A toxic relationship is like standing a burning room, with sweat dripping down your back, struggling to breathe, but scared to go back into the cool, fresh air. Because struggling to breathe has become the norm for the past year. You become addicted to the lack of oxygen. Every time you try to step outside, something stops you. This is what it's like.

1. They treat you like an object or trophy from the beginning

If they talk about how they can’t wait to show you off in front of their ex, or say sweet nothings on your first date instead of really trying to get to know you, it means they just want returned attention from someone, not you in particular.

2. They "love" you too soon

Again, this probably means they “love” attention and are eager to be in a relationship, because it means they can expect attention all the time.

3. When they're not sweet-talking you for their benefit, they're putting you down

Anyone who truly cares about you wouldn’t tell you that it gets “old” when you say you love them all the time, or be embarrassed of how you laugh. And don't make excuses for them.

4. They pick fights often

If you tell them you don’t want to drink and they take it as an attack on them, as if you’re saying you’re better than them because you personally don’t want to drink, that’s a problem.

5. You cling to eachother physically because the relationship doesn't have an emotional foundation

You look forward to spending time together mainly because all the kissing and cuddling makes you feel loved. Your thoughts when you're away from them are, "OMG, I just want to make out," rather than wanting to hear about their life and tell them about yours.

6. Opening up to them isn't comfortable

You’d rather open up to your friends than them. You know there’s parts of you, like your bisexuality, that they’ll judge you for, so you don’t talk about them. You're trying your best to appear flawless to the other person's face. But you're really just playing a part in a never-ending play. Sooner or later, the facade will wear you down.

7. They're extremely possessive

Trying to make you feel guilty for hugging a friend in front of them isn’t normal; they’re mad, because it’s one second that you’re not giving them attention.

8. You find yourself having conversations such as, "If we weren't together, would you date *insert name* ?"

This means you’re not really invested in them on a deep level. It might be fun banter, but it’s unhealthy.

9. You feel the need to gush about them constantly, or the love won't seem real

You’re over the moon excited to tell people you’re in a relationship, because just knowing you have them isn’t enough. You have to get feedback from other people to “confirm” that your relationship is “cute” or “relationship goals.” Otherwise, you won’t believe it.

10. You're just not yourself anymore

This is the big one. If the best parts of you are hidden and you’re constantly dealing with psychosomatic symptoms, it's probably time to rethink the relationship.

If I could tell my younger self anything, it'd be this:

Having a kind, sensitive heart is good for many things. It's good for being creative, taking care of animals, and nurturing your friendships. It's not good for giving your love to those who can't return it. Just focus on being yourself. You are enough to make yourself happy.