Breaking free of a toxic relationship can be a really difficult thing to do. First of all, because no one wants to acknowledge they might be in one. Sure, they have trouble, but that doesn’t mean their relationship is toxic… or does it?
Second of all, because getting out of a toxic relationship is unpleasant and by nature difficult. Breaking up with someone, in general, can be hard, but even more so when that person is mean or manipulating towards you.
The worst part of it is, most relationships aren’t toxic from the get-go, otherwise, people would be able to break up from a toxic partner before there was any strong attachment between them, Unfortunately, many relationships turn sour over time, and while we can’t tell you how to get out of one, we can offer you some tips on how to get unstuck if you are in such a relationship.
1. Reach out to people.
When you’re in a bad place emotionally, it’s all too easy to cut ties with family and friends and retreat into yourself. But that’s only making it worse. Talking to someone about the problems you’re facing in a relationship can be difficult, but also therapeutic.
Even the simple act of having someone listen to you lay the problem out can be beneficial.
Loved ones can also see things from a more detached angle and point out inconsistencies in the relationship or even actual abuse. Sometimes, you put up with emotional or even physical abuse for so long, you come to think it’s normal. But it’s not, and you need someone to tell you that.
2. Understand that loving yourself is the most important thing.
It might sound like something of a cliché, but if you don’t love yourself, you’re unable to lead any other type of relationship successfully. And in a toxic relationship, it’s paramount that you begin putting yourself first.
Now, this is the hardest part, because often, a toxic partner will put you down and trample your self-worth. One great way to encourage self-love in your mind is by doing the following exercise:
Your partner has done or said something that hurt you. Now, you’ll most likely forgive them, because that’s how toxic relationships go. But what if this was not you? What if this happened to your sibling or closest friend and they came and asked for your advice? What would you tell them? To accept it or that they deserve better and need to stand up for themselves?
If you wouldn’t tolerate such behavior for your loved ones, why would you tolerate it for yourself?
3. Watch your emotions. Listen to your gut.
Often, our instinct will tell us when something is wrong long before our heart figures it out. If the whole relationship has been feeling off lately and is giving you an uneasy feeling, then that’s your gut telling you it’s time to get out of dodge.
The trouble is, in a toxic relationship, we’ll often rationalize and fight our gut feeling because we don’t want it to be that way. That’s how we end up staying when we should leave. So try to override your thinking mind and pay attention to your intuition.
Another thing you need to watch is your feelings. In a toxic environment, you won’t admit it to yourself, not in as many words, but you’ll know something’s wrong. How does being with your partner make you feel? Is there a lot of awkward, uncomfortable silence? Do you always feel judged and put down? If the answer is yes, then you know what that means by now.
Here’s another exercise: Imagine you had an exciting idea. It can be about a new hobby, your business, whatever really. Is your first instinct to go tell your significant other, or are you afraid of how they might react?
In a healthy relationship, people share their feelings and ideas openly, without fear of being ridiculed.
4. Try to understand why you’re clinging to the relationship.
Psychologically, the reason we get into and stay in toxic relationships is thought to be linked to our childhoods. If one had a distant mother, one might look for a distant girlfriend. An authoritarian father often leads us to seek out authoritarian men. On the other hand, one can also seek the opposite. If your mother was distant, you may well search a mothering girlfriend, who will give you the attention your mother didn’t.
We know it might sound strange, but try to figure out what it is you’re getting from your relationship and in what way your partner resembles a parent. Understanding this can help you heal the need and thus break from the relationship.
5. Cut them loose.
It’s not what you want to hear, but it has to be said. Often, toxic relationships are past the point of saving. Not all, but most. Be honest – do you really feel there’s something worth fighting for or does it feel like an end?
It’s hard but has to be done because you’re the only person who can take you out of this mess.
We honestly hope this article has helped you figure out some things about your relationship. Have experience with a toxic relationship? How did you handle it?