“Why do you keep going back to him?”
It’s a question I heard many times when I was in a toxic relationship.
But how do you explain to them? How do you answer that?
Telling my friends and family that I still loved him and knew that he would change fell on deaf ears. And rightfully so, because it wasn’t them that I was trying to convince, but rather myself.
It’s hard to see when you are in it, mainly because we don’t really want to admit that the person you love does not love you as they should. But going back to a man who continues to mistreat us is like taking a gun and shooting off our own toes and then wondering why we are stumbling through life.
It was a long journey for me, but after I came through the other side, it’s amazing what peace I found.
So here is a little piece of my heart, and 6 pieces of wisdom I learned along the way.
1. You have forgotten your self-worth.
When we start to lose our self-worth, we also lose our boundaries and understanding of what is healthy and right. Dating a man who is destroying you will only continue to drain you of your energy and self-value, simply because it’s a one-sided relationship and you will be the one making all the effort.
When someone takes advantage of your generous nature, feelings or heart, they begin to hold power over you that makes you crave them even more. The more someone takes, the more we think we are needed and wanted.
But a toxic relationship is not about give and take at all. It’s all about taking — leaving nothing for the giver.
2. You are thinking with your heart instead of your head.
It’s easy to do, especially when you haven’t moved on.
An on-again/off-again relationship with a toxic man is usually be governed by volatile emotions. There will be this ongoing drama and chase, which can become an illicit addiction. We think that negative attention is better than no attention at all, so we keep going back for more.
Most of the time we know that it isn’t right, but we manage to convince ourselves that the love we have for them is enough of a reason to keep being abused.
3. You are hoping he will change.
The problem with living in hope is that there is no guaranteed outcome. In some circumstances people do change and breakthroughs are made, but rather than comparing yourself to those one off situations, compare your relationship to what is actually healthy.
It hurts to walk away from someone you love, but it will hurt you even more to stay with someone toxic. Healthy, fulfilling relationships are not about living in hope of what you want it to be, but rather thriving and functioning in the reality of what it actually is.
4. You are seeking some sort of closure.
While there are still raw emotions and unfinished business between you, it’s normal to keep going back. However, every time you re-enter into that toxic relationship you create even more questions and open ends. Think of yourself as having a wound that needs to heal. Each time you re-open it, the longer it will now take you to recover.
Sometimes closure is a luxury, and we simply have to accept something not going to happen in the time or way we want it to.
Closure is a choice. It has nothing to do with the other person you are yearning to get it from.
5. You love him more than you love yourself.
Yes, you love him, this is clear — but loving someone who is destructive to your own self-worth is not going to get you anywhere.
In these situations, the best thing you can do is love yourself with as much effort as you love them. This means removing yourself from the toxic relationship — permanently.
When toxic people see that you have enough self-respect and love to walk away, it actually gives them a great example of what love looks like. In no way does your presence give them the right to abuse you, and by leaving you are can help them see that abuse should never be tolerated.
6. He is familiar, and you are scared of letting go.
It’s hard to let go of someone and something that is so familiar to us, even if it is for the wrong reasons.
Chances are you know the drill — he hurts you, you fight, you leave, he apologizes, you come back — and then it happens again and again.
The pain has become this controllable emotion, and in a way you have become comfortable because you know what to expect. Walking into the unknown means that you don’t know what will happen next.
But that’s just the thing.
We are in control of our own happiness and choices, and while we can’t always choose what happens to us, we can control our reaction to it.
You deserve to be in a happy, safe and peaceful relationship.
Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith and walk away once and for all.
Renee Slansky is a relationship and dating coach, as well as the Founder of The Dating Directory — an online community for women doing love, life and relationships.