A toxic relationship is not solely limited to the domain of romance. It’s possible to have toxic relationships with friends, family members, and sometimes people you’re only partially connected to.
“Toxic” is used as a catch-all word to describe many dysfunctional and/or abusive relationships.
Generally speaking, a toxic relationship is unhealthy and harmful in some way to the participants.
Distancing yourself from those toxic relationships is essential for creating a healthy, fulfilling life. You simply cannot heal whatever wounds you’re carrying and grow as a person without getting out of those toxic relationships that hurt you.
How do you do that?
1. Seek help from a certified mental health professional.
Getting out of a toxic relationship can be difficult, especially if it’s abusive.
Suppose you’re going to try to end a toxic or abusive relationship. In that case, you should talk to a certified mental health counselor first to help plan your exit.
Domestic violence is common when a person is trying to escape from a toxic and abusive relationship. For your safety, it’s best to get some professional insight before you do anything.
Safety isn’t the only reason to seek out professional help. There are reasons that you were involved in a toxic relationship and decided to stay in it for as long as you did. Those reasons are often rooted in painful things like a traumatic history or poor self-confidence.
These aren’t problems that anyone can just snap their fingers and fix. You really need to get at the root of why you were in the toxic relationship in the first place so that you can fix whatever the cause is.
It may not be something blatant either. Consider a romantic relationship. You meet someone, you hit it off, they’re great! And they’re great for a long time!
But gradually, they stop being so great. They start nitpicking, judging, and trying to control you. Before you know it, you’re trying to keep your head above the relationship’s dysfunction and toxicity.
You may have decided to give that person the benefit of the doubt on so many things that you’re just making excuses to yourself about how they treat you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It can happen to anyone.
A professional can help you to identify these things and more whilst also guiding you out of the toxic relationship.
2. Organize and express your feelings about the toxic behavior.
Talking about toxic behavior is the best way to make it known that you have a problem with how the person acts.
In a healthy relationship, you should be able to bring up your concerns and have them respected by the other person. The way the other person responds to your feelings will tell you a lot about whether the relationship is salvageable.
If they refuse to hear you out or respond with anger or threats, then it’s a good sign that the relationship will not be salvageable.
You’ll also want to watch out for shifting of blame. Instead of accepting responsibility for their actions, they will try to put them off onto you.
On the other hand, you may be able to try again with the person if they accept that there’s a problem, and they are willing to put in the work to fix it.
In all likelihood, they will need outside help from a counselor because most people will not be able to correct that kind of behavior on their own.
3. Cut communication with the person.
Assuming you decide that it is necessary to end the toxic relationship, the next step is to cut or limit communication with the person.
The more communication you have, the longer it’s going to take for you to heal from the relationship and move on.
Totally cutting communication isn’t always possible. You may have kids, be connected through family, or have joint responsibilities that require you to communicate with them.
If so, you can use the Gray Rock Method. In short, keep it professional, brief, and to the point. Don’t let yourself get pulled into discussions or entertain any “what ifs” from the other person.
If it’s a romantic relationship, do not flirt or engage in sexual activity with them. Keep a distance between you so you can both have the proper time to heal.
4. Give yourself time and permission to heal.
Do not jump straight into another relationship from a toxic one.
Some people have the bad habit of jumping from relationship to relationship because they are afraid of being alone or feel incomplete when they aren’t in one.
This type of behavior can be the reason why you get into and tolerate a toxic relationship in the first place.
After any relationship ends, you will need time to let yourself heal. Many people who find themselves in toxic relationships also feel like they lose touch with who they are or what’s important to them. Take some time to reacquaint yourself with who you are, what you value, and what brings you happiness.
It’s also an excellent time to pick up old hobbies or other aspects of yourself you might be neglecting because of the toxic relationship.
5. Don’t dwell on the relationship.
Dwelling on the relationship opens up the door for a relapse. The more you dwell on it, the more chances you give your brain to remember all the positive things about the other person and overlook the negative.
Our brains have a bad habit of doing that. We want to remember the positive things that drew us close to the person, but at the same time, we minimize their negatives.
Don’t let yourself dwell on the toxic relationship, how things were, or how they should have been. All that matters now is that you have made a choice to distance yourself and heal. Focus on that.
If you need to, reach out to friends, family, or support when you find your resolve wavering.
You can also cope with those feelings by journaling or writing. Many find writing a letter to the person and then destroying it to be a therapeutic way to process their emotions.
6. Replace the toxic relationship with positive ones.
Once you’ve had some time to grow and heal your wounds, you can focus on rounding out your human experience with more positive relationships.
You may want to take up some social activities or find new hobbies that will help you meet some more positive people and grow your circles.
The less time you lose in a toxic relationship’s emotional and mental drain, the more time you have for yourself and positive relationships.
You may also like:
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- How To Cut Ties With Toxic Family: 6 Steps To Take
- How To Spot Toxic Parents (+ 6 Steps To Dealing With Them)
- Why You Should NEVER Attempt Couples Therapy With A Narcissist