Seven Reasons To Leave A Toxic Relationship And How To Get Help

Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Toxic relationships can be defined as a relationship between people who do not support each other, where there is conflict and undermining, where there is competition, where there is disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness. When it comes to toxic relationships, it can sometimes be difficult to realize that you are in one. For many people, it is hard to recognize that the relationship is toxic because the person will not show signs of abusive behavior right away and their behavior gradually worsen with time. Other people are good at hiding the signs and are manipulative, subtly convincing you that you are to blame for the behavior. All these reasons make it important to know some of the signs of a toxic relationship and why you want to leave as quickly as possible. This article explains why and how you should leave a toxic relationship once you identify you are in one, including a list of reasons to leave, strategies to stay away, and how to get help. 

You deserve to be in a loving and healthy relationship

1. They are abusive

The most serious sign of a toxic relationship is any form of violence, including physical and psychological abuse. Psychological abuse can be further broken down into emotional abuse. Read the following to understand:

Physical abuse

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, psychologically, and emotionally.

Psychological abuse

This form of abuse occurs when someone tries to control you in all aspects. They may 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 whom, and when; this can be considered mental abuse.  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

Emotional abuse is one that many people overlook or do not recognize. This type of abuse encompasses methods of dehumanizing you, keeping you completely isolated, ignoring you, withholding affection because 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.

2. They keep you from your friends and family

This can be a subtle sign of a toxic relationship, especially when your relationship is new. It may begin with them saying they simply want to have more one-on-one time with you, with no interruptions from your friends and family. However, when you notice that they are asking for exclusive time with you and try to keep you from see your friends and family, they are showing signs of toxicity and abusive behavior. 

They may not 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 your time with them. This causes you to withdraw from the people that you love and who love you.

3. They keep you from your hobbies

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.

4. They keep you unhappy


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.

5. They keep you from your potential

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.

6. They set a poor example for your children

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.”

7. They keep you from seeing your worth

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.

Getting out

If you have experienced or witnessed domestic violence and need help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline  at 1-800-799-TALK (7233) is available 24 hours a day.

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. Here are suggestions to help you plan:

Take someone with you

You deserve to be in a loving and healthy relationship

One way to practice a safe exit when you  is to take 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.

Tell someone you are leaving

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 a situation like this without knowing what is going on and when you should call for help. Be sure to communicate your plan and decide on a safe place to go. This can be a family or a friend’s home. 

Do not go back

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 have decided to leave, however, do not return to the relationship. You deserve to live a healthy and happy life, which will not happen when you are in a toxic relationship.

Stay away

It is vital you do not go back to your toxic relationship. However, staying away completely is just as important. Do everything in your power to stay out of contact with them. If possible, you want to cut them entirely out of your life. If you must be in contact, only interact with them in public places. Consider getting a restraining order if you believe you or people near them (such as your children) are in danger. Do not hesitate to contact the authorities during any moment you feel unsafe. 

Getting professional help

If you have experienced or witnessed domestic violence and need help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) is available 24 hours a day.

Therapy can provide you with support and a safe space to talk about your experiences. Finding a therapist you trust can help provide you with guidance on how to deal with or leave your toxic relationship, or they may point you to services that can help you with your situation. Furthermore, if you are a survivor of abuse, you can find healing from your trauma and experiences through these services. Counseling can help you to heal from your past and history of abuse and find ways to move forward so you can enjoy healthy relationships. You can also attend family counseling services if your family was affected by the violence as well.

If you having a difficult time leaving your toxic relationship or are still recovering, seeking help from a professional will help you in so many ways. Current research has shown people who attend online therapy feel they are able to trust their therapist to a greater degree and feel safer due to the unknown nature of these visits (in contrast to in-person office visits). Rather than attending in-person therapy sessions— which can be difficult— you can connect with a therapist from the comfort and safety of your own and personal space.

You can also choose to connect via video chat, phone call, or text messaging, so no one else needs to know about any support you choose to pursue. You deserve to feel safe and heard. If you are experiencing a living situation that feels unsafe or abusive, an online therapist through Regain may provide you with the guidance and encouragement you need to make a positive change. 


When it comes to leaving a toxic marriage, partnership, or any 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 -- you can turn your back on toxic love. And you can get professional help to move you along.

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