A toxic relationship can take a toll on your emotional, physical, and mental well-being.
Many people don’t realize they’re in a toxic relationship until they leave.
That’s due to the emotionally draining and absorbing nature of a toxic relationship.
The option of leaving can seem problematic and it often exhausts you mentally just thinking of it.
The first step in leaving a toxic relationship is acknowledging the signs of toxicity in the relationship.
Some of the most common signs of a toxic relationship include (but are not limited to):
- Lack of respect for your boundaries and values. Your boundaries are violated, disregarded, and disrespected to the point where your self-esteem and self-perception enter a destructive cycle of self-berating and self-devaluation.
- There’s constant arguing about the same issues. There is no cooperation when it comes to solving issues together. Instead, there’s blaming, guilt-tripping, and shaming.
- Passive aggressive behavior, manipulation, and control. There’s a lack of open communication, followed by excessive jealousy, a need for control, and imposition.
- You feel like walking on eggshells around your partner. Another tell-tale sign that you’re in a toxic relationship is how you always need to be cautious of your actions and words around them because you fear they might react hysterically again.
- You don’t feel appreciated by your partner. The toxicity of the relationship affects your self-esteem, making you feel like you’re less worthy or even unworthy of your partner.
Starting your journey of healing when deciding to leave a toxic relationship isn’t easy. It takes effort and determination.
Here’s a guide of 5 steps on how to leave a toxic relationship and start your journey of healing:
1. Connect to your support system
Connecting to your support system plays a fundamental role when leaving a toxic relationship.
Your support system can help you feel safe, supported, cared for, and not alone when going through a breakup with a toxic partner.
Additionally, a support system will help you navigate the breakup considering the level of the manipulative dynamic of a toxic relationship.
Here’s how you can connect to your support system:
– Stay connected with friends and family as that will help you better manage challenges and nourish your emotional needs.
Friends and family can provide you with an emotionally safe space and support for your decision.
Emotional safety and a sense of being cared for and supported can make it a lot easier for you to leave the toxic relationship.
– Seek professional help as that will help you recognize the toxic patterns of your partner’s behavior.
Furthermore, you can share any concerns and get guidance.
Besides emotional support, a professional can help you easier navigate the breakup and execute your leaving plan.
2. Take your time and strategize your exit plan
Strategizing an exit plan will help you safely leave a toxic relationship.
Take the time you need to reflect, get courage, and rely on your support system to feel confident in your decision.
– When you’re ready, set the day you’re going to communicate your decision to your partner.
– Think of what you’re going to say when communicating your decision to your partner.
– Avoid approaching your partner with anger and fury.
– Talk to your attorney about any legal concerns and advice you need if you’re married to them or have children together.
An attorney will provide you with legal guidance regarding shared properties, safety, and children.
– Try looking for a new place to live if you’re living with your partner. You can ask for help from your friends or family as well.
3. Practice journaling
In a state of such emotional intensity, it can be difficult to find the strength or will to write about it.
However, journaling can help you lighten your emotional burden, but also it can offer you a perspective on how you’re being treated.
– Try writing down your thoughts, events (physical abuse, psychological manipulation, etc), and how you’d like to be treated.
If the separation process takes a legal turn, you can use it as evidence against any of their claims.
– Write down affirmations and intentions. It can be a tremendous help in recovering your self-esteem and in sticking to your plan.
4. Document anything that you deem important
In case of abuse, try documenting evidence to support yourself legally later.
Take pictures of any bruises, and gather witnesses as evidence to affirm your state during the relationship.
Gather your documents: passport, security number, and license. Keep them in a safe and accessible place—Ready for when you decide to leave.
Talk to law enforcement and attorneys and seek legal guidance to help you leave your toxic relationship.
You can call these numbers to let them know of your situation:
- USA: The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
- UK: Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247
- UK: Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327 (only for men)
You should be legally prepared, especially if you have shared properties or children.
5. Cut your partner off of your life completely
One of the final steps of leaving a toxic relationship is cutting your partner off of your life completely.
This will take effort and determination because it can be difficult to accomplish due to the possibility of manipulation tactics.
– Show determination when communicating your decision. Maintain a calm approach, but also show determination.
Avoid accusing your partner or giving them room to continue the conversation.
– Remind yourself of what you’ve been through if your partner victimizes themselves as a manipulation tactic.
Think of the hurtful things you’ve been through, think of the love you get from your friends and family, and let that guide you when you’re faced with manipulation from your partner.
– Block them from all of your socials and any platform you have an account that they might reach with.
This will help you disconnect from them and create your own life without letting them interrupt your healing process.
– Block and delete their number from your phone, or if you can, change your number.
Let go of anything that might keep you connected to them.
– Avoid letting space to meet up with your partner again.
Gather your clothes and necessities from their place, and remove any possibility to meet with them again.
How to recover after leaving a toxic relationship?
Leaving a toxic relationship can be emotionally, mentally, and physically draining.
It’s a new beginning for you, and now you’re on the quest to find yourself again.
