How I Overcame Relational Bullying

How I Overcame Relational Bullying

I was hurt by relational bullying and didn’t even realize it. 

As a writer, I have had the most experience interviewing and sharing others’ stories, but I don’t have much experience publically writing my own. As a Free2Luv Advocate, I wanted to share my personal story of relational bullying. My hope is that there could be someone out there who reads my story and understands they are not alone. 

Throughout the last month of my life, I started realizing that I don’t deserve to be belittled or undervalued. I don’t even really think I knew it was happening to me in two relationships throughout my life. One with a boyfriend and another with a childhood friend of 15 years. It’s really hard to accept the things my friends would say that were watching from the outside. I kept making excuses as to why they weren’t treating me the best. Now that I’m also looking from the outside, I see that they weren’t the best for me. I still love them so much, and I’m having a hard time without them, but I know a break from these relationships was best for me. In the future, I want to communicate to everyone what I need in any relationship.

I’ve witnessed some reasons why I — and many others — become extremely self-conscious. One would be the thoughts we hear in our head of what other people may be saying about us. In this case, I didn’t just hear it in my head. I started hearing it all the time from someone I love. A boyfriend I had would make these displeasing remarks about the people and strangers around us. When I’d tell him that his saying these things would make me uncomfortable, it never seemed to stop. I also never really thought about the off-putting remarks he’d make about me throughout the relationship until I cried in a coffee shop, sharing how excited I was about something, and he put me down. He would pick at how I dressed and what I was passionate about. It got to the point where I was afraid to express myself. I felt like I couldn’t talk about my passions and dress how I wanted because of what I feared he’d say about it. I feel like it’s really hard to see these things when you’re in love. How could they mean those things if they love you? I would make excuses that “he’s just like that,” but then I couldn’t defend him anymore. I wish I hadn’t let these things slide before; the little voice in my heart thinks maybe it would’ve gotten better if I told him more. Though we didn’t continue the relationship further, he understands that how he treated me was wrong. He and I both know I deserve to be in a relationship where I’m not afraid to be who I am and to be celebrated for my individuality.

In another case, I realized how friends are not supposed to treat you. They don’t get mad and make you feel so small compared to them. They don’t blame you for why something out of your control went wrong and yell at you for it. When you’re holding a cake and candles, they don’t tell you you shouldn’t have bothered bringing it because you upset them. They don’t ignore you at the dinner table; they don’t tear you down in front of everyone to make you look bad. A best friend of mine would treat me like this. It took me 15 years to realize that she wasn’t actually a confident person; she was using her power and appearance of confidence to show she was a better and bigger person. She’d blame me for everything that went wrong, call me a bad friend, gaslight me into thinking I was always the problem, and never listen to what I had to say or apologize when she hurt me. She would control and manipulate every situation to ensure she was in the right position, and I always needed to “do better.” I’d always be the person to apologize because I love her and didn’t want to lose our friendship. I also didn’t know how to handle being in a friendship like this, and I still really don’t. I decided to pause this conversation because going through not one but two relationship breaks is a significant emotional toll on my heart. These moments have led me to become more understanding of my self-worth. I let myself get pushed around and torn down for too long. From that moment on, I vowed not to let myself be torn down by those I love and speak up as an adult and a friend. 


Here’s what I’ve learned.

It’s okay to take a step back and reflect on your need to feel valued. It’s okay to step back from people who love you but don’t know how to treat you. I want you all to know that if you’re scared of a friend criticizing your interests or if you don’t feel treated as an equal, tell your friend. They might not even know they are hurting you. And if they don’t see what you’re talking about, they might not be the right people for you. It will be a hard transition to lose people you love, but losing yourself is the hardest. By understanding your worth, you will meet more people who will uplift you. Value your friends—who do treat you well—that much more. You deserve it.



I’ll leave you with three affirmations that support my well-being and will hopefully help you in your journey toward self-love and self-acceptance: I am strong, I am perfect the way I am, and I am worthy of what I desire. 


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