I recently linked up with a friend of mine after hearing she’d rekindled her often volatile affair with her ex. My first instinct was to be viciously critical of her decision, considering what a complete douchebag he was to her. Instead, I decided to hear her out, having been in a similar situation not so long ago. As we sat down and she started pouring her heart out, her justification made sense to me. I could do nothing but sympathise with her.

“I love him”, she told me, unapologetically.

“Nobody else in this world will ever cause me the amount of pain that he’s caused me, but I love him”.

Mind you, this was the same guy who derived pleasure from flattening her self-confidence. The only time she didn’t feel completely useless to him was when he had a hard-on that she was expected to alleviate. I recall a phone conversation she had with him where he flat out laughed at her for confronting him about his cheating – yet again. He shamelessly accused her of being insecure, saying that the only reason for his philandering was her constant nagging. I was dumbfounded.

I also got to witness his friends mocking her as we drove past them – and instead of coming to her defence, he helped them belittle her. Despite her many attempts to please him (getting her hair done regularly, going to the gym after he’d called her fat, buying “prettier” clothes because, according to him, her dress sense left much to be desired, putting on make-up because her less than flawless skin incited nasty comments from him, etc.), he could never find it in him to be supportive of her. Not even the fact that she was a successful career woman with her own money could deter him from being emotionally abusive. Unless she was coughing up money to support his drinking.

“But, she loves him”, I said under my breath.

I’m certain she’d forget about him if she could. But I also know that it’s not that easy. And when he resurfaced after seeing her with someone new, she probably assumed he wouldn’t have come back if he didn’t genuinely care.

“I know I’m probably being naïve, but I owe it to myself to give us another chance because I still love him”, she admitted. “I love the chaos, the pain, the fighting, the crying. I don’t mind it because it makes sense to me”.

I suppose that’s the thing with toxic relationships. No matter how hard the third party implores you to see reason, you won’t leave the relationship until you’re ready to leave. You get so accustomed to the toxicity that it eventually becomes the only thing you crave. Simply because at that point, you know no better and you believe you deserve no better. That’s what scared me the most about my entire conversation with her…

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