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71 Songs About Being Used or Taken Advantage Of

FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.

Feeling used, exploited, taken advantage of by a lover? As you decide what to do about it, make a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs about feeling manipulated in relationships.

Feeling used, exploited, taken advantage of by a lover? As you decide what to do about it, make a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs about feeling manipulated in relationships.

Asymmetrical Relationships Are for the Birds

I'm surprised sometimes at how lopsided or asymmetrical love relationships are. One partner seems to reap all of the benefits and the other is the willing supplier.

Compare the situation to feeding birds (my apologies to my feathered friends). In the relationship, you supply a steady stream of resources — investments over time of food for the birds or emotional support, financial help, and/or physical intimacy for your significant other. They fly in for a bit, sing sweetly, and take what they need. After leaving a mess behind for you to deal with, away again they flit until they need more of what you offer. In the interim, they're likely making other pitstops because that's just what they do.

Now, don't go hating on the birds. They're just trying to survive, and the winters can be harsh. However, if the aforementioned description resembles your love relationship, you may have a partner who is taking advantage of you. While you process that sinking feeling, make a custom playlist about being used and manipulated in love relationships. We have a long list of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs to start you off.

Reader Poll

1. "How Do You Sleep?" by Sam Smith.

A cheating partner is a recipe for crazy-making. When the guy in this heartrending 2020 pop ballad suspects his lover is stepping out on him, he grows suspicious and rifles through his significant other's phone, calling numbers he doesn't know. (Have you ever done that?) Apparently, the narrator's insecurity resonates with a lot of folks because the tune became a worldwide hit.

In a "look at what you made me do" moment, the narrator realizes that love has become just a game between them. All trust has evaporated. As the guy says goodbye, he hopes the betrayal will impact his partner as it has affected him:

Baby, how do you sleep when you lie to me?
All that shame and all that danger
I'm hoping that my love will keep you up tonight.

2. "I Hate U, I Love U" by Gnash

When friends turn into lovers, relationships can get messy emotionally. That's what the two people in this 2016 pop ballad learn. After lies and secrets, they've moved on officially but still carry a toxic burn for each another. Both feel a mixture of love and hate, and the guy tells his ex, "If I pulled a 'you' on you, you wouldn't like that." So painful.

3. "I Have Questions" by Camila Cabello

Feeling used, played for a fool, and ultimately abandoned, the inquisitive girl in this 2017 pop tune second guesses whether her ex-lover ever truly cared for her. Theirs is an asymmetric kind of love. He enjoys the power in the relationship and she accepts fault for what went wrong. Seems fair, right? Girl, stop trying to fix his type of "broken."

4. "You Ruin Me" by The Veronicas

Australian pop duo The Veronicas takes on the role of a woman who has been emotionally stripped bare by a two-timing man. The narrator in this mournful, slow-tempo ballad has been devastated by the planned psychological destruction that her partner's infidelity has produced. Unforgiving, the woman hopes he found his affair worth all the pain he caused because she won't be there when he comes to his senses.

5. "Hustle" by Pink

In this sassy "don't f*ck with me" anthem, pop star Pink calls out a former flame who took advantage of her. The 2019 hit shoots a fires a warning across the bow that although he may have used her once, it surely won't happen again:

I gave you soft, I gave you sweet
Just like a lion you came for sheep
Oh, no, don't try to hustle me
You took my love, mistook it for weakness
I guarantee I won't repeat this
No, don't try to hustle me (Try to hustle me).

6. "Layla" by Derek and the Dominos

This classic 1971 rock tune was inspired by a 7th century Arabic tale in which a young man falls desperately in love with a girl he cannot marry. As a result of his unrequited love, the poor guy goes crazy. It was further prompted by Eric Clapton's real life obsessive love for model Pattie Boyd, wife of his friend, Beatle George Harrison. Clapton later married Boyd.

The iconic ditty was heralded by Rolling Stone as one of "The 500 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time." It features a forlorn narrator who has been brought to his knees by a vixen who turned his world upside down. The married woman is playing him for a fool. Even so, he begs to be with her, knowing she'll use him right up.

