The End of ‘Relationship Girl’: Breaking the Toxic Cycle


Who am I without this relationship? Why am I doing all the work? If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions or felt that you out-loved your partner, you’re not alone.

I used to brag about being a “relationship girl.” Jumping out of one relationship and right into another. Revolving my whole world around my partner. Never giving myself the space to figure me out because I was too busy trying to figure us out.

It took decades of back-to-back relationships for me to recognize that the destructive patterns would keep resurfacing unless I did something different. In 2011, I did exactly that — I became intentionally single. I was ready to work on me for a change, to break the 20-year cycle of co-dependent relationships, and to put an end to the “relationship girl.”

The following are the top three things I learned being “intentionally single” for five years:

It’s not our job to fix others. I often convinced myself that a good partner could save a relationship no matter what — even ones that brought out the worst in each other. “But he has so much potential,” I’d tell my friends. “I don’t want to give up on him now.” This desire to fix my partner would leave me feeling unappreciated and him resentful.

If I can’t change him, I must be a failure, I thought. So, as any “fixer” would do, I tried relentlessly to make it work. Meanwhile, my partner would buckle under the pressure, check out of the relationship, and I’d end up getting fed up and dumping him.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned: We cannot change someone who doesn’t want to change, and, most importantly, it’s not our place to do so. Do yourself a favor and let go.  

We’re all on a journey and here to learn from one another. I’ll never forget 2008. I’d just broken up with a guy who decided “he was not that into me” after a hot-and-heavy beginning. And the guy before him? Same thing. “Have an attitude of gratitude,” my life coach advised me at the time. When you’re in the thick of things, feeling grateful for rejection can be difficult. Six months later, I finally understood the significance of that statement.

Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

When I connected the dots looking back, I was able to see the silver lining. In 2007, I went to therapy for the first time in my adult life to heal from a breakup. In therapy, I learned about life coaching and Reiki — to assist with my healing process. By the end of 2008, my life had transformed so immensely in such a short period of time that I quit my corporate sales job and became a Life Coach. I thank my lucky stars for my past breakups. I believe they led me to choose the meaningful work I absolutely love doing today in my private practice as an Intuitive Coach and Reiki Master.

Lesson learned: Not winning “the One” was the best disappointment I could have ever achieved. In the process, I discovered a stronger life purpose.

If we don’t love ourselves, we can’t trust ourselves. Another reason we may stay in a relationship that has run its course is because we don’t want to listen to our intuition — our inner knowing. After all, the truth can hurt.

A former partner of mine was notorious for saying one thing and then doing another. Instead of trusting what I saw, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt — over and over again. My gut knew better, but I would convince myself, What if he’s telling the truth this time?

As Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Lesson learned: I was afraid to face the truth because I knew I’d have to let him go. But when the pain of staying with him outweighed the fear of not having his love, I had to release him. Once I did, everything shifted. Where love goes, that’s where trust goes. I had to love myself more so I could trust myself more. 

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Berni Xiong
Berni Xiong is The Shin Kicking Life Spark. Her work as a Reiki Master and Intuitive Branding Coach helps impact-driven individuals speak up, stand out, and change the world. She is a contributing author of Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive, and contributing writer at The Huffington Post. When she's not kicking shins, you can find her at Contact her at [email protected].


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