How to get over toxic relationships

13 Tips for How to Heal From a Toxic Relationship

Toxic relationships can be different for everyone. They don’t always tart out toxic, so it can be tricky to identify if you are in an unhealthy relationship. Even if you have identified it, it can be really hard to leave the partner for many different reasons. While everyone’s recovery is different, here are some tips on how to heal after a toxic relationship.


Choosing to end a toxic relationship may be the best thing, though that doesn’t mean it is easy. It can be especially challenging to heal if there has been abuse or infidelity in the relationship. If you’re thinking about leaving, or have recently left a toxic relationship, the next step in the process is healing.

Feel Your Emotions

Leaving an unhealthy relationship can summon really painful and confusing feelings. It may give you a sense of freedom, but it can also be incredibly difficult at times. Letting go of a relationship isn’t always easy. Allow yourself to be upset and feel your emotions when you need to. After giving yourself all the time you need to feel everything you need to feel. Trying to stifle the emotions you feel, can elongate your healing. Giving yourself space to feel and process your feelings is the first step to start healing from the relationship.


Try Not to Contact Your Old Partner to “Check In”

After enduring a toxic relationship (especially a long-term toxic relationship), it can be really tempting to want to reach out to your former partner. However, it’s often best to give yourself some time alone and go completely no contact. If you are communicating with the old partner, you may find yourself drawn back into the toxic tango. Despite what they may say, you do not need to stay friends or have any connection with this person. If children are involved and contact is inevitable, there are helpful strategies for co-parenting with a person who is hard for you to be around.


Don’t Expect Closure

Perhaps you want to keep an open line of communication with your ex because you’re hoping for an apology from them as a form of closure. Waiting for a sincere apology can be so exhausting, and in some cases it may not ever come. The closure many survivors need often won’t come from the toxic ex, but from the healing work they do within themselves.


Maintain a Strong Support System with Positive People

Make sure you surround yourself with positive people. A support system can include family, friends, a therapist, support groups, etc. Being able to spend time with people you have a healthy relationship with and can trust can be so beneficial. Toxic relationships have a way of keeping people alone, so now is the time to reconnect with your inner circle or make new friends. Plus, they’ll be a huge support when you’re feeling low, tempted to call your ex. If you’re lonely, reach out to them instead when you need a pick-me-up.


Don’t be Afraid to Admit What You’ve Been Through

Toxic relationships can feel very isolating. If you’re not ready to share your story with others, you may consider writing your experience in a private journal as a way to process everything you’ve been through. If you are ready to share, you may talk with a trusted friend/family member or a therapist. Your story is important, but it’s often so important to be ready and willing to open up about it with others.


Re-Discover Your True Self

Toxic relationships can make people forget who they really are and what they like, outside of the relationship. Once you’re out of an unhealthy relationship, it’s time to prioritize your happiness and get back to doing the things you love. You were someone before the relationship, and you are still someone after the relationship.


Practice Self-Care

Toxic relationships can take a huge toll on a survivor’s emotional and physical well-being. Many people find that they stop taking care of themselves while they’re in a toxic relationship.  After a breakup, try making extra time for yourself and do things you truly want to do. This may be reading a book, taking a hot bath, buying yourself something you like, cooking your favorite meal, or even binge watching your favorite show. There’s no wrong way to listen to yourself, prioritize your needs, and practice self-care.


Practice Self-Kindness

Instead of judging yourself and speaking harshly, try to speak to yourself as you would someone you care about. Allow yourself to be compassionate and acknowledge that other people have been in toxic relationships before. Speaking to yourself with kindness and forgiveness can be one of the best forms of self-care. Be gentle with yourself while you’re working through your recovery and beyond.


Focus on Your Resilience

Coming out of a toxic relationship, try not to think about yourself as a victim, but rather as a strong individual that is now able to focus on yourself and your needs.  You are a survivor, and this relationship does not need to define you or your life. Even though it may be difficult to see yourself as a fighter, you got out. You are more resilient than you know.


Do Not Blame Yourself

It is not your fault that someone else treated you poorly. Many relationships start out healthy before becoming toxic. There was no way for you to know what was coming. Therefore, learning not to blame yourself, or to forgive yourself (if you’ve already been hard on yourself) is a critical step in recovering from an unhealthy relationship.


