When you’ve lost yourself to a toxic relationship, it’s hard to get back into the dating game. It’s hard to believe there are people out there who are going to treat you right.
You’re always on guard, always ready for someone who seemed like a good person to turn around and show you their true colors. Even though you want to believe in fairy tale romances, your toxic relationship has morphed you into a skeptic — or what you like to call, a realist.
When someone drowns you with affection, when they make you feel beautiful and valued and seen, you wonder whether it’s an act — and how long they’re going to be able to keep up that act. You assume nothing good lasts forever. You assume there must be a catch whenever you come across someone who is on their best behavior.
Even when someone reminds you your last relationship was an abnormality, that love isn’t supposed to hurt, a part of you wonders whether they’re only saying what they think they’re supposed to say. You wonder whether all of the happy relationships you’ve seen are secretly a sham, whether they’re fighting just as much behind closed doors as you used to fight with your person. You wonder whether every relationship goes downhill eventually — or whether you’re broken for even wondering something so dark.
When you’ve lost yourself to a toxic relationship, it’s hard to remember what healthy communication looks like. Since you’re more used to violent confrontations than mature compromises, you’re worried you’re going to ruin each new relationship you enter by acting in extremes. Either you’ll blow up at them because that’s the way you’re used to acting or you’ll keep secrets hidden from them out of fear of overreacting.
Even though your ex was the toxic one, some of their negativity rubbed off on you. They warped your way of thinking about love. They changed the way you behave in a relationship. You aren’t sure how to be a good partner anymore. You aren’t sure what’s normal anymore. You have to relearn everything you thought you knew. You have to rewire your brain in certain ways, because if you treat someone new the way you treated your toxic ex, the cycle might repeat.
When you’ve lost yourself to a toxic relationship, the embarrassment doesn’t go away for a while. You feel weird reaching out to friends who you lost touch with throughout the relationship. You feel weird answering questions about why you stayed so long and what made you finally decide to leave. You feel weird about embarking on life alone after spending so much time in a relationship, even though it was a bad one.
When you’ve lost yourself to a toxic relationship, it’s hard to see the light again. It’s hard to believe there are good people in this world who would never dream of putting you through the hell your ex put you through — but you have to keep reminding yourself your toxic relationship wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t the way love is supposed to feel.