Some say, to make a relationship work, you have to be willing to bend. You have to compromise. You have to make sacrifices. You have to fight. You have to change parts of yourself that your partner can’t handle. Parts of yourself they see as flaws. You have to give without expecting anything in return. You have to be understanding. You have to be patient.
While some of this is true in a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship with two people who both are equally giving and receiving love, this advice can turn toxic in an unhealthy relationship.
The sad part is we aren’t aware at the time that we are in a toxic relationship that is never going to work. A number of us have never been in a healthy relationship. We don’t know what that looks like. So we take these “Key Points of Relationship Survival 101” and try to apply them to our doomed relationships. And what happens? We damage ourselves… because it’s not enough.
It’s never going to be enough, but we don’t see that. So we keep trying, and the more we try, the more we lose ourselves.
I have wasted years of my life on men who were wrong for me. Like so many others, I didn’t know that at the time. So I gave it my all. I fought and fought, determined to make it work, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Right?
I gave all of myself until I had no more to give. I changed myself so much, molded into what would benefit them and our relationship, that I lost myself. I didn’t realize that I had changed myself so much that I didn’t even know who I was anymore.
Do you know why those relationships finally came to an end? Because I was so exhausted. I was so mentally, emotionally and physically drained that I no longer cared. I stopped taking care of myself, I didn’t enjoy the things that I used to, I lost all interest in, well, pretty much everything, until I became an empty shell of a human. I was running on autopilot. I remember going through the motions of daily activities but not really being there. That became a breaking point.
They had nothing to gain from me anymore. After a long fight based on what I had done wrong, they said, “Do YOU want to break up?” Of course always worded THIS way so that the blame can fall (once again) on me. And with no emotion left in my entire being, I said, “Yes.”
It’s taken me a long time to finally find myself again. I finally remembered things that I loved. I am also finding new things that I love. I’m remembering how to care for myself again. How to love myself. How to care about things. How to feel like a human again.
I hope some of you will read this and see yourselves in it. That you’ll make the realization, sooner rather than later, that you are worth more than letting a man (or woman) take away your sense of self. Don’t listen to what they say about how to make a relationship work. If you are having to only look for advice on how to keep your significant other happy, it’s not the relationship for you. I know that not everyone has my same experience, but there are so many people who do.
So I’m saying this for those who feel that they have to give it their all, who feel that they have to fight until there is nothing left, for those who feel if they don’t try their hardest, it makes them less of a good person or less worthy of love:
You don’t have to fight so hard, honey. Yes, relationships take work. But it shouldn’t be SO HARD. And if it is, they aren’t the right one for you. If they make you feel less than, not good enough, or that something is wrong with YOU, they are not ‘The One.’
If you have to give every ounce of yourself to the relationship while your counterpart contributes nothing, only takes and builds themselves up while tearing you down, they are not ‘The One.’
You have to leave room for yourself too. If you aren’t thriving and building TOGETHER, what are you doing? Healthy relationships are built around partnerships, not emotional dictators.