Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

Toxic Relationships: How to Let Go When It’s Unhappily Ever After

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Toxic Relationships: How to Let Go When It's Unhappily Ever After

If life ran like a storybook, the person we fall in love would not be the person who broke us. Sadly, we humans tend to be a bit more human than that. We fall in love, we commit, we get hurt – over and over – and we stay.  People need people, but sometimes the cost is a heavy one. When it’s a toxic relationship, the breakage can be far-reaching.

Love is addictive. So is the hope of love. All relationships can be likened to an addiction, but sometimes the power of this can be self-destructive. When relationships become loveless, hostile, stingy or dangerous, you would think they would be easy to leave, but they can be the hardest ones to walk away from.

A bad relationship isn’t about being on the downward slide of the usual relationship ups and downs. It is one that consistently steals your joy and follows you around with that undeniable clamour that this isn’t how it’s meant to be.

Knowing when to let go.

Sometimes the signs are clear – emotional and physical abuse, constant criticism, lying, cheating, emotional starvation. Sometimes there is nothing outstandingly obvious – it just doesn’t feel right. Perhaps it did once but that ended long ago. The signs might lie in the loneliness, a gentle but constant heartache, a lack of security, connection or intimacy or the distance between you both. 

Whatever it involves, there are important needs that stay hungry, for one of both people in the relationship. The relationship exists but that’s all it does, and sometimes barely even that. It doesn’t thrive and it doesn’t nurture. It is maintained, not through love and connection, but through habit. 

Sometimes there are circumstances that make leaving difficult. Sometimes though, there’s nothing in your way except you. Some of the signs that you might be addicted to the relationship are:

  • You know it’s bad, but you stay.
  • You want more for yourself, but you stay.
  • There are important needs in you that are so hungry (intimacy, connection, friendship, love, security, respect), and you know in this relationship they’ll stay that way. But you stay. 
  • You have tried ending the relationship before, but the pain of being on your own always brings you back.

What to do when leaving feels as bad as staying.

Leaving any relationship is difficult. Leaving a bad one isn’t necessarily any easier. The shift from powerless to empowered is a gentle one, but lies in the way you experience the relationship. It often takes as much resourcefulness, energy and strength to stay in a bad relationship as it does to leave. With a shift in mindset, experience and expectation, the resources you use to stay and to blind out the seething hopelessness of it all can be used to propel you forward.

  1. Be present.

    The pull to live in the past (the way it was/ the way I was) or in the future (it will get better – I just need to find the switch) can be spectacular, but the energy to move forward exists fully in the present. It’s always there, but you have to be in the present to access it. To do this, fully experience the relationship as it is, without needing to change it or control it. 

    This might be scary, particularly if the environment you are in is hostile or lonely, but the only way to be okay with leaving what you have, is to fully experience how broken it is.

    No relationship is perfect. All couples fight and hurt each other and say and do things they shouldn’t. That’s a normal part of living and loving together. The problem comes with having to repeatedly live in the past or the future to tolerate the present – the abuse, the harm, the insecurity, the jealousy, the loneliness and the grief of the relationship as it stands – just so that it’s easier to stay.

  2. Keep track.

    Keep a record of how you feel in the relationship, the good and bad. If writing isn’t your thing, take a photo of your face at the same time every day. You’ll see it in your eyes. Photos and journalling will capture the intimate, day to day detail of you in this relationship. Set a time period – weeks or months – and at the end take a look over your photos or your writing. Can you see patterns? What do you notice about the things that hurt you and the things that feel good? The frequency? The intensity? What do you see in the photos? Can you see the life in you? Or has it been drained away. Is this the person you want to be? Or is it a faded, sadder version? This can help to see your experience in the relationship for what it is – stripped of the filters and the softening that comes with time. 

  3. Be aware of what’s happening in your body. It’s trying to tell you something.

    The connection between the mind and the body is a powerful one. If you shut down the messages that are coming from your mind, your body will take over. There will be signs in the way you hold yourself, the sensations in your body (heaviness, heartache, tension) and the way it works. Has your body slowed down? Is there physical pain? Does it ache? Does it feel heavy? Restless? Tired? Drained? Do you feel your body withering, scrunched or as though it’s holding back? If your body could speak, what would it want you to know?

    Try this exercise:

    Finish this sentence: 

    ‘My body is …’ (tired/crumpled/hurting – whatever fits for you)’.

    Now, keep your ending but replace the words, ‘My body is’ with ‘I am’ or ‘My life is’.

    Notice what happens when you do that.

  4. How do you avoid the truth?

    Notice what you do to shift away from your reality. Are there unhealthy behaviours you do to stop from feeling bad? Or maybe there are healthy beahviours that you do in unhealthy ways?

    Try staying with the discomfort rather than avoiding it. Contained in the pain is the wisdom, courage and strength you need to find the happier version of yourself and your life. 

  5. Give it a deadline.

    It’s easy to forget how long you’ve been living with what you don’t want, hoping that one day it will be better. Pick your ‘one day’. Let it be six weeks, six months – whatever feels right for you. In that time, give the relationship everything you’ve got. When that ‘one day’ comes, be honest and act from a place of strength, self-respect and self-love. The answer will be in front of you.

