As a young woman at the tender age of 20, ambulance I have always been very much aware of the existence of toxic romantic relationships, pills especially among young people. We have all heard the horror stories of young women (and men) being victim to physical abuse or manipulative and controlling partners; the latter of which is ever-growing, sildenafil thanks to the rising power of social media. However, there are less obvious red flags that indicate an unhealthy relationship, which often go undetected and/or ignored. I can hold up my hands and say that I was one of those people who ignored those niggling feelings in the back of my mind that something wasn’t quite right. In fact, it has only been recently – five months post-break up – that I have had a sort of realisation that the seemingly-perfect relationship I was in, was actually pretty toxic and undoubtedly chipped away at my mental health.
Cutting a very long story somewhat short, I had never been in a relationship due to a combination of different factors (mainly due to no interest in the opposite sex besides casual sex), until randomly I found myself in a relationship at university with an older guy from back home, who I had met during an internship at my mum’s work *facepalm*. The relationship in all honesty, was pretty wonderful; there was sexual chemistry, we had similar interests and sense of humour, and, most importantly, we were friends. I confided things in him from my past, mainly about the passing of my father, and he confided in me and we trusted each other.
It wasn’t until a few months down the line that things got…weird. We’d have little tiny bickers when I was away at uni where he’d sometimes call me cocky and abrasive and say that I was hiding who I really am, and that I didn’t need to pretend to be something I’m not when I was around him. At first, I was like whoa? As far as I was concerned, I was being 100% myself – more than I expected to be in a relationship, considering I am an innate relationship cynic – and I have never been described as ‘cocky’ in my life. I quickly became defensive but, in a desperate attempt to avoid conflict, came to agree with him and said that I would “do better”. This conversation repeated several times over the next few months, each time it made me question myself. I always thought of myself as a strong character, a good person, y’know? Now all of a sudden, the person I love…the person who is supposed to know me inside-out is telling me a few home-truths about myself and forcing me to look into the mirror, regardless of the risk that I may not like what I see. The old me was slowly fading away, like morning mist as the sun rises – I never laughed as loud, I always apologised even if I did nothing wrong and I was always second guessed myself. Am I coming across as cocky? Am I being awkward? Am I overreacting? Whilst I was going through this inner turmoil, I never once thought that he was in the wrong; he always sugar-coated what he said with kisses and heart-laced emojis. In my eyes, he could do no wrong.
Then came the break up. Wow oh wow, what a convoluted mess that was. On Valentine’s Day at 11pm (you really can’t make this sh*t up), I received a lovely (strong sarcasm) Whatsapp message saying that he couldn’t be with me because he had fallen for someone else…his best friend…a friend of mine…a man. And before I knew it, he just disappeared. Blocked on all social media, he ran off into the proverbial sunset with his new lover. As expected, I was shocked and hurt and upset, BUT in a way I felt like I couldn’t be angry with him; I had no idea what it felt like to grapple with your sexuality and identity. So, I retained a ‘dignified silence’ and found myself constantly making excuses for him to other people. “It’s not his fault”. “He can’t help being bisexual”. “As long as he’s happy, I am happy”. It wasn’t until my best friend (who I am forever indebted to) literally grabbed me by the shoulders and said to me “you’re being too nice. Stop apologising on his behalf. What he did was NOT okay. You deserve to be angry.” Then it hit me. Why was I still defending him? Now, I was furious. A fiery uncontrollable rage brewed within my veins – not just because he cheated, but also because he projected his sh*t onto me. Throughout our time together, he made me feel as if it was me who wasn’t being true to themselves; he made me doubt myself. Yet, all this time, it was him who was cowering away from the looking glass; unable to confront and accept who he was.
It was only at this point that it fully dawned on me how manipulative he had been during our time together. I was so immersed in my desire to please him that I lost my sense of self, and my sanity along with it. I’d been gaslighted. I had been so naïve in thinking that this sort of thing would never happen to me. But this is the thing with toxic relationships, they can happen to anyone and at anytime. We need to stop ignoring the red flags when they pop up. We need to speak up when your partner is making you doubt yourself. But most importantly, we need to realise that you’ll never be able to have a healthy loving relationship unless you love yourself.
Moral of the story is, if he ever makes you doubt yourself, dump him sis.
Written by Adeva Solanke