Toxic relationships are defined by emotionally and mentally damaging behaviors. These relationships can even cross boundaries into physical abuse. In some cases, it’s one person driving the dysfunction, but it can often consist of negative behavior toward one another.
Escaping a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it’s necessary for your mental health and wellness. Here are some helpful tips for escaping a toxic relationship, so that you can live the life you deserve.
Know the Red Flags
The first step in escaping a toxic relationship is recognizing the signs. The occasional argument or bad day in a relationship is normal. Pushing through challenges as a couple is something that’s viewed as honorable and necessary for a lasting relationship. As such, it can be hard for couples to know where regular struggles end and toxic behavior begins.
Some red flags of a toxic relationship include:
• Unprovoked jealousy
• Controlling behavior
• Emotional manipulation
• Disrespectful behavior and belittling words
• Lack of support
• Unwillingness to communicate
• Constant fighting
• Walking on eggshells
In other words, it’s any relationship in which feeling bad becomes a habit. Recognizing the red flags, either in your partner or in yourself, is a sign that it’s time to shut things down.
Track Your Feelings
A common occurrence among people in toxic relationships is the failure to recognize how frequent the negative interactions transpire. They get fixated on the few happy days and use them to overshadow the bad ones.
If you suspect that you’re in a toxic relationship or the people around you raise the subject, start tracking your feelings and interactions. A simple journal entry each day can create a paper trail of your experience. Write about any confrontations (or avoidance tactics, if that’s how your relationship manifests) and how you felt. If you see a pattern of negativity, that’s a red flag.
Prioritize Your Safety
When making a plan to end your toxic relationship, safety is always a concern. If your partner has ever exhibited any threatening behavior toward you, don’t face them alone. Request the presence of a few trusted loved ones to be there for you during the interaction. If you don’t have anyone available, consider calling your local authorities. Get to a safe place, and don’t tell your former partner where you are.
Cut Off Communication
Many couples in toxic relationships go through a vicious cycle of breaking up and getting back together. Put an end to this pattern by cutting off all communication. Consider taking a break from social media and even changing your phone number to remove temptation.
Don’t feed into an inflammatory narrative or manipulative behavior. Toxic people will often craft a story in which they are the victim. They could make false claims and reports to trick you into violating a restraining order or try to make you lose your job. Avoid confrontation and report them when necessary.
Reach Out for Support
Building a strong support network is essential for getting out of a toxic relationship. Tell a few trusted people your plans to ensure that they know what’s going on. It’s also worth telling your employer if you expect any backlash or retribution.
Finally, consider reaching out for counseling or therapy. Toxic relationships have a lasting impact. They can damage your sense of self-worth and value. There’s no shame in working with a professional to heal.
Give Yourself Time
Give yourself time to process your emotions and heal your mental and emotional health. It’s normal to grieve the end of a toxic relationship, due to the inherent co-dependency that often comes with them.
Give yourself time to explore new hobbies and focus on self-care. It may hurt for a while, but time, as they say, heals all wounds.