1. Make your own money. Enough for you to survive. That way, you’re not forced to rely on a man. To stay with him because you, financially, couldn’t afford to live without him.
2. Learn how to take care of yourself. How to cook. How to change the oil in your car. How to do your taxes. Learn how to survive on your own, so you never need his help.
3. Have a life away from love. Don’t spend every waking moment with him. Find a hobby. Find a job you love. Find some new friends. Don’t let yourself feel like he’s the only thing that matters in life, because it’ll make it impossible to leave him.
4. Remind yourself of your worth on a daily basis. Read inspiration quotes. Speak positive affirmations into the mirror. Do whatever you can to remind yourself you should leave someone if they become toxic. That you deserve better.
5. Take things slow. Don’t move in with someone — or marry someone — after only a few months of dating them. Get to know their dark side, so there aren’t any surprises after the honeymoon.
6. Look at your situation from different points of view. Think about how your boyfriend treats you. Now think about what you’d do if your friend’s boyfriend treated her that way. Would you be okay with it? Or would you beg her to break up with him?
7. Sign up for self-defense classes. You should know how to protect yourself. Just in case. You never know when that nice guy will flip. Don’t let him take advantage of you.
8. Have set rules that you refuse to break. I’ll leave anyone that cheats on me. I’ll leave anyone that abuses drugs. I’ll leave anyone that makes me cry more than smile. Find your boundaries and don’t let anyone cross them.
9. Trust your friends and family members. Sometimes, they will realize how unhealthy your relationship is before you do. So when they criticize your partner, don’t explode. Really think about what they said and if it holds any truth before you accuse them of being a horrible friend.
10. Raise your self-esteem. If you truly love yourself, you won’t settle for less than you deserve. You’ll force men to raise the bar. And if they don’t, then you won’t stick around.
11. Ask questions. Don’t believe every word that comes out of his mouth. If something sounds sketchy, then ask him to explain himself. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
12. Know the signs of an abusive person. If someone tries to control what you wear. If someone gets jealous over friends that are clearly harmless. If someone punches walls when they’re angry. Those aren’t good signs. Those are signs to run.
13. Pay attention. Look at how they treat others. Do they call the waitress a bitch when she gets the order wrong? Do they call their mother a whore when she gets remarried? If they’re mean to everyone else, it’s only a matter of time until they’re mean to you.
14. See a shrink. A psychiatrist should be able to tell you if the problems in your relationship are normal or dangerous. And if you want to leave, they should be able to help you find a safe way to do so.
15. Listen to your gut feelings. If you have a sense that something is wrong, like you shouldn’t be left alone with the person, then leave. Don’t wait to see if your gut feeling is right. Just listen to it.