In my last post, I mentioned unhealthy relationships, and now I want to do a more thorough post about it. If you’re anything like me, you didn’t know what an unhealthy relationship consisted of until it’s already happened. I hope relaying my personal experience can help clear up what I was referring to when I was talking about “unhealthy relationships” (and more specifically, unhealthy friendships).
For students, relationships often begin during the beginning of the school year. You get the opportunity to meet new people, and end up exchanging social media handles and phone numbers. I ended up texting about anything and everything that is was going on in my life to new people that I met. I was seeing this person almost every day because we shared so many classes together, and we ended up becoming really good friends. We texted for hours on end, and didn’t run out of things to say. Everything was good, great even.
But later, as time went on, I learned more things about this person. The once-bright and fun image that I had previously had about this person started to dim and I spoke to them less and less. Not because they were boring, but because I learned things about them that I didn’t like and wasn’t comfortable with. Eventually, all the relationship consisted of was disagreements, criticism, lack of respect, unresolved arguments and talking about the other person behind their back. This relationship was so draining, and it had completely consumed me. I had wanted the best for this person in the beginning of our relationship once knowing how much they had gone through, but later, I didn’t want anything to do with them.
I still wanted things to work out for us. Sure, I cried a whole lot, but I still didn’t want to waste the effort we had put in to keep up our relationship. But as time went by, I was starting to realize that this relationship was not worth the time and effort anymore. I wasn’t reflecting on myself, which was much needed. I ended up asking myself these questions: was I happy? Would I be happy if I kept them in my life? Did I really need this person in my life? All the answers came out were clear in my mind, so I knew it was time to let go of this person. Eventually, we talked about it and decided to end it because it was not worth the hurt that we both felt. I still cared about this person deeply and wanted to check up and see how this person was doing every so often, but I knew I shouldn’t restart something until we both are no longer hurt anymore.
For me, relationships are meant for learning and for growing. You grow together by learning new things and having more opportunities to know more about each other. You find out each other’s strengths and help each other out when they are in need. You learn more about your own strengths and weaknesses and how to improve yourself through them. And you can feel completely at home just being with this person.
So when do you know you’re in a toxic relationship? For me, I realized this person was consuming my thoughts in a negative way. I constantly thought of all the bad things this person has said and done. I would talk about them and all their negativity. They, in turn, said so many things about me that made me doubt my abilities, and it hindered my self-esteem. I found myself comparing myself to them and how I kept wanting to be better than them. I knew it was a problem when everyone asked me why I still associated myself with this person and I should just end it. Friends that truly cared about my well-being told me I was wasting time and energy over this toxic relationship and it was no longer worth it, especially because both of us were hindering each other’s growth.
What happened next? We talked about how we had a problem and it needed to be solved. We talked about all the things that we felt each other did wrong. We tried to be as civil as possible and find a solution and, in the end, we felt that it was better if we cut off our relationship. So that’s how it ended.
When relationships or friendships end, it’s really hard trying to completely leave. There are lingering thoughts and memories that always hit you. But I told myself I couldn’t go back until we both have changed and bettered ourselves. I didn’t need the endless insults, commands, belittling thoughts, all of it. And with three words (“put yourself first”), I put myself first and tried my best to improve on myself.
All in all, I was able to learn a lot through this experience. I learned a lot more about loving myself more than loving others, even if that meant cutting off a relationship that was really meaningful. I still supported this person from the sidelines, but I knew looking out for myself was the thing I should be doing. And I was happy. That’s all that mattered to me.