Dating and Relationship Advice

Most of us have had a toxic ex or two in our past. Count yourself lucky if your relationships have been all sunshine and rainbows. Personally though, my romantic past has been full of tumultuous relationships, hookups, flings, and fuck buddies. Yeah, it’s been a wild ride.

Because of that wild past, I have learned a lot about what I need, what I desire, and what I deserve. Here are three things I have taken from my terrible experiences.

Calm Communication Is Key

One of my past relationships lasted four years and was full of yelling, screaming, throwing shoes across the room, the whole sha-bang. My boyfriend (an Aries) was fiery as all hell and loved to antagonize me. Me? I’m very independent and stubborn and when I know I’m right, I don’t give up easily. This butting-of-heads always ended in a who-can-scream-louder blowout.

I hate feeling angry. It’s not comfortable for me. So this anger-filled relationship was a zap to my nervous system. I was always on edge and full of anxiety. Coming out of this relationship, I began understanding the type of communication that I needed to feel safe (and thank God, I have it now in my current relationship). I learned the best way to communicate is calmly and clearly.

In my relationship now, we never place blame on each other. We emphasize how we feel. We tell each other things that upset us right away rather than bottling it up. And we always listen to each other. We make what would have been arguments in my past relationship, a discussion. This has strengthened our relationship by allowing us to get over things faster and easier. It has also helped us to understand each other more.

Abuse Is Not Always Clear

Talking about abuse is not easy. However, I have been in a couple of abusive relationships. At the time, however, this is not how I saw them. I have always heard, “relationships are hard work.” Until entering my current relationship, which is easy-as-pie, I always believed in that outdated saying. I’m here to tell you though that even though relationships require effort, they shouldn’t be hard. You should want to put in the effort if you love the person and they are worth your energy.

Mental, emotional, and physical abuse are not always clear. You may think physical abuse would be the clearest of them all, and in some cases it is. However, I had a boyfriend who used to restrain me when we were talking or when I was angry and needed space. He would make sure he had physical control over me, either by holding me down or blocking the doorway, even if I was desperately attempting to get away. That was abuse. No he didn’t knock me through a wall or cut off my finger, but he did physically limit me.

Mental abuse usually involves manipulation. Sometimes it's not clear you're being manipulated because it's done by someone you love and who supposedly loves you. It’s important to take note if your partner is always trying to charm you into doing something for them, such as a sexual act that you may not be comfortable with.

Emotional abuse can be anything from a partner insulting you to them apologizing with gifts after doing something hurtful (this ties into manipulation, as well). If someone is constantly putting you down and questioning your character (relationship, friend, family, or whoever), it’s time to cut ties. I have been there, done that, and let me tell you, it is not ok and you deserve better.

Know Your Worth

This may sound cliche, but knowing our worth is something we all need to focus on. As a partner, you have a lot to offer, such as kindness, security, passion, and trust. Do not let anybody take that for granted.

I am sure, like me, you have also felt beaten-down and under-appreciated by a partner. And I hope, like me, you learn from it. You need to remember that if your partner isn’t adding value to your life, then they have no place in it. Hold onto your loving romantic energy until you find someone worthy of receiving it. No matter how long it takes, it’ll be well worth it.

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