I was in a relationship with someone who presented themselves as Prince Charming while he degraded me, toying with my self esteem and emotions for almost 3 years. I never realized how innocent and naive I was until this. I thought I had it all figured out and I had met my soulmate. Despite so many red flags, I kept pushing for it to 'work'. I neglected myself and my life, while forgetting about all of my great attributes in favor of his. I put so many things for myself on hold, just so I could have enough time and space to cater to his emotional and sexual needs. I glorified what I thought was great about him, glossing over signs of infidelity, dishonesty and blatant narcissism because I was so desperate for him to be the one. I also wanted to be the one to save him from his own shitty life.. an extension of his shitty behavior. It's almost laughable now. Now, months after breaking up with him, I know better. It's still hard, but at least I know the truth now. I've learnt that sometimes, caring, genuine people who have learnt to internalize their pain get taken advantage of. That pain and insecurity we carry can be like a bullseye to emotionally and morally starved individuals. They know we are insecure so for a while pretend to be able to provide us with the love we have been so desperately seeking. Suddenly, they begin to treat us coldly on and off with blatant disregard for our feelings. Someone with a healthy self esteem would walk away because they know they deserve better treatment. But when you have never received a healthy love, you don't see this as a red flag. Instead you stick around wondering why. You ask yourself if it's your fault you're being treated like this and what you did to deserve it. You shun the idea that the problem would ever be them, so you give and you give. You love, give more love, and with your last, you love some more. You don't know when to stop giving because you're waiting for a result that may never come - them changing and treating you better. To the givers, the 'caretakers' and the free therapists who are in similar situations and know they are accepting less than they deserve, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We seldom know when to stop giving, when to give UP on someone, but it's time for us to realize that this isn't fair to us. We have not been bestowed this life as a gift just to sacrifice ourselves over and over for people who really just want to take advantage of us. But this experience taught me something so valuable. That as much as we want to believe so desperately that everyone is inherently good, and we should be treated well because people should act from a place of goodness, there are people who are so filled with so much pain that it's almost like they live by a code of evil and want nothing more to use others for what their own gain. Those are the people that no matter how charming and awe-inspiring they appear to be, we mustn't allow them access to our inner world. This was a depressing thought to me at first, especially knowing I myself had fallen victim to someone else's scheme. Someone who really never cared about me at all. It's a pain that takes a while to stop hurting. But I'm getting there. Through distance from him, self affirmation and healthier life choices. I used to be dedicated to this person and addicted to the approval and affirmation I received from them. I almost became addicted to the sex, anything to feel wanted by him. Now? I can laugh at how blind I was. The sex was trash, his shoes and feet smelled and his self esteem was even more degraded than mine was. He's even more insecure than I was because beneath his huge, egotistical persona, there lies a lonely, desperate wimp. Someone who should've been thanking God he was blessed enough to be in my presence for so long. But looking at him now, I see him for who he really is - a coward. Even despite this I still doubt my decision to break up from time to time, this is usually bred out of transient feelings of loneliness and hopelessness.. No one said starting over was easy.What is great is that I know I don't need him anymore. I don't need his love and admiration to feel okay about who I am or to feel worthy of being loved. I don't need him to hear me to feel heard or see me to feel seen. I am here for myself, first and foremost. I appreciate myself first, so I don't have to be so desperate to feel that from someone else. It has been a slow and painful process, but the results I see, no matter how small, truly bring more joy to my heart and soul than his false admiration and low-stamina sex ever could. Sacrificing my relationship with him once felt like the greatest sacrifice I ever made in my life. It once felt like the hardest thing I ever had to do. But now I know, losing him wasn't a loss, and I was always strong enough to stand on my own.I'm writing this for anyone who has ever gone through a situation where their love was one-sided, or might currently be doing so. That person you feel as though you need to complete you? One day you will realize you actually don't need them. You're no less than them. You'll realize being there for yourself is a much better investment of your energy than pouring your all into someone who treats you like they don't care about you. Your 'soulmate' who you're holding onto because they seem to appreciate you in a way no one else does? One day it will hit you that you need no one else's approval besides yours. You'll also realize that true love doesn't entail glossing over bad treatment just to shine the light on what temporarily feels good. Don't try to gloss over what isn't sitting right with you, or make up constant excuses for the way they treat you. I guarantee you the combination of those things will be the reason you feel so compelled to leave in the end. Please don't allow anyone to use you. Don't feel ashamed if it happened to you either. Forgive yourself for not knowing better and be easy on yourself because it's okay to make mistakes! Relationships are nothing like what we've learnt from the movies. There are a lot of people in this world who get involved with others for their own selfish reasons while others get involved in them solely for the purpose of sharing their love. Continue believing in the good of others, but don't be so naive that you can't recognize a person's toxicity before ending up in a relationship with them. I didn't intend to make this so long, but my goal in sharing all of this is to make another person going through something similar feel less alone so that they can heal and turn their life around in a way that may have seemed impossible before. I want you to know that a stranger somewhere out on the world believes in you. I once found it hard to believe in myself; I thought I had nothing to believe in. But the mere fact that I could cultivate this belief in myself, given where my self esteem was when I first started this journey, makes me have no doubt that you can too, no matter who you are, what you've done or what you've been through. Your life is inherently blessed, even when it doesn't feel that way. Trust and believe that once you decide that you want things to get better, life will guide and support you in that decision! And remember, you have the right to remove yourself from relationships that feel toxic to you. No matter how long you've known that person, and no matter who they are to you. YOU DESERVE THE BEST LIFE HAS TO OFFER. Much love!!