If you want to know how to get out of a toxic relationship, you’ll love this article. It’s like a zero-gravity moment. You feel your heart stop and your stomach drop, as part of you realizes what you’ve refused to see for as long as the two of you have been together.
It always bothered you, didn’t it?
From the very beginning, you wondered why you weren’t as happy as you should’ve been. You wondered why your relationship seemed to be so much more complicated than those of your friends and family members. You tried desperately to hide his flaws around the people you loved, hoping they wouldn’t judge you for being with somebody so inherently mean because, as you constantly told yourself, they just didn’t know him like you knew him.
And that was true enough. They didn’t know how nice he could be when he was in a good mood, or the way he smiled at you when you made dinner exactly the right way. They didn’t know how dearly you held that moment when he’d say, “I love you”. Because that moment didn’t come nearly often enough and, in some dark, secret part of your heart, you knew that he knew it didn’t. Almost like he was using it as a reward; a reward for when you did something flawless.
Still, you always knew it wasn’t often enough. And, when you finally reached this moment, it all came forward. Every fear, every doubt that you’d been holding in with every fiber of your being, came rushing to the surface and something in you broke.
Maybe it happened because he hit you. Maybe he touched you the wrong way for the last time. Maybe you’d realized that you’d spent more time in the last three months in the bathroom crying than you did with your now non-existent friends. Or maybe he withheld his last, “I love you.” Whatever it was, you’re now ready to use the words you’ve been avoiding. Abuse.
How To Get Out Of a Toxic Relationship For Good:
And just like that, a new chapter in your life has started. Perhaps the most important chapter you’ll ever write for yourself. It might be the longest, it might be the darkest, but it will also be what you remember as the biggest turning point of your life. Because today your life, your life completely free of this, will start.
The introduction that you just read describes one of the most prevalent toxic relationships in human history; that of an abusive husband or boyfriend.
But relationships aren’t as simple as the stereotype by which they are defined. There are dozens of potentially unhealthy friendships, relationships, and connections that you may find yourself ensnared in over the years. These relationships can go both ways, and can affect both genders.
We all get entrenched with the wrong people. The intention of this article is to help you
recognize an unhealthy or abusive relationship, identify the source of your discomfort, confront the issue safely and, most importantly, to move on with the rest of your life.
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
Unhealthy relationships can include a significant other, a co-worker, a friend, a family member, or a boss. Less common, but still dangerous, are ongoing toxic relationships with your offspring or an ex. These connections can take root at any point in time. Age, gender, location, or occupational status make no difference regarding the introduction of dangerous and potentially detrimental relationships into your life. In that respect, it’s vitally important that you are able to quickly spot and identify an unhealthy connection.
The holy grail of all dangerous relationships is, obviously, physical abuse. It’s also the most readily identified, namely because of the violent repercussions involved in letting this type of relationship continue unreported.
However, there are smaller branches that stem off of the basic idea of abuse, and these are less easily recognized, especially if you find yourself at the center of one.
First of all, any type of unwanted affection is a form of sexual abuse (which, for the sake of the size of this section, we’ll pair with physical abuse). If you are in any kind of relationship with someone who seems to ignore social signals when it comes to boundaries, do not let the actions continue, lest the individual begin to think that their behavior is warranted or even accepted.
Examples of these affections can include repeated backrubs, the slipping of arm around your waist or shoulders, consistent and flirtatious hugs, or inappropriate touching. These signs are usually the beginning of an unhealthy, one-sided relationship, and should be handled immediately.
Secondly, any type of unwanted behavior is a form of physical abuse, such as “playful” slapping, hitting, or rough-housing. Many times, these are passed off as a joke or “not a big deal”. But trust your body. If it hurts, it’s probably intended to be that way. There is usually a line in this type of relationship. The second you realize that you are avoiding someone because of these unwarranted behaviors, your connection with them has become unsteady and should be filed as questionable in the back of your mind.
Finally, serious physical abuse is obvious, apparent to others, and involves slapping, hitting, punching, hair-pulling, physical threats, or anything intended to inflict pain as a form of punishment or anger. Serious physical abuse should never be tolerated, and there is a line past which the relationship becomes so dangerous that you could end up in a hospital or emergency room.
