10 Big Lessons You Learn From Toxic Relationships

If you didn’t learn anything from your last failed relationship, you weren’t paying close enough attention. Every relationship has something to teach us, but the toxic ones are full of the hardest, most necessary lessons of all. Here are just a few of them.

  1. You learn to notice red flags earlier. Not only do you notice red flags earlier but you actually refuse to ignore them. The problem with many new relationships is that we’re willing to overlook the glaring red flags, dismissing them as not a big deal or something we can “fix” later on.
  2. You learn to listen to friends and family. While your friends and family may not love every single person you date because they’re outside the relationship, they can see who’s a bad apple far clearer than you can. After a toxic relationship, one which your friends and family probably gave you their two cents about, you become more willing to listen to them. You realize that they can see things that you just can’t and you become grateful for it instead of annoyed.
  3. You learn to go with your gut. Although our gut can fail us sometimes, it knows what’s up for the most part. Instinct and intuition are amazingly strong feelers when it comes to a bad situation. Once you’ve been in a toxic relationship, you know how it feels when things just aren’t right so you never ignore your instinct again.
  4. You learn your worth. Toxic relationships come in all forms, from physically abusive to mentally and emotionally abusive and a whole slew in between. No matter what type of toxicity you’re up against, your self-esteem and self-worth drops as your partner does their best to keep you down. But once you’re on the other side of a toxic relationship, you finally see what you’re worth and it’s all whole lot more than how you’ve been treated.
  5. You learn you can’t change people. Sometimes, even when we’re in toxic relationships, we can have a moment of clarity where we realize the relationship just isn’t right. While some may see that wake-up call as a reason to run, others see it as an opportunity to change their partner. But learn this now and learn it well: you can’t change people. You just can’t.
  6. You learn to put yourself first. It is in no way selfish to put yourself first, even if you’re in a relationship. When you put yourself first and practice a healthy amount of self-care, you’re more likely to be in tune to your relationship and see it for what it really is.
  7. You learn to set boundaries. When you understand how important it is to have boundaries, you’re able to protect yourself better. A toxic relationship is usually one where boundaries are overstepped and disregarded. If you learn to set boundaries early on and don’t waver in them, you can continue to protect yourself from going down another toxic rabbit hole.
  8. You learn to stand up for yourself. The only way to get out of a toxic relationship is to stand up for yourself, push back, and go. For those who have never been able to stand up for themselves, a toxic relationship can finally teach them how to do it, as well as how to no longer accept the lies, manipulation, and BS but instead fight against it and get the eff out.
  9. You learn what it means to settle. Sadly, too many people in life settle. We see people settle in their jobs, in their life choices, and in their relationships. Settling should never be an option because everyone deserves top-notch. Settling is essentially giving up, refusing to fight for the change you want to see and feel, and basically accepting, with open arms, everything that comes your way. That’s no way to live or love.
  10. You learn to forgive yourself. So, you were in a toxic relationship? It’s OK! Many people find themselves in unhealthy relationships and are able to bounce back. You weren’t stupid or foolish so you shouldn’t shame yourself for feeling how you did. Every time we get involved in a relationship, we take a risk. Taking a risk is part of life and is a necessary component to growing and evolving. When you’re finally free of your toxic relationship, you will have learned to forgive yourself and appreciate the lessons you learned along the way.
Amanda Chatel is a sexual health, mental health, and wellness journalist with more than a decade of experience. Her work has been featured in Shape, Glamour, SELF, Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Elle, Mic, Men's Health and Bustle, where she was a lifestyle writer for seven years. In 2019, The League included Amanda in their "15 Inspirational Feminists Every Single Person Should Follow on Twitter" list.

Amanda has a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She divides her time between NYC, Paris, and Barcelona.

You can follow her on Instagram @la_chatel or on Twitter @angrychatel.