A lot of romantic comedies make it seem like finding love is easy — you can literally stumble across it while you're out running errands. And, any conflict is resolved quickly and painlessly through a little communication. While that definitely presents a nice view of love, in reality, relationships are often a lot more complicated. I mean, you're essentially combining two lives into one. There's a lot of compromises and a lot of communication needed to make things work.
However, there's a certain point when a difficult relationship becomes a toxic one, one that you absolutely shouldn't be fighting to make work. It can sometimes be tough to give up on a relationship if you feel like it was once picture perfect, or if you just hate the idea of being single again, so you try to ignore all the red flags — and you totally shouldn't. There's a certain amount of compromise that's okay, but at a point, you shouldn't be letting your partner make you feel bad about yourself or feel like you're sacrificing everything for their happiness.
Here are 10 ways a toxic relationship may have ruined you, and 11 ways to help build yourself back up into a strong, independent woman who will accept only the best kind of men who recognize your worth!
10 Ways He Ruined You:
21 You Find Yourself Unable To Trust People
Trust is without a doubt one of the most important parts of any relationship. I mean, if you can't trust your partner, the entire foundation of your relationship is shaky and things will never work out in the long term. If you had the kind of partner who broke your trust time and time again through lying and cheating and other toxic behaviors, there's a very real chance that you'll have some major trust issues going forward in other relationships, and it's something you'll have to kind of relearn. Just don't ever let yourself believe that trust isn't a crucial part of a relationship — it absolutely is, and you shouldn't let one bad apple spoil your relationship expectations for life. You deserve to trust your partner wholeheartedly, in any situation.
20 You Can't Stop Dwelling On The Critical Things He Said
You should absolutely be honest with your partner in every situation, and it's reasonable to give some constructive criticism from time to time. However, in general, you're supposed to be your partner's cheerleader in life, the person who supports them in everything from their career choices to their outfit choices. In a toxic relationship, your partner may have been endlessly critical about everything from your appearance to your behavior, and even though you may have started out with a lot of confidence, it's easy for that to get chipped away, bit by bit. After a toxic relationship ends, you may find that you just can't stop dwelling on some of the critical things your partner used to say time and time again — and you need to learn to shake it off and forget about it because it's just not true!
19 You Just Feel Flat-Out Drained
Even the best relationships are work, and there are times when you just feel a little bit tired and like you need some time to yourself. That's completely normal. What's not normal, though, is feeling absolutely drained, day after day. If you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from just the sheer act of being with your partner, that is absolutely not okay. Your partner should be the person you can come to when life has beaten you down that gives you a bit of a reprieve, not the one who's causing all your exhaustion! After you come out of a bad relationship, there's a very good chance that you'll just feel totally drained for a while, and that's okay — as long as you recognize you shouldn't be feeling like that forever.
18 You Feel Like You Put Your Dreams On Hold
When you're in a relationship, it only makes sense that you not only grow as a couple, you also grow as two individuals pursuing your own paths and passions. In a toxic relationship, your partner may very well have held you back and tried to prevent you from pursuing your dreams for whatever reason. Perhaps he didn't want you to realize you could do better and find a supportive partner; perhaps it was a control tactic and he wanted to make sure you didn't find your worth in other areas. The point is, he held you back — and that is not okay. When you get out of a bad relationship and realize that you've been putting your dreams on hold, you need to get in touch with your inner dreamer and work hard to pursue them.
17 He Was Always Trying To Change You
You should want your partner to be their best self, and vice versa. So, if they're doing something that's unhealthy in the long run or that negatively impacts them, it's not out of line to suggest that they take better care of themselves and their health. However, you should never try to change your partner simply because they're not behaving or dressing the way you want them too. Perhaps you're conservative and your partner is always in some kind of wild outfit. Perhaps they had huge corporate aspirations and you're content to be an artist who juggles odd jobs. Whatever the reason, a bad partner might make you feel like you need to change to keep their love — and that should never be a requirement. Your partner needs to accept you for who you are.
16 You Feel Taken For Granted
It's not crazy to want to feel appreciated in your relationship. After all, relationships are all about balance — you put in the effort, they put in the effort, that's how it should work. So, if you feel like you're the only one that's ever making an effort and your partner is just taking from you, that's an issue. Everyone has times where they may need to lean on their partner a little more, but if your partner is failing to make any effort at all, time and time again, you're obviously going to feel taken for granted. Let's make this clear — that's not a way you should be feeling! You deserve someone who appreciates you, so don't let a bad relationship ruin that for you and make you feel like you shouldn't be valued.
