How to Leave a Toxic Relationship

September 18, 2016

Toxic relationships between partners. They happen every day, all around the world, no matter the country, the graduate degree, or the age. Almost unknowingly, we end up falling into relationships in which our rights as people are constantly violated.

The right to choose, to be ourselves, to live in integrity and happiness. But why does it happen? The truth is that when it comes to love, no one has a manual with perfect instructions and answers to every question. Falling in love means being carried away by a series of emotions so intense, that it becomes very difficult, on occasion, to maintain one’s balance and perspective.

It’s also very common that the same person will put themselves through more than one toxic relationship in their lifetime. Does this mean that, perhaps, some people may have the profile of a “victim”? Of a person who can be easily manipulated?

The truth is that we can’t confirm that theory. In the least. Nor should we only see the toxic person exclusively as being the “male role” nor the victim always the “female role.” The manipulator, the person who coerces, penalizes and mistreats, can easily fall into either the male or female category. It’s important that we take this into account, regardless of that fact that undoubtedly, it’s more common for women to end up being the focus of the abuse, in these cases.

It’s therefore important that we understand which measures to take in order to leave a toxic relationship and move on. For our general well-being, and for our emotional health.

Why we don’t realize we’re in a toxic relationship

It’s possible that you know someone in your inner-circle who is currently in a toxic relationship. You may be well aware of this fact, but he or she is not; they don’t see what you see. And no matter how much we may try and show them that what they’re experiencing is far from normal, the person in question refuses to admit this fact.

Why does this occur? Basically, because of the following:

  • We believe that our partner can change. That what we’re going through is temporary, and that because they love us, sooner or later, their behavior will improve. This is to say that we create an “idealized” image of the other person that doesn’t correlate with reality.
  • The person being manipulated usually has very low self-esteem. It’s possible that, before being in the toxic relationship, the person was strong-willed and sure of themselves. But in time, they have become vulnerable and deeply hurt, and end up believing this is how they must live.
  • We regularly fall prey to blackmail. Maybe yesterday the person humiliated you and made you cry  but today they’ve asked for your forgiveness in tears and you feel you can’t simply turn away…
  • Fear of solitude, abandonment, or rejection. Despite living in a toxic relationship, we believe that it’s better to feel “this way” than to be alone. It’s something that occurs frequently, even if this may seem surprising.
  • Fear of the consequences of leaving the toxic person. There is usually fear for how the other person will react, and perhaps there is even a violent component to consider.
red flower in snow

Strategies for leaving a toxic relationship

  1. Be aware. No one can overcome a problem if they first do not recognize that there is a “wall” up in their life. It must be considered, because love is the biggest contributing factor to our being blinded. Sometimes love can be so blind and unconditional, that it’s hard to accept that they are stripping us of our rights and our integrity.
  2. Say no to fear. Fear is the biggest hurdle we must overcome. If you don’t feel strong enough to do it alone, ask for help. Whether it be from a friend, a colleague, a family member who supports you, social services, or any professional health care provider. We understand that every couple is its own particular universe. It may be that your partner isn’t violent, but even so, you are afraid of the prospect of ending up alone. However, solitude is much preferable to being in these types of relationships.
  3. Invest all of your energy in yourself. You have spent way too much time caring for another person. You’ve been like a tiny satellite, orbiting around a planet that hasn’t contributed anything. It’s time to move on, find your own horizon, and find new illusions and dreams that are your own, which is something we all deserve.

Leaving a toxic relationship is possible, requires bravery and good self-esteem. But we are all capable of achieving it — it’s right within your grasp, and it’s up to you whether to you take the opportunity to turn the key and open a door that will lead to your newfound happiness.

Image: Viaska, John Cotmann