Toxic Relationship : A fulfilling relationship has the potential to enrich your life in ways you may not have imagined, while a negative one can leave you feeling heartbroken, depressed, and hopeless. Unfortunately, unhealthy relationships are more common than you might think and their impact can be devastating.
People who are not directly involved in toxic relationships may find it difficult to understand how such a relationship can persist. It is often assumed that the best decision is to leave the relationship if someone is making you unhappy or is abusive in any way. However, the reality can be much more complicated. Financial, emotional, and parental considerations can make leaving a toxic relationship challenging.
If you find yourself in a toxic relationship and need to leave, there are steps you can take to make the process easier. Here are some tips:
- Develop a strong social support network.
- Seek ways to become more independent.
- Reach out to family, friends, and others for support as you leave.
- Get professional help, such as seeing a therapist, hiring an attorney, or involving law enforcement.
- Cut off contact with the person.
- Take care of yourself during the transition out of the toxic relationship.
What Is a Toxic Relationship?
A relationship that is harmful and detrimental is referred to as a toxic relationship. Although certain indicators of a toxic relationship may be apparent, such as physical abuse, repeated cheating, or inappropriate sexual behavior, others may be more difficult to identify. These may include behaviors such as disrespect, dishonesty, or attempts at control.
For instance, if your partner frequently belittles you, this kind of behavior may damage your mental health over time.
Abuse and Domestic Violence
A toxic relationship may not necessarily involve abuse, but it is true that all abusive relationships are toxic. Abuse can take many forms, such as emotional, verbal, economic, sexual, or physical abuse.
Indications of an abusive relationship can be evident in various ways, including physical or sexual violence, insults, embarrassment, or intimidation. Typically, such relationships are marked by controlling and possessive conduct.
If you are experiencing any kind of abuse in your relationship, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to put up with it, and you can seek support to leave the situation as soon as possible.
Why It’s Hard to Leave a Toxic Relationship
Breaking free from relationship patterns can be difficult for many people. Financial concerns or worries about children can make it challenging to leave a toxic relationship. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, victims of abusive relationships typically attempt to leave their partner an average of seven times before successfully doing so.
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Here are some of the reasons why leaving a toxic relationship may be challenging:
- Fear: Manipulation is often a significant aspect of abusive relationships, which can include threats of physical, emotional, or financial harm. As a result, victims may be afraid to leave their partners.
- Children: For couples with children, the negative impact on their kids can make it harder to leave. Custody issues can also complicate the process.
- Love: Despite the toxicity of the relationship, love may still be present, making it difficult to leave.
- Finances: If one partner is financially dependent on the other, it can be difficult to break away.
- Shame: Some people feel ashamed of their relationship and keep it hidden from their friends and family. This shame can make it challenging to ask for help, leading to increased drug or alcohol use as a form of coping.
- Codependency: In codependent relationships, one partner may be giving while the other takes, creating an imbalanced dynamic that can be hard to break free from.
If you’ve been in a toxic relationship for a long time, it can be challenging to see a way out. Additionally, it’s common for the perpetrator to use gaslighting to make the victim question reality and feel responsible for the problems in the relationship.
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Furthermore, if your partner has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), leaving can be even more complicated. A 2019 study suggests that narcissistic individuals may lash out or try to prevent their partner from leaving due to a fear of abandonment. They may play the victim or use other manipulative tactics to try to maintain control over the relationship.
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How to Leave a Toxic Relationship in 6 Steps
Ending a toxic relationship can be a complex process, but it’s important to prioritize your well-being and take steps to move forward. Here are some things you can do to make the process smoother:
- Create a safety plan: If you’re considering ending the relationship, make a detailed plan for how you will leave. This may include finding a safe place to stay and deciding which belongings to bring with you. Take time to carefully consider your options and create a plan that prioritizes your safety.
- Work towards independence: If you don’t already have financial independence, start taking steps towards it. Consider pursuing education or training to build your career. Even a part-time job can be a starting point towards greater independence.
- Seek support: Don’t keep it to yourself anymore. Reach out to a family member or friend you can confide in and seek their support. If you feel unsafe or threatened, notify the appropriate authorities for assistance.
- Seek professional help: Getting out of a toxic relationship and healing from its effects can be a long and challenging journey. Seek help from professionals such as support groups, counselors, and therapists who specialize in relationship issues. A therapist can provide you with impartial guidance and hold you accountable for setting and achieving your goals. If you are leaving a marriage, it may also be necessary to consult with an experienced family law attorney.
- Cut off contact: Toxic partners may try to manipulate or guilt you into staying in the relationship. Once you’ve made the decision to leave, cut off all communication unless necessary for co-parenting. If you feel threatened or unsafe, consider obtaining a restraining order.
- Focus on self-care: Leaving a toxic relationship can take a toll on your mental health and self-esteem. Take time to prioritize self-care, such as engaging in hobbies, pursuing personal projects, and taking time for yourself. Don’t rush into another relationship before you’re ready.