Breakups are hard. Breakups from bad relationships are harder. Here’s how to move on from a toxic, draining relationship.
Heartache requires recovery time. Unfortunately, the truly unhealthy relationships we engage in are sometimes the hardest ones to shake.
Whether the person was emotionally abusive, never sober around you or if constantly made empty promises, it can sometimes take a great deal of time to recover.
The good news is, you’re not alone. Lots of people have genuine feelings for others who treat them terribly in return. You’re not weird, messed up or wrong for loving this person, but you should know that the sooner you can get out of that dark place he or she is keeping you in, the better off you’ll be.
It wasn’t until after my last relationship was over that I realized it was a toxic one. I was involved with a man who saw my worth and wanted to have me, but just wasn’t ready for me.
He always stood me up and even failed to answer phone calls and texts on the day he himself had agreed and planned on meeting my parents. He would drink or do drugs excessively, to the point where he once told me he loved me as I helped him stumble back home to his apartment at 2 am.
Even when he knew he was treating me unfairly and ended things, he tried to keep me on the hook and said we could continue getting to know each other — non-exclusively, of course.
I was not happy dating him, but obviously some part of me really wanted to make it work. And even though he did a pretty awful job of it, I truly believe he wanted to make it work, too.
In the end, though, I felt like I kept offering love to him and he was happily taking it, all while rarely reciprocating the sentiment.
Your breakup is different from my breakup is different from any other breakup. You’ll know what you need more than anyone during this time of healing and rediscovering your worth. But as someone who’s been there and witnessed close friends work their way out of unhealthy relationships, here are some things that will hopefully help you along the way:
Don’t contact him or her.
It’s so tempting, but no matter what, no texts, no calls and no emails. Nothing! Unfriend this person on Facebook, block his or her Twitter feed and resist the urge to hop on his or her Instagram account.
I’m a personal fan of the cold turkey approach because, even though it’s painful at first, it doesn’t prolong the pain. This might not be your usual post-breakup protocol, but this is a person who was no good to you and you need him or her out of your life.
Yes, even if it hurts, even if you dated for years and even if he or she claims to love you still.
Make a list.
It’s good to see it on paper, so make a list of all the things that were hurtful, wrong or bad about your relationship.
You might still be totally in love with this person who treated your heart like a steaming pile of crud, but at least recognize the fact that things were far from perfect.
After my ex and I broke up, I made a list entitled “Things I Don’t Like About the Guy I Like,” and it helped me realize a lot of the negative aspects of the relationship that I had been overlooking.
You might notice forgivable things that make you miss the person a little — how he cracked his knuckles all the time or how she loved trashy reality tv.
However, other things, like the fact that she was doing lots of blow or he stood you up multiple times, will make you thankful to be out of that relationship.
Stay busy with positive people you can trust.
This is a given with any breakup, really, but it’s especially important to fill the void you’re feeling with people who will have a bright, positive presence in your life.
Instead of wallowing, fill up your schedule with friends who understand you’re going through a hard breakup and want to help you out of that dark place.
The night after my breakup, I went to a concert with one of my best friends and it was such a great thing to do. I was sad and still a little shocked, but it was far better than sitting in my bedroom crying alone.
Date — yes, seriously! — and preferably outside of your “type.”
Of course you should have alone time, but when you feel ready to see other people — whether this means casual sex, dating, or both — keep an open mind.
I got to know a really great guy after my toxic relationship ended and I was incredibly clear with him that I was emotionally unavailable.
He was different from my ex in that he called, followed through with plans and he was honest about his situation (since he was also dealing with a breakup).
Things were never meant to work out between us because of the circumstances, but we’ve managed to remain friends because he’s someone I trust. Find people who can help you regain trust in others, as well as in yourself.
Write awful poetry.
Go out, buy a journal or sketchbook, and just write. If you don’t consider yourself much of a writer, you might feel a little silly doing this. I felt hopelessly pathetic sitting on my bed writing sad poems and thinking about my ex.
The truth is, you don’t have to share it with anyone, you don’t have to go back years later and read it, and you don’t even have to save it. Hell, burn it when you’re done if you’d like.
You’re experiencing a lot of frustration, sadness, confusion and anger, and this is a safe outlet for all of it.
One of my favorite quotes is, “If you want to be happy, be.” Thanks for that one, Tolstoy. Ridding your life of toxic people is a challenge, but in between all the difficult times, try to remember the wonderful, positive and great things in your life.
That relationship is something you went through, but it does not have to define you.
Originally appeared at Elite Daily
Photo David Noah/Flickr
About the author: Theresa Christine. Theresa is a mid-20s gal living in San Francisco, CA. The quickest way to her heart is by offering her gourmet cheese and cheap champagne. She loves instant photos and photo booths. She’s a burlesque dancer and a feminist. She can’t keep still and travels often. Oh, and she has a cat. Find more words on TremendousTimes.com.
Hell, the reason I wound up in this last relationship (the most toxic relationship I’ve ever had, needless to say if she were a man and I were a woman, she would be in prison) was because of seeking a light-hearted/not-serious relationship, you know, “just for dating”, “just for fun”, fast forward three years and I’m backed in the corner of the bathroom from a woman 6 inches shorter and 100 lbs lighter than me, terrified as I am blocking her screaming and striking, I yell out, “fuck off or I’m calling the police!” and she laughs, LAUGHS, and says,… Read more »
Personally, I can’t agree with the dating/casual sex recommendation. Casual sex always, always makes me feel worse. Yes I have a healthy testosterone level, no I wasn’t raised religious with taboos around sex, I just am one of those people who takes sex very seriously and absolutely cannot divide it from my attachment bonding. I will never seek out sex for sex’s sake ever again, and I have a very hard time wrapping my head around why these GMP articles keep recommending it, as if it’s just some not-serious thing you just “do” and then wake up the next day… Read more »
I agree & feel the same way about casual sex. I’m sure you’re not the only man that feels this way but you may be in a small group that does… unfortunately.
Must say that I am not getting this one, this bit about how to get over a guy who was Mr. Wrong, But then I’m of the belief that the best way to get over someone old is to get under someone new. If one must grieve the loss of someone who is still living, give it one evening, then move on.
Excellent point. Haven’t seen anything on this topic before, got to me just in time.
Addicted to the dynamic and living in wishful thinking doesn’t compare to the reality of repeated unsolved mistakes which no one learns to grow fonder of each other from.
From childhood we women are taught how to be emotionally open, nurturing and sacrifice ourselves. WRONG! The right way would be to do all those things when they are reciprocated otherwise many will use and abuse you.
Also…a man should EARN your trust, trust and love are not things to be given to a first passer by. Otherwise, great article. Thank you!
Ending a toxic relationship is a very hard thing to do. There is the constant tug of abuse and at the same time love and deep feelings.
Your advice is practical and pretty sound.
I believe we are in these relationships for a reason. There is some thing that needs to be healed withing us. The best tool I have found for inner healing in my ten years of personal development is the Emotional Hot Button Removal Technique the link is here http://www.yourdivinedivorce.com/programs/emotional-hot-button-removal-techniques/