It took me a long time to read the signs and understand that my partner would never love me the way I wanted to be loved.
Have you ever held on to a dying relationship, hoping against all hope that things will somehow work themselves out? I've definitely been guilty of investing in someone who was toxic to me because I believed that things couldn't possibly get any worse. And, as anyone with an ounce of common sense in them would tell you, things got worse. You see, toxic people aren't content with showing you their worst all at one go. They reveal the nasty sides of themselves, little by little, letting you believe that there's still a bit of goodness in them that can salvage the relationship, until you realize that they're never going to change. At some point I had to come to terms with the fact that remaining in this relationship was hurting me, possibly damaging my ability to love, and I had to get out of there before I lost myself in the toxic game I was playing. Here's what made me realize it was time to leave.
A stable, loving relationship is built on trust and support, and the two people involved need to be able to build each other up and spur each other on with their words. I learned the hard way that I wasn't going to get the love and encouragement I wanted and needed from this relationship. I could never do anything right in his eyes because no matter how hard I tried to earn his approval, he only found more ways to bring me down. I could have been the perfect human being, and he would have still found something to criticize me about.
If he was half the lover I wanted him to be, he would have never given me reason to be worried about who he was spending his nights with. At least other men are subtle about their attraction to other women, but my ex openly flirted with other women right in front of me. He just wanted to get a rise out of me and let me know indirectly that he had plenty of other lovers waiting to replace me the moment I stood up for myself. He never made an effort to make me feel like I was the only one he wanted, so I had to get out of there.
One of the tipping points in my decision to leave was when I noticed I was the only making an effort to keep us together. I'd write him loving notes, buy him things I thought he'd like, ask him how his day was going, make plans for us to meet, and find ways to keep him happy. But I was deeply unhappy. I felt alone in our relationship because I was the only one making an effort. He saw me as an afterthought, someone to think about once he had exhausted all other options. He took me for granted and didn't really care if I was happy or not, so I had to prioritize myself.
It's hard work keeping a relationship afloat all by yourself. I discovered that the hard way. There's no point investing in someone who refuses to invest in you, but I stubbornly poured my heart into my relationship, hoping that my efforts would salvage us. I worked harder to keep him interested, did everything I could to make him feel loved and wanted. But he took that as a sign that even if he did nothing, I'd still be around. It took me a while to work out that he was using me, by then I was so exhausted, I barely had any energy left for myself.
Depth is essential for a relationship to last long, and if you never get deep, your relationship is doomed. I went into my relationship wanting to get to know my partner on a deeper level, and I was willing to bare my soul to him. I shared things I never shared with most people to him, but he never seemed to care about the person I was on the inside. I told him my fears and hopes, my dreams and ambitions for the future, and my darkest secrets, but he found ways to use them against me. He never opened up to me, and I had to eventually accept that he never would.
Perhaps the biggest reason why I had to walk away from him was that his plans for his future didn't have me in them. He kept talking about his ambitions and the things he wanted to do, but a life with me wasn't one of them. I, on the other hand, kept dreaming that we'd someday forge a life together, that we'd work out our differences and grow closer to each other than ever before. I had plans for us that I had to accept would never see fruition because he was just using me with no intention of truly loving me. I had no choice but to walk away for my own sake.