Love is a fickle thing. It can be beautiful and amazing, but also damaging and terrible.
Most high schoolers can say that they have been in a toxic relationship, yet some won’t admit it. With one in three high school students in the U.S. being a victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse, according to the organization Love is Respect, this isn’t a strange phenomenon. The person right next to you who always talks about how in love they are with their boyfriend could be abused and believe that this abuse is love.
It’s easy to believe things your partner does, even if they’re bad, is love. I know I’ve been there. I’ve spent scores of nights crying myself to sleep because of the “love” my girlfriend gave me.
It’s not easy to notice these things at first. Love is blinding, especially at our ages. Love is optimistic and accepting of others. We try to accept our partners faults and downsides, but some of these faults and downsides are not what you think they are. When a partner only provides drama or angst and can’t trust you with your friends, that is not love. That is love’s opposite: toxicity.
Three years ago, when I escaped my abusive relationship, I was brokenhearted. I still loved her, but I knew deep down something was wrong with what we had. I never was truly happy. There was always something with us. It could be anything from a fight to not being on speaking terms while being long distance. But the most prevalent feeling I felt afterwards was damaged.
According to Love is Respect, abusive relationships in adolescence can cause higher risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence. These ramifications are not worth a boy or girl. Nothing is more important than taking care of yourself, especially in relationships. Even if it seems like you should take care of your boyfriend or girlfriend over yourself, there is no reason to do this. Putting someone before yourself is not loving yourself, and you can’t rely on somebody to love you when you don’t love yourself.
I’m not saying that all relationships are like this because it’s impossible to date someone and not have any problems whatsoever in high school, but if you feel unsafe or scared, please talk to someone, especially if you see any signs of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Counselor, therapists or dating abuse helplines are always available, so please speak up and end the silence that comes with dating abuse.