According to a study, six in 10 people find themselves staying in toxic relationships. Whether it be for comfort, fear of being alone, or fear of retaliation, toxic relationships can be the hardest to leave. And while it may be tough to say goodbye, there is no real reason to stay in a relationship that has become more negative and taxing than positive and fulfilling. Here are five ways to break free from a toxic person:
Step One: Recognize That You’re in a Toxic Relationship
A lot of people find themselves stuck in bad relationships because they equate toxic behavior to their partner’s personality or believe that it is just a part of being in a relationship. The truth is, toxic behavior is never excusable. An obvious indicator is any kind of abuse, whether it be verbal, emotional, or even physical. While abuse makes it that much harder to leave, it is crucial to get out of there before you become stuck. And of course, cheating and lying partners are toxic as well. If they go behind your back to hang out with so-and-so even though it makes you uncomfortable, take this as a sign to get the hell out of there.
Other indicators of toxic relationships may not be so overt. For example, you can communicate an issue to your partner but you find that it is never actually resolved because they refuse to change. Perhaps these communications always end in fights with your partner using your faults or past against you. Another key sign of toxicity is that your relationship is negatively affecting other relationships in your life, whether it be familial or friendly. Maybe your partner often guilts you into not seeing your friends or starts influencing your attitudes toward someone you normally get along well with.
Sure, healthy relationships have their ups and downs, but if the downs are outweighing the ups it is time to leave. Bottom line, relationships are supposed to be beneficial for both people involved. If it is negatively impacting your life in anyway, it’s better to leave sooner rather than later.
Step Two: Rip off the Band-aid
Ending a relationship is never easy, especially if it is a long term relationship. It’s going to be awkward, it’s going to heartbreaking, and overall it is going to be extremely difficult. But you need to keep reminding yourself why you want to end the relationship and build up the courage to do so. Physically writing down the reasons and rehearsing what you’re going to say with a friend can help. That way when you see your partner you don’t fumble on your words and end up letting them manipulate you back into the relationship. Of course, hear what they have to say, but go in knowing you will leave the conversation a single person.
If you are leaving an abusive relationship, especially a physical one, maybe conduct the conversation over the phone. While that may be chapter one in the book of relationship don’ts, your safety is on the line and you can never be too careful. If you seek further support and advice, do not hesitate to call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-799-7233.
Step Three: Maintain the Breakup
It’s underrated how difficult this step can be. Depending on the nature of your relationship, staying friends is probably not a good idea. Being friends with an ex, while it may seem ideal, is NEVER healthy when leaving toxic relationships. It is time to move on to a life without them, which sounds extremely painful when coming out of a long term relationship and even harder when you and your partner were friends before getting into the relationship.
It is in your best interest to block or delete your ex’s number (even if for a short time) so you’re not tempted to send a regretful text. Give yourself some time to get over the relationship without them interfering. Their midnight “I miss you” texts may seem endearing, but you don’t want to find yourself at step number one again. At all times, think about the reasons why you left and remain strong.
Step Four:Take Time to Yourself
The second you become single, everyone around you is going to suggest you find yourself a rebound. DON’T. Dating around may seem like a good idea, but it may, oddly enough, make you miss your toxic relationship. The reason toxic relationships, and relationships in general, are so hard to leave is the comfort level of being in a long term relationship. You’ll go on a date or have a one night stand and suddenly find yourself missing the parts of your ex you initially fell in love with.
Take this time to improve your life outside of the dating realm. Hang out with your friends more, revamp your skincare routine, find a side hustle, workout, write, etc. “Cuffing season” can overshadow how great it can be to be single so don’t feel bad about not seeking a new special someone.
Step five: move on when you’re ready
Once you feel you’ve finally gotten over the relationship and want to bring someone into your life, start dating around. Set your standards higher than they’ve ever been before and seek out what you want while avoiding what you don’t want. The one good thing that comes out of toxic relationships is a keen eye at knowing how to spot toxic people.
First, make sure dating around is something you want. Don’t let your friends or family influence you into jumping into a relationship too fast. If you want to be single for life, be single for life! At the end of the day, this is your life – not your mom’s, not your dad’s, not your friends’, not society’s. As cheesy as it sounds, you really do only live once so don’t live it trying to appease those around you.