Here’s What Healthy Dating Feels Like When All You’ve Ever Known Is Toxicity

Your old life was filled with toxicity both from you and the person you were dating. That life was thrilling for a while, but it got too painful to bear, so you started changing your ways and you’ve begun to find patterns of dating that are actually healthy for you. This is mostly great, but also scary AF. Here are the range of feelings and experiences that have come up for you in your new way of dating:

  1. Terrifying Your new patterning feels really scary, like the ground has been pulled out from under your feet and you now have nothing to stand on. Though you know that a healthier way of dating is better for you all around, you can’t help but feel totally terrified. Part of you wants to run back to your old life, but you’re sitting with the fear anyway.
  2. Unnatural You see some other people dating healthily with grace, but you seem to have sea legs or the legs of a baby deer. Doing this whole dating thing in a healthy way doesn’t feel intuitive to you. Rather, you feel a bit like an alien. Nonetheless, you’re walking your unintuitive walk right through the discomfort.
  3. Awkward AF You used to feel suave in dating, but it’s because you were doing so in a toxic way and it was comfortable. Now that you’re being raw, honest, and totally yourself you feel like a weirdo. You’re seeing how awkward and human you are when you aren’t playing games. This humanity freaks you out, but you’re learning that the right person will also be their awkward selves with you.
  4. Uncharted territory These new dating patterns are like going to a place you’ve never been before. People have told you this place is great and you also intuitively know it to be true. Nonetheless, you’re looking around at this new way of being and you’re all too aware of how uncharted it is. It’s a bit freaky to be in the unknown, but you’re moving forward.
  5. Like you’re doing something wrong Since you’ve had specific patterns for so long, toxicity felt natural and right for you even though it was harming you. Now that you’ve moved away from those patterns, the new ones don’t quite feel right yet. It almost feels like you’re doing something wrong, but really you’re just growing in the right direction.
  6. Boring Let’s be real, toxicity can be thrilling. It’s addictive, much like cocaine. The problem is that the allure is great but the hangover makes the experience totally not worth it. In your new healthy dating life, there are no hits of cocaine. Instead, relationships unfold slowly and kindly. Part of you is bored to death by this.
  7. Like you’re a fraud You’ve seen yourself in a toxic light for so long that it feels like a cosmic joke to be healthy. You almost can’t believe the actions you’re taking in healthy ways as your mind slowly lags behind. Nonetheless, your actions speak louder than what’s in your head, so you continue to fake it until you make it.
  8. Both unnerving and relaxing You easily oscillate between thinking that you’ve got this new healthy dating thing and that you totally don’t have it at all. You find yourself both freaking out and also at times really relaxing into this new you. You wonder when the back and forth will end.
  9. Lovely Despite all of the difficulty that comes with growing into a person who dates in a healthy way, it’s really beautiful. You glow thinking that you’ve overcome some super unhealthy patterns and now you have opportunities to meet truly kind people. In fact, you’ve already started to meet them!
  10. Finally safe In many ways, toxic relationships were detrimental to your health and well-being. You chose abusive, codependent, and unsafe partners. Now that your judgment and choices are better, you feel like dating is actually safe for you. You can relax your shoulders and open your heart now that you’re choosing safer companions.
  11. Self-esteem building You weren’t too keen on yourself when you were making choices that resulted in messiness. You thought that you were messed up. Although this was never true, you now know that you’re a person who deserves love. Your self-esteem is being built up by doing esteemable acts.
  12. Authentically you You always felt like you were at the mercy of toxic relationships, like they called the shots about your life. It felt out of control, but now that you’re making healthier choices in dating it feels like you’re doing so in alignment with your values. This is a great feeling because you’re no longer compromising yourself.
  13. Promising It used to feel like a minefield when you dated–like your heart could be blown to bits at any time. Everything is totally different now, though, because you actually have hope in dating. You face the dating scene with a promising outlook. Sometimes you don’t even recognize your newly found optimism!
  14. Full of lessons Your old dating life was surely full of lessons, but they were brutally painful, nearly destroying you each time. Now your experiences are full of lessons in a way where you’re not crushed during each experience. You’re learning to tactfully navigate healthy dating.
Ginelle has been writing professionally for more than six years and has a bachelor’s degree in digital marketing & design. Her writing has appeared on Birdie, Thought Catalog, Tiny Buddha and more. You can follow her on Instagram @ginelletesta, via her Facebook page, or through her website at