The most powerful and beautiful part of the human experience is to love and be loved. We are born craving it, demanding it. Unfortunately, love shows up on our doorstep in all sorts of ways. Sometimes unhealthy, imbalanced, and downright toxic.
And counterintuitively, this kind of abusive love can be the hardest to walk away from. It’s often subtle, confusing, and manipulative. But no matter how stuck you feel, these 5 steps are proven to empower you to understand your worth, find your way back to self-love, and walk away from that toxic relationship.
Is My Relationship Toxic?
There are up to 50, clinically significant indicators that you are in a toxic, abusive relationship. But here are the more covert ones that you may not even realize are toxic until now.
- There are no clearly defined emotional or physical boundaries within the relationship
- Saying how you truly feel would lead to an argument or fight
- You have become over-functional to maintain an imbalance of effort from their side
- Physical or verbal abuse
- Passive aggression
- Nothing gets resolved
...and the most significant sign you are in a toxic relationship is you see that you have changed--for the worse. You do not dream as you used to. Laughter and smiling are rare. Life does not feel as hopeful and exciting as it once did. And you can just sense that things have been off for a while.
Your intuition is your most powerful guidance system. Chances are, it has been telling you to leave for a while. Not to mention if you are reluctantly scrolling through this article in hopes for answers--you may be in a toxic relationship. But do not worry, the following steps will make walking away more comfortable for you.
No Time For Guilt or Shame
You are going to need as much emotional stamina as you can muster to walk away from someone you love and rebuild yourself due to their lack of love. There will be absolutely no time for shame or guilt.
If you start to judge yourself for not leaving sooner or start to feel bad for considering leaving at all, that voice comes from a place of brokenness caused by the toxic person who broke you.
Toxic relationships will make you doubt your decisions and lose trust in yourself. It’s time to follow your gut feelings and reverse the inner dialogue that comes up. You will be redesigning yourself for the better. It’s time to detox the poison from your heart and mind.
90-Day No Contact Rule
No texts, no calls, no emails, and no social media. BLOCK.BLOCK.BLOCK.
This will be your most critical step in transitioning from victim to empowered and will break the seemingly curse they have over your heart.
Unless you share children, you do not need to contact your toxic ex ever again. But because forever can seem like a daunting task, just start with 90 days. This gives you time to re-center and heal so that you cannot be persuaded or manipulated by shallow promises and inauthentic apologies.
It will be tempting, especially when you are lonely to reach for that low-hanging fruit. But a toxic person’s attention will give them just enough time to twist your thoughts and ideas. It’s extremely dangerous to entertain someone with manipulative and abusive tendencies.
Your strength and growth will not be linear. Somedays you will catch yourself writing a text or with your finger hovering over the call button. Understand it is in those moments you are craving the love, affection, and protection that only you can give yourself.
Remember how often you would turn to them in hope of someone who genuinely cared? When have you needed support and love? It was not found then and it will not be found now. If you are hoping they will change and beg for you back, you will have to give it a minimum of 6 months for you both to do some serious self-work. Otherwise, close the door behind you, lock-it, and lose the key.
You Are No Longer a Victim
During the duration of a toxic relationship, you become a victim. Likely making you easy prey to your ex-partner. They can sense the insecurity and know how to use it to get what they want.
But now that you have taken the difficult but brave choice to walk away, that internal victim narrative and mentality must shift so that you do not enter another abusive relationship. The best ways to shift the victim mentality are to
- Take responsibility for staying too long to be abused
- Forgive yourself and the other person
- Show daily gratitude for your new sense of personal power
- Practice daily personal/spiritual development
- Embrace your new identity as the creator of your situations, not the victim of them
We talk about the pain of leaving a toxic relationship, but there is so much joy to be discovered when you take back your power to become who you want to be and attract the healthy relationship you deserve.
Focus on Your Future or the Present (never the past)
All the energy that was spent crying, angry, confused, lonely, and attempting to fix someone else or a relationship is all now available to you. Once you have given yourself a physical and mental break from the exhaustion, it’s time to take your newfound energy to design your new life without the burden of an unfulfilling relationship.
Sometimes the present moment will feel safer than the future. And that is okay. Pick up a book, paint, write, do something that keeps you meditatively in the moment.
You are going to want to replay scenarios in your mind repeatedly. And while it is good to process your pain, do not allow yourself to ruminate on what could have or should have been. Show yourself a little extra love and compassion in those moments and bring your thoughts back to the here and now.
A New Chapter
Sometimes it will feel scary. Sometimes it will feel like the best decision you have ever made. Either way, every minute spent outside of a toxic relationship is a chance to heal, be happy, find yourself, and discover the most powerful love of all, self-love. Be strong. You are worth it.