1. You feel drained. You’re always the one putting in effort. The one making plans and doing chores and solving problems. Your relationship tires you out — physically and emotionally.
2. You get defensive. You don’t want to admit that you’ve been wasting your time, so you defend your boyfriend to everyone — even to yourself. You justify his actions, even when they’re inexcusable. You let him get away with anything.
3. You feel worse about yourself. He doesn’t treat you right and you can’t figure out why. You must be doing something wrong. You must be a bad girlfriend. It couldn’t possibly be his fault, so you start blaming yourself for every little thing.
4. You become paranoid. Is he going to get mad if you tell him about the coworker that hit on you? Is he going to break up with you if you admit you’re annoyed with him? Is he going to cheat on you if you turn down sax again tonight? Even simple things turn into massive problems.
5. You stop being you. He hates it when you talk about job, so you stop mentioning it. He hates it when you watch reality shows, so you stop recording them. He’s turning you into an entirely different person so slowly that you barely realize it.
6. You engage in toxic behaviors. You need to let off steam somewhere, because he makes you more stressed than relaxed, so you start drinking more. Or eating more. Or working out more. You end up going overboard, because you don’t know how else to deal with the stress.
7. You lose focus on work. There’s always a problem at home that you have to take care of. Your mind is always on other things. How can you focus on paperwork when your boyfriend keeps texting curses at you?
8. You turn into him. You’ve turned into the type of person you hate. You keep secrets from your boyfriend, because you know he would throw a fit. You talk to other boys to get the emotional intimacy you should be getting from him. You keep going behind his back, because you don’t feel comfortable with him.
9. You lose friends. They keep trying to tell you that you deserve better. That you should break up with him. You end up in the same old arguments with them whenever you talk. And, eventually, you end up seeing them less and less.
10. You feel physically sick. Your skin breaks out. You’re always tired. You keep getting headaches. You’re so stressed that your body struggles to support you.
11. You become obsessive. Instead of giving up on him and walking away, you delve deeper into the rabbit hole. You check up on him on social media. You call his friends to see if he’s where he says he is. You even check his phone when he uses the bathroom.
12. You can’t stop comparing. Look at what your sister’s boyfriend bought her for her birthday. Look at how quickly your best friend moved in with her boyfriend. Look at those two strangers that are holding hands in public, where everyone else can see. Why do they get all those things when you don’t?
13. You grow. After it’s all said and done, once you finally say goodbye to a boy beneath your level, you’ll be wiser. You’ll never settle for someone like him again, because you’ll realize how toxic your relationship was. From then on, you’ll only date boys that make you a better person. Boys that widen your smile and your horizons.