I Stayed In A Toxic Relationship For Years Because I Couldn’t Afford To Move Out

I’ve had my fair share of bad relationships that lasted far past their expiration date. My excuses for not jumping ship and saving myself from toxic men ran the gauntlet from the sex being really good to being scared he might kill me in my sleep. This time, what kept me living under the same roof with someone I couldn’t stand was just straight up economic necessity.

We moved in together because we were both broke. I guess we were in love too, but the primary motivation we had for shacking up in the first place was because the thought of having our own place for half the price seemed irresistible at the time.

We quickly discovered that our tastes were totally incompatible. Because we rushed into living together to save money, we didn’t take the time to find out if we even liked the same aesthetic. The disagreements began from the moment we started unpacking when we discovered we wanted very different things out of a living space.

We started getting on each other’s nerves. Turns out that not only was our taste in decor completely incompatible but our daily lifestyles were too. Once we moved in together, I basically became a nagging bitch and he turned into a video game-playing sloth overnight. The honeymoon phase of our relationship was shattered the minute we signed our lease.

After a rocky first year, we decided to adopt a dog together. Our lease was almost up and I had my chance to escape, but I had convinced myself that if we just upgraded our living quarters, then maybe things would get better. A new cottage opened up in our complex that was a little bigger and even had a yard. We renewed our lease with the management company for another year and immediately adopted a dog together. Taking care of a pet together did actually improve our relationship for a few months, but in the end, not even our beloved fur baby could keep us from coming unraveled.

We completely stopped having sex. Even though our new place was nicer and had a yard, it wasn’t exactly spacious. It was still a tiny cottage about 300 square feet in total. Let’s just say the mystery in our relationship went out the door pretty quickly along with our sex life. During the last year of our relationship, he lived in our tiny living room, I lived in our even tinier bedroom, and the dog went back and forth between us like a child of divorced parents. We had sex exactly one time, at Christmas, and it was pretty much a freak occurrence. It was a quickie and we didn’t even sleep in the bed together afterward. Yikes.

We started sleeping in separate rooms. Considering our place was so small, not sleeping in the same room actually took some time and effort. He started sleeping on the living room floor every night; it started out as just falling asleep in front of the TV a few times and progressed into part of our normal routine. Eventually, our separate sleeping quarters became separate living quarters and ultimately separate lives.

We basically just ignored each other for about three months. When daily skirmishes over how to decorate the living room got old, we just sort of lapsed into a phase where we became indifferent to each other for a few months. We got up, went to work, came home, and pretended like the other person wasn’t there. The only time we spoke while in the same room together was when one of us was talking to the dog.

Eventually, our relationship turned into all-out war. Over time, we could no longer peacefully ignore each other and share 300 square feet of space. Slowly but surely, indifference devolved into open hostility. We became that crazy couple who was always fighting in our complex. We screamed and yelled at each other all the time. We fought over bills, the dog, the TV, groceries. Everything was an opportunity to take a swing at each other. The cops even got involved on several occasions, though no one was ever arrested.

One night, it went too far. Finally, all hell broke loose in our tiny, dysfunctional house. I was making food and Greg flipped the skillet out of my hands. I went insane and poured bleach all over his Playstation. He tried to break my phone. Eventually, our fight poured out onto the sidewalk in front of our house where, after about four hours of screaming and destroying each other’s property, he slapped me across the face. Hard. I moved out of our picture-perfect little house and in with my mom the next week.

Living together is what killed our relationship. I want to stress that we were both normal, happy, in love people when we first got together. It was deciding to move in together to save money that was our undoing. Once we signed that lease, we were stuck, and slowly we turned on each other like two rabid, trapped animals trying to claw their way out of a cage.

It would have cost a fortune to break our lease early. Signing a lease with that man is the main reason I have commitment issues to this very day. At the time when I was putting pen to paper and signing my freedom away, all I could think about was a) we were saving so much money and b) we could finally have really loud sex without disturbing our roommates. I was so lost in a rosy haze of savings and sexual liberation that I couldn’t see what I was really doing. Breaking our lease to escape each other without ruining our credit simply was not an option. Our shared poverty robbed us of the autonomy we needed to get the hell away from each other.

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