Toxic relationships: It’s time to break the cycle

Gaydar Insider

Gaydar Insider
05 March 2018

For about as long as I can remember, I’ve been family orientated. I’ve worn my heart on my sleeve since I began dating, and it’s led me to fall into numerous long-term and toxic relationships throughout the years.

I never really managed to achieve the validation I was so desperately seeking throughout my teenage years. In some way, I imagine my insatiable desire to find a guy to be with was likely me subconsciously trying to rectify that.

I fell into numerous relationships (two years here, three years there), but they always ended the same – with me getting absolutely bladdered for about two weeks straight post-breakup, before I’d meet the next one on a night out.

I was in need of something to break that cycle, something that would allow me to find that validation I was craving so desperately within myself rather than other people.

That came in the form of my next relationship. I fell deeply in love with the most charismatic man I’d ever met. He would walk in a room and people would instantly just look at him, and the feeling that washed over me when I was with him was indescribable. But as brightly as we burned together, months down the line it became unhealthy and toxic. The arguments were intense, scary and sadly sometimes even violent.

Then one evening, a year and a half into this toxic relationship I decided to finally listen to those closest to me and realised that the highs I got from him were not worth the constant lows I was enduring. This was a big step for me, it was something I’d never had the strength to do before.

But he didn’t take it well. The situation quickly escalated, he refused to leave my home. Within hours I was sat in my living room with two police officers, nursing cuts and bruises. I was struggling to decide whether to press charges against someone I was in love with.

“I’d been assaulted before… But this was different”

I’ve been assaulted before, back when I was a teenager and a drunk stranger jumped me and put me in hospital as I walked to school to sit an exam. But this was different. This was an act that came from someone I loved, someone I adored and someone who I thought deep down couldn’t possibly hurt me.

I’d ignored the vast array of red flags in this relationship, both from his behaviour and my own, and I realised that this was because in some warped way I’d convinced myself that it was better to be in a toxic relationship where I was getting validated, than being on my own.

It felt utterly ironic that my desperation to be loved had led me into a situation where I was getting the exact opposite of that back. How on earth had I found myself in an abusive relationship? Toxic relationships can make you lose sight of what you are looking for. It just didn’t make sense to me at the time, despite having been warned by my friends for months to the point where a number of them had essentially washed their hands of me.

“I’ve not deluded myself into thinking I’m completely fine”

A year later, I’m still single. I’ve spent a lot of time repairing relationships that were damaged during those couple of years from my experience of toxic relationships. I’ve made a conscious effort to focus on myself and those closest to me and avoid toxic relationships with men.

But I’ve not deluded myself into thinking I’m completely fine. I still find myself getting flashbacks to that evening, and I’ve been suffering from anxiety for months as a direct result. The impact of what happened, and the year and a half before it, has made it very hard for me to form an emotional attachment to anyone I date. But I’m trying not to see that as a bad thing. If someone doesn’t want to stick around for long enough, then I shouldn’t let that bother me.

I’ve had a number of relationships in my life, but as I prepare to turn 27, I’ve realised over the past year that the most important relationship of all is the one I have with myself. And right now, it’s better than it’s ever been.

Photo credit: Sandis Helvigs

Comments (4)

  1. Brian says:

    Unfortunately this happens all too often with gay men (not just gay men of course). When coming from an abusive family, society and culture, it is common to seek solace in the arms of someone who has experience of the same, fueled by the belief that they will intuitively understand. External affirmation. Is it very unfortunate and destructive to find that your new partner (or replacement, adopted/adoptive community – so called gay community) is just as abusive/destructive as the one you have torn yourself/or been driven away by. The other person may sense your percieved hurt as a weakness and relate to it indeed, either by becoming co-dependant (not loving) and/or domineering. Inflicting pain and suffering is their way of feeling in control and yet another form of external affirmation/validation and the cycle continues. This can be incedibly difficult to break out of, if you gain the self confidence to say no and recognise destructive relationships, then you may find you are isolated as the behaviour has become “normalised” within that culture, it is akin to being groped in a gay bar and when you object “well you are gay and you are in a gay bar so what do you expect”, as if somehow you are at fault for not being flattered and appreciative that someone finds you sexually attractive, apply that same thinking to personal relationships. I often wonder why gay bars close down and gay communities no longer exist (if they ever did, or if we just created the illusion of a community to provide a sense of security and comradeship, sense of belonging if you will) because of internet dating, so inseatd of being groped in a bar, you are now asked to share pics of your privates without so much of the courtesy of a “hi”. The props have changed but the script remains the same. For me, I think the price of isolation and rejection is worth it, but for others it may be too hgh a price, a paradigm shift is required. B

  2. Kevin Williams says:

    Yes iv been in a 37 year relationship. Now broken up and still living with ex and working with him he dates guys but when a guy hits on me he becomes controlling towards me.

  3. Eddie says:

    Just don’t live together. The open door is a great thing.. whether as an invitation or an exit.

  4. Max Power says:

    Yeah well this is all one side of the story. Maybe the writer if this article is mind f’n these guys into the point of uncontrollable anger.
    Yeah i know, you still shouldn’t hit, i couldn’t agree more. But everyone has their breaking point & we just aren’t told enough about these “toxic” relationships to know if this guy is the toxic one or if its the guys he’s choosing or most likely a little of both.

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