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I recently got out of a drawn out, draining relationship. People often think that unhealthy relationships are easy to spot, but when you're in one, the reality is, we are blinded by the love we have for that person. This makes it difficult to take a step back, look from an outside perspective and recognize how damaging these relationships can be to our overall well-being. We usually are only able to recognize how unhealthy our relationships are after we have sat back and reflected on the entire duration of the relationship, this isn't something we can do clearly in the moment. I thought I'd share some of my top indications that the relationship you are in could be damaging your health.
Throughout this piece of writing I will be sharing notes that I had wrote throughout the course of the seven year relationship. This is something I usually do as I'm not always the best at verbally telling others what I am feeling, I'm perhaps like many of the creators on vocal, we find it easier to write down thoughts and feelings.
You Often Turn a Blind Eye
In the beginning, I was very vocal about my instincts. If I felt as though his behavior was "off" I wasn't one to ignore my own feelings, I would address them almost immediately.
But things changed the first time I caught him out.
Looking back on the relationship, there are things I wish I could go back and re-do, but we can't do that and so it's difficult writing about this part of my life because I hate how weak I was as a person, but like I said before, love does make you blind, it makes you do things that you said you would never do. It makes you crazy.
I found out in the very beginning of our relationship that he had been sleeping with my best friend for 9 months before we were officially in a relationship. During this period of time, we weren't serious, we had only met once and hadn't seen each other in person throughout the time he was with her. No excuse because he destroyed a 5 year friendship that would still be benefiting my life today if they hadn't happened.
I chose to forgive him.
The thing about instincts is, although they may not always be right, you should listen to them. I did, throughout the relationship, I would look on his phone because I knew inside my heart that he was up to no good. Each and every time, I would be right.
You would think the most heart-wrenching time would be finding messages with him and multiple women, him telling them how he wants to fuck them in a shower and do all of the things he told me he wanted to do to me. No. That wasn't the worst.
During 2014 I found myself homeless, my family aren't the greatest and I had no support network at all, his mother was amazing to me and we all decided that I would move into their house for a couple of months until my place I had just got was ready to be moved into. We were both young and it was a lot of pressure, even now I understood how huge it was for him, but he forgot how difficult it was for me too. I was 18 years old, had no real family, I was having to grow up pretty fucking quickly and had a hell of a lot to be responsible for. It was petrifying and even though I had somewhere to live, even though his mother was great and supported me the best she could, even though he tried to be there, it was probably the loneliest time of my life.
Whilst living there, one night I was on his bed whilst he went to take a shower, his phone lit up and it was from his best friend, I still remember seeing the message clear as day and it read:
"hahaha you should just tell her to live on the streets"
Obviously I knew the message had to be about me, so I had a look. He was complaining about me living there, saying he didn't want me there. Him and his friend began joking about how I should be kicked out on the streets. That was worse than any other messages I discovered on his phone. He knew how hard my life had become, I will always remain defiant that we were both too young to be living together, but I did everything I could to make it better, I would stay out of his way, I spent more time with his mother, that's not even an exaggeration. I just felt like they were both laughing about my situation. A situation he would never understand.
He still doesn't know about me seeing those messages between him and his friend.
I never told him.
I turned a blind eye.
Why did I turn a blind eye?
Every individual circumstance was different. Turning the blind eye to him and his friends conversation was based on my situation. What could I do? I had nowhere else to go. I could have raised hell, but where then what? I would have created an atmosphere, an uncomfortable dynamic for everyone in that house, his mother didn't deserve that. So I kept my mouth shut.
But why did I keep my mouth shut after my circumstances changed? Because I didn't want to admit the truth.
Any man who respects and cares for you would never laugh about your hardships. Never. They would not hear you cry about feeling alone, about being petrified of messing everything up, about not knowing what path to take in life, to then discuss it with their friends and joke about the situation I was in, joke about things he knew were hard for me to come to terms with. Even I knew that back then, but admitting that those things were true meant admitting the person I had fell in love with wasn't at all the person I thought they were.
Why did I ignore the fact he had been speaking to multiple women?
Because I was so good at hiding the truth from myself. This ties along nicely with the next reason a relationship is unhealthy...
You Depend on Them to Make You Happy
At some point in my life, my happiness depended fully on him. I don't even know how that happened. I think it was a mixture of a lot of things that had happened in my life.
When I eventually moved into my own place, that was the moment I realized I was now truly alone. Independent. It was a scary part of my life. I went from waking up to him, his mother, their family dynamic, to waking up alone. Waking up to an empty house. I had no one to converse with, no one to come home to. I think this is when I became extremely dependent. I would spend weekends with him and his family, weekends became my sanctuary, my safe place. 48 hours not having to be alone. Weekends were the only time I felt at home. I felt safe.
Everyone's reasons for depending on others to make them happy differ, but the thing I realized after a lot of reflection is; he never really made me happy. I depended on something that he could never do.
