, and how much my salary is. (I've never answered these questions, btw) These questions, of course, makes me very uneasy about him.

At this point, I'm just fed up with the situation, and feel uncomfortable every time I see him.

I'm having trouble thinking of how to phrase this as a specific question. I'm just looking for advice on what actions I can take to improve the situation, or if I'm just overreacting or being selfish. I'm fairly sure that he does really need the help, but I also feel like I'm just being used and I'm getting tired of it.

Edit: For some context, I'm in Canada. While I want to be clear that I don't think his race has anything to do with it, perhaps it's important to know that he is from Nigeria. I believe he's on a student visa, but plans to immigrate here to stay if he can.

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    Do you want to keep him as an acquaintance or do you want to cut him out of your life? If you don't care about salvaging any kind of relationship and want to take a passive approach, I'd either just ignore him every time he tried to make contact or just never be available to him. He should eventually get the hint...one would hope.
    – cheshire
    Aug 14, 2017 at 19:50
  • We need a little more to go on, what's your goal here?
    – apaul
    Aug 14, 2017 at 20:04
  • @cheshire I don't know TBH... On the one hand, I'd be relieved if he just let me alone, but I also feel like I should try to be kind to him if possible. Aug 14, 2017 at 20:11
  • I had an IP relationship like this and you end up as a slave. Just become less available. Bear in mind that it may be culturally normal in Nigeria not to return favours all the time (I honestly don't know, I'm just trying not to be negative when he may be doing whats normal for his culture). Nov 23, 2017 at 9:52
  • How did you meet? How did he come to be comfortable asking you, in particular, for such? Had you been friends at some point? Did he agree to do anything in return? Expecting people to do stuff for you in return without an explicit agreement isn't a good idea unless you know that they subscribe to that culture. Doing it for you because they're nice/cordial/etc. is another matter (but out of obligation, that's a cultural ideal that not even every good person in the USA subscribes to, whether or not it's a popular notion). Have you tried making an agreement or two-way contract with him?
    – user271
    Feb 3, 2018 at 9:45

6 Answers 6


It depends on whether you want to keep the relationship.

  • How important is this person to you?
  • What is it that keeps you going back to help them?

Once you answer these for yourself, you have two directions you can go:

  1. If you really think this person is important to you and want to improve things between you, it is worth talking to them openly:

    "Sometimes, you make me feel very insignificant in our relationship and as if you don't care about me beyond what I can do for you."

    Just be honest with how you feel, it's okay to be vulnerable sometimes, especially if you want to improve the situation. It might seem unlikely right now, but he might not even know he's doing it and, by the sounds of it, he could be under some stress (with moving from apartment to apartment and the money troubles), You could be his only port of call in these situations as you've said yes in the past. Also, from what you've said he may not know that many people with him immigrating from Nigeria. Honesty really is the best policy.

  2. If you don't wish to associate with them and they have already proven to you that they are not worthy of your friendship. (Remember, friendship is a two-way street.)

    • You're not obligated to explain yourself to them and you could just cut-off ties with them, when they do come to you for help, simply ignore any attempts by them. But, in my opinion, no one will learn unless they are being told that their actions do have an impact on others.

    • You could also just tell them how you feel and let them know why you're cutting ties with them. This may help them see the errors of their ways, especially if they know their actions are making them lose a friend.

      I'm sorry but over the last year, I've felt that this has been a very one-sided friendship and I don't think I can carry on helping you if I at least don't feel appreciated for what I do. I just feel like you only come to me when you need something... I don't think we should be around each other anymore.

  • Thanks. I'll have to do some thinking about those questions. One of the main reasons I kept saying yes was because I think I may be his only "port of call" as you put it. Aug 14, 2017 at 20:24
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    it truly is a hard one, my friend has fallen on hard times and he's staying with me for a while. But, sometimes I feel obligated to help him because he's from Portugal and he doesn't know many people. I'll be moving soon and I to have to have a hard conversation with him when I move out. Sometimes in life, you have to do hard things for the better of a situation. Just choose wisely, I'm sure you'll make a good decision. Aug 14, 2017 at 20:26
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    Your last comment really helped. I think you're absolutely right about doing the hard things for the better of everyone. Considering the situation, I think I need to try to help him as best I can, while at the same time being more honest about my expectations with him. If he doesn't take that well, it's on him to either work things out or find a new friend. Thanks again for your quick and clear response. Aug 14, 2017 at 21:27
  • There should also be resources for students who need help. Perhaps lead him in that direction, he could even make more acquaintances that way.
    – JMac
    Aug 15, 2017 at 16:13

Learn to use the magic word, NO. It's really the kindest thing you can do for him. Apparently he's used up everyone else, that's why he has only you to turn to. When you finally give him a NO, without explanation he'll have the opportunity to realize he's been a one-way sort of a guy on a street that goes both ways. If you feel you must keep him, next time he visits ask him for help and don't help him until he helps you back.


This guy has no family and you may be providing him the only help he can count on--good job. BUT he should say thank you and some day pay you back otherwise he is using you. It doesn't sound like he appreciates what he's had. I'd definitely quit, you have no obligation to him. People are supposed to say thank you and pay people back.


Ask him for a really big favor -- like borrowing (from him) the amount of a down payment for a car (for you). Keep the total amount of the favor to about half of what you've done for him in the past. If he says no or that he can't right now, dump him. Unfortunately, you'll never get a penny/cent back from him for all the help you've given him.

Perhaps he thinks you're so impressed with him, that you just naturally want to do him favors as a sort of hero-worship, and that no payback should be expected.

Or I could be wrong.


You can point it out. "Have you noticed I hear from you only when you need something from me?". "I'm not sure if it is just a coincidence or a rule but whenever we met you wanted something from me." If you want, you can escalate "What again?" and even "Ah, what the gods want now?" "I thought you wanted to go for a beer, darn it." If you are used as a tool you don't need to be polite at all unless you want to be.

You are not obliged to anyone to do a favour. It is your decision only - if you want to help, you help; if you don't want to, you don't. "No, sorry" is a sufficient answer. If you wanted longer answer, "No, I have a different plan for that time" is sufficient even if staring at a blank wall is the plan.


This one is easy since you are barely acquaintances.

Just Phase out, next time he calls don't answer he might keep calling or go to your place then grab your stuff and go to the movies (or any other venue that requires to turn off your phone), if he stills get a hold of you say you can't help him because you are going with your parents, church a yoga class, to the gym, anything. if he really needed the help that day he will find another person.

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    Hmm... not sure if is the best avoid this person; I would talk or send a message to him/her and proceed with what you're saying in your answer (if s/he insists in getting help from the OP) just my two cents, though. Aug 14, 2017 at 22:32
  • Since it's between guys (not a she), that's the best way to get a "hint", with these types of people you want to get as much distance as possible since they manipulate and guilt trip you even without realizing it.
    – nodws
    Aug 14, 2017 at 22:56
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    Phasing out on people is seldom the right thing to do.
    – Marc.2377
    Aug 31, 2017 at 18:17
  • It's not about "the right thing" it's about what is effective, some people don't respond to logic and kindness or don't want to (or you don't want to deal with the drama, and that is valid)
    – nodws
    Aug 31, 2017 at 18:20

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