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How a (toxic?) relationship ruined me. Feedback is welcomed, ENA

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I fell deeply in love with someone a few years ago. I can’t really put a label on what we had because I don’t know what we had. The few times that we attempted to put a label on what we had (a boyfriend/girlfriend) relationship, something would go wrong, and we’d break up for a couple of months. We were on and off A LOT. I was the one to end things every time because he’d suddenly become distant right after things were so great. He would ignore me for days/weeks at a time, and he would snap at me whenever I would ask why he was distant. He rarely communicated with me, etc. When things were good, they were heavenly great, but this hardly lasted. We had more downs than ups. He was the runner, I was the chaser. Though I never begged him, I was the one to always contact him first, asking if he was interested in working things out, and he always said yes. I hated that he never apologized for the things he did. He simply took me back every time, while making me feel like I was the one who had done something horrible to him, when in reality, all I ever did was break up with him for treating me poorly. He would constantly say that he’ll take me back but that he didn’t feel the need to put much effort, because I’m the one who left, so “I had to make things up to him.” As soon as I’d mentioned about him ignoring me again, because he continued to do it, and how it hurt, he would disappear for a longer time. Now that I think about it, he disappeared every time I’d say he was hurting me. That’s why I felt like I was walking on egg shells. I was afraid to say anything that could possibly upset him because I’d risk him disappearing again.


There are different kinds of toxic relationships: physically abusive, verbally abusive, infidelity, are among the most common. I kept trying to figure out where do I fall in these categories? I knew something was very wrong, but I kept justifying his actions because he never physically hurt me, he wasn’t verbally abusive, he barely talked! I can’t say he was unfaithful because we weren’t even in a real relationship, and we “broke up” more times than we were together, so if he was seeing anyone, we were most likely broken up, since we were broken up the majority of the time. So how was this experience so painful, so terrible, the worst I’ve ever felt in a relationship? Well, I felt invisible. I felt unimportant. I felt worthless, because I tried so hard to get him to SEE me, but nothing was good enough for him. I lost myself completely, trying to please him, walking on egg shells around him, putting so much effort into communication and pouring my heart out to him, only to get close to nothing from him, because our happy moments did not last long. While I was miserable, waiting on him to stop ignoring me, I watched him be happy with others, partying, going out, posting pictures of all of this online. Being completely ignored by the person you love, feels worse than physical and verbal abuse, speaking from personal experiences. I’ve been physically abused by parents, bullied in school, verbal abuse in previous relationships, but being ignored is the worst. I can’t even put into words, or fully explain the amount of suffering this has caused me. All I know is that this is the worst pain I’ve encountered in my lifetime.


Things finally ended for good over a year ago. I finally stopped going back to him, and of course, I haven’t heard from him either. He has never been one to apologize or contact me first. I blamed him for everything, but now I see that I’m the one to blame here. I allowed this to happen. I put myself through hell. I did this to myself, all because I thought that we could make our “relationship” work, since there was no abuse or known infidelity. I guess I was so used to abuse and infidelity from my past, so I thought that what we had was the best that I’ve had. I guess that shows how little I valued myself. I still love him. Why? You might ask. I don’t know. The only thing I’ve came up with is that we connected very early, during the beginning stages of dating. We connected about how broken and alone we both felt. He told me that I took his pain away because I was so caring and understanding and giving. Those first few months of what we had were enough to keep me hooked. He validated me, made me feel special. We both shared the same feeling of feeling empty inside. Now I’m left with all of this anger and hate for him, and also for myself. I can’t forgive myself for hurting myself. It eats up at me every single day. And I’m so angry! that despite everything, I still love him.

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I was in a very similar relationship. These kinds of toxic relationships are more common than you think. And they become addictive. And why can't you walk away? Well, why can't a cocaine addict stop taking cocaine immediately and just have as much fun drinking lemonade? You get highs and you feel the best you've ever felt, why would you want to give up on it? But equally the lows are so painful, so going back to the same person is so irrational but still too powerfully tempting. Don't beat yourself up about it and be so hard on yourself. Be kind to yourself...value yourself, focus on the future, don't let your past hold you back ever. There are numerous explanations as to why you feel so strongly and why you still love him, it could be an early initial connection, he could have given you what no one else has/had, you could have just genuinely had a loving underlying friendship that lies beneath the relationship drama and toxicity. It is still perfectly possible to care so much about a person who is damaging to you (or rather, what they are offering is damaging).

You did the right thing to walk away, absolutely, and one day you'll thank yourself. I think it was brave to stick to it to the last time and you should keep going strong and eventually you will find the happiness you deserve in a relationship, instead of this constant push-pull. You went for a guy who is emotionally unavailable. Once you reach a point of self-fulfillment, that kind of relationship will no longer attract you. I'm sure of it.

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Excellent post. It's true that all abusive relationships are toxic, but not all toxic relationships are abusive.


This so well defines toxic but not necessarily abusive:

We connected about how broken and alone we both felt. He told me that I took his pain away. Now I’m left with all of this anger and hate for him. I still love him.
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"We connected about how broken and alone we both felt. "


And that was the trap, OP. A terrible trap.


When you get help for yourself with the broken and alone part, and reach a healthy place with healthy boundaries have no doubt that you will find and enjoy healthy relationships.


That’s why I felt like I was walking on egg shells. I was afraid to say anything that could possibly upset him because I’d risk him disappearing again.




"Most people want their relationships to go well; they want to prevent criticism, cold shoulders, angry outbursts, or the silent treatment - all common effects of emotional pollution. They go through psychological contortions, second-guessing themselves, editing what they say, worrying if they're doing things well enough, trying hard not to set him or her off."


"Emotional hurt has a way of lingering in the times between resentful or angry flare-ups. The empty, dull ache of unhappiness is most accurately measured in the accumulative effect of these small moments of disconnection, isolation, and dread."



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