When it comes to toxic relationships, it can sometimes be difficult to realize that you’re in one. For many people, it’s hard to recognize that the relationship is bad because things tend to happen gradually. Physical abusers rarely start the first day with abuse because they recognize that no one will allow that. Rather, they gradually become abusive throughout the relationship in a way that you don’t realize or that you don’t want to walk away. That’s why it’s important that you know some of the signs of a toxic relationship and why you want to leave as quickly as possible.
Physical abuse could encompass several different things, from hitting and kicking (what most people think of when they hear the phrase) to sexual assault, pulling hair, biting, scratching, shaking, and pushing. Any physical contact that is not wanted or intended to control, demean, or punish is considered physical abuse, and it’s extremely damaging physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Mental abuse means anything that someone may say to control you or make sure that they always know what’s going on in your life. It’s normal for a partner or a friend to want you to be safe, but when they monitor where you are going, with who, and when this can be considered mental abuse. Controlling the decisions that you make or decisions that affect you, threatening you, treating you as though you’re unable to make your own choices, or claiming that everyone else agrees with them are all types of mental abuse as well. They may be jealous, blame you for the way they treat you, or guilt you into anything they want.
Emotional abuse is one that many people overlook or don’t recognize. This type of abuse encompasses methods of dehumanizing you, keeping you completely isolated, ignoring you, withholding affection as a result of ‘bad behavior.’ They may turn others against you or claim that your feelings are wrong. They may interrupt you or be indifferent to what you’re experiencing or feeling. These emotional abuse types (and more) can make you distrustful of your own emotions and may make you feel even more overwhelmed or even unstable.
An abuser will attempt to keep you from anyone who might see what they’re doing and try to protect you from it or tell you that it’s wrong. They don’t want you to spend time with family and friends because these are the first people who will recognize changes in your behavior and draw attention to it. As a result, they try to isolate you by convincing you that your friends and family don’t care about you or that you should be spending all of your time with them. This causes you to withdraw from the people that you love and who love you.
An abuser will attempt to keep you away from anything that doesn’t fit their perception of what you should be. That means they may try to push you toward certain hobbies and activities and pull you away from others. Activities that put you in direct contact with people they don’t want you around will be discouraged or outright forbidden. But they may push you toward activities that keep you under their control or control of their family or friends. As a result, you lose out on time with friends or time doing things that you enjoy.
Being in a toxic relationship is not going to make you happy. Even if you’re convinced that this is what you want or this is where you need to be, it’s not going to be a happy situation. You’ll constantly be waiting for something to happen. You’ll be on pins and needles, wondering what they’re going to do next. You might feel anxious, afraid, sad, lonely, isolated, or any number of different emotions, but the abuser does not care about you being happy. Instead, they only want control, which means you’re never going to achieve happiness while staying in the relationship.
You could be doing great things, whether that’s being an amazing friend or a great dancer or a spectacular businessperson or anything else. It doesn’t matter if it’s only important to you or something important to the world. An abuser doesn’t want you to have success or enjoyment outside of them because you might decide to leave. As a result, they keep you from achieving anything too great, and that could be depriving you or many other people.
If you remain in a toxic relationship, even if it hasn’t evolved to the level of abuse, you teach your children that this is what a relationship looks like. As this is the main relationship that they see in their lives, they learn that this kind of relationship is the “norm.”
It’s nearly impossible to feel like you are worth anything when someone is constantly controlling you or telling you that you aren’t worth anything. When you’re struggling through a toxic relationship or abuse, it feels like everything they say must be true, and you likely end up with low self-esteem as a result. This keeps you from trying new things even if they don’t actively forbid it because you don’t believe that you can do it. And that effect can last long after you leave the relationship.
When it comes to getting out of a toxic relationship, it’s important that you are very careful and that you have help. This cannot be easy if your relationship has caused you to distance yourself from family and friends, but realize that these people love you and want to help you if you give them a chance.
One of the best things that you can do when you leave a toxic relationship takes another adult along with you. This makes sure that if you run into the other person, you can safely leave the situation. There will be someone there to help you get away in case of violence or a physical altercation and someone who can encourage you in case of mental or emotional abuse.
