Nightmare to Dream: 5 Qualities of a Dream Relationship After Abuse
Updated: Feb 28
After you’ve been in an abusive relationship, the lines between a toxic relationship and a healthy relationship tend to blur, so it may take some time to explore what it means to be in a relationship that’s right for you. It’s important for us survivors to define and recognize the qualities we need to live a life that’s worthy of our hearts.
1—Building a great relationship takes time.
If we’ve been in more than one toxic (or narcissistic) relationship, we’ve come to expect relationships that build fast and furiously. For those of us who have loved a narcissist partner, we know this beginning honeymoon phase as love-bombing. They do and say things in the beginning to convince us that they are the love of our lives — oftentimes in the first week of dating. It sets us into a whirlwind, convincing us that we’ve finally met our soul mate. But hearts that are meant to connect with one another get to know each other slowly over time. It doesn’t happen in the first week, and it may not happen in the first month. We have to be patient and allow that relationship to build.
2—Telling the truth is an act of peace and connection.
In an abusive relationship, we feel telling or asking for the truth because we don’t often get that from our partners. And not only that, but he or she may also flip that truth around to blame us for something we haven’t committed. They tend to accuse us of being needy, unfaithful, crazy — many of the things they tried to hide in their own lives. But when you are in a healthy romantic relationship, the truth will set you free, as all the ancients have said. You will grow closer to your partner as you begin to understand where each of you are coming from.
3—Love and affection comes natural.
In my abusive relationship, I lost count of how many times I had to beg for his love and attention. He only awarded me with his attention to get something he wanted from me: money, a place to live, gifts, or a ride somewhere. Over time, you come to expect other potential partners to withhold their attention in the same way, but that’s not how healthy relationships work. Both partners give and accept the love and attention that should flow without conditions regularly. It’s a sign of respect, adoration, and real love — and it’s what you should grow to expect in any future relationship you enter into.
4—There is no fear of infidelity.
One of the things that narcissistic partners tend to do is cheat on their partners, and many times, it’s done only to inflict more damage on you. As you begin to pursue new relationships, you may feel extremely insecure about your partner’s faithfulness, but this is natural in the beginning. Share your past experiences with your partner, and they’ll grow to understand why you feel so insecure. However, it’s also important not to label your new partner with those past experiences if you want to build a healthy relationship. They need to understand how you feel, but they also shouldn’t be blamed for those insecurities. Let them help you work through those insecurities in a positive way.
5—Personal space is not a curse word.
In many abusive relationships, our partners expect us to make our lives all about them, and we start feeling suffocated because there’s no escape from their control. We start to forget who we are, what we love to do, and the potential of the future. But in a healthy relationship, it’s reasonable to have some time to ourselves because we have to learn how to survive as individuals and as romantic partners. Allowing yourself to ask for that space will give you time to explore who you are away from your partner, and it will also assert that you are worthy and beautiful just as you are.
One thing I think is important in our healing journey is to define what we’re looking for in our dream partner. These can be things you need in a relationship or specific qualities you’re looking for in a romantic partner. Give yourself permission to own that dream and don’t settle for something less than you deserve.