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How to Walk Away from a Toxic Relationship

When we start a new relationship, it is always with the best intentions. No one gets into a relationship hoping to be disappointed. We hope that our romantic relationships will last a lifetime, our work relationships will lead to professional growth, and our friendships will lead to many happy memories and adventures.

Sadly, things don’t always work out as we plan them. And when a relationship no longer serves you, it hurts. A romantic relationship no longer serves you when your needs are no longer met despite communicating them. Work relationships no longer serve you when you find yourself investing more time into the other person than you’d like or covering for them more often than you’d want. A friendship no longer serves you when your friend stops respecting your time, choices, and boundaries. All these are red flags that you’ll probably notice in some of your relationships.

However, this is where things get complicated. What do you do when your partner does not respect your time and always runs let but they are fun, spontaneous, and adventurous? What about that friend who struggles to make time for you but they are still amazing people who only just had kids and are now preoccupied with their new family? Or the colleague who’s always asking you to cover for them, but they have amazing ideas and are very hardworking?

You need to identify the unhealthy and toxic relationships in your life and figure out what to do about them.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • When you think of the relationship, do you associate more negative feelings with it than positive ones?

  • Do you find yourself crying more than smiling because of this relationship?

  • Has being affectionate or intimate with the other person become a chore for you?

  • Do you find yourself often questioning the relationship more than you feel confident about it?

  • Can you be your true self with the other person or do you often have to hide who you really are?

  • Do people from your other positive relationships, such as your friends or family, disapprove of this relationship?

  • Do you compromise or tolerate them more than you’d like?

  • Do you find yourself hoping that the other person will change certain things about them?

  • Are they someone you can trust?

  • Do you wish you had a better relationship with someone else, are jealous of other people’s relationships, or find yourself yearning for more?

All these questions will help you figure out whether or not you are in a toxic relationship. Sometimes, we let our affections cloud our rationality at our own expense. You know deep down that things are not working but you still cling to the relationship for one reason or another.

So how can you walk away from a relationship that no longer works for you? Here are a few tips:

  • Be honest with yourself

  • Be unapologetic about how you communicate your needs

  • Take good care of yourself

  • Get support

Be honest with yourself

This first step is perhaps the hardest thing to do especially when you genuinely care about the other person. Understand that no matter how long you stay in denial, they are not going to change for you. The relationship is unhealthy and toxic for you and you need to recognize this fact.

How often do you feel ignored, hurt, betrayed, devalued, confused, or misled by the other person? When you think of your relationship, do you find yourself associating negative emotions with it? If so, it is a toxic relationship that you’d be better off without.

Be honest about why you need to leave the relationship. And also be honest about what you need to change about yourself to avoid similar relationships going forward.

Be unapologetic about how you communicate your needs

Clearly communicate your wants, needs, goals, and feelings. Once you do this and nothing changes, then you know you can end the relationship after having done everything in your power to improve it.

When you know your boundaries, you have a clear firm line that when crossed, the relationship can no longer be repaired. Set these boundaries right from the start of any new relationship and you will be in a better position to see if this is the kind of person who will respect you and your wishes. Whatever you do, always be firm about your make-or-break boundaries and never apologize for them. If they want you in their life, those are your terms, so stick to them.

Take good care of yourself

Sometimes, leaving a toxic relationship can feel like your world is crashing around you. You have just lost something special, and you will need to go through the stages of grief to get over it.

Taking good care of yourself means allowing yourself the opportunity to mourn the end of the relationship. Experience the emotions that come with it until you accept that the relationship is dead, and that’s OK.

As you do, don’t blame yourself. Don’t self-criticize. Instead, talk to yourself as you would talk to someone who has lost a loved one because that’s what has happened for you.

Get support

Sometimes, you need all the help you can get to leave a toxic relationship. Reach out to your friends and family and ask them to hold you accountable and remind you why you are walking away from the relationship in the first place. If you need extra help, talk to a professional.

Final Thoughts

Some relationships don’t work out because you have a different lifestyle, priorities, or communication style than the other person. Other times the relationship is just toxic and you know it is but there is something the other person is bringing to the table that you just can’t let go of. Whatever the case, you have to be honest with yourself and decide that you will no longer be part of a relationship that no longer serves your happiness, goals, needs, or your peace of mind. And with the tips outlined here, you will be able to walk away from such a relationship.

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