The UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has placed considerable emphasis on the users of the research it supports. Researchers have in turn pointed to the potential uses of the work they do as a means of demonstrating relevance. However, to date, researchers and research funders have succumbed to the temptation of constructing and then believing in users of their own making. The over-reliance on an embodied notion of use and uncritical acceptance of associated pathways of influence is understandable but unnecessary. There are other ways of conceptualising and identifying use, but these require researchers and funders to develop and work with more convincing models of knowledge diffusion and relevance. In short, the challenge is to understand better the process of use even if that means abandoning the comforting fairy-tale of the research user.