7. "Nights Like This" by Kehlani (featuring Ty Dolla $ign)

There's a lover's triangle going down in this 2019 R&B hit involving a guy and two bisexual girls. The female narrator laments that she and her former love interest had an unhealthy, fractured relationship because of the girlfriend's deceptiveness. Even though her partner made her feel worthless and took her for granted, she's still having trouble moving on. The guy chimes in, in agreement, calling out the woman for taking advantage of him as well. Some people are just serial users.

8. "Grenade" by Bruno Mars

When it comes to romance, there are givers and takers, and unfortunately, Bruno Mars has latched on to a first-class taker in this worldwide 2010 smash hit. As he belts out this R&B pop crossover song, the musician second-guesses himself for getting involved with her. He's so convincing because he bases it on personal experience.

Despite the narrator's utter devotion and willingness to prove his commitment, his cruel-hearted girlfriend is emotionally rejecting:

Tell the devil I said 'hey' when you get back to where you're from
Mad woman, bad woman
That's just what you are,
Yeah, you'll smile in my face then rip the brakes out my car... .

9. "Mean It" by Lauv & LANY

If you've ever been someone's backup lover (i.e., their second choice or side chick), then you can identify with the message of this 2019 pop song. The narrator is tired of being taken advantage of. His lover plays mind games, builds him up just to let him down, and treats him both hot and cold. He's tired of empty promises and yearns to mean more.

10. "I'm Your Puppet" by James & Bobby Purify

When you're madly in love you can become a puppet on a string, like the lovesick guy in this 1966 R&B pop crossover tune. All his sweetheart has to do is say "jump," and he'll ask, "How high?" He's a boytoy, and her every wish is his command. However, there's a fine line to be walked between loving attentiveness and being used.

11. "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri

When an old flame comes back around wanting to rekindle their passion, the woman in this 2010 pop ballad demands, "Who do you think you are?" She's afraid to get involved again after the damage he inflicted on her heart the first go-around. The cold-hearted lover left her heart scarred and stole the sparkle from her eyes. Recovery was lengthy, and now that the narrator has grown stronger, she refuses to go back. Manipulator be gone!

12. "Dear John" by Taylor Swift

Singer-songwriter John Meyer was 12 years Taylor Swift's senior and had a reputation as a player. Swift started dating him at the tender age of 19. Their romance lasted only three months — long enough for her to feel taken advantage of. Of course, the country-turned-pop princess wrote a cathartic song about her heartbreak. Meyer reported feeling "humiliated" by it and called Swift "mean" for writing the song.

The savage ditty describes the ex-lover as "an expert at sorry and keeping things blurry," then she blames him for a terrible lack of judgment in dating her in the first place:

Dear John, I see it all now, it was wrong
Don't you think nineteen's too young
To be played by your dark, twisted games
When I loved you so?

In spite of the hints that allude to Meyer's identity, Swift has never actually confirmed that the song is about him. A "Dear John letter" is an idiom that refers to a breakup letter, oftentimes because one has found another lover.

13. "Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake

Sometimes those who are taken advantage of get the last laugh. In the early 2000s pop stars Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake were the "it" couple, dating for two-and-a-half-years. Their love affair came to a sudden halt, however, when Spears hooked up with a prominent choreographer, and the couple broke up.

Cashing in on their painful breakup, the former NSYNC artist released this scorching tell-all ballad. The 2002 pop song is pure vengeance, calling Spears out for the way she lied, stepped out on him, and broke his trust. According to the single, she burned bridges and there's no going back regardless of how hard she cries.

12 Signs Your Significant Other Is Using or Taking Advantage of You

If your partner is exhibiting some of these signs of manipulating or using you, then it may be time to re-evaluate your choice of partner.

Your significant other isn't willing to publicly acknowledge or define your relationship

They don't pull their weight in the relationship. They don't put in much effort (e.g., special occasions, showing affection).

Conversations are one-sided, and you consistently play the supportive, listening role.

Your significant other breaks down your self-confidence. Compliments are few. Sarcasm and harsh criticism are plenty.

