Feeling Bad for Someone is No Reason to Let Them Treat You Poorly

By Rachel Puryear

If you are an empathetic person who tends to readily help other people in need, you have likely tried to help someone in your life where that recipient was less than appreciative towards your awesome efforts. Indeed, it’s frustrating and demoralizing to make sacrifices to help someone else, only to have that person defeat your efforts without much regard.

Perhaps you were not expecting much in terms of reciprocation or repayment for your help, but a bit of gratitude and appreciation of your generosity from them certainly would have been appropriate.

Yellow diamond-shaped sign in a grassy field with red desert rock in the background, and the sign shows two black arrows going both ways.

Sometimes, you might just put up with bad behavior and rude treatment from people you help, because you feel sorry for them. You remind yourself that they’re down and out, they’ve had a hard life, they’re in pain, and so forth; whatever it is. These things may all be true. However, that doesn’t justify the person treating you badly – nor should you necessarily continue being good to them, if they are consistently unappreciative towards you.

How to respond to such a situation depends on whether you love this person or not, and whether or not they are worth it to you. Just be careful. Sometimes even love is not enough.

Sometimes people need tough love. You might feel that what they really need instead is kindness and compassion, and that responding with tough love would simply be too mean. But when you have given unconditional kindness and compassion all along, held back your own frustration and ignored your own needs because you’re afraid of hurting them in any little way, and it’s gotten you nowhere; it could be time to rethink your approach.

If your being nice to them only means that they are walking all over you, that behavior must be stopped. People will respect you more if you give them tough love when they need it, instead of being their punching bag. You won’t melt a heart of ice by constantly giving someone their way. If anything, such a person will only learn to walk all over you, and hold their hands out every time they want something from you.

Instead, you have to assert your own boundaries, and demand reasonable accountability. By setting your own boundaries, you could be also setting an example of accountability, and self-respect. This might get your troubled loved one to think twice more than your being a cheerful doormat will. If nothing else, standing up for yourself could save your sanity. Your own sanity matters.


Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to your setting appropriate boundaries with other people, even when your deep sympathies make that difficult to do. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you do not do so already. xoxo

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