I Was Dependent On The Wrong Relationship To Make Me Happy

I was trying to prove to myself that I could be in a healthy relationship.

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By Madison Flatman

We will all have to eventually face a really hard lesson in life: We can’t depend on a relationship to make us happy.

We all have our own story that leads us to this realization. Here’s mine.

Over three years ago, I entered a long-term relationship with a guy I met on Tinder. At this point in my life, I constantly craved a relationship and would try to satisfy my cravings in one-sided situationships.


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This was the first relationship where he constantly showed affection. I felt like a princess because of the way he treated me.

I was trying to prove to myself that I could be in a healthy relationship.


However, I wasn’t 100% percent sure of my feelings. I liked spending time with him, but I constantly felt like I wasn’t romantically and sexually on the same page.

I thought maybe the reason I wasn’t used to my feelings was that I was used to unrequited and one-sided relationships.

Honestly, I really didn’t have a chance to think about my feelings because I constantly felt like everything was changing. We went from dating to surviving a pandemic to moving in together to adopting cats.

I felt like I was just going through the motions and I started to feel like I lost control of myself. I started to live for him more than I was living for myself.


And I do think it’s great to have a connection with your partner. However, I think you still need to have other connections and experiences away from the relationship to make you happy.

Otherwise, you start to lose sight of what’s important to you, which is what happened to me.

My love for writing and music started to slowly go on the back burner. I wasn’t investing as much into myself compared to the relationship.

There were times I would lust after people outside of the relationship. Although it wasn’t something I would pursue because I was in a committed relationship, I constantly wondered why everything outside of my relationship seemed more adventurous than the relationship I was in.


There were times I would try to picture a future of us being married, but would find myself frustrated, as I couldn’t picture myself walking down the aisle.

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This type of emotional disconnect showed in different settings.

I remember constantly seeing his family and feeling like I wasn’t really a part of it. They tried to be welcoming. I would compare myself to other friends who have such close relationships with their partners’ families and I constantly felt like I couldn’t relate.

I didn’t understand why I felt this way. Despite many of these signs, I constantly would second-guess myself.


I was scared to move on because I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to be alone because I lost my identity outside of the relationship.

It took a while for me to start developing a life outside of the relationship. Once I did, I noticed myself starting to distance myself from the relationship because it was no longer my main source of happiness.

This led me to fully understand I was settling for a relationship I wasn’t fully invested in out of dependency. I decided from there that I had to end the relationship.

Although I knew this would be an uncertain situation as we built a life together, I also knew it was the best choice for me.

When the relationship ended, I started to slowly realize how many things I relied on my ex for, from constantly giving me rides to just making me sweet tea.


He opened up with me and said he felt like he had to continuously be a support system, which made him sometimes feel like our relationship was one-sided. He also confessed to feeling many of the similar emotions I did.

The thing is, there were a lot of mutual feelings. Neither of us was truly happy, but we were settling because we both didn’t want to adjust to a world of us being single. However, I think taking the step is what we both needed.

I’m learning not to make a relationship a priority. There’s so much else I can love from my passions to my friends, to my family. It’s now time to love myself just the same.

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Madison Flatman is a singer, drummer, and writer from Wisconsin, and frequent contributor to Unwritten. Her work focuses on topics of wellness, relationships, and mental health.