15 You Don't Know What It's Like To Communicate Without Fighting
There aren't many couples out there who have never had a fight, ever. After all, relationships are all about communication — and sometimes, if you're a little fired up about something, that communication will get a little loud and passionate. However, that shouldn't be the norm. If you're fighting on an almost daily basis, that's a sign that something is seriously wrong — especially if you've been together for a while. The odd fight is just a blip in your communication as a couple, but consistent fighting is a sign that you're not effectively communicating at all. Just don't allow your constant fighting in a bad relationship to make you feel like that's what you should expect out of every relationship — it absolutely isn't. Fighting should not be the norm, plain and simple.
14 You've Stopped Spending Time With Your Friends
When you're all wrapped up in a new relationship, it can be tempting to cancel plans with your girls in order to stay all cozy in your bubble of love. However, that's always a bad idea — your partner should have a place in your life, but so should your girls. They're the ones who you can turn to when you need to dish about some drama, the ones who can support you, the ones who help you be your best and most confident self. If you were in a toxic relationship, your guy may have discouraged you from spending time with your girls, because they just might open your eyes and realize you're not being treated the way you deserve to be treated. Make some plans and rekindle your friendships ASAP.
13 You Told Little White Lies To Avoid Drama
One of the signs of a majorly toxic relationship is if you tell little white lies to avoid making your partner upset. There are some things you may neglect to tell your partner because they're just not important, but there shouldn't be anything you're straight up not willing to tell your partner in fear of a confrontation of some sort. You shouldn't be forced to walk on eggshells in a relationship, ever. If you don't feel comfortable being totally honest with your partner, you need to ask yourself why you feel that way — and usually, the answer is that your partner is toxic and just not good for you. You need to find someone who loves hearing all your stories, not someone who will only tolerate an edited version of your life — and there are probably plenty of great guys out there who fall into the first category.
12 You Put His Needs Before Your Own
Relationships are about compromise and sacrifice, and yes, sometimes you may have to do something your partner likes that you don't necessarily love. Maybe you're all about trying new restaurants, and your partner just wants to go to the same steakhouse for every date night. Maybe you don't care about sports at all but your partner wants to watch the basketball game. There's a certain amount of compromise needed in a relationship, but it should always be a balance. If you're always doing things that benefit your partner and putting their needs before your own, but they never reciprocate, that's a huge problem and a sign your relationship is toxic. If you're putting their needs first, they should be putting your needs first too — that way, everyone is happy and considering one another.
11 Ways To Undo The Damage:
11 Give Yourself Time To Process Things
Even if you're getting out of a bad relationship that turned toxic, let's be honest — you still loved that person at one point, and you still had an intimate relationship with them, so breaking up won't be easy. Even if you know that you made the right choice and are better off without them, it's tough. So, before you jump head first into enjoying your single girl status, make sure that you actually took some time to grieve and get over the relationship — otherwise, you may find yourself sabotaging another relationship because you just weren't ready and over your baggage. You have to give yourself some time to heal — and then, you can venture forth and find a new, improved partner who will make you happy (or just enjoy being single for a while!)
10 Practice Self-Care (Get Yourself In A Bubble Bath Stat!)
If you're coming out of a period in your life where you were putting someone else's needs before yours and trying so hard to make things work, there's a very good chance that you've been neglecting your self-care and that your self-esteem took a bit of a hit. So, you need to get on that self-care train, stat! Make a list of things that make you feel fantastic — this could be going to a salon to get a manicure and pedicure, treating yourself to a bubble bath, or even just getting your favorite snacks and vegging out on the couch for a whole day binge-watching your favorite show. Just make time in your schedule to do the things that make you feel rejuvenated and confident about yourself — you deserve it!
9 Work On Your Friendships
No matter what guy is in your life at a certain point, your girls will always be there for you — so especially at a time when you're getting over a relationship and trying to build yourself back up again, it's crucial to make time for your girls and work on your friendships. Have your bestie over for a wine and whine session; gather a group of ladies and get coffee together, or do a paint night, whatever you enjoy. Not only will your friends make you laugh, they'll also help you get your confidence back because they think you're amazing and won't hesitate to tell you so. Especially if you're trying to undo the damage of a bad relationship, your friends may just be the key to bouncing back stronger and more confident.
8 Hit The Hiking Trail, Gym Or Yoga Class — Just Move Your Body
I know, I know — when you're getting over a breakup and feeling terrible about yourself, the last thing you want to do is leave your couch. However, everyone knows Elle Woods' eternal wisdom — exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy! We're not saying you have to commit to a crazy spin class where the instructor screams at you if that's just not your jam. Even something as simple as going for a walk or hike outside will likely make you feel a thousand times better, both inside and out. You'll be glowing, you'll feel great about yourself, and you'll get a little boost of confidence. That's exactly the kind of thing you need when you're trying to build back your self-esteem after a grueling breakup.
