How to leave a toxic relationship when you feel like there’s nothing you can do to save yourself from the claws of a toxic person?
None of us picture ourselves with a toxic partner. We don’t imagine ourselves spending a part of our life in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.
Instead, we all have this picture-perfect idea of what a relationship should look like. We imagine it as a safe place where we’re able to express ourselves fully with the support of our loved ones.
We imagine it as a toxicity-free zone where you and your partner go through life holding each other’s hands, making each other happy.
But what happens when your dream turns into a nightmare? When your wish for a healthy relationship is shattered and you find yourself stuck in an unhealthy one?
You feel that your mental health is suffering, but you don’t know how to escape the pain that your partner is causing you.
How do you leave a toxic relationship? How do you find the courage to let go of it because you know that it doesn’t benefit your well-being?
Being in a toxic and unhealthy relationship feels like continually regressing through life.
You’re constantly going down, and you don’t know how to pull yourself up.
You know that what you and your partner have isn’t true love.
Things are never meant to be this way, and you know you’ll have to do something if you want to break free.
But what can you do to leave this period of your life that’s been governed by your toxic relationship?
Before I dig deeper into the steps you should take if you want to leave a toxic relationship, I’ll first give you a list of red flags that you should look out for.
You might be stuck in a toxic relationship without even being aware of it. So, this might help you open your eyes and see reality for what it actually is.
Signs of a toxic relationship
None of us want to admit to ourselves that we’re in a relationship with a toxic person, narcissist, or abuser.
It’s hard to come to terms with the idea that we chose someone bad for ourselves.
But first of all, you need to realize that people like these usually wear masks.
They pretend to be better than they are in order to win over their victim.
That’s why you should never blame yourself for believing them because they certainly knew how to play the right game in order to get you on their side.
The toxicity they keep serving you can vary from person to person.
But usually, there are some common behavioral patterns that eventually give them away.
These are the things that scream you’re in a toxic relationship.
1. You always feel like you’re walking on eggshells
Do you feel like you’re tiptoeing around him all the time? You always pick your words carefully because you know that they may trigger your partner.
You’re afraid of being honest because you know that your partner might become angry and make a mountain out of a molehill.
So, you go through life quietly, worrying about the right thing to say and the right time to say it.
But even if you don’t say anything, your partner gaslights you and makes you feel guilty about your words and actions (or lack thereof).
It’s exhausting and you no longer feel like yourself.
You’ve lost everything you were prior to the relationship and you see you’re changing in front of your eyes.
There are no longer sources of happiness and wholeness in your life. You feel empty, but you don’t know how to get back to your whole self.
2. You’re always giving but getting nothing in return
Do you feel like you’re in an imbalanced relationship? You’re always giving – your time, love, energy – and never getting anything back.
Except for anger, emotional neglect, and daily heartbreak.
You better leave this toxic relationship or you’ll lose yourself forever. Letting go is hard, but it’s much harder staying in a loveless relationship.
3. Your partner holds you back
A healthy relationship is all about positivity and being there for your partner. It’s about giving and receiving support when you need it the most.
But, when you find yourself in a toxic relationship, it’s a totally different picture.
Instead of having a partner who believes in you, you end up with someone who holds you back and is jealous of your success.
This is an unhealthy relationship dynamic that needs to be fixed.
If the two of you aren’t prepared to work on it together, you better leave before things get worse.
4. You have no independence
You no longer know how it feels to be independent. Your partner’s always got an eagle eye on you.
“Where you are? When are you getting home? Who are you with?”
These are all aspects of toxic behavior that your partner will project on you when he wants to control you.
Because of that, you forget what it means to lead your life the way you want to.
You become a pawn in someone else’s hands and you no longer know how to be yourself.
5. You’re losing your sense of self-worth
It’s heart-wrenching when you see that you’re becoming smaller and smaller day after day.
Instead of growing and loving yourself more, with each new dawn, you lose another piece of yourself.
You no longer smile at life and believe in the strength you carry within yourself.
Instead, you question every single move you have to make because you no longer feel confident in your decisions.
All of the criticizing and emotional or even physical abuse has destroyed your self-image. You now feel like you have no worth.
And if you don’t leave the toxic relationship you’re in, things might get even worse.
How to leave a toxic relationship?
I know that it’s hard. To be honest, leaving a toxic relationship might be even harder than staying in it.
