Over the summer, I had the opportunity to decompress and reflect on a previous romantic relationship of mine, which ended the second week of June. We had been together going on a year, however, towards the end of the relationship, I began to realize how truly toxic he was for me and my loved ones.

It began to feel extremely complicated because he had taken on such a large role in my life. If we weren't spending time together, he was texting me, calling me, wanting me to go online and play “World of Worldcraft" with him, when he wasn't working or I was in class.

Now, when I think about these behaviors, I can recognize how toxic they are. When your significant other says that "You are their whole world," that should not be taken as a compliment. For any healthy relationship, it is crucial for both people to have their own interests and identity, otherwise, it can be extremely taxing and draining for their partner.

I had become so lost in the relationship that I was sacrificing my own interests, passions, values, just to accommodate his.

One of the pivotal moments for me in deciding to break up with him was reading an article on my Facebook newsfeed. The article was something about the "12 signs you'll stay together forever" or something to that extent. Most of them applied to the relationship between me and my ex, with statements like "you can tell them anything" or "you have fun doing nothing together." A lot of these statements were sweet and endearing, applying to the relationship, all except for three core items, which I now deem the most important.

These include mutual trust, mutual respect, and, last but not least, an equal power dynamic between both partners in the relationship.

Without those core principles, all the other endearing and sweet ones, lose their importance, their genuine value, and fall away. These principles apply to any relationship, platonic or romantic, with your significant partner, your family members, your friends, to be healthy and happy, there needs to be trust, respect, and equal power dynamics.

Without a solid foundation, it is challenging for everyone to move forward in the relationship, the consequence of growing apart becoming more of a reality than growing together.