Is this really taking advantage?

It certainly depends on how the room/bunks are set up. Sometimes the upper bunk is so low over the bottom bunk that you can’t sit up and there is no air flow (especially if you’re at the beach and the asshole above you hangs their towel on the edge of their bunk to dry). Anyways, I’m not trying to dispute that you like the bottom, I was just pointing out that it’s not universal.

I think the OP has a similar issue - she thought she was being nice by letting her ex drive because he liked it, but he felt used. If I went to a hostel with you I might think I was being nice by letting you have the top* (or conversely you might think you were being nice by letting me have the bottom). Obviously this is a problem that can be solved with communication, but sometimes it isn’t clear that something is more or less desirable.

*I’m not saying this is necessarily what your friend was doing - you obviously know her intentions better than I do.

Sounds like you’re the one doing them a favor by using your car all the time. Are they paying you for gas/maintenance for these rides or are they free? If they are paying you something, then don’t ask them to drive. If they are not paying anything, driving at least some of the time is the very, very least they could do.

At this point, I usually point to Deborah Tannen’s books on communication styles. Yes, there are different - direct and indirect (or nonconfrontational) styles. The direct means that you say what you want and mean what you say, and speak up if you dislike something. Indirect means that you often don’t say anything, because the other person should be able to intuit your feelings on this issue, or “everybody knows that …”; that you don’t want/ can’t speak directly about your feelings - you may not be aware of them until afterwards!, so sometimes an indirect person can say the opposite of what she really wants.

No, one style is not better than the other.

Yes, direct and indirect vary not only between cultures (Japanese vs. American) and sexes (Men vs. women), but also between individuals, and even for a single person - there are things everybody is uncomfortable speaking about aloud, it just varies what these things are.

So saying “well if it bothers him to drive, he should say so” is only part of the story. He might have felt pressured because of the way you asked; he might have felt uncomfortable with your way of driving; he might have felt his duty because if you wanted to drive, you would have gone ahead, so if you ask him, you must be feeling insecure/ tired, etc…

The best way to avoid this, besides offering other paybacks, is to

  1. have an open friendly talk with the other person. Not accusing them “why don’t you speak up?” but the famous “I”-messages “I have noticed that you do all the driving, I’m afraid I’m taking advantage of you, how do you feel about it?” trying to listen for subtle clues. Try and adress your more direct approach, too “I’m sorry, I’m not very good at reading subtle signals, so please try to be explicit now” Maybe you can find certain codes or rituals of asking (as some cultures have - you decline an invitation to food x number of times to be sure it’s meant sincerely and not just politetly).

  2. try to remember and be aware that other people communicate differently, and try to account for that. You don’t have to change your whole style (that would be an enormous effort) - but neither should you expect everybody else to conform always to your preferences.

So if you are very direct, try to listen for subtle signals; if you are very non-confrontational, try to give direct feedback.