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Most of us experience a toxic relationship at some point in our lives. Often, we’re in one and we don’t even know it. But even if we are able to identify this sad scenario, we rarely know the proper way in ending a toxic relationship.
What are the steps to ending a toxic relationship?
1. Identify The Problems.
2. Commit To Leaving.
3. Get Support.
4. Confront Him.
5. Take Legal Precautions.
6. Break Off Contact.
7. Rebuild Your Self-Esteem.
While all relationships go through struggles and periods where you may not be happy, if you’ve been unhappy for an extended amount of time in your relationship, it’s time to ask yourself why.
Ending a relationship under any circumstances can be difficult. But ending a toxic relationship is always a good idea.
He may not be a bad guy, but he is bad for you…
Don’t worry, you’ve got this.
Following these eight detailed steps below can help identify if your relationship is, in fact, toxic and how you can get out of it:
1. Identify The Problems
You may not be happy in your relationship, but may not realize why. Maybe you’re just not a good fit together.
Maybe you’ve lost the magic…
Or maybe you’ve been denying toxic, manipulating behavior that’s left you downtrodden and feeling unloved.
If you don’t know what a toxic relationship is, consider the following signs or behavior.
This list isn’t all-encompassing, but it includes some of the most common ways men are toxic in a relationship…
Gaslighting (see my full article on gaslighting in relationships here) is the act of convincing someone's past experiences didn’t actually happen or weren’t as they experienced them.
It’s a consistent method of convincing someone they can’t trust their experiences.
“That’s not what happened.”
“It was just a joke.”
“I’m worried you’re unwell, maybe you should see a counselor.”
Gaslighting is all about shifting the focus from the lies, poor behavior, and culpability of the man (in this case) to the guilt, unreliability, and faults of the woman.
It leads to a lack of self-esteem and confidence and can make you fully dependent on the other person for validation.
He may not know he’s doing it. Some men do it as a natural defense mechanism. But if you’re experiencing this, get out as quickly as possible.
The longer you’re a victim of this, the harder it can be to recover your sense of self.
Narcissism is an extreme focus on one’s self while utlizing a high, though sensitive ego. Men who are narcissistic are unable to focus on your needs.
They can’t take criticism and may become angry or even violent if you contradict them.
Communication, personal growth, and the ability to apologize and forgive are all necessary for a healthy, happy relationship, and narcissists are not able to do any of these.
If your man is never able to admit he’s wrong, is overly defensive, and is always talking about how amazing he is, he may be a narcissist…
True narcissism is a clinically diagnosed condition. It is possible to change it, but only with professional help.
You cannot change this man, and it’s not worth trying…
There may be many things you love about him, but on some level your relationship will always be toxic.
The sooner you get hip to ending a toxic relationship, the easier the process will be.
c. Guilt Trips
Guilt trips are a less severe form of gaslighting. While it tends to be used more often by women, men can use it as well.
“If you loved me, you’d trust me.”
“If you appreciated how hard I work, you wouldn’t ask me to help out around here.”
“Normal relationships have sex more often. Aren’t you attracted to me?”
Often, guilt trips are a subconscious form of manipulation and self-defense. They put the guilt on you so they don’t have to deal with their own problems.
However, it’s not good communication, and it lacks empathy.
This isn’t the most toxic aspect of a relationship, but it can be a sign of immaturity or lack of emotional awareness.
Furthermore, it can lead to resentment from both people. Resentment is THE relationship killer.
You deserve someone who can communicate with you, not blame you, and try to see your viewpoint.
d. Denial & Secrecy
Relationships are built on trust and open communication. A lack of trust and chronic secret keeping can slowly corrode your foundation and lead to toxic doubt.
It’s not healthy to question your man on every single text, conversation, or night out.
However, if you find him withholding a lot of details, being overly protective of his phone, or not disclosing things most couples talk about, it could be a red flag.
The worst part is blatant denial, which can signal a larger problem of chronic lying.
If you bring ample evidence of something, even something minor like a video game he bought without telling you, and he denies it. Get out now!
e. The Cold Shoulder
While intimacy can be hard sometimes, it should be freely given regardless of what you receive in a return. It should never be used as a tool for manipulation.
When men give you the cold shoulder, it sometimes means that they are withholding emotional intimacy — listening, communication, encouragement, and saying “I love you”—in exchange for sex.
This is emotional hostage-taking. “Give me sex, then I’ll give you emotional support.”
This is so detrimental because most women need emotional support before they can give sex.
This is, at the very least, emotional manipulation that has no place in a healthy relationship.
At worst, it can border on forcing sex from someone who doesn’t really want to give it.
You deserve a man who gives and receives intimacy without any strings attached. Move on.
READ Men That Hate Women to gain additional insight on the type of man women should avoid at all costs >>
2. Commit To Leaving
When you’re ending a toxic relationship, commitment is key. Leaving a relationship is usually hard even under the best of circumstances.
It can be even more difficult when you’ve invested so much into a toxic relationship.
