A toxic relationship can cause pain and self-doubt that follows you years into the future, even after breaking off a relationship and moving forward with your life. The end of a relationship is never easy, as it often surfaces a wide range of painful emotions.
In this post, we’re taking a closer look at the common signs of a toxic relationship as well as how to heal from a toxic relationship.
How to Heal From a Toxic Relationship
Women tend to find comfort in being able to relate to one another. While sharing war stories about giving birth tends to take first place in relatable stories that we tell, our experiences with being in a toxic relationship run a close second. A quick internet search of “toxic relationships” will bring up an unending list of horror stories and tips for getting out of them.
For various reasons, scores of women have gone a round or two with an abusive relationship. Some of us even go back into the ring for more of the same. Our chances of finally breaking free from the trap of toxic relationships are improved once we know what to look for and how to heal properly.
Here’s how to heal from a toxic relationship.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
Toxic relationships tend to have common characteristics. For whatever reason, these signs tend to be much more noticeable in relationships other than our own. If you are already free from your toxic relationship, you can use this list of signs as confirmation that you did the right thing by leaving. If you are still in a toxic relationship, take these signs as an encouragement to get out.
- Lies: This is often one of the first signs that we are in a toxic relationship. A partner who lies is messing with our fundamental reality. Beyond causing us confusion, our desire to continue to believe in this person damages our ability to trust our intuition. When the lying partner is particularly crafty, gaslighting techniques can make us feel like we are losing our minds.
- Negative feelings: This seems like it would be an easy red flag to spot, but those of us who have been in toxic relationships know all too well how easy it is to brush off our negative feelings. In cases where the partner is gaslighting, it is particularly tempting to attribute any discontent to our failures as a person. Any negative emotions that we are experiencing will only be worse while we are trying to blame ourselves for having them in the first place.
- Isolation: Toxic people like to have their victims all to themselves. When we are isolated from the support of people who genuinely care about our wellbeing, it is harder to recognize that we are being treated poorly. We are more likely to put up with toxic behavior for a more extended period when we do not have our loved ones pointing out the poison.
- Uncertainty: A hallmark of an unhealthy relationship does not ever know what to expect. From the time we are tiny babies, we are dependent on learning that we will consistently be fed, kept warm, and attended to. This need for security exists even into our adulthood. A relationship where this type of protection is absent can result in chronic feelings of anxiety. A partner who does not seek to foster a sense of security is toxic.
Realize That It Is Not Your Fault
One of the most relieving things that one can realize when it comes to surviving a toxic relationship is that it is not our fault. Sure, we have responsibility for our actions, but our choices and decisions that are made along the way have roots in more profound issues. Specific life experiences and personality bends can make us a prime target for attracting the wrong kind of partner and can cause us to stick around for much longer than someone else would.
The conditions for being in a toxic relationship tend to be set long before we find ourselves within one. While clearing out the list of factors that can make us vulnerable to engaging in a toxic relationship may take a lifetime of individual therapy, the first step is to become aware of them. Those who attract unhealthy relationships are prone to having low regard for their own needs and tend to have trouble setting boundaries with others. We also commonly have some history of abuse or neglect embedded in our childhoods.
The Ongoing Process of Healing
Knowing that we are vulnerable during the aftermath of escaping a toxic relationship lends itself to a good idea of avoiding jumping into another one. We are best served by using the time following the end of the relationship as a space to clear our heads, right our minds, and begin to rebuild a life that the whims of a toxic person cannot tear down.
Get to Know You
Before getting involved in another relationship, it is best to spend some time getting to know yourself. As already mentioned, certain things about us can act as a welcome sign for attracting toxic people. One of those attractants is not knowing who we are and what we need.
The chances are good that you have spent a lot of energy getting to know your ex’s personality and needs. Use some of those psychological skills you have developed and apply them toward understanding yourself. If you would like some help in the process, try finding a compatible therapist to sort through any baggage.
Tend to Your Own Garden
Many women who have spent time in toxic relationships suffer from the tendency to give too much of themselves to other people. Our predisposition toward loving others often traps us in the vicious cycle of abuse, to begin with. Our kindness, concern, and willingness to forgive can be used against us in an abusive relationship. It is a myth to think that others are any more deserving of our care and attention than we are worthy of it, ourselves.
The better that we tend to our own emotional and mental health needs, the more energy we must expand to care for others. You are not doing anyone a favor by presenting a burned-out, frazzled version of yourself to the world. Spend time learning to care for your own needs, using your own set of skills, before deciding to share yourself in another relationship.