How to Save Yourself From a Toxic Relationship

And what it really means to love.

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Love is not the answer.

It just isn’t. Many toxic relationships are held together with this flimsy glue of an excuse.

What Love Isn’t (Toxic)

Control.

It isn’t jealousy. It isn’t drama. Real passion is not fueled by manufactured conflict. It is fueled by deep connection and trust. If you need to fight to prove how much you love each other then you are living on a rollercoaster of emotion, not in a healthy relationship.

Manipulation.

Driving a wedge between you and your partner to feel the love in “making up” is a twisted version of getting to a connected place. But you never really get there. You always need more wedges…and your partner gets tired of jumping through hoops to prove they love you. It is a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Dependence.

Your bad mood isn’t your partner’s responsibility. Just because your boss yelled at you today, your partner doesn’t need to drop their world to deal with you. And just because their world didn’t stop, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Don’t require your partner to be your everything. Take full responsibility for your own emotions. If they can be there for you in that moment great. If not, phone a friend.

“The hardest part of being in an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s actually admitting you’re in one.”

― Anna Akana

What Love Is

Friendship.

Think of your best friendship. The one where you feel connected and in sync. The one where you can be yourself, tell your deepest secrets and be your goofy self. True love is where you can reveal parts of yourself you may never show anyone else.

Goodwill.

You want them to be happy. Like seeing your partner’s dreams come true is the happiest you can imagine feeling. It is pure joy.

Unconditional.

This is big. You know you found it because you love, even when you are mad. Not just mad, but when you are hurt. When you experience the pain of feeling disconnected you love anyway. You still want the best for them. You don’t manipulate things to go your way. You don’t try to win because it means they would lose. You don’t get defensive. You see yourself as a team, a couple, a partnership always.

How to Save Yourself (when it is wrong)

Drop the denial.

Time to review. Those comments that hurt you. The months or years of disrespect, disconnection and discord. Where did it stem from and what was your reaction? Did you chip away pieces of yourself to glue this relationship back together? If you find yourself wondering what happened to you, to your dreams, to the life you thought you would build for yourself…those are losses that no one can sustain.

Live in the present.

Time to analyze. What is the cost of staying vs. the benefit of leaving? Even the worst relationships have some kind of benefit. Even if that benefit is toxic in itself. Maybe you feel too guilty to leave. You thrive on feeling good for “sticking it out”. Understanding your reasons will go a long way toward healing.

Start rebuilding.

All those pieces of yourself that were scattered like so much garbage in the wake of your relationship need to be gathered up. And you need to start doing what makes you feel good, like a whole and complete person. Do something for yourself. Rebuild your friendships or find new ones. Connect with people who love the things you love. Remind yourself what it feels like to be truly valued.

I write about relationships for one simple reason. Our relationships determine who we are to become. They provide the primary meaning in our lives.

Look at truly connected couples. They are most likely described as the “power couple”.

But why?

They are growing and developing and getting it done. It isn’t an accident that these people find the most meaningful connections and the most successful endeavors…it is destined to be that way because they have figured out the secret.

And it is so simple. Relationships require attention, but they are not hard. Love is the easiest thing to do, but only when it is right. Slamming square pegs into round holes is hard. Making two puzzle pieces fit when they don’t match is hard. But, love, that is easy. It is unquestioned. It is a revelation. Not a revolt.

It is relationships that bring the most meaningful connections to our lives. Without that foundation for growth, we are trudging through mud, wondering why we aren’t getting anywhere.

So no, love is not enough. We can love the wrong people. But we can also let them go.

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Writing about the beautiful journey of life and love. We are all figuring this out together

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