12 Things I Missed Out On In My 20s Because I Was In A Toxic Relationship

The better part of my 20s was spent in a seriously toxic relationship. It wasn’t until I ended it that I realized what a colossal waste of time my ex was and how much better I deserved. There were so many other things I could have been doing with those years — here’s what I wish I’d done during that decade instead:

  1. Traveling the world I haven’t gone anywhere, and when I say that, I truly mean it. I’ve never been on a plane. I’ve never even seen the ocean. Hell, I’ve never even seen most of the amazing things in my own area. It’s a shame, too, because the older I get, the harder I know it is to just pick up and plan an impromptu trip half way across the world. My 20s should have been spent seeing as much of the world as possible, not making someone else my whole world.
  2. Living somewhere I didn’t know anyone I lived alone for a short time in my 20s, but I’ve never packed up and moved to an entirely difference place all on my own and I wish I would have tried it. Going out into the world on my own would have been an amazing opportunity to learn more about myself, the world around me, and different kinds of people I otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to meet. My 20s would have been a perfect time for it, too, because those are the easiest years to be sociable and open to new experiences and ideas.
  3. Making more solid friendships Instead of making a ton of new friends in my 20s, I basically wasted them spending ‘quality’ time with my boyfriend. We acted as though we were an old married couple because that tends to be how long-term relationships operate if you’re with the wrong person. Not building a solid girl gang is one of my biggest regrets.
  4. Immersing myself in the college experience During college, I pretty much went to class and then came home. I never really hung out with all the interesting people I was in my course with and I tended to avoid extracurriculars because I felt as though I needed to be home with my boyfriend instead of out there living my life. I can’t go back and do things differently and that seriously sucks.
  5. Saving my money Spending money on things around the house, like big TVs and other BS that couples seem to think are necessary when they have nothing else to do together, became a weekly occurrence. The relationship wasn’t great, we both knew it, and so we were forced to spend time together by spending money together. Trips to home stores and flea markets were the only things we ever really did together and for some reason, we thought it would make the relationship stronger. Between the excessive spending on crap and the regular bills, my savings account is now super bleak.
  6. Going out on a Tuesday just because During my long-term relationship, I always felt that I had to be home with him and couldn’t be out gallivanting with the girls until the wee hours of the morning. I missed out on so many wild adventures because I was too busy acting like my relationship was my number one priority. It really sucks to know that I missed out on so much because of it.
  7. Dating everyone that asked me out And I mean everyone. I spent the best (and probably hottest) years of my life with a man that turned out to be nothing but a frog in Prince Charming’s clothing and I wish I’d dated as many men as possible instead. I’m a relationship girl by nature, but had I been single and open to more people during my 20s, it may have opened me up to find the true love of my life before the hookup culture took over and ruined romance forever.
  8. Focusing on my health In my long-term relationship, we sat around binging Netflix and ordering pizza a lot. This on its own is a great activity, but when it started happening four days a week, it was detrimental to my physical health. We weren’t active together at all, and what’s worse, because the relationship was so toxic, it messed with my mental health quite a bit too. Instead of gaining weight and being mildly depressed, I should have been hitting the gym, eating vegetables, and doing things that made me happy.
  9. Pursuing my passions My passions got pushed aside a lot while I was in that relationship. We lived together in a cramped space and it was hard to get the motivation to practice my instruments with the sound of Call of Duty in the background. If I wasn’t in that relationship, that would have freed up so many hours for me to really focus and improve on my skill set. It really would have been a win-win.
  10. Spending more time with family Another thing that got pushed lower on my priority list was spending time with my family, which I seriously regret. My family is amazing and fun but because my ex didn’t quite fit in with them, we often skipped many family parties and get-togethers so that he could feel as if he was my number one. That was a huge mistake because now I know that family should come first. All those hours I spent doing nothing with him could have been spent doing fun things with them.
  11. Learning as much as humanly possible One of my biggest regrets from wasting all those good years in a long-term relationship is all the time I could have spent learning. New languages, new skills, even new hobbies would have all been an excellent—as well as better—use of my time. The older I get, the harder it is to learn something new and I really wish I’d done it when my mind was sharpest.
  12. Getting to really know myself Now that I’m older, I’m pretty confident that I know who I am and what I want out of life, but it wasn’t easy getting here. It could have been even easier if I’d spent my 20s focused on doing just that instead of focusing on getting to know someone else.
Angelica Bottaro has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Trent University and an Advanced Diploma in Journalism from Centennial College. She began her career as a freelance writer in 2014, racking up bylines in The Good Men Project, MakeWell, LymeTime, YouQueen, and more. She eventually shifted her focus and began writing about mental health, nutrition, and chronic disease for VeryWell Health.

You can follow her on Facebook or check out her website at AngelicaBottaro.ca. She also posts on Instagram @a.ct._b and Twitter @angiiebee.