7 Look Into Hobbies Or Things You've Been Neglecting
If you've been putting your partner first or just haven't found time in your schedule for the things you love in a while, now is the time to change that. Perhaps you absolutely love crafting and tapping into your creative side — hit up the craft store, get some supplies, and get back to it! Maybe you've always wanted to learn a new skill, like a musical instrument or a foreign language — find a class or book that can help you out and get to it! Whether you're single or in a relationship, you should be focused on being the best you that you can be — so after a breakup is the perfect time to refocus and make sure that you're treating yourself with the kind of love and care that a partner should be treating you.
6 Stop Yourself From Jumping Into Another Relationship Immediately
Everyone's heard of the good old rebound, and if a little bit of fun is what you want to get you out of a funk, hey — you're free to do whatever you want with your body! However, you should really, really avoid jumping into an actual relationship right after a breakup. You may legitimately have found the perfect partner, sure, but you also may very well have just found someone who gave your self-esteem a bit of a boost and made you feel a little less lonely during a tough time. Give yourself some time to focus on you, and build your own confidence — when you're ready, a guy will just be the perfect complement to your already amazing self, not the source of your self-esteem.
5 Avoid His Social Media For A While
We'll say it once, we'll say it twice, we'll say it ad nauseum — do not, under any circumstances, check your ex's social media if you want even the slightest hope at undoing the damage he's done to you. Chances are, whatever you see will make you feel even worse. Perhaps you'll remind yourself of how dreamy he is and regret dumping him because come on, he's gorgeous! Perhaps you'll see some shots of him out on the town, having fun with his friends, or even with another girl, which will probably just tank your self-esteem completely. Even if they seem miserable, that'll just make you feel bad as well — there's literally no winning in this situation. So, avoid social media entirely, block their account, whatever you need to do to make it happen, do it.
4 Date Yourself! Indulge In All The Things You Love
Date night is an important component to any relationship — whether you're going out on lavish dates that include shows and dinners at expensive restaurants, or just hanging out at home watching Netflix and eating pizza, date nights are when you connect with your partner and nurture your relationship. And why wouldn't you want to nurture your relationship with yourself? Plus, there's a good chance that there are certain things you avoided because your partner just didn't like them. Perhaps they hated sushi — treat yourself to a sushi night! Perhaps they weren't really art lovers — head to your local museum and spend hours just walking through the exhibits, enjoying the works. Do the things that make you joyous, especially if they're things you've been avoiding for a while because of your partner. In other words — treat yo self!
3 Take A Killer Selfie That Makes You Totally Feel Yourself
Okay, this one is a bit more superficial, but hey — there are many, many ways to rebuild your confidence. If you've been hanging out at home for days, rocking sweatpants and no make-up and just feeling blah about yourself, sometimes a little external boost can make you feel better on the inside. Do your hair, do your makeup, put on an outfit that makes you feel amazing and take a killer selfie. Heck, share that selfie on social and watch the comments pour in about how you're totally slaying. You shouldn't get all your self-esteem from the way you look, obviously, but sometimes a little boost is exactly what you need to remind yourself that you're a total catch and deserve a man who treats you like you are.
2 Hit The Town With Your Girls
Again — something like hitting the club won't help you heal from a serious breakup, but sometimes it's exactly the confidence boost you need to get you through and help the process. Gather your closest girlfriends and blast some Beyonce, do your hair and makeup together and get totally glam, get dressed up in an outfit that makes you feel fabulous and hit the town. Dance for hours in a group, have a few drinks and just enjoy having fun for a while. You may not be totally healed, you may not be ready to get into another relationship, but you're probably always ready to shake your thing to your favorite songs. Plus, since exercise boosts your mood, it's kind of a two for one thing! Friends, dancing, what's not to love?
1 Remind Yourself How Amazing You Are (Yes, It Sounds Cheesy, But You Need To Hear It!)
Okay, this is the point where you need to take a page out of Dr. Mindy Lahiri's book. She had many relationships that didn't work out, and there were many people who criticized her for one reason or another, but she was totally unshakeable in her belief in herself and how fabulous she was. No matter what, you need to be reminding yourself that you are amazing. Don't allow yourself to beat yourself up because you're single again, and don't allow yourself to feel badly because of anything your partner may have said. If you need to, look up some cheesy affirmations and just repeat them to yourself over and over until you believe them — you are unique and amazing and special and you deserve to feel that way!
Sources: psychologytoday.com, elitedaily.com, bustle.com, buzzfeed.com