Ending a toxic relationship can sometimes feel like breaking a bad habit. You know this is something you need to do; however, there is a strong pull that keeps you glued. These relationships reel you in, leaving you wondering how to end a toxic relationship.
There are biological and chemical factors that explain why you can’t find the strength to leave. Leaving feels like experiencing withdrawal because when the good days come around, they feel amazing. Even though you experience disconnect, the unpredictable environment of a toxic relationship somehow feels like home.
You stay because you’re craving validation from the person you love. In the process, you neglect yourself and your needs to experience the dopamine-induced bliss that the good moments bring. You get lost in the idea that receiving love requires complete self-sacrifice.
Before you know it, you realize you don’t know who is staring back at you in the mirror. You dread it because it would mean waking up from your false reality and walking away from the relationship. This realization is not easy, and leaving is much more challenging.
Latching on to hope is only a way to convince yourself to stay or keep returning. There are practical approaches you can take to prioritize your well-being. Here is how to end a toxic relationship definitively.
How to End a Toxic Relationship
The intense nature of the relationship makes things much more complicated. Therefore, you can quickly go back on your decision when feelings are involved. These steps will help make the process more manageable and help you end things properly.
Recognize their toxic attributes
Denial can hold you back from leaving. Patterns of denial may involve disregarding the concerns of your loved ones, making excuses for your toxic partner’s behaviors, or attempting to explain your happiness.
If you haven’t come to terms with how bad the relationship is, you can’t leave. Understanding how toxic their behaviors are and how they affect you is crucial. Otherwise, you’ll justify further staying in the chaotic environment.
Write down things if you need to. In a toxic relationship, the bad often outweighs the good, but you can’t see that while in denial. Processing things through rose-tinted glasses is easier, so you ignore the bad. Making notes of everything helps you realize why leaving is your best option. Reviewing your logs, you’ll see how much you’re reliving the same horrendous situations and how psychologically exhausting this process has become.
Think about how you feel around them
Learning how to end a toxic relationship with someone you love is complicated. Just because you love them does not mean they love you. So, ask yourself a fundamental question. “How does their presence in my life make me feel?”
In a toxic relationship, you’ll realize you spend more time rationalizing happiness than experiencing it. Take a step back and analyze how your life has changed with this individual and if you can envision living this way forever.
You’ll often feel like you can’t freely express yourself around this person. Sometimes, you may even feel ashamed to talk to your loved ones. This toxic person makes you live a façade, so you’re not living true to yourself. Finding yourself is one of the best ways to end a toxic relationship without looking back.
Look outside of yourself
Although you may have people pointing out reasons you must leave, you may disregard them. There are a few reasons: you don’t want to be judged, or you want to prove them wrong.
If this is your case, envision yourself as a friend. Practice self-empathy by seeing things from an outsider’s perspective. If someone you love and care about were in the same situation as you, what would you tell them?
Manipulation tactics that toxic partners use can make it difficult to be sensitive to your hurt. However, once you step away from self-criticism, you can see how damaging the situation is and can adequately step away. You deserve healthy, functional love, and you must genuinely believe that. Believing that you’re deserving of it helps create more self-compassion.
Let go of the fear of the unknown
You can’t properly learn how to end a toxic relationship without letting go of your fears. Whether you’re afraid of being alone or repeating the same cycle with someone else, you need to abandon your fears.
Although you recognize that your situation is not ideal, you fear forming other relationships. Perhaps, you think you know this person better; therefore, you can learn to manage the relationship. This is the wrong approach. This mentality will constantly keep you in toxic relationships and discourage you from ending them.
Your fear of the unknown may be from all the toxic things you’ve heard throughout your relationship. Their manipulative words may make you doubt your experience. Reject the things said to you by reclaiming your power through self-love. Love yourself more by accepting your strengths and flaws and engaging in positive self-talk.
Set your boundaries
Boundaries aren’t only necessary when establishing relationships. You also need boundaries when understanding how to end a toxic relationship. These are non-negotiables that will help you stick to your decision.
Raise the bar by setting healthy boundaries. A reasonable boundary to set when trying to end a toxic relationship is to stop tolerating toxic behaviors. Tell yourself that you’ll no longer go through the half apologies, self-blame, insults, ridicule, and any other behaviors the toxic partner displays. Understanding these boundaries helps you walk away.
Surround yourself with the support you need
What brings you fulfillment? This is the time to embrace everything that fills you with positivity, whether that requires reaching out to friends/family or seeking professional advice.
Don’t be afraid to contact people if you’ve become estranged from them because of your toxic situation. Your loved ones will be happy to provide advice and support.
Additionally, talking to someone makes you realize how bad the situation is. Just hearing yourself talk about it out loud and having a caring listening ear can change how you view the relationship. Find loved ones you can trust and confide in.
Allow yourself to grieve without judgment
You may feel guilty for crying over the relationship or your decision to end it. This is a normal reaction, even with dysfunctional relationships.
Go through the emotions and find healthy outlets. Don’t be afraid to cry, and don’t expect relief to be instant. Crying isn’t always over the breakup but can also release everything you have held back throughout the relationship.
Don’t get stuck on closure
The best closure you can receive is to end the situation and heal properly. Finding ways to comfort yourself and ease the pain is a great approach.
Understanding the reasons for their actions may not always come from them. You may never receive an apology, especially now that you’ve escaped their manipulation. Finding solace requires reminding yourself of what is outside your control. Some of these things are their feelings and actions. Instead, focus on yourself, forgive yourself, and learn to forgive them.
You can obtain closure through other means. A great example is exploring a book by Lundy Bancroft called “Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men”. This book is also an eye-opener if you’re having difficulty pinpointing toxic traits in the relationship.
Be clear and honest
If you’re not in danger and feel comfortable with face-to-face interaction, choose a public location that allows you to leave immediately and have support nearby. Don’t beat around the bush or try to ease the blow. This can make things extremely murky, and you don’t want to give any false hope.
This is not a break. It is a breakup, so you need to make it very clear. You want to be honest about why you’re ending the relationship and the boundaries you’ve set. So, if this involves no physical or digital contact, let them know.
They may try to convince you they’ll change in every way possible. Stick to the plan, and do not break your established boundaries.
One of the most significant hurdles many experience in toxic relationships is ending it.
Acknowledging the limitations within the relationship is a significant first step when learning how to end a toxic relationship. It won’t be easy to adjust to a new “normal” once you’ve stepped away from your toxic relationship. You might need to relearn a few things, such as prioritizing yourself, self-compassion, and redefining your values.
Do some inner work to separate yourself from the relationship truly. Log your emotions and make notes of why you think you are staying. After doing these, ask yourself whether this is worth the hopes you have for the future together, a hope that will potentially never become a reality.
Having a plan and support is advised if you’re in an unsafe situation. Do not reveal the details of your plan to the toxic partner. In these situations, having a face-to-face conversation and explaining why you want to end the relationship is not advised. Be discreet, confide in trustworthy people, have a safe place to stay ahead of time, and involve the police if needed. Find more resources here: thehotline.org