I'll start off by saying that abusive relationships hardly ever have a happily ever after.

That is what I thought, for the longest time. I thought that if I just tried hard enough if I just loved someone with everything in my being-- that they would somehow be fixed. I thought that maybe if I was good enough, they might just be good for me too. I seriously believed I could do it, and I was crushed when I was hit with the reality of not being able to fix someone that was outside of my control.

It has just recently come to my realization that a large part of these beliefs has probably been due to the fact that I grew up being influenced by books, fanfictions, and movies that idealize toxic relationships. I learned from this media what I thought love should've looked and felt like. I thought it that was supposed to set my heart ablaze; I thought that it was supposed to hurt.

It now makes complete sense to me why both of my first two serious relationships were toxic and manipulative. Having read fanfictions like "After", the phenomenon based off of Harry Styles that was turned into a novel and then into a cinematic feature that I just recently saw; I understand why I allowed myself to be treated the way that I was. I was completely and utterly blinded by this idealized picture of what I saw love to be in my head. I was compelled to be the lifesaver, I was intrigued by loving someone back to life.

To speak on behalf of "After", I am in no way bashing the movie, the book, or the fanfiction. I will say that the movie ended up making the story a lot less abusive and toxic, so I was very happy to see that change. Post-movie, I went back to the fanfiction with more mature eyes just to read some of the things that I had read when I was probably about 13. I was astounded with how much content that I found in the story that had seemed almost synonymous to situations that I have been through as the years have passed. I even still found myself relating to the protagonist in the story and feeling her inner conflict while she was being manipulated and toyed with.

These are stories that I have grown up with. These are stories that have taught me, for better or worse. I think I don't only speak for myself when I say that these stories have given me a rose-colored lens through which to see romantic relationships. I now know that abuse is not sexy. Manipulation should not be intoxicating. Coercion is not acceptable. You can never fix someone unless they want to help themselves first. These are all things that I've learned after having had gone through experiences similar to the ones found in this type of modern entertainment.

That all being said, it is extremely important to note that even I still find myself victim to these types of spiraling relationships. Once you develop the attachment and the habit, it is extremely difficult to heal and develop a healthy sense of love. I've been aiming at it for years. I have not yet perfected the skill of completely voiding myself of these types of situations and people, but I am working towards it while trying to bring to light the change that I think our society could use.

On that note, I want to end by spreading some personal insight. Toxic and abusive relationships rarely end with a pretty little bow, but it is possible for there to be healing on both parts. The secret lies in these things:

1. A toxic relationship will never get better if behavior is not changed.

2. Verbal apologies are only a sign of betterment and can be considered word vomit if nothing changes.

3. True betterment involves action and effort upon both parts.

This is just a snippet of what I've learned after being exposed to a falsified and unhealthy way of looking at love. It is vitally important for our community to reflect upon this and think about how we can change the way that love is seen, felt, and shared with one another. Let's work to change the social normative status quo. Love is good.