From a toxic relationship to finding self-love

A student details the end of a high school relationship and how she’s grown since then.


 I met my ex-boyfriend in August in a high school senior year physics class. By December we were dating. 

We were as stupidly in love as the high schoolers in the movies. We did almost everything together. Every second we could spend together we did. We’d go get food after school or go to the arcade. On the weekends, he watched my dance performances, and I went to his family functions.  

After April 1, 2019, everything changed. It was the day I committed to Temple University — a 900-mile decision that would control the rest of our relationship.

I just started at my new job in Oviedo, Florida and spent more time there and less time with him. We’d argue over the phone during my car ride home from work because I was too tired to hang out with him. 

Then, my grandma passed away and I closed myself off in grief. He tried to be understanding, but he couldn’t relate.  

I told myself to keep going. We had prom, graduation and summer before I left. 

After graduating, my hours at work increased, and so did our arguments. But there were only two more months before I moved, and I could just stick it out.

Things got worse as my move-in date approached. The cracks in our relationship grew too large, and we shattered.

It was strange the way it happened. I was working a nine-hour shift that day.

I texted him during a lull in my shift to cancel plans we previously made for later that day. The arguments, which were increasingly growing with anger, boiled over at this point. I spent the rest of my shift going to the back to reply to texts of how horrible I was for canceling, how uncomfortable it would be to explain to his friends why I wasn’t there and how my job and educational plans got in the way of “us.”  

I told myself he was right, it was only fair if I planned to leave in the fall, I owed it to us to spend every moment with him. I told myself it was only two more months, then I was moving and we were breaking up.

Somehow, I convinced myself his anger would end when I agreed to cancel my plans and instead went to his friend’s birthday dinner. 

It didn’t. 

The 10-minute car ride felt like an hour as I spent the time shifting between yelling and being yelled at. I learned in this car ride that even though I saw our relationship as strictly high school fun, he saw it as his future. I didn’t want to be his future — I wanted to have fun and learn and grow on my own before adding a relationship into the mix.

I stopped telling myself to just stick it out. I broke up with him later that night and spent the rest of my summer hanging out with people who didn’t make me feel guilty for moving away to further my education.

We kept in touch. I wanted to be his friend, but somehow my thoughts of simple friendship put the idea of us ending up together in his brain. Any contact between us became toxic when I turned down his proposal to get back together. 

When I boarded my plane to Philadelphia, I blocked his number and social media. 

I didn’t need to stay with him anymore. Instead, I decided to stay with the person I would always be stuck with: me. I took my move to figure out who I wanted to be. I started acting on my impulses: go to the city just to wander, dyeing my hair purple and going to see “Frozen 2” at 11 p.m. with my friends.

I stopped forcing myself to stay when I was unhappy. I stopped letting the idea of what someone wanted from me determine who I wanted to be. 

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