Okay, you wake-up and find ourself in a dysfunctional or toxic relationship. Probably not. It has been an underlining force of nature rearing its ugly head for a long time but you were not ready to address it. Still not sure that you’re even in a toxic relationship? Read my recent article on When is a Relationship Declared “Toxic”?.
If you find yourself in a toxic relationship and you are ready to get serious, you need to seek the assistance to change the relationship or get out of it as soon as possible.
Why would you return to the person who has proved over and over again they will hurt you? This is your issue, not theirs. You are not alone…. you have “tried to get out” or “threatened to get out” resulting in “it did not work and made it worse”. It is likely you have played the cat and mouse game more than once where you are “done” then proved yourself to return to the same or worsened circumstances.
Depending on the level of seriousness, this can mean confiding in friends and family for advice or seeking a therapist.
The right therapist can help you cope, restore your sense of self-worth, and address your concerns. If you want to work on the relationship, you must have both parties with the same commitment to the process. If you want to leave the relationship, there must be a plan made and you cannot do this alone. You need support from family, friends, attorney, church, or therapist. There are options available and it is a necessity they are discussed and a plan it agreed upon before you share this with your significant other. Do not leave on a negative emotional note to prove a point without having a plan.
Suggestions for Change:
1. Talk to your partner about what is bothering you.
Okay, you have tried a million times and they don’t listen to you. Suggest counseling and if your partner refuses, you go! You will gain feedback, suggestions, and options for your next step. You do not need your partner in therapy with you to obtain help! Many times, I see individuals who their partner refuses to participate and they are left behind or they realize their partner is “different” and they wind up begging to come in because they are curious in what is going on.
If you do not see change in the relationship and observe the same patterns, you will need to proceed to Plan B, whatever that may be.
2. Tell trusted family members and friends about the situation, including that you plan to leave.
Hiding, lying, denying or ignoring the issues will only cause you more pain. You can’t fight the demon in your heart alone. You need support. You may need a place to stay, financial assistance, a shoulder to cry on, help moving out, addressing your partner, or many other things. T rust me, the people in your life are not stupid. They have observed, witnessed, or had a gut feeling that things are not okay with you. Most people will be relieved to know and be willing to help you. At the very least, they can offer social and emotional support during this time in your life. They key here is to be serious in your intentions and plans and precise in your needs. Do not get others involved in your life for drama’s sake without the intention to make the necessary changes in your life to improve your life. Think twice about speaking poorly about your spouse unless it is completely necessary. State facts and not your opinions. “He is mean” is different than, “he has called me (state) hurtful names and I feel it is abusive”. State your intentions (leaving, divorcing, reporting, seeking counseling, in hopes of repairing,).
The last thing you need to do is share every detail of your relationship with your family or friends and run back to your partner. We all know we may forgive our partner and our family will not forget the things we have shared with them.
3. Save Money and Be Organized with Important Documents
Try to put away as much money as possible to prepare for the eventual end of the relationship. Do not be sneaky or steal common funds but be wise in your spending habits. Keep records of your bills, credit cards, social security cards, and important documentation in one place in case you need to have this information later.
If your partner has been violent and/or has threatened you, keep records of every instance and consider getting a restraining order against them. Seek a restraining order with the information you have documented in order to give officers to justify the order.
You truly see who someone’s true colors when the two of you break up.
After you’ve left a toxic relationship, you must refocus and do you. Focus on you. Learn what healthy boundaries, co-dependency, self-care, mindfulness, and meditation is. The second you tell yourself, “I deserve better” you have accepted the thoughts you have had and ignored for a long time.
You have to make the decision to move on and don’t look back. It is a decision; it doesn’t just magically happen one day.
The relationship you left does not define you. It is only a chapter in your life leading you to personal growth and acceptance if you allow it to be. Use this chapter to acknowledge your new found strength and acceptance of yourself.
1. Done Means Done
Continuous exchanges can prolong the healing process. You are more than likely you have resorted to threatening, begging, whining, crying, pouting, bullying, slamming doors, or leaving only to return to try to get your partners attention. These behaviors are not ever productive. They only feed the dysfunctional cycle. This cycle can be addictive in a sense – the only way you know how to act and react in your relationship.
Pointing the finger at someone else and blaming them only proves you can’t handle the fact you keep allowing it to happen.
No contact. None. Being “done” means you walk away and never look back. Never.
Right now, you are not friends. Sexual partners. Buddies. You are lonely and desire sex. Get over it for now. As soon as you pick up the phone to call or text, cruse social media accounts, do a spy job, email, call their mom or friend, you are doomed. “Friends with benefits” means one thing….someone will eventually get hurt.
Being friends with an ex can open the door for confusion, unhappiness, regret, assumptions, misperception, or sadness for one of you.
Silence is golden here. Going under the radar proves to tame feelings. It forces us to face ourselves. Having to time to really think and process is advantageous to both parties.
2. Take the time you need to heal.
You can’t see your life without him/her because you don’t want to know yourself. Actually, spend time with people who love you and who build you up rather than tear you down. Break the cycle of drama and negativity you have grown to feel is normal. It is not. Get a pet or embrace the one you have. They love you no matter what and appreciate your efforts.
3. Work on yourself before getting into another relationship.
Do not jump into the fire again with someone who you think is going to rescue you. They can’t and won’t. No matter how much you think this is the “love of your life” or the Holy Spirit has sent them to you, don’t jump!
Accept the fact that you have been hurt and damaged and it takes time to trust, love, and have fun again and it does not start with meeting a new person. You should know by now sheep can hide in wolfs clothing.
There is a time to trust and love again, but it is not now.
Interested in more? I would love to virtually meet to you! Email or call anytime to schedule a virtual session. (817) 701-5438 | firstname.lastname@example.org
CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach
Empowering individuals, families and communities to grow and heal through advanced approaches in Creative Arts Therapy, setting the standard for treatment, practice and training within the field.