The worst thing about having a toxic partner is not knowing that they are toxic.
Victims of abusive partners do not realize that they are victims. They believe that their relationship is challenging and that they need to work hard on making it work. This means that even though they feel hurt, upset, and miserable in their relationship, they believe that this is normal. Moreover, some might even think that they feel this way because there is something wrong with them (as they are often told there is). However, eventually, when the relationship dissolves and they meet a loving partner, they quickly realize how toxic their previous relationship had been. According to Riley Cooper, a writer for The Power of Silence, this is how meeting someone who is loving and caring feels like after you have experienced years of abuse:
1. You think they are too good to be true
After breaking up with a toxic partner, you realize that all the feelings of hurt, upset, and guilt were actually brought on from your relationship. Subsequently, you will be left thinking that everyone you date will make you feel the way you have felt before. Therefore, when you find someone who treats you right and loves you the way you deserve to be loved, you will find yourself thinking that they are too good to be true. Often, you will find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop because you are certain you are being lied to and manipulated. You are expecting to be judged, invalidated, criticized, and controlled – but they only show you love.
2. You think you will fight all the time
Since fighting non-stop was normal in your previous relationship, you believe that all couples disagree, argue, yell, and scream all the time. However, in your new partner, you find a mature and compassionate person: someone who sees you and your relationship as more important than their ego. Your first few disagreements will leave you in shock as you do not witness any name-calling or verbal aggression. Instead, you witness maturity and someone eager to resolve rather than win.
3. You try to read between the lines
Finding out that your relationship has been toxic has made you cautious and wary. It has made you blame yourself for not realizing what was happening earlier. Now, to overcompensate, you try to read between the lines and overthink every word and action. However, no matter how much you try, you never see ulterior-motives, manipulation, or lies.
4. You push them away
Sometimes, your new partner might accidentally set off an alarm inside your head. You might feel triggered and be quick to run away because you’re scared you will end up in the same relationship as the one you had before. Alternatively, after years of hearing how ‘worthless’ or ‘unlovable’ you are, you begin to believe it and you fear that this person will see it too. You believe that you are unworthy of affection and you push them away out of fear that they will only confirm this.
5. You apologize all the time
Your partner might be confused as you apologize for things that are not your fault or are not worth apologizing for. More importantly, instead of making you feel guilty, they will reassure you and let you know that you have not done anything wrong.
6. You trust them like you never could your toxic partner
As time goes by, you begin to trust again. What is more, you begin to trust in a way you never could before. Being in a relationship with a toxic partner means constantly being judged or criticized when sharing your thoughts and insecurities. In a loving relationship, you learn the meaning of understanding, security, and unconditional love.
7. You finally realize what true love is
You understand that feeling miserable is not the norm as your new relationship makes you feel consumed by happiness. Ultimately, you come to the painful yet comforting realization that what you experienced in the past was not love. Love is not deceit, manipulation, control, or verbal and physical abuse, it is everything you feel right now.