We have either been in a toxic relationship or seen a friend in a toxic relationship. Toxic relationships are seen on TV and are often glorified as #CoupleGoals. While they are usually filled with drama and can be entertaining (see the Bachelor and the Bachelorette), being in one can affect someone’s mental health. Below are a few lessons women learn after they leave toxic relationships.
You can’t change a partner who doesn’t want to change
We won’t know this lesson until we go through it. Oftentimes, when we are in love, we want to change other people or make them better. Karl Pillemer Ph.D. says, “You cannot change your partner. You may support your partner in an attempt to make a change, and you may change together.”
Self-confidence and self-love is a must
Ruby Fremon, a self-love coach for women featured in The Huffington Post, says self-love is important in relationships because you will be able to attract better, improve the quality of your relationships through diminishing codependency, show up in relationships as a strong and confident person, and you will set the tone for how you want to be treated if you love yourself first.
When you love yourself, you do not attach your self-worth and happiness to the other person. You individuate yourself from the relationship and both of you are your own person.
People experiencing emotional or psychological abuse often can’t see it.
We are blinded by love and the love that they give us. When someone is in an abusive relationship, it can be hard to see all of the damage that is being done. “Emotional abuse is one of the hardest forms of abuse to recognize,” says LeNaya Smith Crawford, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Kaleidoscope Family Therapy. “It can be subtle, covert, and manipulative. It chips away at the victim’s self-esteem, and they begin to doubt their perceptions and reality. It is a vicious cycle that many, unfortunately, never escape.”
As a result, this lesson urges you to learn to listen to your friends, family, and loved ones. They may bring something up to you about your relationship because they are able to better recognize the signs from an outside perspective.
You learn how much drama you are willing to take
We create boundaries for healthy reasons. When someone disrespects the boundaries and constantly cross them, you learn how much drama you are willing to take. When we love a person too much or are infatuated with the person, we may allow them to cross and disrespect our boundaries.
Noticing the red flags and keeping them in mind for the future
It is easy to reflect back on the relationship after you have been in one. When you reflect, you will finally notice all the subtle red flags that have been ignored that lead to the ultimate downfall of the relationship. Sharon Martin, LCSW, says we ignore red flags for a variety of reasons such as infatuation, wishful thinking, we don’t trust ourselves, we don’t like to admit that we were wrong, and the red flag(s) might seem minor. After a relationship, we learn what a red flag looks like and what red flags not to ignore for any future relationships we may have.
You learn forgiveness
While it may seem nearly impossible to forgive when someone you once loved betrayed or wronged you, forgiveness is key to moving on. Andrea Brandt Ph.D. M.F.T. says, “By forgiving, you are accepting the reality of what happened and finding a way to live in a state of resolution with it…Forgiveness isn’t something you do for the person who wronged you; it’s something you do for you.” By forgiving, you do not let the past situation to control you any longer.