A toxic relationship is like a siphon plugged into your emotional state of being. And you know what a siphon does, right?
It will draw all of your life energy until there’s nothing of you left. For the relationship and for yourself.
And if you stay long enough, you will become a shadow of who you are while your partner thrives off your misery.
If you’re on this page, you’ve already recognized you’re in a toxic relationship and want to figure out how to get out of it now.
If you’re not sure your relationship is toxic or not, read What Are the Signs of a Toxic Relationship?
How to Leave a Toxic Relationship with Dignity
I’ve been in a toxic relationship before and at that time, I did not realize what it was. This was when I was much younger.
How did this toxic relationship end?
In a spectacular explosion that cost me dearly emotionally. It took me a very long time to recover from this relationship.
These days, I am well equipped to recognize the warning signs of a toxic relationship early on and exit before it gets a grip on my heart.
If I knew then what I know now about toxic relationships, how would I have exited with my dignity?
That is what this article is going to be about. A way to leave a toxic relationship with your dignity intact.
When we get into relationships, the last thing anyone expects to end up with is a broken heart or worse, a broken spirit.
However, 9 times out of 10, it happens to most people at least once throughout their lives.
That is, unfortunately, the nature of humanity. It is the people that claim to love us who end up hurting us the most.
The warning signs of a toxic relationship are pretty clear – emotional, verbal and physical abuse, lying, cheating, manipulation, gaslighting and so much more.
You cannot reason away these warning signs nor can you act like you can change the person treating you so badly.
Sometimes, people believe they have to change themselves to make their partner love them right or stop abusing them.
The only thing that needs changing in this scenario is your relationship status from whatever it is to SINGLE.
I understand there might be a certain situation preventing you from leaving a toxic relationship such as finances, living arrangements, etc.
However, a lot of times, you are the one preventing yourself from leaving. You are the one in your way with excuses like:-
“I don’t want to start all over again.”
“If I can’t make it work with this person, I don’t think I can make it work with anyone else.”
“Better the devil you know than the angel you don’t know.”
“I’ve invested so much in this relationship.”
“I love him/her.”
“It was so perfect in the beginning. We can recapture those moments.” (This is fantasy)
“I have to just try harder.”
Any of the above sound familiar? I’ve used two of them before myself back in the day.
Leaving a toxic relationship is a process though. It takes a lot more than just walking away.
Below is an 8 step guide to preparing yourself mentally and emotionally to exit the trauma:-
1. Make a Firm Decision to Leave
Recognize that a toxic relationship never gets better.
It only gets worse as your partner wields more and more emotional power over you and uses your weakness as a weapon against you.
You have to make a firm decision to leave for yourself.
Your parents, siblings, or friends shouldn’t be the ones talking you into it. You have to decide to leave on your own.
If it makes it easier for you, do a pros and cons list of what’s good and what isn’t in the relationship?
Be brutally honest with yourself about it.
2. Break the News
When it’s time to break the news. Be mature about it. Don’t text or send an email.
If you have your own apartment, arrange to meet up at a coffee shop to break the news. No need for an argument, tears or screams.
This can be avoided if you break the news in public. Less chance for drama and more emotional manipulation to keep you in the relationship.
Things will be a bit trickier if you live together and your partner is dramatic or dangerous.
In this scenario, have a friend or relative with you to help you move out immediately.
You can also move out while your partner is away then meet up with them when they return to break the news.
Find a scenario that works best and ensures total separation ASAP while keeping your safety in mind.
3. Sever All Connections
Once you’ve broken the news and you’ve moved out or changed the locks or changed apartments, it’s time to sever all connections.
The person who has the upper hand in a toxic relationship does not like losing.
They will do everything to get you back and are very good at “promising to change.”
Since you’re still in an emotionally weak position, you will likely fall for it. The only way to prevent that is to sever all connections.
Block your partner everywhere – social media, Skype, telephone, emails, etc. He should have zero access to you going forward.
And be sure to tell/warn any friends or relatives he’s acquainted with not to share your contact information.
4. Do Not Fall for the “Closure” Myth
Closure is a myth. What exactly do you want to close?
Seeking closure is the fastest way to get emotionally manipulated back into a toxic relationship.
All the conversation required should have taken place on the day you broke the news to your partner. That is the only closure you need.
If you blocked your partner everywhere already, then they can’t contact you to try and find “closure.”
5. Recognize and Acknowledge the Part You Played
Yes, you’ve walked out of the relationship but you played a part by allowing yourself to be treated that way and not bailing at the first warning signs.
This is not a bash yourself session.
The purpose of this step is to forgive yourself for not walking away and promising yourself you will do better going forward.
Your first love going forward will be YOU. The person you will love most going forward will be YOU.
If you do not love yourself first, you will always be susceptible to manipulative and toxic relationships.
No one can love you more than you can love yourself.
6. Arrange Self-Healing Sessions
Just because you left a toxic relationship doesn’t mean you’re OK.
You still need to work on yourself and part of that work is healing the emotional and mental damage.
What do you do that you find calming and comforting? Something that strengthens you emotionally? Do more of that.
Reading? Writing? Traveling? Massages? Swimming? Boxing? There are so many things.
Can’t think of anything? Find a new hobby that interests you and pour yourself into that.
When I left a toxic relationship, I joined a computer school to learn how to build computers.
I got so engulfed in it, I forgot to remember to miss him.
7. Watch Out for the Reminiscing Moments
Reminiscing moments are deadly.
Those are the moments you remember something cute and loving that happened at the beginning of the relationship.
The memories make you start thinking maybe you gave up too soon.
Or you start wondering how your ex is and maybe you want to stalk them a little on social media.
DO. NOT. DO. THAT.
The second you realize a reminiscing moment is making its way into your subconscious, get busy with something else.
8. Do Not Start Dating Right Away
A lot of people suggest getting back in the game ASAP to wean yourself off your ex. I disagree.
If you jump back into dating immediately, you may soon end up with another toxic person.
You need to work on you, emotionally empower yourself, and learn how to love your own company before you jump into another relationship.
This is the entire process of leaving the relationship.
If you leave without doing any of the rest, it’s only a matter of time before you go back to the relationship because you still don’t realize your self-worth.
You still haven’t realized how awesome you are.
When you understand this, then you are ready to jump back into the dating pool.
If you go through this process, you will wake up one day and realize there are no parts of you missing and you don’t need anyone to “complete” you.
You are a complete person already and you deserve to be in a relationship with a partner that is equally complete.
Anna started Love & Self-esteem as an avenue to create a safe space for better and stronger relationships via personal and emotional empowerment because love shouldn’t feel like work.