There’s a fine line between love and obsession, and a toxic relationship can look a lot like love.
I don't think the two -- toxicity and love -- are necessarily exclusive. You can be in the early stages of falling in love and simultaneously create a toxic bond.
But these relationships will never work. They will never progress or grow into true love, because they don't get past the first layer -- the one driven by emotion alone.
In order to build a loving and lasting relationship, it’s important to recognize toxicity. If you catch it early enough, you can steer your relationship in a better, healthier and more promising direction.
You can do this only if you accept that some relationships are beyond salvaging. Sometimes two people simply can't make it work. But toxic relationships are driven by intensity and desperate need. You can't stop thinking about the other person. You don't know how to let go.
I know how intoxicating a relationship like this can be. I’ve been there, and I can tell you right now that it isn’t going to work. You’re going to try and try to make it work, but you'll be hurt each time.
Sometimes it's the timing. Sometimes the person you love isn’t yet mature enough to handle a committed and loving relationship. Sometimes your partner's uncertainty -- or yours, for that matter -- can lead you into a relationship that feels a lot like love.
But it isn't true love, and people outside the relationship can see that. From a distance, it just looks like a lot of pain and suffering for the two of you.
Sometimes two people simply aren’t right for each other. Once a relationship turns fully toxic, the possibility of creating real love flies out the window. Both of you become emotion-driven and obsessed.
You lose sight of what’s truly important (or maybe you never had sight of what’s truly important. If you had, you would have ended the relationship a long time ago).
If you know your relationship is toxic, the path is clear: Figure a way to put it back on course, or jump ship.
Real love cannot happen in a toxic relationship.
You must first cleanse your relationship before you can even think of finding true love within it.
But sometimes that isn't possible. Relationships are always difficult. Two people have to merge their lives and validate each other's decisions. As I’m sure you know, getting two people to agree on something can be incredibly difficult.
When you’re in a toxic relationship, realizing or accepting its toxicity isn’t easy. The two of you believe what you’re experiencing is love. You think your obsessive behavior and shifting feelings are natural.
You need to steer away from this line of thinking. I won’t lie to you and tell you that love and obsession are exclusive. They do overlap, however, until you can both move past the part of love that is driven by emotion, you’ll never experience its depths.
There’s more to love than "feeling" it.
The biggest mistake I ever made was believing emotions defined love. I was naive and didn’t understand how much more there was to it. Emotions are fickle, ever-changing and ever-fleeting. You can’t pin them down.
If you try to preserve fleeting emotions, you'll start questioning your bond. As your emotions fluctuate -- as they always have and always will -- you begin to wonder if you’ve managed to somehow fall out of love.
Because the relationship is toxic and your obsession is so intense, you’re going to get lost in your own confusion. You’re going to ride the waves of emotion and allow them to drag you into the middle of a cold, dark ocean. You'll be left stranded and alone.
The only way to avoid a purely toxic relationship is to build that relationship on solid ground. You need to build it on a foundation that won't shift under your feet.
In other words, build it on something more reliable than emotions. Our emotions aren't based on reality; they're based how we interpret reality.
And we often interpret love as a collection of emotions. This is an incredibly toxic choice, and it means that we question our love whenever we have bad feelings about it.
Negative emotions overwhelm us. They force us to change the way they think. When that happens, we're hit with another wave.
Eventually, it drowns us.
Not all toxic relationships involve toxic people.
People aren’t born wise. We don't understand the world until we get our hands dirty and start exploring. And the same applies for our understanding of ourselves.
We aren’t evil by nature. Most of us are simply lost, confused and scared. We don’t have anyone to guide us through the most important things in life (like love).
We're taught how to multiply. We're taught grammar. But we fend for ourselves when it comes to learning the most important parts of life.
And how do we do it? By making mistakes. We try and fail. We get carried away, and we eventually fall apart. We're part of a continuous struggle. We're torn between who we are and who we hope to be.
I understand your partner is probably a good person. I know your partner will make someone very happy. But if you know your relationship is toxic, that person isn't you.
Not now, at least.
Letting go of a toxic relationship isn’t easy. You can be upset with your partner and also feel regret that things didn't work out. But if you can't sit down and make it work, you need to move on with your life.
Sometimes good people haven't yet learned how to be good partners. That sucks. But it's life.
Learn to cut toxic relationships out of your life. It's the only way to let in the healthy ones.