By Joy Moton

Real relationships are not meant for reality TV and network television. Recognize the signs of emotional and physical abuse.

In this age of social media, everybody wants somebody and sometimes we’ll do whatever it takes to be with someone.

But what happens when we find a great person who comes with a price? What happens when they buy you nice things in exchange for letting them physically take their frustrations out on you? What happens when they show you some of the best affection, but they expect you to make up for something that lacked in their childhood? What happens when they tell you they love you but ultimately show signs of hatred?

I want to make it clear that we often think abuse just comes in physical forms, but that is totally false.

You are bruised every time someone punches you with insults.

You are wounded every time they yank you back from pursuing your dreams to keep you to their self.

You are in pain every time they raise their voice at you.

You are distressed every time they attempt to convince you that you’re crazy when you’re pretty sure you aren’t being treated with respect.

And all for what? For a painful and deceitful depiction of “love?”

Friends, please allow me to emphasize this is not love.

If any of the things above sound like you or your current relationship/situation, here are three things I want you to hear:

  1. Jealousy is not cute.

I understand we all want to be wanted. That’s fair. What’s not fair is having someone lose their mind every time you make contact with someone other than them. I’ve seen screenshots of people cursing their significant other out for simply responding to a comment on social media. This is insanity and insecurity. Get away, now. This is not love.

  1. You are not in a covenant

A covenant is a significant word in the Hebrew language. It means a bond that cannot be broken. (I realize people get married every day and don’t always take this seriously, but that is a story for another day.)

How is it that we value relationships with people who don’t value us? How do we get so caught up that we lose ourselves in a person?

I want this to be loud and clear. You don’t owe anything to anyone. As an individual, you only owe it to yourself to pursue what you are passionate about.

I think we tend to think of relationships as covenants. We feel like once we’ve committed to someone, we have to do everything it takes to keep them from leaving. Even worse, we think we have to do everything in our power to keep ourselves from leaving. This is unhealthy. This is pain. This is not love.

  1. You are not on a TV show

Let me tell y’all,

PLEASE do not aspire for an Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant relationship. Please do not hope for a Cookie Lyon and Lucious Lyon scenario. Please, please, please want something better for yourself than a “Love & Hip Hop” relationship.

Stop looking to media to inspire your relationships. Stop yearning for confusion, complication and drama.

We’ve got to understand that while media can be a great platform for inspiring social change, its primary purpose is to entertain. Your life is not a joke or a means of entertainment. You are important, and it’s so important for you to take care of yourself.

There’s Hope

I want to end this by saying that I speak from experience. I was once the girl who thought I could change the person I was with. I thought if I showed him more love, he would soften his verbal blows to my self-esteem. But he didn’t. It only sharpened the sword that he continued to cut me down with, and I was brutally wounded by the end of our relationship.

I had to remember that first and foremost, I am a child of God. I belong to Him before I belong to anyone else. As his prized possession, God only wants us to be treated with the best care. If the person you are with is not respecting you, not contributing to your growth, and/or doing anything to harm you (physically, verbally or mentally) you are entitled to leave.

I don’t care how many times they hit you with an “I love you” or “Baby, please.” Get out as soon as you can. It is not your job or responsibility to change anyone. It is your job and responsibility to take care of yourself and become the best person you can be. Thinking of yourself is not selfish.

To any readers who might be experiencing anything close to what I have described, I want to say I empathize with you. I know it’s hard and scary to think that someone might not “love” you like this ever again.

Please know that this is the biggest lie anyone could ever tell you, because Jesus loves you more than you can even comprehend. Do you want to know what love is?

Love is Jesus being brutally murdered on our behalf. He took on all the punches, wounds and bruises that humanity deserved. He didn’t dish them out. For someone else to use love as an excuse to harm you is wrong.

He loves you so much, and He wouldn’t have you live like this. He didn’t give up His life so you could live in despair. He died so you could be free from the very things He had to suffer.

I know this is hard, and I want you to know that you are stronger than you think. There is a way out. If you don’t have a loving family, look to loving friends. If you don’t have loving friends, look to the links to resources below. There are people who would love to talk to you. Most importantly, there is a God who loves you and wants better for you. Find the courage, find the strength and find the hope that there is better for you. All you have to do is go for it.

Domestic Abuse Hotline http://www.thehotline.org/

Low Self Esteem https://ie.reachout.com/
Baylor Counseling Center https://www.baylor.edu/counseling_center/