It takes an enormous amount of courage to walk away from a toxic partner.
But it’s tough to find that when your self-love has taken a massive nosedive after spending time in a toxic relationship.
You’ve forgotten what it means to stand up for yourself because you’re so used to being walked over.
I know that other people have trouble understanding you.
Even your family members can’t figure out why you haven’t walked away from your toxic partner, no matter how hard you try to explain your feelings to them.
They’re probably giving you advice such as, “Just leave and move away from the pain.”
But it usually isn’t that easy. It takes a lot of baby steps to leave a toxic relationship. And I get you.
That’s why I won’t push you to break things off completely in one day and leave your toxic relationship abruptly.
Those would be unrealistic expectations.
So, I’ll try to help you find out how to leave a toxic relationship and restore your self-worth through simple, more manageable steps.
After being stuck with a partner who knows how to emotionally destroy you, you need to slow things down in order to find the courage to leave.
It may not be easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
1. Stop living in the past and looking for excuses in the future
When you want to know how to leave a toxic relationship, the last thing you need is excuses. And living in the past or future provides you with them.
When you place your current toxic relationship in the past, you think of all those good times you had, how happy you were once upon a time.
You look at how things used to be and hope that someday they might become like that again.
That maybe your relationship dynamic will change and you’ll feel happy like you used to.
But if you put things in this perspective, you’ll know that it isn’t true. Read this carefully:
When your relationship just started, your partner had one goal only – to win you over.
So, he acted like Mr. Perfect and showered you with sweet words. All to get you to trust him.
So, when you compare your current stage of a relationship with the one from the beginning, you’re making unrealistic expectations.
Things won’t ever again look like that because it was all his strategy to win you over. And now that he has you, there’s no need to pretend anymore.
Besides looking for comfort in the past, people who are stuck in a toxic relationship also tend to see the future as an escape.
They see it as a place where problems magically disappear.
“It will get better” – a fabulous sentence that never works if you’re in a relationship with a toxic partner.
So, start living in the now. Admit to yourself what you’re actually going through without looking back to what was or what will be.
This is the first step you need to take if you want to leave a toxic relationship forever and move on for your own good.
2. Keep track of your feelings
When you want to know how to leave a toxic relationship, you also need to know how you’re feeling right now.
Your feelings tell you a lot about your state of mind.
That’s why you’ve got to listen to them.
At the end of each day, write down how your partner made you feel. Were you sad, unhappy, emotionally neglected, or something else?
Or, take a picture of your face that reflects your current feelings. Can you tell from your eyes that you’re lonely, drained, or lost?
After a certain period of time (say, a week or a month), go through your photos or written notes. What do you see?
Have you been happy or sad in that period of time? How often have you felt misunderstood in your relationship? Do you even feel alive?
When you have it all in front of you, it’s easier to admit what’s going on with you.
You can’t neglect the fact that you’ve been unhappy for the past few months when you have physical evidence in front of you.
Now, ask yourself: Do I want to live my life like this forever, or is it finally time to leave the toxic relationship I’m in?
3. Take note of what your body is telling you
Besides your feelings, your body will try to tell you that it’s time to leave a toxic relationship.
If you neglect the signals that your mind keeps sending, your body will take over the responsibility.
It will start feeling heavy, tensed, and in pain. You’ll feel tired all the time, no matter how many hours you sleep.
It’s trying to tell you that you can’t take this anymore.
The toxicity that you’re constantly surrounded by is ruining you, and you have to do something about it.
Your body is screaming for help. If only you’d listen to it, it would all be much easier.
4. Admit to yourself that you’re avoiding the truth
If you want to leave a toxic relationship, you first need to admit to yourself that you’re stuck in one.
You need to openly tell yourself that you’re avoiding the truth.
And this is often the tricky part.
It’s hard to admit to yourself that your actions brought you to the place you’re in right now.
You made choices that are now making you feel unhappy in your own skin.
Because of that, it’s a huge step to finally admit to yourself that you’ve been living in denial this whole time.
You looked for excuses, hoping that something would change and that your partner would stop this toxic behavior.
But once you finally realize that the chances of turning a toxic relationship into a healthy one are zero, you’ll be able to admit the truth to yourself.
This relationship isn’t working and it never will. No matter how hard you try, nothing will ever change.
Instead of giving more chances to a partner who doesn’t deserve them, move on with your life and look for happiness elsewhere.
