I created a lot of toxic relationships during college. I didn't understand why I invested so much time in relationships that were detrimental to my health, but it was college. Those four years can be lonely without friends or a significant other.
But when you get to the point where you're constantly miserable in a relationship, that's when you have to draw the line. It's a hard line to draw, but sometimes you have to recognize you relationship for what it really is: toxic.
How do go about ending relationships that are hurting you mentally, physically and emotionally? There's no handbook for this.
I recently talked to a couple of college students who had recognized their toxic relationships and eliminated them from their lives for good. Transitioning away from these relationships wasn't easy, but it proved to be vital. The challenges they faced might have created painful memories, but they also provided them with expert advice for people going through the same obstacles they faced.
Here's what they had to say:
My first two years of college, I was dating the same guy I had been dating in high school. While I began adjusting in college, he began getting into hard drugs and failing classes at his school. It took me a long time to realize our relationship was becoming toxic because I still saw him as the boy I met in high school who was smart and ambitious. Even after he had been arrested multiple times, it has hard for me to come to terms with the fact that drugs were ruining his life, and those drugs were, unfortunately, the only thing he cared about. My friends and family kept telling me he was bad news, but I with stayed him because I loved him and he loved me. My relationships with others suffered because [my friends] knew he would hurt me like he always did, but I still had hope he would change for the better. Our toxic relationship consumed me. My happiness began to depend solely on how often he contacted me. As his drug addiction deepened, I want to stay with him to help him get better. After spending one afternoon together where he was so strung out I had to keep shaking him to stay awake, I realized I deserved better. I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who wasn't sorry, and accept an apology I never received. My advice to anyone in a toxic relationship is to be selfish. You need to put your own happiness above others. Don't dull your shine for anyone.
– Jaison, 22
If you want to save your relationship, the most important thing to do is to weigh its worth. If you've lost yourself, you have to find yourself again. The happiness you feel won't be complete until that's done. When I dealt with a toxic relationship, I gave up a lot. Many things I enjoyed, I wouldn't do because I was scared he wouldn't want to be a part of it. We were so dependent on one another that anything done separately seemed crazy. It was draining not only having to carry yourself, but also someone else. Always be independent. It's fantastic to love someone completely, but if you lose yourself in the process, it's never worth it. Know who you are, and know your worth.
– Shelby, 21
I made friends online through Twitter and GroupMe before coming to school in order to make the process of coming to college easier. Those online interactions with people who shared similar interests then turned into one-on-one, face-to-face interactions. I started noticing pitfalls of the online route with many people I had previously interacted with. You don't know the person as well as you think you do because a lot of people go into friendships or relationships one way, and then turn out to be different. In college, you need to build your immediate friend base and get to know them very well, but you also expand to your acquaintances. That way, if social scenes change, you will always have people to go to in order to prevent feeling excluded.
– Alex, 18
My last relationship messed me up emotionally and physically. Everything he told me was a complete lie, and he manipulated me, even when we were long distance. I kept trying to forgive him, but he stressed me out mentally. You need to learn to do stuff for yourself, and don't pretend that he or she will change or that things will get better. It's better to be happy and single than miserable and taken.
– Ashley, 19
Sometimes, the wrong people enter your life without explanation, and we're too in denial to view the relationship as toxic. When we continue to engage in these negative relationships, it starts affecting our health and behavior. Always remember you deserve better from the people you love.
Life's hard. You can't do it alone, and you definitely can't do it with people who don't know your worth. Always remember to know your worth. Love yourself unconditionally.
And most importantly, work on on yourself before you work on others. Be the best version of yourself, and then everything else will fall into place.