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Tuesday, 8 December 2015

16 Toxic Relationship Tips From Those Who Broke Free

16 Toxic Relationship Tips From Those Who Broke Free


 There are so many stereotypes that I hate hearing about when it comes to toxic relationships.  People think they have all the answers. That it's as easy as picking up and leaving and not looking back. Just listen to some melodramatic, ragey girl music, pump yourself up, dump them, and travel the world! That's what they do in the movies, right?
Well sorry folks, that's not reality. You got into the relationship for a reason, and it can be hard to imagine yourself without your partner, whether they're abusive or not. That's why it's important to be honest with yourself, about all of it. It takes some hard questions, but if you're honest you'll start to realize maybe this person isn't for you. And you're not alone. About 30 per cent of women have faced some kind of physical or sexual violence, according to the World Health Organization, and that's usually by their intimate partner.
It's not about blaming them or yourself. It's not about breaking everything they own (though admittedly that would feel pretty awesome). It's about realizing that if you feel bad about yourself on a regular basis because of how your partner is treating you, then you need to do some soul-searching. That means getting out of the relationship while you figure things out.
If there was ever an "easier said than done" moment, this is it. That being said, these tips should help get you on your way to leaving that toxic relationship, and putting the focus back on yourself.

1. Start small by just taking some notes.

Don't expect that you can get up one day and just be done. These kind of relationships can be extremely difficult to get out of, so just start small. When you feel happy, sad, angry, afraid or any other feeling in the emotional rainbow, write it down. Write down what made you feel that way, write down what they did or you did, write it all down. What you're doing is gathering the facts of your "case," let's call it. That way you can go back and look at it objectively when you're ready, and look at the overall trend of your relationship.
"He was so manipulative, and because I had feelings for him it was hard to break free. But, what helped me was sitting down and thinking about all the incidents where I didnt' feel cared for, or where my feelings weren't being respected." - Olivia

2. Don't ignore the positives.

Every relationship has benefits, so it's important to identify them as well. That's where a good old pros and cons list comes into play! That way you can be honest with yourself about both the negative and positive aspects of your relationship. Does your partner pick up the kids every day after school? Does he make you feel attractive? Does their behavior bring you some comfort because it could be what you were used to growing up? Dig deep, and address it all. You're not helping anyone by lying to yourself.
"There were so many little reasons that compelled me to stay. Like I thought he was a different person from the way he was acting. In the beginning he was super nice and then when we started dating he immediately changed." - Marnie

3. No more denial.

Part of being totally honest with yourself is getting rid of all that denial. Do you really want to be in this relationship, or do you feel you have to be? Ask yourself some simple questions, and remember: be honest! Do you feel exhausted after hanging out with your partner? Do they make you feel like you're a disappointment on a regular basis? Are they consistently negative with their comments and behavior? Once you start answering some of these fair questions, you should start to see a bright light with the answer you need shining through.
"He was so controlling and essentially made me feel like it was his way or the highway, but because he was older than me, and I didn't yet have a strong enough sense of self, I often overlooked this controlling behaviour." - Olivia

4. Don't place blame on yourself.

It's been pretty difficult up to this point, but this is by far the hardest part for most people: don't blame yourself. Don't even blame them. Blame is not the answer, the answer is moving forward. After years of being in a toxic relationship, your emotions and self-esteem are likely shot. The abusers in toxic relationships are usually good at manipulating your emotions, so be strong. Again, you have to look at the facts objectively. Put yourself in someone else's place, someone you really care about like a sibling, and then ask yourself whether you would be happy if they were in your place. Let's be honest, the answer is probably, "No." Now, it's time to start building that self-esteem back up.
"The whole relationship was really based off the fact he NEEDED me. If we weren't talking every second of every day he assumed I was mad at him and I was always saying sorry. If I was having a hard time he'd really push the fact that my life sucked and he was the only good thing in it. So I believed that without him I wasn't happy and I wouldn't find anyone else." - Clary

