(Written version below)
It took some time for me to realize not all “bad” relationships come with bright red flags. Just because your significant other doesn’t cheat, or physically or verbally abuse you, doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t wrong for you.
I was recently involved with someone who played the part, if you will. We laughed together, had fun, took trips, you name it. But after a short while, I realized we just weren’t compatible. No rights or wrongs, just differences in our definitions of respect and communication. But, I stayed—much longer than I should’ve. I stayed because I was torn between thinking he wasn’t giving me what I deserved or maybe I was asking too much of someone. I think this was definitely the hardest relationship for me to walk away from, because when we were together we had a blast, and nothing was majorly wrong. We had a lot of great times, but more and more he did subtle things that made me feel low and sometimes doubted my own self-worth—and that was enough for me to realize I’d be settling if I stayed.
My mother told me: if someone cares for you,, being with you will make them want to be the best person they’re capable of. They will try to be everything they can to win you and then keep you. She told me you should never ask someone to stop doing something that hurts you. You should express to them what they’re doing is hurting you, and if they care about you, they’ll take action on their own. But, if they care about [whatever they’re doing that hurts you] more than you, they won’t stop. That’s when you know where you stand in their life and you have to make a decision to stay, or have more respect for yourself and leave.
Respect is huge for me. Don’t expect me to treat you like my husband when you treat me like a good friend. I’m a simple woman—you get what you give and don’t you dare expect anything more. These people hurt you in ways that society doesn’t really talk about. They hurt you with their double standards, with their little lies, with their bad habits. They hurt you by refusing to fully commit yet refusing to let you go. When you try to leave, they say all the right things and beg you to stay and you find yourself saying “well, it’s not that bad” and boom—you’re giving a tenth chance to someone who didn’t deserve a second one. I wasn’t upset about the things he chose to continue doing, even though they hurt me. I was upset about the fact he continued to contact me, coming back in my life each time knowing he wasn’t going to make the effort. If you want to be a certain person, fine, but don’t pretend you’re going to make an effort and waste my time, energy and emotion.
You, just like I, deserve someone who makes you feel strong, attractive, valuable and happy. Who isn’t afraid to be completely vulnerable with you. Your partner doesn’t deserve you just because they don’t tear you apart. If they don’t build you up, they aren’t the one. It took me several, several months to realize I wasn’t asking too much, I was just asking the wrong person.