The process of self-care can start with these 5 steps:
1. Let yourself process what you’re feeling.
After being engulfed, it’ll be time to breathe. Give yourself time to heal.
The process can take time because you’re left with several things to work on and settle with yourself.
Breaking up with a toxic partner can be challenging due to the emotional roller coaster and experience of anxiety, trauma, grief, and the like.
It’s okay to feel emotional and to go through a variety of emotions all at once after leaving a toxic partner.
Instead of forcing yourself to feel happy or to seek joy, let yourself process what you’re feeling for a while.
It’s an important step to healing as it will allow you to relieve yourself from the burden of emotions you might be experiencing.
Acknowledge your emotions and tell yourself it’s okay to feel this way because it is.
2. Spend time with people you feel at ease with.
A toxic relationship can give you unhealthy lessons.
You might find yourself feeling the need to isolate because you don’t see yourself as worthy of care or attention.
This is why it is very important to spend time with people you feel at ease with.
They will be a way to remind and help you understand that you are worthy of care, love, and attention.
On the other hand, hanging out with people who care for you can support your decision, making it easier for you to resist the temptation to get back to your toxic partner.
3. Practice activities that give you a sense of fulfillment.
After some time has passed after the breakup with a toxic partner, it’ll be time to practice activities that give you a sense of fulfillment.
Although you might find yourself lacking the willingness and desire to get out of bed, set a few days a week where you get up and do an activity.
Think back to before you met your toxic partner, and think of the activities that gave you joy and a sense of fulfillment.
It can be anything, reading a book, painting, going out for a walk, cooking, etc.
Find what once made your heart feel joy and do it again.
4. Reconnect with yourself.
After a while, after the breakup, you’ll start feeling lighter from the emotional burden.
Your logical sense won’t be as affected by your emotional state, and it’s the perfect time to reconnect with yourself.
– Start looking forward to personal goals and achievements.
– Practice mindfulness: journaling, breathing exercises, yoga, etc.
– Team up with yourself and set new goals and boundaries for yourself.
5. Seek professional help.
After leaving a toxic relationship, therapy can help you understand your feelings and reconnect with yourself.
Dr. Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D. suggests that a professional will help you deal with overwhelming emotions and trust issues.
As a toxic relationship can leave you with negative habitual thoughts and negative behavioral patterns (that you may consciously or subconsciously practice), unlearning those on your own can be a challenge.
A professional can help you slowly rebuild your confidence and understand that you’re not to blame for everything.
Additionally, therapy can help you with understanding yourself and be ready to face new relationships in the future.
Why is it so hard to leave a toxic relationship?
The investment and the work you have put into that relationship are hard to leave behind. Not to mention emotional attachment as well.
When low-self esteem is met with traumatic experiences you settle for what you’re manipulated to think you deserve.
However, there is much more to this problem.
Here’s why ending a toxic relationship is so challenging:
– There’s hope that things will change.
When a toxic partner hurts you they tend to promise they’ll never do it again to then they turn back to the same behavior.
This becomes a repetitive cycle, with light to no changes from time to time.
You find yourself hoping that your partner will change which makes it difficult for you to leave the relationship.
– You feel an immense sense of guilt when you think of leaving.
In a toxic relationship, your partner will make you believe that you’re guilty of reading too much into their behavior.
Eventually, you start believing what your partner tells you, and you start telling yourself the same things as your partner tells you.
Your guilty conscience blames you for not trying more and putting up with their behavior.
Therefore, it’s critical to regain your sense of self, identify your needs, and put them first. Ultimately, making it difficult for you to leave.
– You are concerned about your/their children.
Whenever kids are involved in separations, parents find it harder to leave since they consider their children’s needs first.
Most decide to put up with their toxic partner to give their children a “secure” and “normal” life.
Many organizations provide shelter for women and children. But some support people regardless of their gender.
Check the list below:
– You’re manipulated to believe you won’t find better.
A toxic relationship fosters a person’s unfulfilled desires making them unable to leave.
Additionally, a toxic partner can be highly manipulative making the process of leaving a lot more difficult.
You’re told you won’t find better or that no one else will accept you the way your partner does, perhaps daily.
Eventually, you start believing what your partner tells you which can make it very difficult for you to leave the relationship.
– Financial limitations.
Being financially dependent on your partner limits a big number of your intentions including leaving this toxic relationship.
Financial dependence can also result in immense worry that you won’t be able to leave because you can’t support yourself financially.
– Trauma bonding keeps you together.
You are bound well together because you’re used to the cycle of abuse and toxicity. Thus, they use positive reinforcement to cover for their actions.
Because of the past, you think that this is what you deserve and settle in fear of not finding something better.
A toxic relationship can be very draining, and it can exhaust you emotionally to the point you feel you’ve no longer got strength left.
However, there is strength in you whether you know it or not.
With a little planning, determination, and help from your support system you can successfully leave a toxic relationship and start healing.
Focus on self-care, and stand loyal to your boundaries. Trust the healing process.
You’ve got this!