Lessons From Being In (And Ending) A Toxic Relationship

Lessons From Being In (And Ending) A Toxic Relationship

Like many, Susie tends to find the good in people. But she doesn’t always get it right. Here’s Susie’s experience of being in an unhealthy relationship and how she saw the signs to move on from it.

This story contains themes of abuse. If these subjects raise any concerns for you, please contact the relevant support services listed here

I tend to look beyond the bad and give concessions. While giving people a chance in life is so important, when it comes to relationships, I often hand out too many chances. I always thought the word ‘toxic’ sounded too extreme when in fact I faced these situations more than I realised. 

What are toxic relationships? 

Toxic relationships can manifest in completely different ways as we all express ourselves differently. But in essence, they are relationships—platonic or romantic—that are abusive, damaging or don’t have our best interest at heart.

Beyond Blue says toxic relationships often involve some form of abuse, such as physical, emotional or psychological, financial, sexual or social. These relationships are often imbalanced, with one person pouring in significantly more effort than the other, essentially giving more than they take. They also can lack trust and impact one’s self-esteem over time. 

It’s important to remember that during these times you are never alone. If you need someone to talk to, click here for hotlines and other support resources.

Here’s what happened to me

My mum has this saying: “Better an empty bucket than a bucket of dirty water.” Over time this quote stopped being a simple phrase and started influencing my way of life. It led me to start questioning whether some relationships are more trouble than they’re worth.

I was always the one helping them out, messaging first, or going out of my way for the other person with not much in return. However, I struggled (and still do) to objectively assess my relationships as I truly love and care for the other person. 

I think I believed that if I was single or had only a couple of friends, that this meant I was lonely. But having lost myself and my confidence in bad relationships, I now believe this is a very wholesome way to live. The bucket is indeed better empty, in my opinion.

When I was dating my first boyfriend, I didn’t realise how much the relationship weighed on me. I looked past issues, wanting to resolve them. I believed I could. I tried everything to make him happy and somehow abandoned my own happiness in the process—something I never thought I would do. 

It came to the point where I lost sight of what I wanted and needed. Looking back, I felt he played on my emotions which made me feel insecure and guilty. Also, anytime I tried to raise these issues or became upset he made me doubt myself and I would end up apologising for bringing it up.

After a few months, I started to become more aware of how taxing and exhausting the relationship was and eventually I just wanted the relationship to be over. 

Losing or leaving a friend or partner is extremely hard, but I’ve learned it’s so important to check in with myself and ask: what do I really need and want? 

And after ending the toxic relationship I began to focus on myself. I figured out what I wanted and what brings me joy, something I had completely lost sight of in this relationship. But this experience helped me grow and taught me to be mindful of recognising problems and seeing the signs. I will know better next time. 

For me, it’s important to remember that sometimes people turn out to not be worth your time. Our love, energy and effort are valuable. We should put it towards people who really care for us, and be sure to save some for ourselves as well.

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