I Thought I’d Been In Love Before But It Was Just Toxicity

When I look back at how much pain I was in after the men I loved left me, it’s almost laughable. Now that I’ve experienced real love, I can see how those previous relationships were the furthest thing from love.

  1. I was a bundle of insecurity. I was full of fear, worry, and insecurity. It’s not just because I had my own issues but because the men I thought I loved were putting me in situations where my stress reached epic heights. For instance, when they were distancing themselves even though they claimed to love me but not giving a damn about my feelings. How is that love?!
  2. I caught the wrong guys. I was attracted to the bad boys who couldn’t spell commitment if their lives depended on it. I’ve learned that it’s so much more important to choose guys who are boyfriend material, otherwise, love isn’t going to come to the party. FYI: charm and lovely words aren’t love—they’re bad boy’s main method of manipulation.
  3. Support was one-sided. I loved wholeheartedly and supported my exes with everything I had. Bad move. They usually weren’t giving me the same level of support, which meant that I was giving and giving, only to get nothing in return. That’s not love—that’s stupidity and a lack of standards on my part.
  4. I lived in the “less than” zone. I always felt like the guys who dated me were better than me. That’s total BS but it stemmed from my insecurities. So, it was like I had to try to be better to keep them around. What a waste of time. I should’ve valued myself and found someone who did the same thing.
  5. I was relationship play dough. I was always changing myself to get the love I thought I needed to be happy. Ugh, it was so desperate. Once, I remember my ex telling me that he wanted me to quit chasing my dreams and find a “real job” and I actually got a job to make him happy… even though it made me miserable. Love isn’t about being someone I’m not and someone who tries to change me doesn’t love me.
  6. I compromised on the future. With one of my exes, I remember feeling excited to build a future with them even if that future wasn’t about my happiness. WTF? He wanted to move to a one-horse town and I wanted the excitement of the big city. It never would’ve worked because we wanted different things. I was trying to smooth over those differences, but it wasn’t worth it at the expense of my needs. The right guy will complement my life, not conflict it.
  7. I always loved more. I felt lonely in many of the “love” relationships I had. Looking back, I don’t think any of the guys who said they loved me really did. I was always the one who felt more for them than they did for me, so it pains me that I stayed with them longer than I should’ve. Now I know that love is about being loved as much as loving someone.
  8. Obsessed, much? I really think that many times I was obsessed more than in love. I couldn’t be happy unless my partner made me happy. I depended on him so much for my own sense of self-worth. That’s not love. I know that I’ve got make myself happy and love myself before I can extend that love to someone else.
  9. I had “love” but no life. How could I have thought I was in love with my first boyfriend when being with him meant that my life went to hell? After that breakup, I was lost AF! I didn’t know who I was anymore or what I wanted out of life. I allowed love to sweep through my life like a fire, burning everything. It’s unhealthy AF.
  10. Opposites don’t attract. With one guy I dated, we were so different that it was ridiculous for us to be together. But I’d watched one too many romcoms for my own good and I really thought we could make things work. Here’s the reality: opposites don’t attract—they make me unhappy as hell.
  11. The words and actions didn’t match. I used to think that hearing someone say “I love you” during a rough relationship patch made everything okay. But the truth was that many people say the words but don’t know what the hell they really mean. After one of my exes told me he loved me as a way to manipulate me into staying with his toxic ass, now I’ve got to see real love before I believe it. The words mean nothing!
  12. Love isn’t enough. It sounds jaded to say it, but I really think that love on its own isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. There are so many other things that need to come into play, like putting in work, not being selfish, being committed, and having self-love. These days, I have a long list of things I need before I even think of those three little words.
  13. Pain is not a love threshold. I used to believe that when love hurts, it’s the real deal. It’s screwed up, but I really thought that only someone I really loved could hurt me so much—and that meant they were right for me. Pain and love don’t go together. When they’re in the same room for too long, the message is to GTFO.
  14. Lust isn’t love! Too often, I fell for men because of their good looks. I really thought that being gorgeous mattered. Now I know that I was suffering from a case of lust, not love. Good looks won’t keep me happy and warm at night—only a good heart will.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.