Take Note of What You Experienced

After leaving a toxic relationship, it can be a helpful exercise to take note of the things you no longer will tolerate moving forward. Once you decide you’re ready to seek out new relationships (romantic or platonic), you can establish new boundaries for yourself to help you create the relationships you want. If you’ve noticed a trauma bond, or a similar pattern in other relationships, now is a good time to explore whether previous trauma may be re-activated.


Be Patient with Yourself

The road to recovery isn’t always a straight line and everyone’s healing process will look different. Some days will be much harder than others but allow yourself to take as much time as you need to feel better. If you can afford it, take a mental health day here and there if you’re feeling depleted.


Focus on the Present

Coming out of a toxic relationship, you may be tempted to look into the past or even try to plan everything out for the future.  Recovery is an unpredictable process.  Instead of trying to plan the future or dwelling on the past, focus on your current situation.

Are you happy at this moment?

What can you do to make the current moment better?

Listen to what your body needs at the time it needs it.


Now that you’ve read these 13 tips to heal from a toxic relationship, known they are just a start. There any many other options for reclaiming your life and thriving. Everyone’s recovery is going to look different, and there’s no right or wrong way to heal and recover.  Not sure if you’re in a toxic relationship? Take this quiz to find out.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.


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10 Steps to End a Toxic Relationship

Ending a toxic relationship may not be easy or quick. But it will be worth it when you open up your life again.

The question of how to end a toxic relationship has many answers, but they all boil down to one: You do it very carefully.

Most often, you’ll need to do a lot of soul-searching, planning, talking it out, and then walking the tightrope to a new life.

You may be trying to figure out how to break up a toxic romantic relationship. But toxic relationships aren’t limited to romance. A toxic person may be a:

  • family member
  • co-worker
  • friend
  • partner of a friend or relative
  • neighbor
  • business partner
  • student at your school

So, step carefully. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Take the time to do it right.

Also, it has to be said: Know your options if you anticipate even the smallest possibility of retaliatory abuse or violence. You can always get help. Always. Know your local emergency contacts, or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Here, we take you through 10 steps to ending a toxic relationship. There may be more or fewer steps for you; every situation is unique. You are unique. Here’s your chance to become that one again.

The first step toward solving any problem is to look it straight in the face. This is especially true for ending toxic relationships.

To admit you’re in a toxic relationship may seem like a small step. But actually, it’s huge.

You’re stepping across a canyon, from denial to acceptance.

You can do this.

Science has got your back. Much research shows the damaging health effects of continuing a toxic relationship. For example, a 2021 study found that feelings of being harassed, bullied, or ostracized in a toxic workplace can lead to:

  • stress
  • burnout
  • depression
  • anxiety

Writing about your emotions may be the last thing you feel like doing. You might feel too edgy to focus. And besides, you could be worried writing it down might make you feel worse.

Psychologists have a name for writing down your feelings: expressive writing. And they agree you might get more anxious, scared, or upset right after writing.

But fast-forward a few weeks, and research says you’ll probably notice both mental and physical benefits. A 2018 research review reported more than a dozen beneficial health outcomes from expressive writing, including:

  • fewer visits to the doctor for stress
  • improved immune system
  • lower blood pressure
  • improved lung function
  • fewer days in hospital
  • improved mood
  • greater sense of well-being

Your toxic relationship may even have its perks.

So, get out your journal and write them down. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • We share finances. I couldn’t afford to live alone.
  • She’s family. At least she babysits from time to time.
  • Sure, my boss is toxic. But at least I know what to expect.
  • I’m in my 60s and everything is familiar. How could I start life over?

Whatever your reasons and your perks, write them down. See whether the perks are really worth the price.

Hint: They’re probably not. Seeing this in black and white on paper can bring clarity.

There will be holes that open up in your life after the perks are gone. Now is the time to plan how to fill them up.

Say one of the perks of your toxic relationship is having a home. You might start looking for new living arrangements, even if it means bunking up with a friend or family member for a short time.

