Toxic relationships can cause so many personal problems. They are destructive and painful, and yet, they can also be addicting. People stay in toxic relationships for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re reliant on your partner, or maybe your self-esteem has been shot because of the relationship itself.
If you’re scared to leave a toxic relationship, you’re certainly not alone. One survey found that half or more people believe they have (or have had) toxic relationships in their lives. Getting out of those relationships can be easier said than done.
Plus, once you are out, what happens next? How can you find out who you are after leaving a relationship that was holding you back from happiness?
When to Leave a Toxic Relationship
Okay, so that might not be the most practical advice, but it’s the most honest. If you’re in a toxic relationship and your partner doesn’t show any signs of changing, it’s important to get out as quickly as possible. While we already listed some reasons why people stay, another common reason is that some individuals might not realize their relationship is toxic or damaging.
Maybe you’ve gotten used to being treated a certain way. Maybe you already struggle with low self-esteem and your relationship fuels that. Whatever the case, understanding some of the most common signs of a toxic relationship can make it clearer to you that you need to get out. It’s easy to spot the basics, including physical abuse. But, emotional abuse and financial infidelity are two huge red flags, too. If your partner is taking something from you or being dishonest, you deserve more.
Some other common signs of a toxic relationship include:
- You’re never happy around your partner.
- You are scared to express your needs.
- Your partner makes no effort.
- You’re the only one working on the relationship or compromising.
- They have a passive-aggressive attitude.
- They leave when things don’t go their way.
- They want an open relationship and you don’t.
You may be more in-tune with the problems of your relationship than you realize. While the idea of leaving can be scary, you deserve so much more than the attitudes and actions listed above.
Realize That You Deserve More
Realizing that you deserve more can be the first step toward moving on after a toxic relationship. Again, it’s not uncommon for toxic individuals to try to cut you down and lower your self-esteem.
To move on, you might have to rethink who you are and what you really want. You may have started to identify yourself as nothing more than a person in that relationship. Or, as whatever your partner suggested you were. Now is the time to re-discover your identity to step into the next chapter of your life.
Not sure how to do that? First, try surrounding yourself with positivity. This can be especially helpful if you’re feeling a void after your relationship is over. Spend time with people who support you, be mindful of the present, and practice self-care as often as possible. That isn’t just a “buzz word”, it’s something that can help you find yourself again. Granted, that can look different for everyone. So, try to do something every day that brings you happiness or peace. It could be reading a book, going for a jog, or having a relaxing bath before bed.
When you start to take control of your own life again and “find” yourself, you can also find better ways to cope with the loss of the relationship, and how to move on.
Find Healthy Ways to Cope
You shouldn’t live with regret for leaving a toxic relationship. You should be proud of yourself because you did something not everyone works up the courage to do. But, leaving the relationship is just the beginning.
First, consider what you’ll do with the home you shared (if you lived together). You may not want to stay there if it triggers bad memories. But, don’t feel obligated to let your ex stay there, either. You can choose to sell it and split the profit or stay but make changes and make it feel more like home.
Once you have a safe place to call your own, you can focus on other ways of moving on, including leaning on friends and family, traveling, staying active, and eventually moving on in another relationship when you’re ready. Take the time to focus on yourself and move forward in a way that is beneficial to your emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing. When you go into your next relationship with confidence and a strong sense of who you are and what you want, you will be less likely to put up with toxic behaviors, and you can enjoy the benefits of a healthy, caring partnership.
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The preceding is the opinion of the author. Consult a relationship counselor, therapist or professional if you have relationship worried.