“When you love someone they become less and less of a person. They become just an extension of yourself. A projection of your own needs. Love wears down a person until they become dull around the edges. Like a piece of sea glass. Misshapen.” – Jasmine Sealy
Every so often, I come across people who live and breathe off one another; a parasitic relationship disguised as symbiotic to the general public. I’ve had friends who used to sleep with their phones under their pillow all night, so they could answer right away if their boyfriend texted them. Ridiculous as it seems, that sense of attachment does appear in many relationships.
Being on the outside, you begin to notice your friends’ personal pronouns disappearing — “I,” slowly becoming “we,” and before you can take a step back, two people become one. Suddenly, you no longer see your friend anymore.
I feel that as I get older, I see so many couples become these extensions of one another. You know who I’m talking about; that friend who you never see anymore because they are staying in with so-and-so. This might just be a lifestyle change for some couples. As we get older, we notice new things make us happy, but the real problem is that many of my friends are disappearing into unhappy relationships, and staying there.
Sometimes these couples stay together because they don’t know anything else, because they are comfortable. How many people are not only going to be completely okay with you popping your pimples in front of them, but actually still want to have sex with you after? I can answer that question for you: Not many.
So you end up staying. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never been guilty of this kind of overdosing effect. But why do we do this?
Sometimes we stay because we simply forgot how to be alone. We’ve lost a piece of our identity in this other person and we’re afraid there won’t be anything left without them.
Or sometimes it’s because we think we’ll never feel this way about anyone again. Because being miserable together is better than being apart. We settle for people who don’t truly understand us — that don’t make us feel heard or appreciated for what we value in ourselves.
Regardless of any justifications for staying in something you know is not right for you, it all centers on the irrational fears and insecurities.
I believe the fear of the unknown is what often scares bad relationships into staying exactly what they are — a bad relationship. We all know that friend who shouldn’t be with their boyfriend or girlfriend anymore; they know it, we know it, but they stay together. Or maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “Shit, she’s talking about me.” Either way, I have some words of advice on toxic relationships.
Not every toxic relationship is the same. It can manifest in countless different ways, but the toxicity remains and the result is the same — it’s up to you to change your situation. Maybe you are with someone who is constantly putting you down in attempts to make you feel less than and insecure. Or maybe it’s someone who doesn’t respect you as a person and friend. Or maybe you are with someone incredibly jealous or ridiculously flirty.
Maybe they are controlling or emotionally abusive. Maybe you are with someone who keeps trying to tear you down and change you into a different person, even though you’re happy with who you are. Perhaps it’s someone who always manipulates you into coming back or feeling bad and dependent upon them. Or maybe they were overly dependent on you. Maybe they did the worst of all and cheated, and still convinced you to take them back. Bye bye, trust. Hello, insecurities.
While no relationship is perfect, any of these qualities or tendencies in excess can make you utterly miserable in a relationship. And the worst part is, so many of these problems are rooted in the insecurity or obliviousness of your partner rather than you.
So what do you do? What do you do when you feel like your SO, the person who is supposed to build you up and make you into a better version of yourself, is actually doing the opposite (whether intentionally or not)?
Stop thinking about them and start thinking about you. As cheesy as it may sound, don’t forget to appreciate and love what is unique and great about you. Even if you love someone more than anything in the world, you can’t make a home out of a human being. Just because you found someone does not mean that you have the right to lose yourself. You are your own home.
You’re a smart person and you already know that you can never truly be happy with someone unless you’re happy with yourself first. So stop allowing yourself to get lost, and being scared, and losing yourself as a result. That nagging, lingering feeling you have deep in your gut? That loneliness you feel even when you’re with your significant other? Yeah, that’s the one. Stop ignoring it. Every piece of your body, your soul, your heart is telling you something. Shouldn’t you trust yourself? I would. Because you’ve been away from you for far too long.
We’ve had years to figure out who we are and what we like about ourselves. Why be with someone who can’t appreciate or recognize those parts of you? As simple as it sounds, why be with someone who makes you feel bad? Eventually their actions and opinions start to reflect on the way you see yourself, and all of a sudden, that negativity is deeply-seeded within your own mind. It’s hard to shake that, even after you leave them, but you’ll get there.
No matter what kind it is, toxic relationships drown in negativity and thrive on sporadic highs and lows.
Sometimes it is easier to let something consume you to avoid yourself, because maybe you’ve turned into someone you don’t like. But know your own worth and understand that life is far too short to be fighting or feeling bad with someone forever. If everyone’s telling you that your relationship is dysfunctional or unhealthy, chances are, your relationship is exactly that.
And remember, you are allowing this to happen. You are in control and have the power to end it. If it didn’t work out the first time, the second time, hell, maybe even the third time, it’s time to call it quits.
But guess what? Life is so much sweeter without the negativity from a toxic relationship. The bitter, leftover dregs are thrown away when you realize that this person is no longer your cup of tea.
And I know you’re scared. What an appropriate reaction for the unknown. But your fears are in your head, just like the way I am scared of the dark and falling in between the cracks of subway grates in the city. Your friends, your family, your hobbies and true self will be right there waiting to help you face the fears.
Whoever you are, it is time to be free. Be with someone you can grow with.