When you date someone emotionally toxic, it’s hard to explain to other people exactly what your partner has been doing to you. When you say it out loud, it sounds silly. They banged the door loudly on their way outside. They hide the remote from you. They purposely knocked over your paperwork or made a mean comment about the new outfit you were excited for them to see.
Emotionally toxic people are masters at manipulation. Most of the time, they do just enough to get under your skin, to drive you crazy, to make you feel uncomfortable and maybe even unsafe — but they never do enough that they sound like horrible people when you retell the stories to your friends. This way, you’re the one who looks crazy. You’re the one who looks like a nag. You’re the one who looks like a chore to live with.
When you date someone emotionally toxic, it’s rare for you to get an apology. If you call them out on their bad behavior, they’ll act like you’re being overemotional, like you’re purposely causing drama over nothing. They’ll act like the mean comment they made was only a joke. They’ll act like the item they hid or smashed on the floor was only an accident.
They’ll act like you’re making a big deal out of absolutely nothing — and sometimes, you might even believe them. You might buy into their narrative over your own. You might start to question your own account of things. You might get gaslighted.
When you date someone emotionally toxic, they always manage to come out looking like the good guy. If you start screaming at them over something as ‘small’ as the leftovers you were saving that they ‘accidentally’ ate, you’ll look crazy. You’ll look like the one who needs help.
If you accuse someone emotionally toxic of doing anything wrong, they’ll twist the conversation. They’ll change the subject and start listing out all of the nice things they’ve done for you over the course of your relationship. They’ll make you look and feel ungrateful for all of the gifts they’ve given you and all of the romantic dates they’ve taken you on. They’ll guilt trip you into apologizing to them, even when they are well aware they were in the wrong.
When you date someone emotionally toxic, sometimes it takes you a while to realize the impact they’re having on your mental health. They’ve never been physically violent with you. They’ve never laid their hands on you or left bruises on you. The bruises are internal. They were left on your heart. They’re harder to see.
But just because there’s no proof for you to show anyone doesn’t mean your pain is any less valid. It doesn’t mean your relationship is healthy. It doesn’t matter if your partner is hurting your flesh and bones or your heart and soul — because you shouldn’t settle for any form of pain. You shouldn’t settle for a relationship that hurts you like this.