We treat them a bit like a speeding ticket or that embarrassing moment; most of us have had one, but in good old British fashion, we never ever talk about it. That awful experience that we have suppressed to the back of our minds and locked away forever. The toxic relationship.

DISCLAIMER: What I’m about to put out here on the internet is not romantic in a tragic, Nicholas Sparks-esque way – it is lies, deceit and emotional torture.

I made the mistake of falling for someone who I am not sure really even exists – someone who I worked with who had the whole girlfriend/house/dog shebang going on and who also was apparently fighting cancer. To cut a long and boring story short – I did everything I could for this person, I put him before my own personal wellbeing and spent every last penny of the money I had at the time on making him happy and making things easier for him; only for cracks to start appearing in his tales and his ‘diagnosis’. I lost a lot of money, friends and quite frankly, sense. Someone who told me they were dying and unable to ever have children 8 months ago is currently still alive and kicking with a baby on the way. Funny how miracles happen isn’t it?

But – this post is not about him, it’s about me. It’s about why that whole episode was very important in making me who I am.

1. You know exactly what kind of person to avoid 

After having someone lie to you in the most painful of ways, you can spot a white lie a mile off. I’ll admit, it makes trusting someone a hell of a lot harder, but you learn to protect yourself rather than just assuming everyone is looking out for your own best interests. When you do finally begin to trust a person again, it means so much more.

2. You know how you should be treated

Things that you used to let slide just to avoid an argument are now unacceptable, and when someone does do something for you – you appreciate it a whole lot more. It can make you question why the hell someone is being nice to you for no reason but eventually this confusion passes and you start accepting it again.

3. Trust is established before anything else

Instead of being infatuated with someone because it’s exciting, or wrong, or whatever other stupid reason we find ourselves involved with someone for; trust is the focal point before you really let them in. On the flip side of this, it can make trusting someone hard, lengthy and maybe even impossible – after being lied to repeatedly, it makes it difficult to believe anything anyone ever says; but I’ll admit, I see this as a good thing, because then it is only a bonus when it turns out to be the truth.

4. It takes you from bitter to better  

I’ll admit, I spent a long time being angry, bitter and determined to get revenge – the best decision I made in all of this was to escape to the mountains on a ski season. I realise now more than ever that actions have consequences, particularly getting involved with someone else’s boyfriend (big mistake) and I have a much more adult perspective on life itself and what we can do as humans to avoid hurting others.

5.  Self worth

I know now that I’m better than him – better than that. I know that I deserve better and that I will have a better life in general without his existence anywhere near me. I put myself first a lot more than I used to and after having my heart broken what felt like every single day – I feel strong enough to walk away from someone if I feel like they aren’t treating me right.

Not that I would in any way recommend getting out there and looking for a lying, manipulative psychopath – but if you do find yourself going through hell for someone who wouldn’t bat an eyelid if you dropped dead right in front of them; get rid, ride it out, be strong, and you will come out better.