The thing you have right now isn’t leading you anywhere.
5. Give yourself a deadline for when you’ll leave the toxic relationship
When you want to leave a toxic relationship, it’s really helpful to actually set a D-day.
It can be any day you want – a week or month from today, or any other one that suits you.
Until the moment comes when you’ll pack your bags and leave, you may do everything that feels right.
If you want to, you can try to fix the relationship by trying to have a chat with your partner.
You can express your concerns and ask him to work on your relationship.
This could be the last attempt at making things work before you decide to finally leave for good.
If you feel that there’s no way to fix this already broken relationship, you could focus on yourself more.
Talk to your family and friends, or any other people you know who’ll support you.
Let them know about your plan to leave and let them be there for you.
You need to build a strong support system around yourself because the moment you leave a toxic relationship, you’ll need all the help you can get.
Things don’t magically become better the second you leave.
It’ll take you some time to heal and move on with your life, to completely clean out all of the toxicity you’ve been subject to.
And please, when the day you’re meant to leave comes, don’t get scared of letting go.
Think about it as moving away from pain and embracing a journey of happiness.
It won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it. You deserve to experience the beauty of love, not pain and terror.
6. Be selfish
Before you leave a toxic relationship, you need to learn what it means to be selfish, to set yourself as a priority at least once in your life.
In this case, being selfish is about putting yourself first because no one else ever did.
It’s about learning how to love yourself after you’ve been hurt and walked over many times throughout your life.
And right now, you need to be selfish. You need to understand what it is that you want from life and you need to meet those needs.
You’ve got to be your own priority as from this point of view it seems that no one is treating you as such.
That’s why it’s now up to you to make some changes in your life.
If only you knew how to love yourself the way you loved all those partners who proved out to be wrong for you, you’d be much happier now.
Once you strengthen your self-esteem and learn how to appreciate and cherish yourself, no one will ever again be able to hurt you with their toxicity.
Toxic people won’t be allowed in your life anymore because you’ll know that you deserve so much more than crumbs of love.
It’s time to finally say goodbye to the partner who put you in a toxic relationship and to say hello to a newer version of yourself – the one who loves herself.
You’ll never want to go back to your old habits once you realize how amazing it feels to be in love with yourself.
7. Set yourself free from the fantasy
“But what if my partner changes? What if things get better with time?”
These are the exact things that are keeping you stuck in a toxic relationship. They’re what’s preventing you from moving on and reinventing yourself.
I agree that things could be better. But they never will with this partner.
When you realize that your partner is toxic, the best thing to do is to run for the hills.
Why? Because people like this never change!
No matter how hard you love a toxic person, they will never be able to make your life a better place.
Instead, they will poison you and destroy you piece by painful piece. That’s the best you’ll get from them.
But to expect them to change and become a different person overnight after years and years of being toxic – you won’t get to see that.
By avoiding the truth, you’re living in a fantasy world. You’ve set an obstacle between yourself and a life that could be spent happily.
Do you choose to stay blind to everything your partner is serving up to you or do you want to make a change?
Any time is the right time to leave a toxic relationship. But the sooner you set yourself free from the fantasy, the faster you’ll be able to let go.
The clock is ticking! Accept reality and leave the toxic relationship as soon as possible.
8. Fight for yourself
Once you leave a toxic relationship, you’ll have to fight harder than you ever did. And you’ll have to fight for yourself.
Because you were in a relationship with a toxic partner, chances are he’ll chase after you. It’s deeply rooted in this type of person’s behavior.
When they lose something before intentionally letting go of it, they feel hurt. They’re manipulative and want to be in control all the time.
So, when you walk away from a toxic partner on your own, without him letting go of you, the chances of being lured in is high.
He simply wants to prove to himself that he can have you for as long as he wants.
That’s why you’ll have to fight hard for yourself. You’ll have to think of all those reasons why you left in the first place.
If you don’t do that, your toxic ex may persuade you to return and promise you that things will be different this time around.
But don’t fall those words. They’re a trap that’ll lead you back into a world of suffering and pain.
You deserve to be happy. And you’ll never find that happiness with a toxic partner who doesn’t care about your feelings.
Once toxic, always toxic. And you’re so much more than a person who’s destined to ruin herself because of someone else’s toxicity.
So, let go and fight for yourself. Fight harder than you ever have. Give all your love to yourself and see what it means to bloom like a flower.
Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen to you.