How Can I Leave a Toxic Relationship and Learn Self-Love?

Leave a Toxic Relationship
By Ben Hartwig
12 September, 2018

Making any change takes effort and may cause emotional discomfort. In order to change or end a relationship, you must recognize that it may be very difficult at times to maintain your distance from the person or people who are holding you back.

Types of Toxic Relationships

Anyone in your life can be potentially toxic to you: your parents, siblings, romantic partner, coworker, friend, teacher, or roommate. If interacting with a person leaves you exhausted, depressed, and feeling like you haven’t done enough to please him or her, you may want to step back and analyze what’s going on. You may seek professional help or talk to other friends to figure out what’s going on. Once you’ve identified the type of toxic behavior you’re dealing with you can arm yourself with techniques for dealing with it – including walking away.

Tactics Used by Toxic People

A person who is unable to have a healthy relationship isn’t always at fault for his or her behavior; that person may simply be re-enacting behavior learned from his or her parents or past relationships. As long as the person is unaware of the damage his or her behavior does, he is unable to make changes, repair relationships, and pursue a healthy co-equal relationship. And even if he or she is made aware of the issues he may not choose to make the effort to change.

Here are some common techniques of toxic persons:

  • Ghosting: When you seek a person’s help, comfort, commitment, or other participation in a conversation, situation, or relationship but they refuse to respond to the request or empathize with your needs, that is ghosting.
  • Gaslighting: this is a technique that over times makes you doubt your own experiences and knowledge, undermining your self-esteem and making you more reliant on the dominant partner;
  • Manipulation: this is a person who turns every conversation around to deflect blame or responsibility and make you do their bidding;
  • Drama: some people are addicted to the emotional rush they get from creating drama and picking fights, which creates damaging cycles of make up and break up;
  • Passive aggressive: this tactic challenges you in every conversation, indirectly criticizing you and making the toxic person appear to be a victim of your every comment or request;
  • Isolating: by criticizing you, your friends, and family, a toxic person may isolate you from all others who offer support and therefore make you completely dependent on him or her (and unable to compare your relationship with healthy, happy relationships);
  • Abusive: This sort of mistreatment can be physical or psychological, belittling you, making you feel unworthy or useless – and ultimately dependent on the abuser for any shred of self-esteem.

Breaking Away

It takes a lot of resolve to break off a toxic relationship. Breaking up doesn’t mean you’ll never see that person again, it just means you are ending the toxic aspect of the relationship by learning to respect and love yourself. Getting professional help or a caring friend to reinforce your self-worth is key to following through on your decision to end the damaging behavior.

Rules for self-love after a toxic relationship:

  • Take a few moments at the beginning of each day to mentally review and reinforce your resolve to make a fresh start;
  • If you must see the toxic person you are breaking away from, make a plan, which may include a list of topics you will not discuss with that person or behaviors you will no longer share (such as drinking alcohol or having a physical relationship);
  • Take a few moments during the day to consider the energy, time and happiness you enjoy without this person dragging you down;
  • When you achieve a goal, spend a few moments enjoying the feeling of accomplishment untarnished by the criticism that a toxic person would heap on you to diminish your joy;
  • Put yourself first: prioritize your needs and desires without feeling guilty, which includes spending as much time as necessary away from and not communicating with the person who you chose to leave.
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