I've been in a good number of bad relationships, and every time — even after I realized the people were wrong for me — I stayed in them a little longer than I should have.
I guess I'm just susceptible to the human condition of not wanting to be alone.
I would choose to be with the wrong person because it seemed like the better alternative.
After a string of bad relationships, I asked myself, "What is wrong with me? Do I have some kind of a defect that makes me pathologically doomed to meet the wrong people?"
Luckily, from all that time I spent making these mistakes, I learned these 21 things:
1. There's a good kind of anxious, and there's the bad kind.
I've learned being with the wrong person makes me anxious.
Not the butterflies-in-my-belly kind of anxious; I'm talking about the there's-a-scorpion-close-by kind of anxious.
And I shouldn't have to feel that way.
2. I shouldn't have to stalk someone to know the truth.
It is utterly disrespectful for you to spend the weekend with your ex and lie to me about it.
I have to literally stalk you to catch you two together when you told me you had to work.
I'm better than that.
3. I shouldn't have to pretend to be someone I'm not.
After years of desperately trying to fit into someone else's world without even the slightest bit of effort from him to fit into mine, I realized I don't have to change for anybody.
If you care about me and you're right for me, you'd take me as I am and stop trying to mold me into someone I'm not.
4. I shouldn't have to feel like I'm not good enough.
This is when all I hear is criticism and judgment and when all you do is compare me to your better ex.
This is when you shove other people's success in my face and make me feel like a loser.
This is when you always make me feel like have to prove myself worthy of you, and I hope you feel the way about me as I do about you.
I've learned I don't have to live with that.
I don't have to feel like that.
I'm my own woman, and I'm good enough.
5. It's not my fault I don't trust you. You gave me reason to doubt.
If every time you say "good morning" I feel compelled to check my watch and be sure it's actually morning because you have a habit of lying, it doesn't mean I have trust issues.
It just means you have truth issues.
6. I shouldn't have to feel insecure.
If I've made the decision to share my heart and body with you, it becomes part of your responsibility to help me feel secure about both.
If you choose to leave me all by myself and go spend the day with your hot female friend (who is way hotter than me), that certainly won't help.
7. I shouldn't feel sad and stuck.
A relationship in which I feel like I'm fulfilling some kind of duty, rather than actually enjoying being with someone, is not a good use of my emotions.
I shouldn't have to stay with someone out of a sense of obligation.
A companionship shouldn't drain the life out of me; it should invigorate me.
8. I deserve to enjoy romance.
Being with the wrong person is like perpetually living in a rom-com scene gone wrong.
I don't deserve that.
I deserve to have a good romance.
9. I shouldn't have to analyze and gauge your reactions.
Analyzing your every move and gauging your reactions to everything is a lot of work, and it's hardly what a relationship is about.
A relationship isn't a full-time job.
I shouldn't have to feel like it is.
10. I don't have to be your dirty little secret.
I'm all for taking things slow.
However, if we spend a great deal of time together and I still haven't met any of your friends or family, then perhaps you're not the right partner.
If you were, you wouldn't be so embarrassed or reluctant to introduce me to a few people.
11. I shouldn't have to guess everything.
There comes a point in a relationship when we'll need to know things about each other.
I don't expect to know your religious or political views on the first date.
But after being monogamous for a few months or years, I'm going to need to know if you expect me to go to church with you or not.
Are you the marrying type, or do you just like being with me outside of marriage?
These are things I shouldn't have to guess.
We should be able to talk about them.
12. I shouldn't have to be at your beck and call. I have my own life to live.
After dating someone whose life seemed to revolve around the relationship, I realized I didn't have to be sucked into that lifestyle.
Just because you have no hobbies outside our relationship, that doesn't mean I have to give up my own hobbies, too.
It's not fair to turn me into your sole source of happiness.
We shouldn't smother each other and suck the fun out of our lives.
13. I should be able to speak freely.
Why should I be with someone I can't freely share my views and opinions with?
Why should I be with someone whose feelings are so easily bruised that I have to make sure everything I say is properly censored and furnished?
I've done my time in a censored relationship.
It wasn't fun, and I'm not doing it again.
I've learned I should be with someone who makes me feel like I can talk to him about anything, not someone who shames me for the way I think and the things I say.
14. It shouldn't feel like our conversations are one-sided.
I've learned it's important to be with someone who at least understands my views, even if we don't share them.
When we're having a conversation, it shouldn't feel like I'm talking to myself.
15. I should be allowed to want more.
It's okay if I need more commitment, more assurance or more time.
I'm not asking you to make me the soul center of your universe, but I should be able to have some stability in my life.
If I have to keep guessing the state of our relationship, then it's not worth having.
16. I shouldn't be terrified at the thought of having a future with you.
The cliché goes, "Life is short, and you only live once."
I've learned I shouldn't waste my time in a relationship in which I can't be bold or confident enough to picture a future together.
17. I shouldn't feel sick to my stomach when I'm with you.
I've learned my body has devised a way to biologically repel the wrong person for me.
If I feel like throwing up every time you come near me or touch me, then we're not right for each other.
It's what happens with siblings.
They grew up together and are so genetically alike that they repel each other.
If that's happening to us, then maybe the universe is sending us a message (like we're wrong for each other).
18. A relationship isn't war, and I shouldn't have to gear up for a fight.
I've learned that if fighting has become the norm rather than the exception in our relationship, then it's not worth having.
19. I deserve to be heard.
I shouldn't feel like I have to hurry up and say what I want to say so you can have your turn speaking.
I deserve to be listened to attentively, not treated like what I'm saying doesn't matter.
20. I shouldn't have to feel guilty about having a life.
I had friends before you.
I had a family before I met you.
If every time I want to hang out with friends, spend the day with my family or even have some alone time and you throw a fit, that's going to make me feel guilty.
I'm allowed to spend time with other people in my life besides you, and I shouldn't have to feel bad about it.
Although being alone seems scary and hopeless, it's better to be alone, fulfilled and successful than to spend another day of my life with the wrong person.
Some people long so desperately for human connection that even when they know they're with the wrong person, they stay anyway.
You just take the good with the bad and the happy with the sad because life is not a fairytale.
But what if the reason you're not feeling the relationship magic is because you're not with the right person?
If you can't trust your significant other to respect your feelings, then you shouldn't be with that person.
If you're unhappy with that person and you can't even picture yourself with him in the future, it's better you end it now and find someone who makes you happy.
I hope this helps you take a chance and make you realize you deserve better.