I’ll admit, I’ve had to do a lot of work to figure some relationship stuff out that’s second nature to other people. I think in trying to be less skeptical, wary, (or judgmental) of people, I may have gone too far and here’s what I’ve learned in the process of trying to have better relationships.

1. It’s okay to be judgemental

It’s totally okay to say “you should only be in a relationship with someone who accepts you for who you are” but there needs to be a caveat added “…unless you’re a shitty person. If you’re a shitty person no one has time for your nonsense, work on your self, work on your shit, and you’ll know you’re doing a good job when people stop telling you you’re shitty and your relationships become less dramatic.”

Don’t feel obligated to maintain a relationship with someone if they’re a shitty person – it’s totally okay to make that judgement and move on.

2. Even liars tell the truth sometime

In the future, if a person tells me they’re a bad person, I’m going to take those words as gospel and exit the relationship quickly and quietly. No one is going to tell you that they’re a bad person and then behave like a good one, they’re using this statement as a disclaimer on your relationship so that at any point in the future they can excuse their fucked up (and totally controllable) behavior towards you by saying “well, I told you I was a bad person”.

You know that story of the scorpion and the frog? It’s memorable for a reason.

3. You actually do have to love yourself before you love others

You cannot have a healthy relationship if you can’t trust your partner. Follow me here – if you don’t think you’re loveable then you cannot accept that someone else does. Healthy relationships are based on honesty and respect (fact), so… if in the back of your mind there is a belief lurking that the person who’s telling you they love you is lying you can’t have a healthy relationship with them.

So simple it hurts.

4. Feeling sorry for someone is no excuse

Alright, I get it… It can be a nice feeling, feeling needed, right up until it’s not. If someone has unfinished business, they have no business with you. He’s not leaving his husband for you – if he wanted to leave his husband he would have already. She’s not helpless, if she’s figured out that her partner is lying to her she can figure out which one of her friends has a couch she can sleep on until she can find a place of her own. If they are “taking a break” the last thing they need is a distraction (you) from dealing with their shit, responsible, respectful, people don’t drag innocent bystanders into their drama.

Your shoulder is not the only shoulder in a storm, trust me, if she’s crying on your shoulder but not doing anything to deal with her problem; She only wants a few little things: Attention, Sympathy, and more DRAMA, or she’d be calling around making arrangements to deal with her shit instead of whining to you. Don’t be convenient and don’t be a sucker.

5. We’ve all had pain

I get it – You were hurt as a child, raped as a teenager, abused as a young adult… we’ve all had pain*. Acquiring that pain was likely not our responsibility but dealing with it is – this is a fact of life. You can’t heal my pain, only I can do that. It’s not my responsibility to heal yours. More importantly, it’s not my responsibility to be pushed “above and beyond” to accommodate your stuff, particularly if you a. are in denial, b. haven’t been honest about what it is, c. are not dealing with it in a healthy way, d. use it as an excuse to mistreat people.

I know I have baggage, and I try my best to share what that baggage is, and to be transparent about the things I need from a partner because of it. I’m also very careful about handling my stuff and not expecting someone else to be my caretaker.

*I was actually describing myself there.

6. Words are easy, action takes effort

Responsibility is not optional; Do not accept excuses when someone shows you they aren’t responsible. By the time you’ve hit the age of adulthood you either have learned to be responsible, and to take responsibility for your actions, of you haven’t. If a grown adult shows you they aren’t responsible cut your losses, and do not make excuses for them. Listen hard to what you’re saying when you’re sharing with friends, if you have to say something like “well, she forgot to call me because she was busy doing #amoreimportanthanmething” hear what you’re really saying, I know this sucks but you have to own it.

Do not make it easy for the slackers to slack on responsibility – it helps no one and hurts everyone.

7. It’s not all about you, but it is

I get that sometimes a shitty person gets past your radar. I get that sometimes you find yourself feeling love for a shitty person. I get that their shitty behavior can suck you in and turn your world upside down, and it might take you time to peel yourself out of it – here’s the thing It was not ALL their fault.

You are responsible for your self, and you have to love your self. You have to take care of you first before you take care of anyone else. Get the hell out of that shitty relationship, block them on social media, block their number, and then love, nurture, and be real with your self. Figure out what were the red flags you missed, what were the defining moments when you slipped farther into the mess, what excuses did you make, when did you accept treatment that you didn’t deserve, and learn from it.

You can become stronger, and learn to love yourself a little more, by being honest and unaccepting of shitty people. Even more important if you take good care of yourself your next relationship can be a healthy one.