5. Write yourself a letter. No, really!

Not having a group of support can be the hardest part of being in a toxic relationship. Many times, the person will refuse to allow you to see other people without their express permission, or will guilt you into staying. So that's why it's important to write letters to yourself. You can send them in the mail to your home or work, or hide them in places where you feel your partner won't find them. Then, when you're feeling especially low, take one out and read the positive letter from the only person who understands what you're going through: you. 
Make it simple: "Hey you! I know you don't feel great right now, but here's something to look forward to! Make some plans with your sister this weekend. Remember, she really wanted to go Christmas shopping and get a manicure. You definitely deserve it, and she would love to hear from you!" It may sound cheesy, but it'll definitely help in those difficult moments.

6. Set goals with rewards for each one!

I mean, what works better than bribes? Set a timeline of where you'd like to be next week, next month, in the next six months. Then reward yourself every time you reach those goals. Did you break up with them a week later? Buy yourself that sweater you've been eyeing! Did you cut off communication for a week? Go out for dinner at your favorite restaurant with your best friend! The more awesomely personalized the goals are, the more likely you are to follow through. If you have trouble, don't beat yourself up! Remember: don't blame yourself. This is really hard.
"Don't be ashamed if you take them back a few times. It happens, and it sucks, but you will stand your ground when you are ready. (I had an emotionally abusive boyfriend that I took back seven times. Seven.)" - Zelda

7. Adopt some life-changing happiness, and remind yourself about them all the time!

Start to realize that although your world is bad right now, it doesn't have to be. You can control your own life, and that means you can always let in more happiness. Start patrolling Pinterest for those amazing inspirational quotes that will resonate with you, and post them all over the place. Even create some reminders on your phone that will pop up those messages, such as, "I choose a life full of life," "I can love and be loved," "I mean well," "I have a kind heart," "I am loved and treasured by many." With so many reminders, you'll start to believe it and that self-esteem will grow and grow!

8. Have a mantra. 

After looking at all those positive messages, there should be one that you really connect with. Use it. Say that mantra to yourself over and over again. Something like, "I'm sure they will be great with someone else, but they are poison to me," or "I am not helping either of us by staying, because they aren't happy either." The next step: the dreaded moment you've been waiting for.

9. Have the conversation.

It's important to pick the place that works best for you. Make sure there are no distractions for either of you, and sit down face to face. And again, it's important to be honest, but the point isn't to be hurtful. Of course, if you're afraid of a face-to-face conversation and how they might react, a video call is a good option as well. Then, get to the point quickly. Tell them outright you want to end the relationship. Then focus on how you're feeling, not what they're doing wrong. It's not your job to fix them, only they can do that. It's your job to help yourself. Be firm and clear and once you're finished: leave. They will try and convince you to stay, so that's where the manta becomes incredibly important. Repeat it over and over. Then find someone who will be there for support and can either be waiting outside in a car, or is with you at home if you do it through a video call.

10. Stop all possible contact. 

This is so important. Most abusive or toxic relationships will see the person return to their partner over and over again. You're basically too kind for your own good: literally! But they can't move on and neither can you if you continue to contact them. Change your number if you have to. Block them on social media. Anything to get them to leave you alone, and allow you to rebuild. Don't be taken in by their manipulative comments that can range from compliments to abuse. It will be incredibly difficult at first, but will ease off over time.
"I decided the only way to have a clean break was to tell him I was done, and to not contact me again. I stopped all forms of communication, and basically blocked/deleted etc. I know that may sound immature, but because I knew he would try to manipulate me, and I was hurt, I needed a completely clean slate. It was really the best way to move on and take care of myself; fully removing him from my life." - Olivia

11. Bring on the positive people!

Recruit them all over the place! Your best friend since high school, your killer co-worker, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother. Anyone who makes you feel loved and supported. Create an arsenal of happy people who love you and will be thrilled by a call at any time. Just make sure they are the right person for the job. Make sure they're all about you becoming better, and not feeling sorry for the other person. They'll move on and get over it, so you have to as well. And before you consider someone who is also in a toxic relationship, DON'T! They'll likely sympathize with your ex, leading you right back where you started.
"I had to learn how NOT to talk about yourself and that sometimes people just need literally someone to just listen to them. Being there for her and being that emotional anchor was all I could do. She needed stability and that's what I tried to provide." - Pepe