If shared finances are the perk, now could be the time to become open to a second job, or short-term gig. If companionship, or even love, is a perk, remind yourself that there are other fish in the sea.

Most importantly, start doing the things you love that your relationship kept you from doing.

Gary Lewandowski, a professor of psychology at Monmouth University and author of the book “You’re Stronger Than You Think,” did an experiment in which he asked people right after a breakup to do what he called “soul discovery activities.

These are activities that people love to do but felt they couldn’t do inside a toxic relationship. They’re mostly simple things like going out dancing or going to the beach.

In Lewandowski’s experiment, people returned after 2 weeks like new people, filled with hope and rejuvenation.

You can check out this article for ways to rediscover your values.

Refresh your cache by taking a look at which friends or family members can support you (and you, them!). Even one person is enough. They will give you courage and an idea of what life can be outside a toxic relationship. You can also consider reaching out to a therapist, or finding a support group.

These are people who will stay by you after you end the relationship. You’ll need them for emotional support, help getting a job, or ideas of a new place to live.

Research shows that the quality of your relationships can affect your immune system, as well as your mood, motivation, and coping skills. Having social support can even lower your risk of developing health conditions such as:

  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • depression
  • addiction

In addition to everyone in your support network, there’s one other person you desperately need on your side: you!

You are the one who knows you best and has been with you the longest.

Try writing down all the advice, love, and compassion you have, seal it up in an envelope, and send it to yourself.

If you can’t find enough self-love to do that just yet, that’s OK. Try writing the letter from a pseudonym friend who is the most compassionate person you can dream up.

This idea and many others comes from Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

She’s the author of the book “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself.” In her book, she offers exercises — such as letter-writing — and action plans for getting through a debilitating struggle, like ending a toxic relationship.

There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a reward for taking a positive step forward.

Say you’ve managed to send that soon-to-be former friend a polite no to their text message requesting your time. Reward yourself by doing something you truly enjoy. Maybe it’s reading a book by yourself, or getting your go-to favorite drink.

This tactic can be overused, of course, and turn into distraction or escapism. You don’t want to do that. But doing something that’s hard and then rewarding yourself can help your motivation.

A 2018 research review found that rewards can increase motivation and help you reach your goals. The researcher points out that the neural pathways of reinforcement and learning are some of the most ancient in our brains.

If rewards have worked down through the ages, it can certainly work for you!

When you end a toxic relationship, you may feel guilty for many reasons. Maybe you feel guilty that you:

  • stayed too long in the relationship
  • hurt the other person
  • think the relationship might have harmed your children

Whatever the reason you feel guilty, the first step toward healing is self-forgiveness. Forgiveness can help you emotionally and physically. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that forgiveness can:

  • lower the risk of heart attack
  • reduce blood pressure
  • improve cholesterol levels
  • reduce levels of anxiety, depression, and stress

Affirmations can be powerful tools of change. If you want to feel strong, for example, try saying “I am strong” to yourself. Of course, you’ll need to take practical steps too!

The brain actually changes with regular self-affirmation practice. According to a 2016 study, MRI images suggest that certain neural pathways become more active in people who practice self-affirmation.

You can get the full run down on affirmations here.

Most relationship experts say one of the best things you can do after a breakup of any kind is to give yourself time to heal. This is especially true after a toxic relationship.

Take all the time you need after you close that chapter to breathe and savor life again. Focus on what matters in your life.

In “Ready to Heal: Women Facing Love, Sex, and Relationship Addiction,” author Kelly McDaniel encourages folks who’ve just broken off a toxic relationship to lay low and resist the urge to pack your day with too many activities.

She writes:

“The energy it takes to endure withdrawal [to an addictive or toxic relationship] is equivalent to working a full-time job. Truthfully, this may be the hardest work you’ve ever done. In addition to support from people who understand your undertaking, you must keep the rest of your life simple. You need rest and solitude.”

Ending a toxic relationship can be difficult and time consuming. But it can also be invigorating and freeing. It can open up your life to you again.

Be sure to take the time and energy to do it properly. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the relationship a long time. You always have a way out and a right to take that path.

These 10 steps can help get you on the right track. The support network you build around yourself will help you do the rest.