Which inevitably made me more and more miserable.
Which made me desperately seek happiness from someone who couldn't give me it. The cycle was never ending.
We should make the people we love happy. That's what relationships are all about, but he never really tried or wanted to make me happy. He would say so many times that he wanted me to be happy more than anything in the world, but would do things time and time again that would break my heart more times than I thought was physically possible.
If you depend on someone to make you happy, the chances are they were never making you happy in the first place, you wouldn't search for something that is already there. From what I have wrote so far, it's easy to hold my ex accountable for my misery, but the only person I blame is myself. I lied to myself over and over again. Besides, if you look at it from the other point of view, I often wonder if he knew he was making me miserable, I wonder if he didn't know how to fix it, I wonder if he knew that being happy depended on him. That's a pretty huge deal when you think about it. But I guess when you love someone, you don't even think about how to make them happy, you just know how to do it.
He Won't Commit
We spent every weekend together for seven years. He even admits now that we were in a relationship the whole time, we just didn't have a label on whatever the hell we were. Would he have admitted we were basically together at the time we weren't? No.
There were only 2 times throughout the 7 years that we were 'exclusive' and let me be clear that neither of these times lasted longer than a year. He didn't want to stay committed. It's as simple as that really.
He would always say things like:
"If there was anyone in the world I would want a relationship with, it would be you"
"I'm just not ready for a relationship right now"
I stuck around because behind those lines, there's hope. Notice the words in bold. I thought he wanted to be with me, just not right now. So I told myself to be patient and wait for him to be ready.
One year turned into two years of waiting.
Two years turned into three.
Three years turned into seven.
I definitely know now that he would have never been ready for a relationship.
He had his cake and boy was he eating it at the same time, he had me right where he wanted me for years. Sex every weekend, but still technically a free agent, so you know the times I would find messages on his phone, he always had a get-out-of-jail-free-card. And of course he would always turn it back around, he would quiz me! Ask me what right I had to look through his phone because we weren't even together.
I always ended up apologizing too.
I remember the only time he was ever truly sorry. He came home drunk one night and spoke to a woman on the phone whilst I laid there next to him crying. He didn't hear me cry. I actually became really talented at disguising my sobs. I went to sleep downstairs and he seemed genuinely sorry the next day.
Sorry he was caught.
Sorry he was so vile.
He still tried to lie to me though, told me it was a work colleague, it wasn't like that. I of course forgave him again.
If the guy you are seeing tells you that he doesn't want a relationship right now, don't wait around for him. If he genuinely means what he says he will respect your decision to walk away. He will hope that once he is ready you will still be there, but he will respect you more as a person if you make it clear that you will not be waiting around for anyone.
Trust me when I say, if you give a guy the best of both worlds, they will take it. Gladly.
And also trust me that this will end up breaking you.
Here is a note I found, I wrote this on one of the occasions he decided to end things with me a day after sleeping with me. I didn't mention he did that, but yes. He could pick me up and drop me whenever he pleased. And he knew it.
"You made a person who already felt worthless feel meaningless.
You made her sicker than she already was.
You almost pushed her to do the unthinkable.
That's what happens when you give hope and take it away.
That's what happens when you sell false promises.
That's what happens when you break a heart, not once, not twice, but over and over again like it's not real.
You get to carry on your days believing that the girl you used to know is doing okay, because that's what she told you.
She did it to spare your feelings, to relieve you from facing the guilt you would feel due to your cruelty towards another human being.
You'll never know or feel an inch of my suffering.
But it'll stay with me for the rest of my life, it'll haunt me forever just how close I was to abandoning myself, just like you did."
I didn't realize how long this was going to be when I started it, but us writers get lost sometimes.
I wanted to share my story because I want other people to know that if you find yourself experiencing sort of similar situations I have faced, do the best thing you could ever do for yourself...
You deserve so much better.
I will never be the girl I used to be. A part of me will always remain damaged. I will always, always be afraid to love again.
It wasn't only my heart that was broken it was many other things.
Things that I have to work on every single day, I am still rebuilding myself and even I know that I'll never be completely the same. You can't be.
The worst thing about all of this, is I need to make it clear that my ex was not a bad person. He will never know himself how much he broke me as a person, I know if he knew, he would be devastated to realize what he had done, because despite everything, I know it was never deliberate.
I think he mainly stuck around and provided that false hope out of guilt. He knew if he left, I would be alone.
I guess he just didn't realize that I needed to be alone. I needed to find my own happiness.
If you are reading this and you see similarities between you and my ex, you may be with someone who you don't see a future with, but you know they are invested a lot more in you, trust me on this, sometimes you really do have to be cruel to be kind.
The more you drag things along, the more painful things become.
And if you find yourself in a relationship and you can see similarities between me and you, the only thing I ask of you is to just be truly honest with yourself, no matter how difficult and always, always bare in mind that you deserve happiness.
You deserve to be loved.