They have low empathy for you. Your opinions are dismissed. You don't feel valued. You find yourself apologizing a lot.

"No" isn't an option. If needed, your significant other uses guilt trips and pestering to get what they need.

Their relationship focus is primarily sexual.

Your significant other uses your fears and insecurities to get what they want.

They break their promises. They are unfaithful.

They don't solicit your opinion with decisions. They make important decisions themselves.

They treat others better than they treat you.

They can't pay their bills and consistently rely on you for help.

14. "Use Me" by Bill Withers

At least the guy in this 1972 soul-pop tune is candid about what motivates him to stay with a woman who mistreats him. Talk about a toxic relationship.

Friends tried to talk sense into him. No deal. His brother tried to sit him down and warn him that he was being walked all over by the woman he loved. That also did not work. She treats him rudely, yet he keeps coming back for more:

Yes, I wanna spread the news
That if it feels this good gettin' used
Oh, you just keep on usin' me
Until you use me up.

15. "Letdown" by This Providence

At the hands of a sexy she-devil, the narrator in this 2009 alternative rock ditty puts up with verbal and emotional abuse. The tattooed temptress offers him cheap sex then taunts him and breaks his spirit:

She said, "You're just a letdown
Another one of my mistakes
I never loved you anyway
I never did, and I never will"
She said, "You're just a letdown
All your friends, they feel the same
I never loved you anyway
I never did, and I never will."

16. "I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Badass hard rocker portrays a woman in love with a player in this 1988 tune. The callous man stands her up and messes around on her, but the narrator keeps coming back for more. Admitting that her pride has taken a major blow, the heartsick woman hates that she repeatedly makes these choices to allow him to treat her poorly. In 2015, Joan Jett became the first female bandleader to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when she and the Blackhearts were honored with selection.

17. "Stay" by Sugarland

This 2007 country-pop crossover hit is Sugarland's response to "Whoever's in New England" (Reba McEntire's song of infidelity from a betrayed wife's point of view). "Stay" alternatively takes the mistress' perspective in the lover's triangle. Both women are being used by the cheating man.

The song narrator begs her married lover to stay in her bed, anticipating that the man's wife will soon summon him home. The other woman is tired of receiving sloppy seconds. She has grown weary of his empty promises, waiting, and sneaking around.

When she has an epiphany that she deserves more, the narrator tells him that next time he wants to leave his wife's bed to visit her, just stay with his wife. Her realization that she has been used is heartwrenching. The song has become Sugarland's signature song.

18. "New Rules" by Dua Lipa

Following a breakup from a guy who isn't good for her, the woman in this 2017 pop hit has developed new rules. These rules help her to set personal boundaries so that she doesn't fall into old habits.

Her ex is someone who takes advantage of her and doesn't have her best interests in mind, thus her new guidelines are simple:

  • Don’t answer his calls
  • Refuse to allow him in and
  • Never be his friend.

19. "The Heart Wants What It Wants" by Selena Gomez

Poor Selena Gomez buys into the old wives' tale that you can't help who you love. (I beg to differ. There are more than 7.5 billion people on earth, so alternative possible partners abound.)

In this melancholy 2014 pop ditty, the former Disney pop princess alludes to her on-again off-again relationship with Justin Bieber. (Girl, he was never worth it.) The couple dated sporadically from 2011 to 2018. This song describes how the narrator's lover disappears on her without explanation, leaving her feeling "crazy" and desperate for his call. She admits that "there's a million reasons why I should give you up," but in spite of him taking advantage of her, "the heart wants what it wants." She is abandoning all reason. Is it her heart she's thinking with or another part of her anatomy?

20. "Take a Bow" by Rihanna

According to Rihanna, this actor is so good at deception he deserves an ovation and should take a bow. Acknowledging she was played, the narrator in this R&B mainstream chart-topper from 2008 mocks her unfaithful dog of a man. She portrays him as a pathetic stage performer who lies and cheats like an actor rattles off well-rehearsed lines.

Now he's apologizing, and this girl is having none of it. She says he looks dumb, he's ugly when he cries, and he's just sorry he got caught. Finally, she's a tough critic who has learned her lesson.