Stay safe. Know your options if you anticipate even the smallest possibility of retaliatory abuse or violence. You can always get help. Always. Know your local emergency contacts, or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

No matter what step of ending a toxic relationship you’re at, congratulate yourself for coming this far. Remind yourself that you deserve a healthy relationship.

And if you’re still trying to find the strength to take the first step, listen to the words of relationship adviser Gary Lewandowski in his TED Talk:

“Sure, your relationship might leave you with a few cracks, but those cracks, those imperfections, those are sources of strength and beauty, because breakups don’t have to leave you broken, because you’re stronger than you know.”

— Gary Lewandowski

how to get out of a toxic relationship

Even seemingly initially good relationships can eventually turn into unhealthy ones. No support and support - only endless quarrels and mutual accusations. We tell you what to do if the boat of love still crashed on the cast-iron pillar of reality.



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Dreaming of living "happily ever after" is perfectly normal even for the twenty-first century. And hardly any of us are consciously looking for a toxic relationship. But sometimes the carriage turns into a pumpkin, and a knight on a white horse - into a despotic, uncontrollable monster, from which it is not so easy to get away. nine0003

“A toxic relationship is a form of bonding that undermines both health and well-being,” says Dr. Kelly Campbell, assistant professor of psychology and human development at California State University, San Bernardino. “We spend so much time and energy on another person that it simply cannot but affect the general condition. Usually, when everything is in order, then we ourselves feel good. And vice versa,” she says.

From the outside, it seems that toxic relationships are easy to recognize. But this is only at first glance. Abusive loves to hide behind rose-colored glasses of love and romance in the first months of communication. How to determine that you have fallen into such a trap? We understand the situation together with Dr. Campbell, a professional therapist and the author of the program "Let's talk about relationships." nine0003

How to recognize an unhealthy relationship

The most important thing is to realize that different people have different attitudes towards the same things. What is abuse and gaslighting for some, is the norm for another. “When we talk about toxicity, many factors should be taken into account: a person’s characteristic style of communication, their usual methods of resolving conflicts, as well as the level and degree of reciprocity of feelings,” the expert says. Turning to metaphors from the world of fauna, we can say that mongooses are less sensitive to scorpion venom than other animals. But for insects and spiders, it is deadly. So it is with people: some fit each other, and some don't. And there's nothing you can do about it. Alas. nine0003

Five red flags indicating an unhealthy relationship

"Red flags" are such harbingers of disaster, the first alarming calls, after which it is time to immediately leave the theater. And if your partner does any of the above, you should seriously think about it.

Your partner has a changeable mood

Your partner's mood is so unstable that you have to constantly think ahead what, when and how to say it better, if only not to rock the boat? Is a person unpredictable and can get upset or explode at any moment? If this happens all the time, then your relationship is probably unhealthy. nine0003

one person is trying

You are doing your best. Strength, time, love - everything goes to the partner. And in the end you get a whole nothing - no warmth and tenderness. Yes, one of you can temporarily take over the duties of both. For example, if one of the couple falls ill. But this should not continue indefinitely.

partner is annoyed by your success

“In a healthy relationship, a couple celebrates success together. According to Michelangelo's concept, lovers, like sculptors, help each other achieve harmony, an ideal, ”explains Campbell. “But if you notice that your partner is jealous, competitive and generally not very happy when everything is fine with you, this is an alarm signal,” the expert warns. nine0003

So don't be surprised when you talk about successes at work and see a hard look or hear sharp remarks. It's not something wrong with you, but with the other half.

partner controls you

If you are constantly required to report where and with whom you are, regularly check your phone, and even worse - manage finances or limit them, then you should think about it. Naturally, we are not talking about the money that he earned, but about your hard-earned money. Such behavior can lead to you starting to quietly go crazy, not understanding what is possible and what is not. nine0003

your partner criticizes you

This is one of the last stages in the development of a toxic relationship. If a partner shamelessly and openly points out your shortcomings, criticizes you and hits you on sore spots, then in the end you really begin to believe that you deserve such an attitude, because you do not deserve better.