At this point in time, the connection will be removed from your power and, likely, friends, family, or the local government will step in and end the relationship for you. Though victim-blaming is a horribly misguided view of the world, it is your responsibility (not only to yourself, but to the people who care about you) to consciously attempt to keep this from happening.
Emotional and Mental Abuse
Though less recognizable than its physical brother, emotional and mental abuse is the more common form that unhealthy relationships take. However, it is also several times more difficult to identify and prevent. In many professional and personal relationships, emotional and mental issues take their place on the back burner and only come forward when they reach a dangerous boiling point.
Manipulation and emotional abuse might include constant yelling, guilt-tripping, put-downs, name-calling, and threats. In contrast with physical abuse, however, some of these symptoms can take place in completely normal relationships that are going through a particularly rough period.
So how do you tell the difference between a friendship or partnership that entails a normal amount of fighting, and one that is illustrative of an unhealthy relationship? The telltale signs are embedded in your everyday interactions. When you are around this person, do you ever feel worthless? Do you question your own integrity and pride more often around them than you would around others? Do you associate them with a raw, hurt feeling in the pit of your stomach?
Other signs include controlling behavior, which can involve overprotective actions such as trying to keep you from seeing other friends, guilting you over time spent with your family instead of them, or various confrontational situations in which they have become visibly angry at someone showing a certain amount of affection for you. In the professional world, toxic relationships become apparent when coworkers and supervisors begin to cross the line from a professional interest in your life to a controlling and personal interest.
Serious emotional abuse is best described by two phrases: suicidal thoughts and suicidal tendencies. If you are spending time with someone who forces you to question your own existence, the moment has come to draw the line and escape from that relationship at all costs. These feelings are most likely stemming from their hurtful words and actions, as manipulation of the mind can lead to dangerously low levels of self-esteem and happiness.
Confronting the Issue
Once you’ve realized that you are one half of a toxic relationship, your next move should be getting out. This process is, in many ways, the most difficult and stressful part of the entire situation, because it involves potentially hurting someone else’s feelings or, even worse, risking that they hurt your own feelings that much more in anger or hatred of the retribution.
The best thing you can do before confronting the other half of your toxic relationship is, first, ask yourself the right questions; second, consider the possible reactions of your partner and, thirdly, figure out what exactly you plan to say and whether or not you are in a situation that is safe enough to say it.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Is this emotional and mental abuse or physical abuse?
- If physical, is this abuse serious enough to risk my well-being? If so, I shouldn’t directly confront the other person.
- If emotional and mental, am I prepared to have this conversation? Am I sure that I’m right in what I am accusing them of? If not, how can I make myself sure so my footing can’t be lost?
- Do I work with this person? Does my professional connection with them warrant that I change workplaces or should I report them to a manager and have them removed instead?
- What will the repercussions of this conversation be? Will I lose my connection with them, will I need to move, or will I need to give them back specific belongings? In other words, how close are we and how can I prepare for the effect that this will have on my personal life? Do I need to stay somewhere to get over this?
- Have I done everything else in my power to fix the relationship? Am I absolutely sure that this is how it has to end?
- Am I absolutely certain that my physical well-being will not be affected by this conversation?
If you’ve determined that your situation is descriptive of physical abuse, you have several options other than a direct confrontation. First of all, you should secure a safe place to stay if you share living arrangements. You can do this by phoning a friend, a wellness or health center, or by talking with your parents or family member.
Second of all, if you fear for your physical safety when breaking off the relationship, ensure that you have a safe escape, either by calling the police beforehand and asking for assistance, or by bringing a friend or family member with you to secure safety in numbers. If the person you are cutting off relations with owns a firearm and has been physically abusive to you, do not attempt to confront them. Instead, call the police and ask for immediate assistance.
That being said, if you are not in a serious abusive relationship and are simply looking to confront and end a connection with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable emotionally, mentally, or physically, there are other reactions to consider.
1.) They may beg for you to rethink your decision. This is probably the most discomforting reaction, because you often will feel obligated to accept this as an apology for their earlier actions. However, assuming you’ve determined that there is no other logical way to fix the situation, it is vital that this reaction is brushed off and discouraged.