"You can't always be nice. That's how people take advantage of you. Sometimes you have to set boundaries." - Ritu Ghatourey, Indian author

"You can't always be nice. That's how people take advantage of you. Sometimes you have to set boundaries." - Ritu Ghatourey, Indian author

Even More Songs About Being Used or Taken Advantage Of

Got a song suggestion for this playlist? Make a suggestion in the Comments Section below!

SongArtist(s)Year Released

21. Don't

Ed Sheeran

2014

22. Million Reasons

Lady Gaga

2016

23. Unappreciated

Cherish

2006

24. Die for Me

Post Malone (featuring Halsey & Future)

2019

25. Breaking Point

Keri Hilson

2010

26. I'm Not the Only One

Sam Smith

2014

27. Pros and Cons of Breathing

Fall Out Boy

2003

28. Quit

Ariana Grande

2017

29. Beautiful Liar

Beyoncé & Shakira

2007

30. Energy

Keri Hilson

2009

31. Hostage

Sia

2014

32. If I Were a Boy

Beyoncé

2008

33. Foolish

Ashanti

2002

34. Love On the Brain

Rihanna

2016

35. How You Did It

JoJo

2009

36. Lose You to Love Me

Selena Gomez

2019

37. Forget You

CeeLo Green

2010

38. Apologize

Timbaland (featuring OneRepublic)

2009

39. It's Alright, It's OK

Ashley Tisdale

2009

40. Call Out My Name

The Weeknd

2018

41. Always

Bon Jovi

1994

42. Look What You Made Me Do

Taylor Swift

2017

43. The Girl's a Straight-Up Hustler

All Time Low

2006

44. Bad Blood

Taylor Swift (featuring Kendrick Lamar)

2014

45. You Oughta Know

Alanis Morissette

2005

46. Take It All

Marion Cotillard

2010

47. Irreplaceable

Beyoncé

2006

48. You're Not Sorry

Taylor Swift

2008

49. Comeback

Ella Eyre

2014

50. Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town

Kenny Rogers & The First Edition

1969

51. Take It on the Run

REO Speedwagon

1981

52. The Worst

Jhené Aiko

2013

53. Backstabber

Kesha

2010

54. Call Me When You're Sober

Evanescence

2006

55. Falling Out

Ween

2000

56. Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

Meat Loaf

1977

57. "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)

Barbara Mandrell

1978

58. Whoever's in New England

Reba McEntire

1986

59. Soon

Tanya Tucker

1993

60. Saving All My Love for You

Whitney Houston

1985

61. You Belong to Me

Carly Simon

1977

62. Thanx 4 Nothin'

Mariah Carey

2008

63. Blank Space

Taylor Swift

2014

64. Going Under

Evanescence

2003

65. Something in the Way You Move

Ellie Goulding

2016

66. Judas

Lady Gaga

2011

67. Leave (Get Out)

JoJo

2004

68. I'm Not Your Toy

La Roux

2009

69. I Can't Make You Love Me

Bonnie Raitt

1991

70. I Bet

Ciara

2015

71. Poison

Bell Biv DeVoe

1990

© 2020 FlourishAnyway

Comments

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 01, 2020:

Ankita - Thank you. May those who are single be able to see these folks coming. And may those who are prone to these habits get the results they merit.

Ankita B on December 01, 2020:

Another great playlist. I only knew some of the songs from this list but it is always good to know more artists and songs. I liked how you have introduced the subject.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 01, 2020:

Devika - I appreciate your kind compliment and for taking the extra time to comment. I hope you have a wonderful week during this early holiday season.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 01, 2020:

FlourishAnyway your list of songs are well researched and makes us think of what life can be for some of us. Great to read another lsit of songs and with a different meaning.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 30, 2020:

Mary - It sounds like you have a stable, respectful relationship. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing a bit about your life. I hope you are doing well.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on November 30, 2020:

Judging by the many songs you've listed, this taking advantage looks like it is a common occurrence. My husband and I married when I was 40 and he was 48 so we are mature enough to get into a relationship. I think we are always in the process of changing and the growth process is sometimes messy. But we work on ourselves to make the relationship better. Being honest is a big help.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 30, 2020:

Linda - Thank you for playing along. I hope you are doing well. Have a wonderful holiday season!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 30, 2020:

Ashutosh - Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate the comment.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 30, 2020:

Bill - You're right, better sooner than later! People put up with a lot of unsavory behavior from others. Thanks for stopping by. Hope your Thanksgiving was fabulous.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 29, 2020:

I always enjoy learning about new songs or artists by reading your articles. Thanks for introducing me to some more music and performers, Flourish. I was only familiar with a few of the musicians in this article. It was good to learn about more.

Ashutosh Joshi from New Delhi, India on November 29, 2020:

The kind of stuff one shouldn't mix with drinks :)

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on November 29, 2020:

Another great playlist, Flourish. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about this. Anyone who finds themselves in such a relationship should head for the exit. There certainly is no shortage of songs about the topic, which tells me there are probably a lot of troubled relationships out there. Great job.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 29, 2020:

Linda - Isn't it wonderful to be happy, especially when the world around us seems to be so troubled? I wish everyone had a respectful, solid relationship they could seek shelter from the world in. I have heard terrible things about how couples take advantage of their partners even among people I know. Life is short, and that's no way to spend it.

Have a wonderful week!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 29, 2020:

Peggy - Trouble seems to follow some folks when it comes to love. It should make them think about their choices. Of course, not too many of us would admit to taking advantage of others in love relationships. It's a hard thing to acknowledge from either side.

Hope your Thanksgiving was a happy one!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 29, 2020:

James - He really has the right idea. You might as well love the experience -- in for a penny, in for a pound! Hope you have a terrific week!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 29, 2020:

emge - Sadly, it's all too common. There sure are a lot of divorces and unhappy marriages and relationships. Thanks for stopping by.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 29, 2020:

Heidi - Thanks for these song recommendations! I added "Wrecking Ball" to my love triangle playlist and "Poison" to this one. I'm glad you've never had a reason to write a song like this. I enjoy my stable, happy relationship as well. So many people confuse excitement and disrepect in relationships.

I hope your Thanksgiving was excellent! On to Christmas!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 29, 2020:

Bill - I love that classic. It's a love triangle song involving a no good lady getting treated poorly by a no good man and she wants to go back to the original guy she did wrong. Some would say she got her comeuppance. Thanks for commenting so early in the morning your time!

James C Moore from The Great Midwest on November 29, 2020:

I'm surprised this song list hadn't come out before. So much material. I say if you're gonna be used , get used like Bill Withers at #14.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 29, 2020:

Given the number of songs regarding this subject, it certainly reflects a lot of heartaches when it comes to relationships. Hopefully, the next one is better for those who have been disappointed in the past.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 29, 2020:

Dora - Thanks for the kind comment. We've all probably had love relationships where we didn't feel valued enough and put in way more than we got out. Hopefully, it's a relationship that doesn't last long!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on November 29, 2020:

You stumped me on this one; obviously I don't listen to the radio enough. I recognize a few of the oldies and now, I have #14 running in the background in my little brain. Thanks for another great topic (how DO you do it?).

Thankfully this one doesn't really apply to me. My Mr. Carb is the love of my life.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on November 29, 2020:

This is something so common. I didn't know there were so many songs. You have a computer brain.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on November 29, 2020:

I'm gonna dig into the archive for these with Connie Francis "Who's Sorry Now?", Bell Biv Devoe "Poison," and Miley Cyrus "Wrecking Ball."

I'm just glad I've never had a reason to write a song like this. ;)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on November 29, 2020:

All I could think of was "You're No Good" by Linda Rondstadt. I'm not even sure if it applies, but my brain was so stuck on that song, I couldn't see the obvious ones.

Note to self: never tackle one of your articles at 6:30 on a Sunday morning. My brain is in a fog!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on November 29, 2020:

I love your introduction. From your description of the lyrics I can tell that being taken advantage of can bring out the worst side of a person, but its better to express anger in song than in any other way. Your song articles subtly teach some helpful lessons about life.