How to Leave a Toxic Relationship

Not every bad relationship is a toxic one. 

Sometimes a relationship just changes.  You stop enjoying each other’s company.  She doesn’t give you that same rush every time, or he just seems disinterested when you’re talking.

Or perhaps there is a significant difference about the nature of the relationship. One of you wants to make it official oh, while the other one says that might take all the fun out of it. Or, more significantly, one of you wants to have children, while the other can’t even imagine managing a houseplant.

To call these relationship differences “toxic” cheapens the word. In these scenarios, two healthy people, with their own independent views of who they are and what their future holds, simply move into a better space for themselves independently.

These are healthy relationships coming to a healthy end.

So what, then, is a toxic relationship?

What is a toxic relationship?

So falling apart after weeks or months of falling in love is not “toxic”? 

But what if you can point to all the ways she misled you, or that he omitted important truths? 

No, that’s still not toxic.

Too toxic. Photo by Александр Македонский from Pexels

A toxic relationship is one in which one person seeks to control, derive pleasure or gain, and otherwise manipulates the relationship to get an end that is not mutually beneficial, or is not mutually agreed upon.

But what does this look like in real life?


First, your partner is constantly crossing your boundaries. 

Did you need to be somewhere on time, and they were late? Were they rude to someone who is important to you? Do they demand more sexually than you are comfortable with, and continually ask for more – including greater frequency of sex, and greater risk-taking? Not valuing your time, your space, and your limits is a big sign of a toxic relationship.

This isn’t to say that partners aren’t meant to push on our boundaries. This can, in fact, be part of the exhilarating growth that happens in a great marriage or partnership. But constant pushing even through warnings is toxic, and erodes your sense of self.


Second, your partner can become emotionally distant

They stop returning your calls right away, or stop making eye contact. Perhaps every response is ‘okay, whatever.” 

Again, fights and moods happen in every relationship, but when these spread out over days or weeks, and leave you wondering their cause or how to fix them, the dynamic has changed.

If you are forced to guess the reason why your partner is angry, and then to figure out alone how to fix it, they have shut you out of their lives. There is now only one person in this relationship. It’s you. And that is a toxic situation.


Third, your partner can become emotionally or physically abusive

What does it mean to be emotionally abusive? A major sign is denying your feelings, or telling you that you can’t possibly feel that way.

“You’d have to be nuts to be mad at me for that.” Or it can sound like a full denial of the strength of your emotions. “You’re being overly emotional. Stop it. Don’t get crazy. This is so embarrassing when you do this.”

Think of your emotions as part of your body. If your partner hit you, you would leave. (Please leave.) If your partner constantly belittles your emotions, it is hardly much different. Your emotions are your guides to your life, and if they are under attack, YOU are under attack, and you are in a toxic relationship. 

Plan your escape from the toxic relationship

Once you have determined that in fact you ARE in a toxic relationship, you must fully decide that you permanently want out of this toxic relationship.

Seek out your best friends for support. These friends will prove helpful to you as this breakup progresses.

Lean on them, based on their strengths and abilities to do the following:

  • Confirm your intuition that you are in an abusive relationship and you deserve better
  • Assist you by being available for conversations and consolation during the breakup process
  • Assist you by running gentle but firm interference with your ex to reclaim or return items, establish ground rules for meetings, or handle other important short interactions
  • Be completely supportive and nurturing during this transition
  • Be gentle in setting you up with new group events and possible dates, without pressure to “jump back in”
  • Remind you periodically of how awful it was in the previous relationship and how much better you are able to define your boundaries and stand up for yourself now.


And of course, if the trauma of leaving and setting these new boundaries is too much, seek professional help.

While trained therapists like Sakina Issa can’t make everything better, they can help you better understand the situation you are in and what led to it. This can lead to making better, healthier decisions in the future. 

Get in contact with Sakina today to schedule a free, no-commitment consultation. Learn how a therapist, over a phone, using techniques that have helped thousands of others, can help you break a pattern of toxicity and emerge into a happier, healthier future self.

Contact Sakina today.


Looking for help in dealing with (or leaving) a toxic relationship? Struggling with parenting and teaching at the same time? Grasping for solutions to a difficult family issue? Talking with a therapist can help you better understand the situation and take the right next step. Hit the red button to schedule a no-obligation consultation today.

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