I get it, you're stuck. You feel like you're trapped in this bubble you call your "relationship." I'm here to give you what I believe is the best advice to help you, even though you have probably heard a thousand times, but hear me out. I was in the same exact position that you are in right now, just over a year ago. Stuck, confusing what I thought was love with abuse.

Please don't settle for this.

Don't confuse your idea of love with another person's manipulation and abuse.

No matter the situation, abuse is not a form of love, no matter how much they apologize or ask for repentance. Here's how it starts, you meet the person of your dreams, your "perfect" man if you will. They try to impress you, they swoon you with admiration and charming expressions to keep them intertwined in your mind. It makes you restless.

He told me I was beautiful, not like the other girls — that I was unique — and the color of my eyes reminded him of the "sweet color of caramel melting in that perfect summer heat."

The thoughts run through your head a million miles a minute. It's kind of hard to forget the person they once were. But that's what they want, that's how a manipulator starts their game. You fall for it anyway, you sink deeper into the depths of so-called love, or what might feel like it. It feels like any old fairytale relationship — the guy basically sweeps the girl off of her feet, she is surprised but loves the attention so she takes a leap of faith and decides to go for it because I mean, how could she even say no?

You start to notice the little things that irk you, like him slipping up and insulting you, but then he apologizes, and you forgive him, or rumors flutter around that he was seen with someone else, but he says that's a lie. By you forgiving him, a manipulator, he is taking it as fuel to his fire. He thinks it's okay and will continue to do it, or even get worse. Don't let it get worse. Because what starts as little insults quickly turns into constant belittling, cheating with no remorse, destroying of your self-esteem and breaking you from the person you once were, into feeling like you are smaller than a speck of dust with almost no self-worth.

No one should make you feel this way. You deserve so much more.

I fell for it all too. The cute texts, the unexpected gifts, the surprises, all of it. I believed it was a normal relationship. About six months in, I started to notice a few red flags, like little insults, some cheating rumors, you know, and I refused to believe that it was happening to me. I just couldn't be one of those girls that were in a toxic relationship. But I was, I just couldn't comprehend it until about three years in. Because I didn't want to realize it, though, my relationship continued to spiral downward and the red flags began to skyrocket. I would constantly come home crying, wondering what I did wrong for him to treat me this way, where did it all go wrong? This is a bad mindset-- it wasn't ever my fault. He manipulated me into thinking it was my fault. In the end, finding myself and being single has been better on my mental health and happiness than any relationship ever has been for me.

To the girl who is stuck in the same place, I was in a year ago, leave. Actually, leave.

Don't turn into that girl who is dating the cheating, manipulative, or abusive boy because it will make your self-esteem plummet. You deserve happiness, a positive mindset, and a clear thought on what love is. Sure, there are arguments and hardships, but love should feel easy. Leave after the first serious red flag. No one deserves for their image of love and happiness to be distorted because of a dumb boy. You still have so much to experience and so much life to go through, don't waste it on staying with someone who is negative and toxic.

Leaving was definitely the best decision I ever made. You could do it, too.