You might still love him and want to be with him. It's possible you might be afraid of how he’ll react.
Don't might worry that you won’t find someone else, because you most certainly will.
These are all fears you need to get over.
You are worth more than predicament you’re in. And though it will be hard to leave this man, you need to do what’s best for you long term.
To help yourself, make a list of all the reasons you know this is toxic and why you need to leave.
Keep reminding yourself. Get your friends to keep reminding you, too.
Then move on to the next step to get backup.
3. Get Support
Let your friends and family know what you’re thinking. Chances are, they’ve seen the red flags too.
They either were too scared to tell you or didn’t know how to bring it up.
Many times, though, men successfully fool most of the people around them.
If they’re really your friends, they’ll have your back.
You might need a place to crash for a bit, or maybe they need to go get your stuff, so you don’t have to face your ex again.
You’ll probably need them to reaffirm your decision to leave.
In fact, if you need to bring them to the next step, whether for emotional support or for safety, that is OK too!
4. Confront Him
You don’t necessarily have to be mean about this, but this is the moment of break up — the actual moment you’re ending a toxic relationship.
This is where you tell him it’s over (for good) and the reasons why you’re leaving.
This closer is as much for him as it is for you. It's time you reclaim the part of you he stole through his toxicity.
He’s getting the opportunity for empathy, to let you go willingly, and to change his future.
You don’t have to use the term “toxic,” but he needs to know how his behavior has affected you.
He needs to know he’s hurt you and that you can’t continue to feel like a victim in this relationship.
He may try to turn it back on you to make it seem like it's all your fault. Some of it may be, but that’s not the point.
You are giving him the chance to acknowledge that he needs to change, and even to apologize for how he’s made you feel.
However, even if he apologizes and even if he agrees to try harder to change and make the relationship better, you still must end it…
He may be lying or telling you what you want to hear. Even more so, even if he wants to change, it doesn’t mean he will.
You will want to believe him, but don’t. This is your goodbye before you break of contact with him completely. It’s OK to cry and even to be angry.
You may even want to apologize for leaving him. Let out whatever emotions you need to in order to move on!
Be clear with him that there is zero chance of you getting back together.
You can do this in person, with back up, if you need to, or if you seriously fear for your safety, you can do it through electronic methods.
5. Take Legal Precautions
Hopefully you don’t have to take this step, but it’s important to know about just in case.
There’s two times you may have to consider it…
The first is if you have kids with the man you’re splitting from. You’ll want to get a lawyer and pave the way for a custody battle.
In this case, you’ll actually want to do this step before you confront him. The more you can prepare in secret, the better.
The second case is if you fear for your safety after you break up with him.
Stalking, unrestrained anger, or verbal threats against you or your family are all legitimate reasons to seek a restraining order.
You usually need evidence of some sort of misconduct to get a restraining order, so you usually can’t do this until after you confront the person unless you’re breaking up with them because they’re abusive.
6. Break Off Contact
When you’re ending a toxic relationship, it’s important to completely break off contact.
Because he’s probably great at manipulation, you need to erase him from your life as much as possible.
Delete him from your phone, block him on social media, and if you need to, send your friends to get your stuff from your place so you don’t have to see him again.
You cannot put yourself in a position where you can be tempted to get back with him.
And again, repeat to yourself why you left. Post your list of reasons on your bathroom mirror.
If you have have kids with him it will be more difficult. It may be best to seek 100% custody, but if not, interact with him as little as possible while dropping your kids off.
7. Rebuild Your Self-Esteem
It is very likely that your self-esteem and confidence has taken a hit in this toxic relationship.
You may even have lost your identity or sense of self and not really know who you are anymore.
This is completely natural.
Even if he wasn’t emotionally abusive, you likely suffered some damage from your negative self-talk.
Try to make a vision board and hang it in your room. This is essentailly pictures of everything you want to do or achieve.
Putting it where you can see it can help frame your day and refocus where you want to go in the future.
You are worthy of everything on that board.
Speak daily affirmations to yourself in the mirror. It will work wonders for your mindset and self-talk, and you will find yourself thinking and acting more confidently.
Spend time with friends and family who love you. They will help you rebuild your self-esteem and take your mind of your recent break up so you can move on more quickly.
Look to them for support when things are difficult.
Finally, don’t be afraid to seek professional help from a therapist. There is no shame in doing so, and they can be quickest and most permanent way back to a happy, emotionally healthy life.
Rebuilding your sense of self will make sure you find a healthy relationship next time, and protect you from falling into a toxic relationship again.
Nobody Deserves This Level Of Pain
After ending a toxic relationship, watch for signs of toxicity in your other relationships, as well, and know the warning signs before you get into a relationship.
You’ve gotten out of one, so you know you can do it again, but it’s not something you want to repeat.
Instead, keep up your self-esteem and build up the self-esteem of others so they are empowered to find the best relationship they deserve.
Getting out of a this kind of relationship can be hard and scary. But you are worth it.
With a little bravery, and by following these steps, you can free yourself from that toxic man.