Even if you decide not to bring someone along with you, you must tell someone you plan to leave the relationship. This makes sure that someone is expecting to hear from you and know if anything goes wrong. You do not want to enter into a situation like this without knowing what’s going on and when they should call for help.
If you are afraid of your partner, you may want to stay with someone when you first leave, go somewhere they can’t find you, or even get a protection order from the police. These things can help you feel more secure and make sure that your partner will not try to come after you.
Your ex-partner will likely try to convince you that you need to come back to them. They may try using physical, mental, or emotional intimidation or blackmail to do it. Once you’ve decided to leave, however, you mustn’t return to the relationship. You deserve to live a healthy and happy life, which will not happen when you are in a toxic relationship.
It’s not only about not getting back into the relationship but also about not going back around that person again. If at all possible, you want to cut them entirely out of your life. This might not be possible if you share a child. Still, you must do everything you can to only interact with them in public places, to get a restraining order on behalf of your children if you believe they are in danger and do not allow them to get back in your head (or your children’s).
Getting Professional Help
When it comes to leaving a toxic relationship, it can be extremely difficult. It can be terrifying for several reasons, not just because you fear the ex-partner will come after you. Just getting out on your own after your ex has treated you the way they have can be daunting. But you can do it. And you can get professional help to move you along. ReGain is one way that you can get a therapist to work with you through the feelings and difficulties you may face along the way.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the signs of a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship can be any relationship in which the bad moments outweigh the good. Toxic relationships can mentally, emotionally, or even potentially physically damage the partners involved. It’s important to recognize a toxic relationship’s signs to keep it from turning into a dangerous relationship. Signs could include:
Anyone can experience abuse, not just those in a relationship. If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing a toxic relationship that could involve intimate partner violence, consider seeking professional help or calling the Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
How do you recognize red flags in a relationship?
It is important to keep your eyes open for any red flags that may take it from a healthy relationship to an unhealthy relationship in any new relationship. Red flags in a relationship can look different to every person, as we all have different boundaries.
However, some common red flags in a relationship that anyone can look out for include:
Is it okay to leave a toxic relationship?
One of the scariest things that people in a toxic or even abusive relationship may have to face is deciding to leave. No matter what, your health and safety are vital, and you have the ability to decide to leave.
It is okay to leave any relationship you want to, but it can be especially important to leave if you suspect a toxic relationship. If you could be experiencing intimate partner violence, consider the Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).
It is always okay to leave if the relationship is not what you thought or needed. If you need help figuring out how to leave a toxic relationship, a therapist can be a great source. ReGain offers virtual sessions with licensed therapists to help you figure out how to leave a toxic relationship and eventually surround yourself with the positivity you deserve. Your intimate relationships can have a real impact on your mental health, so you deserve to make those healthy relationships. Talk to a therapist at ReGain today.
How do you leave a toxic relationship when you love someone?
Learning how to leave a toxic relationship when you love your partner can be an incredibly difficult task. However, deciding to leave doesn’t necessarily mean that you love them any less, only that you prioritize your health and wellbeing and want to surround yourself with positivity. Realizing that you deserve this positivity, and maybe eventually a healthy relationship, can be the key to starting to move on.
Another thing to remember is that it is not your job to change your partner. Even if you love them, they have to do the work to make themselves healthy. Leaving doesn’t mean that you will get into a new relationship right away; in fact, after you plan to leave a dangerous relationship, it is often best to surround yourself with friends and family, as well as work and hobbies you enjoy. At the end of the day, figuring out how to leave a toxic relationship will make you a happier and healthier person and allow you to find a healthy, new relationship with someone that will treat you right.
If you have difficulty ending a relationship you know you want to leave, talking things out with friends, family, or a therapist can help you find the best course of action. Reading about relationships in blog posts or articles could provide you with new ideas about why you deserve what you want.
How do you let go of a bad relationship and move on?
It can be very difficult to let go of a bad relationship and move on, especially if it was a potentially abusive relationship. One of the key steps is to take notice of your emotions and keep track of your process. Intimate relationships can change us for the worse sometimes, but the more time you take to work on yourself, the more growth and empowerment you will feel.
It can be helpful to talk to a therapist through this process. They will help you keep track of your growth and aid you in healthily managing your emotions. Therapists at ReGain are licensed professionals who can give you expert advice on moving on from bad relationships. Don’t be afraid to reach out today.