It can be quite challenging to cope with a toxic relationship. It can also be emotionally, sexually and physically damaging to your self-esteem and self-confidence. This is especially true when the other person in the relationship is a loved one (i.e. friend, relative, romantic partner, co-worker, boss, etc.). Contrary to popular belief, all toxic relationships are not romantic. In fact, toxicity can occur within friendships and families. A toxic relationship not only drains you in every possible way, it also has the ability to become dangerous and/or violent. This type of dysfunctional relationship can start during childhood or it can develop during various stages of your life (i.e. teenage, young adulthood, mid adulthood and/or later adulthood). A toxic relationship can ultimately prevent you from having the happy, fulfilling life that you deserve.
If you are in a toxic relationship with someone and you want to know how to safely exit it – you have come to the right place. This blog will teach you how to safely exit a toxic relationship before it becomes dangerous.
Steps that Can Help You Safely Exit a Toxic Relationship:
•Identify Toxic Relationships
One of the first steps you will need to take before exiting a relationship is to determine if the relationship is indeed toxic. In other words, take some time out to evaluate your current relationships (i.e. working, family and mentoring relationships and friendships). How do these relationships make you feel? Do you often feel drained, judged, bullied and/or defeated around certain people? If so, it may be time for you to end those associations. Healthy relationships uplift and support you. They do not make you feel “less than” or unloved. As a rule of thumb, if your relationship provokes more negative feelings than positive ones, you are probably in a toxic relationship.
•Learn about Toxic Relationships
Before you exit a toxic relationship learn about them. In other words, learn the warning signs and personality types associated with unhealthy, negative and/or dangerous relationships. Toxic relationships consist of criticism, blame, shame, bullying, manipulation, intimidation, violence, judgment and just “plain ole negativity.” Research toxic relationships on the internet or purchase a book on toxic relationships from your local bookstore.
•Share Your Feelings with the Other Person
Once you are armed with information on toxic relationships, if possible, calmly and honestly confront the other person in the relationship. Share your feelings with him/her. If you are afraid of the other person, call a few friends to offer support and/or to call for assistance, if things get out of hand. It is important to note that it is never wise to meet someone in a private and/or secluded place, if you are afraid of him/her.
If the relationship has deteriorated to the point where you are afraid of the other person’s reaction, meet in a very public place and keep the meeting short and sweet. During your interaction, explain to the other person how you feel and provide him/her with concrete examples. Allow the other person to voice his/her concerns and offer a rebuttal, but do not back down. “Stick to your guns” and remain firm that it is time for a change.
•Make a List of the Pros & Cons
If you want to safely leave a toxic relationship, you may want to make a list of the “pros” and “cons” of staying in the unhealthy, dysfunctional and possibly dangerous situation. In other words, carefully and thoughtfully weigh your options. Do you have enough money to survive outside of the relationship? Do you have resources (i.e. a place to live, custody of your children, food, car and/or job)? Do you have people who can help you safely make the transition from being in a couple to living independently? Does your boss, parents and others in your life know what is about to happen? Are you afraid of the other person?
If possible, make sure that you are adequately prepared to leave before you try to exit the relationship. Moreover, try to anticipate the other person’s emotional and physical reactions once he/she finds out that you have left the relationship. If you are not adequately prepared – wait until you have everything you need to make a clean break. Once the time is right – wait until the other person has left the home (i.e. for work, to run errands, etc.), call a couple of friends, gather up your children and prepare to reclaim your life.
•Inform Your Boss, Friends and Loved Ones
Before you exit a toxic relationship inform your boss, friends and loved ones of the situation and your plans to leave. Do not hesitate to confide in those closest to you out of fear, shame and/or embarrassment. Talk to the important people in your life because you will need the support system once you finally make that break. Moreover, your trusted confidants will be able to offer help, advice, suggestions, guidance and unconditional love. They will also be able to help you craft a safe exit plan when you decided it is time to leave the toxic relationship.
****If you are still afraid to exit a toxic relationship, it is important to contact a counselor, psychologist, psychotherapist and/or social worker. These health professionals will help build your self-confidence and self-esteem and work through issues that prevent you from leaving the toxic relationship. They will also provide you with resources so that you and your children can start a new life. Do not be afraid to ask for help – you deserve to be happy.
Dr. R. Y. Langham
Banschick, M. (2013). Getting unstuck: The toxic relationship. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201309/getting- unstuck-the-toxic-relationship
Carruthers, A. (2014). 7 steps to freeing yourself from toxic relationships in 2014. Huff Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/avril-carruthers/7-steps-to-freeing- yourself-from-toxic-relationships-in-2014_b_4533224.html