Updated: Mar 24, 2020
According to HealthScopeMag “By definition, a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging to their partner. While a healthy relationship contributes to our self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy”.
Toxic relationships should be easy to identify and ignore because they inflict pain and displeasure, and as humans, our intuitive reaction to anything painful is to run away. So, why is it that we stay in toxic relationships? Simply put… the four-letter word “Love”.
When you fall in love with a toxic man, you lose sight of his toxic behaviors. Love makes excuses. So, your mind just overlooks the signs and you fall deeper and deeper, and before you know it, you begin to normalize his toxicities and get acclimatized to his unhealthy and demeaning acts that unconsciously eat into your self-esteem and ego.
Eventually, your mind and heart will start to break and cave-in under the pressure from all the negativity. At that point, you would be so excited and eager to leave. However, you might not find the strength to because you love him so much. Once you get to that point, here’s what to do:
Reduce Contact: Talking everyday makes the heart grow fonder. It is not a good idea to stay so close to a toxic man you’re trying to get over. Especially when being close causes you more harm than good and makes you feel worthless. Also, cutting contact completely might make the process even more difficult for you, especially if you’re already too attached to him. So, the best thing to do would be to reduce contact. If you used to text or call every day, or twice a day, or every second, just cut it down significantly. Start by making it once a day, then one in two days and so on. It will be difficult, but you have to take it up like a challenge. When you eventually contact him, try to keep it simple, unemotional, and short as well. This will have to continue until you are sure you have moved on from him.
Document Your Love Story and Write a Fictional Ending: Sometimes, we hold on to relationships because of all the effort we have put in the relationship. You feel like you put in all this work and got nothing out of it. You feel like you wasted your time and so you want to keep making it work rather than losing all your emotional investment for nothing. The fact is, we fail to see being in the relationship for however long as an accomplishment in itself. It does not matter if it was 1 month, 1 year or 10 years, however long or short it was, the fact is that you should be proud of yourself for being mature and brave enough to commit to something and someone for that long. One way to appreciate the journey is to document it. Write out all the memorable and monumental moments of the relationship somewhere. Where you first met, your first kiss, everything. Write it all out and attach dates to them (if you can remember). Once you are done with this, write out the fictional ending of the relationship the way you want it to be and assign a date to it. This is a very important part of this exercise. What it does is that, it helps you appreciate all the beautiful moments in the relationship. It is like watching a movie and then seeing the movie come to an end. Once this is done, you will begin to feel grateful for the journey and the experience instead of regretful and longing for more. You would appreciate that it was a story that has now come to an end. And, whenever you feel lonely or sad, or you want to go back to him, read your love story again, especially the ending that you created, and you would find renewed strength to move on.
Remain Friends: not every relationship has to end with enmity and burnt bridges. Some relationships evolve into friendships. You once loved this person, so it is okay to still want them in your life. Just make sure you set clear boundaries for yourself in the new relationship as friends, and stick to them.
Meet New People & Find Yourself: Once you close the door to a relationship, you are divesting your emotional investment from someone. This emotional investment needs a home. You can either decide to carefully and tactfully invest it in someone else or to invest it fully and totally in yourself. When you invest it in yourself you have to treat yourself like your own love interest. Take yourself out, buy yourself nice things, give yourself compliments, do all the things that make you happy and fulfilled. Once this is done you would finally find true satisfaction and completion in yourself. If you find someone else, be happy, and try to let yourself love again.