In my last relationship, I stayed long past the relationship’s expiration date. Desperately hoping things would change, I sacrificed myself in the hope that he would turn into my happily ever after.
A year ago, I walked away from the relationship with a promise to myself that I would listen to my inner guide and never again stay in a situation that felt wrong.
Soon after, I started to date another man who was similar to my ex. I noticed that although the men were different people, the one thing they had in common was me, which meant I was bringing baggage from the first relationship into the new one. I immediately called it quits and put myself on a one-year dating detox.
This past year has been the most liberating year of my life. After a year of celibacy, I have more clarity, self-love and self-trust. I know what I need and will no longer settle for a toxic relationship.
Here are some signs that you may be in a toxic relationship, and some ideas for how to break free.
- Your partner doesn’t support your dreams or the direction you're going in life.
- You have to sacrifice yourself to make them happy.
- Your pets, kids, family or friends don't like them.
- They hide important things from you or don't communicate openly.
- Their attitude about their ex is negative and demeaning.
- They don't do what they say they will.
Whether you’re seeking a relationship, evaluating a less-than-fulfilling one, rebounding from a bad breakup, or working through issues with a partner, these tips can help.
Focus on what you want.
Rather than focusing on the actions, situations and hang-ups of another person, focus on what you want. If you're in a relationship that feels unfulfilling, focus on the qualities that attract you to the other person. Soon enough you'll see your relationship improve. If you're single, spend time visualizing and understanding your feelings about what the perfect relationship looks like to you. That’s what you should be looking for.
Look in your relationship mirror.
The people we date can become our teachers. We attract romantic relationships that can help us grow. Almost every partner can become a mirror, and learning to look in your relationship mirror can help save you from years of heartache and pain. It allows you to be more accountable and stop repeating patterns.
For example, I was once in a relationship with a man who had extreme anger problems. Once I got honest with myself and looked in the mirror, I recognized that I was unhappy and angry with myself for settling and staying with someone when I knew the situation wasn't right.
Look at your own relationships — present or past — and see how your partner mirrors an aspect of you. You can ask what bothers you about them? Maybe they lied to you, and although you didn't lie to them, you see that you're being dishonest in some area of your life. Learning to accept those unhealed areas of your life is the key to a happy romance.
Trust your inner guide.
Don't waste time in mediocre relationships. If you have to sacrifice yourself in any way to be with someone, it isn’t the right relationship for you. Take the time to use your inner guidance system — you know, that gut feeling that shows you the red flags. That feeling should always be trusted. Trust yourself and walk away from any situation that doesn’t feel right.
Skip over any relationship that doesn't make your heart sing! Your future self will sincerely thank you!