Starting and cultivating a relationship with a romantic partner is one of the most difficult jobs you’ll ever have. No matter how much you love the other person, it requires work. But don’t let the notion that relationships take work lead you to believe that toxicity is normal.
If you find yourself in the middle of a toxic relationship with your partner, it’s imperative that you recognize what’s happening and find a way to safely leave the situation.
How to Know if You’re in a Toxic Relationship
A toxic relationship is one that’s characterized by insecurity, negativity, selfishness, abuse, distrust, excessive criticism, and self-centeredness. The relationship might feel romantic, the sex might be good, and there may be faint feelings of loyalty, but the roots are contaminated and the relationship will never be healthy.
“Being aware that the relationship is toxic is vital in protecting yourself from breakage,” psychologist Karen Young writes. “To stay in a toxic relationship is to keep your hand hovering over the self-destruct button. Not all toxic relationships are easy to leave, but being aware of the signs will make it easier to claim back your power and draw a bold heavy line around what’s allowed into your life and what gets closed out.”
Fixing a toxic relationship is rarely an option. In the vast majority of cases, the best solution is to dissolve the relationship. However, this is often easier said than done.
5 Helpful Tips for Escaping
Escaping a toxic relationship isn’t always easy. There are multiple layers and complexities involved.
Having said that, the following tips may give you some insights into how to proceed:
- File a Protective Order (If Necessary)
Let’s begin with the most direct approach. If you’re in an urgent situation where you’re the victim of abuse, you need to take legal action to protect yourself from domestic violence. The best way to do this is by filing a temporary protective order.
“By filing a petition in court, you can get a temporary (ex parte) protective order,” Scott M. Brown & Associates mentions. “This can kick the subject of the order out of your home and place other restrictions on his or her activities.”
Within a few weeks of filing a temporary protective order, you and your attorneys can seek a final protective order that provides more permanent protection. If you feel like you need protection, don’t delay!
- Stop All Contact
When ending your relationship, it’s important that you quit cold turkey. Trying to gradually remove yourself from a toxic relationship is very hard to do. It’s easy to get pulled back in.
If it’s safe to do so, tell your significant other that you’re ending the relationship and that you don’t want any further contact. If necessary, block phone numbers, email addresses, and other forms of contact.
- Surround Yourself With Positive People
It’s important that you rebuild your self-esteem and replace all of the negative energy you had in your previous relationship with positive energy from people who care about you and your well being. Spend time with optimistic people who can help you find the confidence that you’ve lost over the past few months or years. This will prove invaluable as you transition into your next season of life.
- Fill the Void With Healthy Activities
Ending a relationship suddenly provides you with a lot of additional time and extra emotional energy. This void will be filled with something – make sure it’s positive. A lot of people turn to exercise, work, platonic friendships, spiritual pursuits, or hobbies. Find something that builds you up and makes you stronger – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Take Time to Heal
Finally, give yourself time to heal from the toxicity that you’ve been a part of for so long. Don’t jump back into a relationship just because you’re feeling lonely. You need time to rediscover who you are and what you want out of life. It’s recommended that you wait at least six months to a year before dating again. (Some people will need even longer.)
Embark on Your New Future
Toxic relationships happen, but they aren’t normal. Don’t get fooled into thinking your relationship is normal. There’s so much more out there for you. By tactfully leaving your current relationship, you can embark on a newer, brighter, and more optimistic future.