I was seething with anger and hurt.
It had been over a day since I had received a single text from my boyfriend. A group of friends and I were out at the bar, and I had asked if he wanted to meet us. Hours passed, and multiple texts were ignored, although I could see they had been read.
Although he was the only thing on my mind, I was determined to put on the facade of having fun. My social feed filled up with photos of me dancing with my friends and, by all appearances, having a blast… even though all I could think about was his silence.
That night was many years ago. Now a distant memory for me, I was reminded of it by a client who spoke of how she had feared she would never again feel joy without her toxic ex. She told me of the nights she would go out with her friends and post in the hopes he would see it and miss her.
Her words reminded me of that night I felt so empty and sad many years ago. They also reminded me that we must pay attention to our feelings to ensure we don’t fall into unhealthy relationships.
There are five feelings that I encountered years ago with my toxic ex that should not exist in a healthy relationship.
#1. Insecurity brought on by your partner's actions
Although my ex-boyfriend assured me he loved me and was committed to our relationship, his actions spoke otherwise.
Aside from the night I mentioned before. There were countless nights when he would disappear and not disclose what he was doing. It bothered me to my very core, but if I said anything, he would say that I was being needy.
Once confident and self-assured, his actions caused me to begin questioning myself. Insecurities that I had never experienced before our relationship began to pop up, and I began to make myself small.
#2. Anxiety primarily when you are not together
In my ex’s presence, it was easier to convince myself that everything was okay and that everything was okay.
Yet it was impossible to keep up the act because the moment I would leave his apartment, a sick feeling would begin forming in my stomach.
Relationship anxiety is normal for many people to feel off and on. However, this was something else entirely. Whenever we were apart, my heart was racing, and I couldn’t get my mind on anything else.
Later I found out that he was cheating on me with multiple other women, but without any evidence, I knew that was happening in my body even if I wanted to remain in denial.
#3. More than the normal amount of jealousy
Personally, I don’t believe that a tiny bit of jealousy is necessarily bad, although I will say this… it is something I have primarily encountered in relationships when it was brought on by my partner.
A few years ago, I had been dating a great guy for several months, and we went out to a party in his hometown. His closest “girl” friend showed up, threw her arms around him, and they laughed and were together the entire night. It was so awkward and obvious that he had feelings for her that his brother apologized to me for his behavior.
That night I cried myself to sleep because I knew that my jealousy had weight behind it. Shortly after, I discovered they had dated in the past, and he had lied to me by saying they had always been friends. The image of them that night was one that I couldn’t erase from my mind, and I broke things off shortly after because I could tell that he still had feelings for her. They’ve been dating ever since.
#4. When your partner is mentioned, you feel unsettled
A few months ago, I was hiking with one of my best friends, who had been in a toxic relationship for most of her adult life. I asked her how things were going with her partner, and she got very uneasy and clammed up completely.
Realizing that she didn’t want to talk about him, I dropped the subject, but it reminded me of when I hadn’t wanted to talk about my past relationships.
There were times in the past when someone would ask me about my relationship, and I would want to change the subject because it was unsettling and unpleasant to talk about.
This happened the most frequently when I was in my most toxic relationship the mention of my boyfriend made me feel exhausted because I knew I would have to lie and say that everything was okay… when it was far from being okay.
After my last toxic relationship ended, I listed how he had made me feel. Then, I made a promise to myself.
The promise was that if I ever felt any of these feelings in a future relationship, I would pay attention instead of casting them aside.
By changing my behavior and setting boundaries, it was much easier to cultivate a healthy relationship. I’m happy to report that I am now with my partner of over three years, who has never given me any of the feelings I had decided to avoid.
Relationships are hard work, but there is a difference between healthy conflict and behavior that brings up red flags. Listen to your gut and pay attention to your body. It usually knows what our hearts and minds are struggling to fully accept.