How to Overcome the Effects of a Toxic Relationship

Toxic relationships are harmful and all-absorbing. Getting out of them may not be an easy process, but it's possible. If you're in this situation or you want to help someone, these strategies can help.
How to Overcome the Effects of a Toxic Relationship

Last update: 20 November, 2021

At some time in your life, you might’ve been, perhaps even without realizing it, in a toxic relationship. This term is often used to refer to the presence of behaviors such as physical and verbal abuse, degrading jokes and comments, and jealousy, among others.

Ending and getting over a toxic relationship can be challenging. However, when you reconnect with yourself, you’ll realize that all the hard work was worth it.

In this article, we identify the psychological effects of this type of relationship. In addition, we give some strategies for overcoming them, leaving you strengthened and renewed.

How do you know that you’re in a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship differs from a healthy relationship in that, in the former, there appears to be no benefit to either party. In fact, in toxic relationships, there tend to be no common and shared goals. Furthermore, there’s no interest in personal growth, either for yourself or for your partner. This often results in emotional dependence and subordination as well as harmful practices. For example, manipulation, victimization, emotional blackmail, gaslighting, and violence, among others.

Toxic relationships can have a direct impact on your mental health, generate symptoms of anxiety and depression, eating disorders, and even lead to self-injurious behaviors. Added to this, they have a negative impact on both your self-esteem and your confidence to build healthy relationships in the future.

Of course, the first step in leaving a toxic relationship behind is acknowledging that you’re actually in one. This implies having a realistic vision of the relationship, your partner, and all those elements that you feel are harming you.

To get out of a toxic relationship you must seek help, reestablish your affective networks, and find support in your trusted circle of friends. You must also plan the breakup. This includes having a financial plan in place, in order to avoid any possible setbacks that could prevent you from making the ultimate decision.

Couple sitting in living room

Tips for overcoming the effects of a toxic relationship

Here are some tips for overcoming the effects of a toxic relationship:

1. Seek support

One of the most important issues has to do with restoring your social circle. Indeed, it’s quite possible that, during your relationship, you’ve distanced yourself from many people and have cut some ties. As a matter of fact, one of the features of toxic relationships is that they can make you lonely and isolated. That’s because you fear being judged and criticized about your role in the relationship.

Consequently, to start over, you must reconnect with your loved ones, forge new friendships, and surround yourself with people with whom you can share your feelings and insecurities in the face of the breakup.

2. Self-care

It’s also highly likely that, during your relationship, you’ve put yourself in the background and neglected certain aspects of your well-being. Therefore, to start with, you could return to some past interests and hobbies to help you reconnect with yourself. You could also start practicing a sport or explore some hidden talent to discover facets of yourself that were unknown to you. That’ll help you in your process of self-discovery.

In any case, what’s important is that you set aside time for activities that you enjoy. Added to this, remember to address your health, both physically and mentally. For example, try to avoid habits that could be harmful to you, such as drinking excessively, eating unhealthily, or engaging in risky sexual behaviors.

3. Accept and let go

In addition to the above, although it’s normal to feel guilt and regret, you must accept these emotions in order to stop experiencing them. Indeed, accepting the past and what happened is essential for learning valuable lessons.

Don’t forget the reasons for ending the relationship. These will be useful if you find yourself questioning your decision at any time. Because sometimes, it’s all too easy to only remember the good times or to think that you won’t be able to live without your partner. However, these thoughts have probably originated from the very toxic nature of your relationship.

In addition, you may have been manipulated and cultivated a deep fear of loneliness and abandonment. Learning to identify those fears and work through them is vital to getting over the end of a harmful relationship.

Worried woman looking out the window

4. Strengthen your self-esteem and self-knowledge

Of course, reestablishing self-love is a momentous step in overcoming the effects of a toxic relationship. Staying firm in your decision will help you strengthen your self-confidence, assisting you in building more positive bonds in the future.

You can also identify your own behaviors that may have fueled the toxic relationship and seek to transform them. Of course, this doesn’t imply victimizing or blaming yourself. In fact, it means recognizing that, for example, you could’ve been more assertive and manifested your discomfort and displeasure at the time. Or, that you lacked the self-confidence to leave the relationship earlier.

5. Seek professional help

Finally, the result of all these strategies will be improved if you seek professional assistance. In fact, working hand in hand with a psychology professional will certainly help you overcome the effects of your toxic relationship.

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  • García, C. C., & Gimeno, M. C. M. (2017). Creencias del amor romántico y violencia de género. International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology, 2(1), 47-56.