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We’ve all heard this before. Love shouldn’t hurt, but sometimes it does. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, why is that? I’ve found that answer to be simple: When it hurts, it isn’t love. It’s abuse.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t realize I was in an abusive relationship when it was happening. In fact, it took me a long time after it ended to realize it. It was a mentally abusive relationship, but there is one question that always comes to people’s minds when they hear me talk about it (which isn’t openly, mind you): How did you not realize it?

Well, let’s be honest here. I didn’t realize it because I thought that by pointing out every single flaw I had was just so he could help me get rid of those flaws and be better. He loved me, so he just wanted the best for me…right? Wrong. So wrong.

It’s not easy being in an abusive relationship. It’s even worse when you don’t realize it for years after. I don’t remember when I first realized that it was abusive, but it was at least a year after I made myself have the courage to leave him.

If you start noticing any red flags (s/he hits you, starts pointing out flaws, starts saying everything about you is wrong, doesn’t trust anything you say, is controlling), leave. It won’t be easy, but you have got to leave anyway. Love shouldn’t hurt. Love should be happy. Love isn’t always easy, but in a relationship, you should be able to trust the person that you’re with and know that at the end of the day, you are happy with that person.

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