I’m A Strong, Independent Woman, But I Still Stayed In An Unhealthy Relationship Way Too Long

I can fend for myself. I don’t need a man to take care of me. I can manage my own health, pay my own bills, and fulfill my own happiness. I’m confident in myself and I know exactly who I am. I’m a strong and independent woman and I know what I deserve, but I still stayed in an unhealthy relationship for way too long. Here’s why:

I was strong in every way but one. I didn’t have the strength to walk away, not at first. It took a long time for me to accept that our love wasn’t right anymore. The relationship was bringing me pain, but I thought it would be more painful to walk away. He made me weak in the knees and that crippled me enough to make me stay.

I thought my love for him could conquer anything. It might have been unhealthy, but that doesn’t make the love go away. I was still in love with him so it didn’t make sense for me to leave, at least not to me at the time. I realize now that love isn’t enough to save a relationship, especially if that love is filled with pain.

It wasn’t always unhealthy. Once upon a time, we were actually happy. Our relationship used to be healthy and fulfilling, but over time it turned sour. Instead of loving each other the way we were supposed to, we started to poison one another. Our relationship became a string of fights where neither of us really knew what we were fighting for. We started out happy, and I for one stayed in the hope that happiness would come back.

I forgot how to be on my own. We’d been together so long that I forgot how to be single. I didn’t know how to flirt anymore. I was out of college and on my own and I had no idea where to meet new men, friends, or people in general. I didn’t know how to be one of the single girls and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be. After all that time I was firmly and undoubtedly a relationship girl, and I didn’t know how to go back.

I was afraid of the unknown. I was comfortable in our situation. It may not have been healthy but it was routine. I’ve always hated change. I’m not a ‘go with the flow’ kind of girl. I have a hard time adjusting and I didn’t know how to adjust to him one day being my everything and the next day being nothing. That was just too much, even for a strong girl like me.

I didn’t realize it was unhealthy until it was too late. I could see that we weren’t as happy as we once were, but I thought all couples went through phases like that. We both grew and changed, but I didn’t realize those changes were tearing us apart. I didn’t see how unhappy we made each other until I was too committed to walk away.

He was my best friend. Despite how ugly our relationship had turned, at the end of the day the man lying next to me was still my best friend. That meant that in losing him, I’d not only lose a boyfriend and a man I loved but also my very best friend in the world. I wouldn’t just be single, I’d be alone and friendless. Even though I considered myself very independent and self-sufficient, that scared me.

It took everything for me to keep it together. I may not have been strong enough to walk away but it still took a lot of strength for me to stay. My world was crumbling beneath me but I never gave in. I never let our situation get the best of me. I didn’t fall apart. I at least had that much strength.

I thought that things would get better. If I called it quits, we would have been over for good. I’m not the type of girl who takes a “break” in a relationship. Breakups are final and there’s no getting back together, so instead I just stayed, hoping that things would return to the way they once were. I thought it was just a rough patch and I believed that we’d have the strength to get through it.

I didn’t need him, but he was still the one I wanted. When our relationship turned from good to bad, I had a choice. I knew that if I left him, I would survive. I didn’t need him when we started dating and I didn’t need him at the end. All that time I was with him because I still wanted to be. I may not have needed him —  in fact, I would have been better off without him — but my want was greater than my need, and that’s why I stayed.

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