How to get out of a toxic relationship

Depending on the severity of the situation, seek advice from friends, family, or a therapist. “A good professional can help you resolve the problem, restore your sense of self, and set boundaries that are safe for you,” says Campbell. nine0003

You can, of course, try joint therapy. But if even after it you repeat scenarios from the past again and again, it most likely makes sense to end the relationship altogether.

“Do what you like. Including physical activity to your liking. All this works to increase self-esteem, ”the professor notes.

Unfortunately, there are times when it is no longer possible to endure and next to a partner it becomes unsafe. For example, if he is stalking you or blackmailing you. Then you should start saving money for moving. And as much as possible. There is another option - to seek help from people from your inner circle. Someone will surely chime in. nine0003

And if your partner resorted to violence, threatened you (or both), record each such offense. In the future, this will help to get an injunction against approaching.

How to get over a breakup

Let's say you ended a toxic relationship after all. Then Campbell recommends doing a thorough study of the issue of personal boundaries, as well as trying to always and in everything prioritize your personal happiness and comfort. Don't forget: Bad relationships alone don't define you or your future. And here are four more tips from the professor to help you cope with this difficult situation. nine0003

Stop talking to your ex

The more you tease yourself by talking to the abuser, the slower the recovery process will be. Yes, sometimes it is impossible to end the conversation for good - for example, if there are children. Then try to make your conversations as monosyllabic and to the point as possible. Maybe over time this will grow into friendship. But definitely not immediately after the breakup. And no flirting!

Allow yourself to recover

"Spend time with people who love you and make you stronger, not destroy you," Campbell advises. In addition, she suggests paying more attention to communication with animals. After all, their affection is one of the most sincere forms of unconditional love, which helps to cope with loneliness.

Do something you've been putting off for a long time

Find a hobby that you enjoy. Perhaps you have long wanted to take up dancing, but you did not have enough time for this. “A favorite thing not only increases self-esteem, but in the future it can become a good basis for finding a new one,” notes the professor. nine0003

Don't jump headlong into a new relationship

In a toxic relationship, a person often loses himself and ceases to understand who he is. Work on yourself. Analyze the experience and give yourself time to heal from the damage done. Decide what you want from life. And maybe you will realize that you have completely different plans for her.

Why is it so difficult to get out of toxic relationships

Despite the fact that direct abuse is not always present in toxic relationships, they all develop in a similar pattern: tension, conflict (violence), reconciliation, calmness. nine0003

And, constantly swinging on these “emotional swings”, it can be difficult to come to your senses, come to your senses and try to get out of the vicious circle. What exactly prevents breaking such an alliance?

1. Lack of understanding of healthy relationships

Two types of people have a particularly difficult time: those who have previously only been in toxic relationships and are used to considering them the norm, and those who have never encountered anything like this before. If you have nothing to compare with, if before you didn’t have relationships at all or there were only those in which there was abuse, it’s almost impossible to understand in time that something is wrong, especially if you are told from all sides that “ it's normal", "all men/women are like that" and "it can be worse". nine0003

2. Hope that things will get better

Many people who eventually get out of a toxic relationship remember that they started noticing “wake-up calls” a long time ago, some as early as the first month after they met. For example, they were “immediately strained” that the partner loses his temper over nothing.

What kept them in a relationship? The notion that “all couples fight is probably okay too.” And also - complacency in the spirit of "it's not so bad."

3. Faith in the best in a partner

All of us are not without flaws, and we all notice them in others. However, some of us tend to see others as predominantly good - their potential, which we want to help develop. It may seem to us that if we provide our partner with maximum support, he will improve and what we do not like will not happen again. He's not from evil, but from some of his inner pain.

4. Relationship with a hidden manipulator

As a rule, toxic partners are brilliant manipulators: many of them learned this art from childhood, forced to adapt to significant adults, to capture their desires and mood changes. This means that you most likely will not even realize that you are being controlled - and they are doing it very successfully. And of course, the manipulator will not let you go just like that: all his charm and persuasiveness will be used. nine0003

5. Low self-esteem

Perhaps your self-esteem was like this even before this relationship, and this is what attracted a partner to you; or maybe it was this union that deprived you of self-confidence - this also happens. And by the way, self-confident optimists also have a hard time: they simply do not notice what is happening for too long, or flatly refuse to believe in it.

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