We know why you’re here at this article, but maybe not how you got into this toxic relationship. Let’s look at why it’s so easy to get into toxic relationships, and how you can get out.
There are many reasons we may unknowingly enter a toxic relationship. The tendency to enter toxic relationships can stem from:
It’s never your fault for getting into a toxic relationship, but you do have to make a conscious choice: escape this pattern, or become even more stuck inside it.
Let’s dive into ways you can accidentally end up in a toxic relationship, and what to do for prevention.
You might have strongly desired an emotional, intimate connection, which made it easier to ‘lock into’ the relationship. When you’ve found someone who seems nice enough, and it’s hard to keep being lonely in hopes of someone better!
Or you might have been yearning for a family, so you began a relationship with someone you believed you knew well enough. So many of us have fallen into this trap!
Make a point of building close platonic friendships however you can. They will buffer you from the need to jump into another close relationship.
This could include joining a community (by starting a group hobby, or joining a club or online community like Supportiv).
Or even use a no-strings attached situation as a way to tone down the physical desperation, so you can focus on the right things when actually looking for a partner.
If you are not used to being the center of someone’s attention, even lower quality attention is bound to make you feel amazing. Wishful thinking can make red flags seem rosy, and that’s not your fault.
But you do deserve to know your worth and hold out for better than a sometimes-OK toxic relationship!
Work on getting to know your strengths and self-worth – make lists, think about your accomplishments, and ask trusted friends to give you a pep talk (this isn’t selfish!!).
Learn that you don’t have to be loved by everyone. It’s normal to be liked by some, and for most others to feel just neutral about you. The rude people in your life tend to have their own issues that don’t actually reflect who you are (even though it feels bad not to be liked by them).
So even if it feels like you don’t get enough admiration, you don’t have to jump on an ‘opportunity’ of someone liking you! Wait for someone who values you highly and whom you really respect.
Supermodel looks, high power jobs, nice cars, and other superficial status indicators can mislead us into the wrong kinds of relationships.
We’re wired to look for these things in a partner. They do signal material wealth, which would have helped our ancestors’ survival.
But these attributes fail to predict healthy relationships – and with a healthy partnership, you can work together on the material concerns together, anyway.
Too often, material components are equated to the relationship’s worth, and this will ultimately distract you from noticing anything negative about your potential partner.
Think about why these material traits magnetize you more than more ‘telling’ traits. Is it that you don’t trust emotional connections? Or maybe you have enough emotional connection from friends, so materials are what you need right now?
Just get to know yourself, your needs, and what’s actually important to you.
We obviously can’t tell you what those things are, but we do suggest reflecting on what you really need, and what just feels exciting to have.
We learn what love looks like from our first experiences of love – in our families. We are exposed to the patterns of a toxic relationship and believe that is what a relationship should be.
How to counter this:
Healing from a narcissistic or abusive home life is a whole process. Often a life-long process. But for now, when looking for a relationship, self-awareness is key.
Learn what you need in a relationship to feel happy, and be aware of how those things differ from what you’ve accepted from loved ones in the past.
“Sometimes it’s better to end something & try to start something new than imprison yourself in hoping for the impossible.” – Karen Salmansohn
This is easier said than done. There are many things to consider when getting out of a toxic relationship, but the most important aspect should always be your safety (and that of your kids, for those with children).
Exiting a toxic relationship may take time or happen overnight – but it’s always something to be proud of.
If you are actively trying to get out of a toxic relationship, below are some factors to acknowledge:
Find someone you can talk to about what’s going on. Someone you are comfortable with, a friend or family member, even a counselor.
Gaining support is the most important step, in the long term.
By speaking up about your toxic relationship, not only are you making others aware of what you’re dealing with, but also, you can get other points of view and validate that it’s not just in your head.
Use affirmations to constantly remind yourself that you deserve better.
This can be a daily mantra or situation-based affirmations to help you cope with the emotions and gaslighting of a toxic relationship. Believing in yourself and building your confidence and self-esteem is important for you to end this relationship.
Many people stay in a toxic relationship due to financial stability.
If you rely on your partner for money, try to let trusted friends know what’s going on, and ask if they’ll be able to help you in the short-term. Once you leave the relationship, finding a job may help your confidence levels, on top of allowing you to repay debts and establish independence.
If you have a job, go into militant savings-mode. Immediately. When you end the relationship, you will have a little financial backing to seek whatever resources you’ll need.
Once you’ve successfully escaped the relationship, do not make any contact with your toxic partner – at least until you’ve healed a good amount.
Soon after a relationship ends, we tend to feel lonely and/or miss our previous partner; however making contact with them with only cause confusion for you. Gaslighting may resume, and you may start believing the person has changed (in some cases they do, but mostly they are just putting up a front).
Until you’re healed, it may help to check out a list of ways to stop thinking about someone.
Toxic relationships weigh you down from the bottom and push you down from the top. Luckily, admitting you’re in one is the hardest part of getting out. With some effort, you will feel free again.