2.) They may become angry, or even violent. For this reason, you should make sure that the confrontation takes place in a semi-public area where you can be seen by others, even if you can’t be heard. Often, their anger will only make you feel better about your decision to end the relationship, but it is important that you prepare for this kind of reaction, otherwise you’ll run the risk of freezing and agreeing with them instead of standing up for yourself.
3.) They may refuse to accept your decision. This has happened to me before, and is one of the most awkward and uncomfortable reactions to deal with. It takes two to have a relationship or to share a connection and, if one backs out, that’s the end. There is no negotiating or refusing to accept what has happened. In this instance, your best move will be to simply cut off all contact until the person has realized they can’t ignore reality.
4.) They may accept your decision gracefully, and even apologize for their actions. In this case, don’t question your choice (as it was made on the basis that there was no fixing the relationship), but accept their apology and move on with your life. Essentially, you’re free.
Knowing What To Say
There isn’t much that anyone can do to help you create your confrontational speech, but there are a few tips I can provide you with.
First of all, try to avoid blaming them or getting angry, as this will just elicit an angry reaction from them and will be entirely counterproductive. Secondly, make a serious attempt to tell them what went wrong, rather than telling them you’re ending the relationship without a legitimate reason.
This approach lacks closure, and could leave loose ends that still need to be tied up. Thirdly, leave no question in your statement. Don’t give them an opening to say that they’ll change and fix themselves to stay in your life. You’ve already decided against that. Make that clear.
And, lastly, practice. It sounds overrated and unnecessary, but it’s the best precaution you can take. Practice until you’re sure that you’re ready to take a big step and free yourself from the entanglement of an unhealthy relationship.
Moving On With Your Life
After you are completely free from the relationship that took such a large toll on your life, you will still have a long way to go in the healing process. You’ve just been through a difficult and exhausting ordeal that will affect your future relationships and connections with others. Your personal view on others has changed more than you’re aware, and it will likely be several weeks before you discover it.
Whether it was a toxic friendship or a toxic romantic relationship, moving on from a difficult past connection is both frustrating and challenging. You will struggle with trust, honesty, talking about what happened, and accepting that it happened.
Trust is a rough spot for anyone, let alone for someone who has been through an abusive or unhealthy relationship in their recent past. These are the people who are used to hearing, “You’re beautiful”, only to be countered by, “I hate you.” These are the people who are used to hearing, “I love you”, but are then shown in every way, shape, and form that they are not loved.
These are the people who gave their all in something that blew up in their face, and they aren’t going to be ready to take a chance on someone new for a very long time. If you’re one of these people, you have to remember one very important thing. Not everyone in the world is looking to hurt you. Find the right person, and they will restore your faith in humanity. You just have to let them.
Honesty comes hand-in-hand with trust, and is often an even bigger struggle for those who have been in harmful relationships. When someone has been lied to and beaten down often enough, they will begin to do it to others. The logic is, “If they aren’t being honest with me, why should I be honest with them?” It’s a form of protection against harm. If you are the one in control of the lies, you are the one who doesn’t get hurt. But this simply passes on the pain to someone else, and could put you in another toxic relationship. And, this time, you’ll be the problem.
Opening up about your past is the most painful part of moving forward with someone new. If they’re the right person, they’ll want to know everything about you and about your life. It’s your job to, when you’re ready, tell them the truth. Because, with baggage, comes the ability to learn from that pain and move forward with your life. You now know how to recognize unhealthy relationships, and you’ve been through the ringer. You don’t need to hide it to protect yourself. The more you open up, the more you’ll learn that you’re not alone.
And then, there’s acceptance.
Acceptance is the final step in the process of moving on. Instead of trying to live like something never happened, try to live with it as a spoken and obvious part of your past.
You know you’ve finally moved on with your life when you’re able to tell someone you’ve never met before something as big as, “My last serious relationship ended with them going to prison. It wasn’t a safe relationship.” While they might look shocked at the openness of your statement, you’ll know something even more important. You’re in a new chapter of your life. And talking about the old one, accepting the old one, isn’t nearly as hard as you thought it would be.