I'm lucky enough to have married a man who values and respects me. He brings me candles for my baths and lets me eat the chocolate filled bottom of his ice-cream cones. We have conflicts and do our best to overcome them with grace and I thank God for him every day. However, getting to this point was a series of trials and errors in other relationships and these are some of the things I learned in a relationship that was not as healthy as the one I am blessed with now.
No. It's not because he loves you.
Ohh the jealousy, the snooping, the manipulation. No, it is not because he loves you. It's because he doesn't know what real love is. I have had my bank account checked, my location constantly monitored on apps and my text messages viewed as he pleased. No, I didn't have an issue with it because I had something to hide, I had an issue with it because I knew deep down that it wasn't right. I knew it wasn't healthy but still allowed it to continue. I still made excuses for him to my friends and family.
Stop making excuses
I would excuse his behaviors to my friends and family and hide how badly he made me feel. I told myself that other people didn't know him like I did and they couldn't possibly understand. I now know that as soon as you start having to hide and excuse the behavior of your significant other, that the relationship has turned toxic. Your friends and family sometimes know you better than you know yourself and can tell when someone is bringing you down. Someone once told me that "your light goes out when he walks in the room". I didn't want to believe that and I chalked it up to a rough patch that we would overcome.
Stop breaking up and making up.
It is normal for high school relationships to have ups and downs and sometimes that leads to impermanent break ups. And to an extent that is okay. But when breaking up becomes the end result of every fight, you are left feeling like you are constantly walking on ice, fearing the end of the relationship. I found that once we broke up the first time, the relationship was never the same again. I never felt secure. For a relationship to be healthy, there has to be able to be conflict resolution without threats of leaving.
Passive aggression is not healthy
Saying something is okay when it is not okay, is the makings of an unhealthy and unhappy relationship. If you are not okay with something, then you need to speak up. Side eyes and cold shoulders are not helpful in building a meaningful relationship. And we're all guilty of it. Saying something is alright or okay just because we genuinely want it to be okay. In my unhealthy relationship every time I asked if I could spend time with friends, the answer was always yes. But the answer was never actually yes. It meant that I could do whatever I wanted but I should be prepared to get the cold shoulder for the entire next day.
If you need SOMETHING, ask for it.
"You should have just known". We all want to get what we need without having to ask for it but this rarely ever happens. Expecting someone to know what you're thinking is always a lead up to being let down. Now I have gotten really great at asking for a hug when I need one instead of sitting across the table feeling distant and unheard.
If you're going to feel alone, you may as well do it alone.
I use to feel lonely all the time, even though I always had this other person with me. I stayed in the relationship because I was worried about being alone but as soon as the relationship ended I felt better than I had in a long time. Being in a toxic relationship makes you feel much more alone than actually being alone ever does.
Someone will love you better.
I stayed because it was my first real relationship and I didn't believe that anyone else would love me. I had a disney fairytale in my head where the first relationship is also your last. I wanted to tell my kids that we were high school sweethearts but now I get to set an example of a healthy, respectful and loving relationship for my kids instead and that is so so much better. Someone else will love you. And now you know what you will and will not tolerate in a relationship.