Bad relationships happen.
We’ve all been in at least one in our lifetime. We’ve all suffered the consequences and we know how damaging it is to our emotional and mental health.
When we speak of bad relationships, we might be talking about partners who put us down, blame us, judge us, take us for granted, or disrespect us. Maybe they’re manipulative or simply fighting their own demons, which indirectly awakens ours.
All of these characteristics make it less than ideal to stick with our partners. Regardless, we stay because we can’t seem to quit.
There are multiple reasons why we might stay with a “toxic” partner. Maybe we have hope that the relationship will improve or we could be aware that our partner is not right for us, yet we’re waiting for the right time to leave. And sometimes—but not always—the relationship does improve or we finally gather our strength and leave.
When our relationships feel unhealthy, especially over a long period of time, we start to have the sense that we’re trapped in them. However, are we really trapped or do we willingly stay because we, ourselves, are toxic?
This plot twist might be unpleasant and many of us probably don’t want to admit this. As human beings, the most challenging thing to do is to take personal responsibility for our life. That’s why we tend to blame people, circumstances, luck, and life itself.
But the equation is simple here: unhealthy people tolerate each other, so the same must be true for healthy people.
In most relationships, there is always one person inflicting pain and one person receiving it, though we often swap those roles throughout. While we’d like to believe that only the person inflicting pain is toxic, the one receiving it can also be toxic if they continue to accept this pain without consequences.
When I say “toxic,” I mean that there is still work to be done. We are rarely aware of our own destructiveness, but there are always parts in ourselves that we need to heal and unresolved issues we need to manage.
I’ve been in toxic relationships before, but it wasn’t love that made me stay—it was familiarity. It took a while but I realized that all of my previous partners had recreated the same painful emotions in me, and even when I changed partners, those same feelings kept popping up.
It wasn’t until I stepped away from this toxicity and shed light on my own issues that I was able to walk away.
My current relationship isn’t devoid of problems, but one thing I know for sure is that my partner and I deal with issues in a conscious way that make our relationship less toxic and more healthy. We have found a way to be on the same mental and emotional levels.
But neither of us would’ve been able to do the necessary work on ourselves if we hadn’t entered into toxic relationships in the past.
We tend to stick with and attract in life what we already are—and not just in romantic relationships. Staying in unhappy jobs and places, or with people who bring us down, mirrors the way we feel about ourselves. As a result, if we stay in unhappy relationships, it’s probably because there’s a part of us that needs to be healed.
I firmly believe that we’re constantly on the path of healing. As humans, we have a need to grow and expand, so we subconsciously form the relationships that fast-forward our healing process.
I’m not ashamed to say that I was a magnet for toxic partners. I spent the greater part of my life in toxic relationships and only now do I know why I stayed. Now I realize why I ran after the people who pushed my emotional buttons, made me miserable, and lowered my self-esteem.
I was hoping they’d change or help me feel happier in my life, but the truth is that they were only a means for my personal growth. They were the mirrors for all my shortcomings. I was the one who was supposed to change so I could take action in my own life.
We will keep inviting toxic partners into our lives until they teach us what we need to know about ourselves. Through them, we wash away our own toxicity and let the light in.