Say ‘no’ to toxic love
Whatever our family situation, most of us grow up having some kind of concept about the ‘perfect relationship’.
As children, we curl up in our comfy beds at night and, if we’re lucky, we’re read warm, fuzzy stories with happy endings to send us off to sleep and give us sweet dreams. We watch Disney films in which the pretty princess finds her proud prince and they live happily ever after. We grow up believing the right man will find us, care for us, put us first and do whatever they can to make us happy. Most of us grow up believing in true love.
It’s a nice concept and it certainly brings sweet dreams, but they are just that: dreams. The reality is, most of us don’t find Mr Right and glide into a blissfully happy relationship. And we don’t all meet partners who want what’s best for us – sometimes we meet partners who want what’s best for themselves. Sometimes they’re not particularly nice and certainly don’t deserve a PJ top labelled ‘Prince Charming’.
What’s even scarier about fairytales than the faux fantasy of guaranteed true love for all is that they don’t give advice about what to do if you find yourself with the wrong guy. What if princess kisses and marries frog? Then what?
When I got married in my twenties, it was a disaster. They often call a first marriage when you’re young that doesn’t work out a ‘starter marriage’. In some ways this is incredibly apt, as it requires you to acknowledge it’s not your main course. It requires you to see it for what it is; an ‘oops’, I got it wrong. He was wrong for me, I was too young to see it, and I looked up to him for all the wrong reasons. I had no understanding of what was acceptable in relationships, and I didn’t have the confidence to trust my gut instinct when it was trying to scream at me that something wasn’t right.
This is why you shouldn’t make big decisions in your twenties that affect the rest of your life; you don’t know yourself well enough.
Your twenties is a decade to try and test things and find yourself along the way. It’s not the time to make commitments in any area of your life that will affect your long-term future; don’t block off routes in your career, and know that there is no rush to get married or have children. These ‘forever’ choices will still be waiting for you after you turn 30.
I made a mistake getting married too soon, but you know what would have been an even bigger mistake? Not correcting it. If I’d believed fairytales, I would have thought this frog was my prince. I would have stayed in a relationship, and in a marriage, that was desperately wrong for me. I wouldn’t have found the courage to step in a different direction and hold firm to the belief that this was not my ending.
Getting divorced in my twenties was unbelievably hard, hideous and emotionally scarring. It is only now, much further down the track, that I can say it was actually the best thing to happen to me, because I’ve been given the ability to rewrite my ending.
Images via alamy.com and tumblr.com.
Comment: Did you make a huge life decision in your twenties? How did it turn out?