I spent the tail end of my last relationship constantly saying things like, “I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself,” “It's fine, I have no expectations” and “I know this can't go anywhere, but I'm young and should experience life."
I said these things quietly to myself in moments of doubt. I also said them out loud to justify to my friends why I kept seeing this person who was hurting me. Looking back, I probably spent more time systematically redefining my relationship to fit what I was hoping it would be than actually enjoying it.
The problem is, I watch too many movies. Everyone does.
Sure, we fall victim to the quaint comfort of romantic comedies from time to time. But I find the most romantic stories to be those of two humans colliding together and fighting through wild circumstances as a team.
Like so many before me, my fantastical wish to be part of the next Bonnie and Clyde has led me into a serious relationship trap due to its glamorization. There's nothing like a steamy tryst, right?
A fiery romance where the couple has nothing keeping them together except their desperate need for one another looks good on screen, but in real life, it's a symptom of some greater problems. These problems can range from incompatibility to emotional (or even physical) abuse, and they all result in damage to you.
But that thrill can be so addictive. Sometimes, it's hard to remember there are many ways to get a similar thrill.
Real roller coasters can get you excited safely. Emotional roller coasters, though, are easy to fall off mid-loop.
Here are five things you should remember the next time you find yourself constantly rationalizing your behavior to stay in a disastrous mess of a relationship:
1. You are wrong, but your gut is not.
I'm a pretty convincing person. No one falls victim to this more than I do, though. I can convince myself of anything if I want to, and so can you.
If you're in a circumstance where you tell yourself the hardships you're facing are worth the few exciting moments you have with someone, your brain will believe you. Your heart is as easily swayed, too.
But your gut will always know when you're tricking yourself. So maybe take a break from listening to Lana Del Rey, and listen to your gut instead.
But this time, don't just listen to it. Obey it.
2. You are scared.
Acknowledging fear is extremely challenging because when we accept the reality of it, we think we're weak. It's OK to be scared, but you must remember that sometimes, fears are irrational.
If you are afraid of what your life will be like without this person there to keep it thrilling, know that you have no idea what your life will turn into at the next step. That type of fear is hindering your progress.
You can make your life more interesting. The hair pulling, the thrilling debates and adrenaline can distract you from the reality of the situation, but you don't need someone distracting you from your problems to have a good time.
3. Your friends are always right.
Sometimes, your friends speak out against the person you're dating. Sometimes, they don't.
But even if their concerns are not verbal, you can sense what's going on. If you bring up the person's name and your best friend goes silent or changes the subject, it's time to ask for honesty.
It's also time to listen and really absorb it, and resist the urge to defend every statement. Always remember not to punish your friends for giving their truthful thoughts. Otherwise, they will be reluctant to do it again for you in the future.
4. You are not yourself while you're in it.
The reason our friends know better than us while we're defending a turbulent relationship is because some part of us is getting lost in all those bumps. If you were a pilot flying a plane through a storm, trying to figure out how to land the plane, would you listen to the air traffic controllers who can see everything around you?
Or would you trust the judgment of your eyes, which can only see the stormy cloud in front of them?
5. You will become yourself again when you're out.
After removing someone from your life, it's hard not to feel broken. A piece of your life is suddenly gone.
But we often forget we're still ourselves coming out of the relationship. It's just like a really bad night of drinking.
You may feel like garbage for a while, but you'll have a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, watch a Netflix original and remember you are still surrounded by life. You still have your friends, family and everything else you hold dear. There are just fewer tears, fewer fights through text messages and less yearning for something better.
You can always watch Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek fall in love and shoot guns in "Desperado." But you don't have to live it.