12. Know your value.

Spoiler alert: it's high. People love you. You're amazing. And those positive people you've chosen to help you out? Their job is to tell you just how awesome you are on a regular basis, which should come pretty easy for them! Start telling yourself just how amazing you are, and not just in relationships. You might be a fantastic pianist, you may be incredible at your job, you may help out at your children's school on a regular basis. You're a great person, and a great catch! It's at this time that you may also start missing your ex, and that's normal; you'll miss any relationship. But remember that mantra: they may be good for someone else, but they weren't good for you. And you deserve better. That's why it's so important to take the next step.
"One day I was like, oh, Billy, don't be such a rat or a goof something like that. And he was like call me a goof or rat and you can talk to my fist!... We had a date planned for the next day and I told him I was feeling sick and couldn't go... He asked if anything was wrong and I was like, 'I can either lie or tell him the truth.' So I said, 'I don't like the way you have been speaking to me and you know you are making me  uncomfortable, because you constantly have to confirm with me that you are just joking. I don't want to do this anymore sorry you bought tickets but I'm done.' Then he apologized and I said thank you but knowing that you are capable of talking to me like that doesn't sit well with me." - Melissa

13. So, what did you learn?

Get back to pen and paper and start writing down what you learned so you find the relationship that works best for you. What did you hate from the relationship? What were you missing? What did you need? But also, what did you like? It's important to address everything so you can take those lessons forward into your next relationship and make it an honest and open one.
"It's okay to miss them. Even though they hurt you, it's okay to miss them. Despite all the pain they put you through, you are allowed to remember the good times with the bad times. Sometimes I think back on the wonderful memories I had with that person, and I can't help but smile. I wish we could go back to that, and be in that moment again, and it hurts to know that we can't. Although that person is no longer a part of your life, they will still hold a place in your heart, as they have most likely helped shape the person you are now. Just remember, no matter how much it hurts, you are better off without them." - Laoise


14. Fill the empty space.

It's important during the mourning period to fill up your time and your mind with as much as possible! Let distractions be your friend, and bring you some peace. Some can be fun, like going skating with friends, or seeing a movie. Others can be healing, like taking a yoga or meditation class. Both of these methods will help you find some balance in your life, and help you realize that you can have one without that person! By allowing time to heal, you can open yourself up to new and healthy relationships.

15. Show some love to YOURSELF.

Keep that mantra going. Keep those positive notes going. Keep the friend and family love going. Keep it all going! Just because you're out of the relationship doesn't mean you need less support, you probably need more! And that means being fantastic to yourself. Treat yourself to anything and everything that makes you happy, from spa days to a gun range. Who cares, it's up to you. Just know that you deserve it all.
"You can't rely on someone else to be your happiness and you can't let someone make you feel that you are worthless without them. You're not responsible for them either. He put me down to lift himself up and I refused to stay in that position. I am worth so much more." - Clary

16. Seek professional help.

Some relationships are incredibly hard to get out of, and can be complicated beyond belief. Where this can be especially difficult is if the person is a co-worker, or you share a child together. Or it might just be that you've done your best, but have just ended up back in the same spot again and again. In that case, speak with a psychologist, or attend a therapy support group for people leaving toxic or abusive relationships. You'll be certain to find no judgment, and find all the help you need
"I had an epiphany one day. I was so unhappy I called to make an appointment with a psychologist to fix me. And as soon as I hung up, I realized that the issue wasn't with me - it was with him. And I knew that nothing I could do would fix the way he treated me... [I] spent a couple hours googling 'how to nicely break up with someone.' And then I did it. And I immediately felt so much better." - Marnie
Note: All names have been changed for this article.
Main image via Twitter / @thatigbogurl__
Collage images via 1. reddit / glatts  2. Getty Images / Trinette Reed 3. JEN CHOOSES joy

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