  6. Become selfish.

    The way we think about selfishness is broken. Selfishness is about recognising what you need and doing what you can to meet those needs. Sometimes there will be fallout, but there will also be fallout by ignoring what you need and letting the noise shout you down. You matter. What you need matters. It always has. Sometimes that will mean putting yourself first on your list. This is even more important if it is the only list that has you anywhere near the top.

  7. Be honest about your part.

    Is there anything you can do to put the relationship back on track? It takes guts to open up to what you might need to do differently, but it’s important. If you’re not sure, ask your partner. Of course, just because your partner names things he or she would like you to do differently, it for you to decide whether this is a direction you want to move in. If the response is ‘Yeah actually. You can stop asking me where I go at night. K?’ then you can either respond with, ‘Sure baby – it’s totally fine with me if you leave the house smelling like man musk and secrets. Just come home when you feel like it hey. Do you want me to keep dinner for you?’ Or, you can Google, ‘Somewhere I can live without idiots.’

  8. What’s your role in the relationship?

    It’s likely that there will be a rhythm in the relationship that keeps it breathing the way it does. You and your partner will each have a role that keeps each other’s behaviour possible. This in no way means either of you are to blame or that either of you deserve to be treated the way you are. What it means is that over time you would have fallen into a way of being together that makes the dysfunction easier and more tolerable – a healthy adjustment to an unhealthy situation.

    It’s common in relationships for one person to be the ‘reacher’ and one to be the ‘retreater’. In healthy relationships, this is balanced or the roles shift around. There’s an easy flexibility. In unhealthy relationships, these roles become polarised. The more someone retreats, the more the other reaches, and this is where the roles become fixed.

    Explore your roles. Which one of you is ‘the commitment phobe’, ‘the non-communicator,’ ‘the abuser,’  ‘the critic’, ‘the disinterested one’? And who is ‘the ‘enabler’, ‘the victim,’ ‘the helpless one,’ ‘the reacher’, ‘the rescuer’, ‘the justifier’, ‘the fantasiser’. Try shifting out of your role. This will shift the dynamic and either force change or make the dysfunction all the more glaring – and easier to walk away from.

  9. Let go of the fantasy.

    The fantasy of what could be will keep you stuck. Every time. It could be better – so much better – but just not with this person. How do you know? Because you’ve been trying. And you’re tired. And there’s nothing more to give.

    The fantasy stands between you and reality and throws flowers at your feet so you never look up and see things as they are.

    The more you fantasise about what could be, the more the reality is embellished and changed into something reasonable. The fantasy will persuade you to hold on for a little longer, and always at the cost of moving forward. Lose the fantasy that things will be different. They won’t be. If you could have lived the fantasy with this relationship, you would have done that by now. Let your fantasy instead be one of all the losers who have ever crossed your path sprawled on the couch, wearing saggy Star Wars underwear as they gaze at your photo, listen to Adele and regret like mad ever losing you, while you eat tacos, listen to Beyonce and not miss them at all. There you go.

  10. Accept what is.

    It’s paradoxical, but the more you can accept where you are, the greater the capacity for change. This will let your decisions be driven by information that’s real and accurate, not a glossed up fairy tale image of what could be. Accept your reality as it is – your relationship, your partner and what it means for you. When you accept the truth, you live the truth. This will expand your courage, strength and capacity to decide whether this relationship is the best option for you – or not. You will have a clarity that will propel you forward, whatever that might mean for you.

  11. Fight for you.

    You have to fight for the things you love and the things you believe in, but one of those things has to be you. What would you say to someone you love who was feeling the pain or the deadness that you are feeling? Inside you is more courage and strength than you will ever need. You are a queen, a king, a fighter, a warrior, you are powerful and beautiful and everything good in the world – and you deserve to be happy. But first, you might have to fight for it. Fight for you the way you would fight for anyone you love – fiercely, boldly, bravely.

  12. Stop making excuses.

    Be honest.What do you want from this relationship? Have you ever had it? How different is what you want from what you have? And how long has it been this way? If you are loved, it feels like love. Even in the midst of a storm, a loving relationship still feels loving. Despite the stress, the exhaustion, the things you do or say – a loving relationship has an undercurrent of safety, security and respect, even when times are tough. If it doesn’t feel good for you, it’s not.

  13. Replace ‘can’t leave’ with ‘won’t leave’.

    Claim back your power by replacing ‘can’t leave‘ with ‘won’t leave‘. Sometimes circumstances mean that it’s difficult to leave. Whatever you choose to do, do it from a place of strength, not from a place of helplessness. If you stay, let it be because you have made the decision that this is the best option for you at this moment in time, not because somebody has claimed ownership of your life. Keep your power and your independence of mind, whatever is going on around you. There’s only one of you and you’re too important to let yourself fade into circumstance or the manipulation.

  14. Not making a decision is making a decision.

    You might decide to put off making a decision, to give it some time. Make no mistake, this is making a decision – to stay. Own your decision and experience fully what that decision means for you. Don’t live on the outskirts of your reality by claiming to be somewhere in between committing to the relationship and leaving it. You’re one or the other. In it or out of it. Claiming indecision might feel okay in the short term, but in the long term it will just keep you stuck, without the energy you need to move closer to what will be healthier for you.

And finally …

If the relationship feels bad, then it’s bad for you. That’s the only truth that matters. Fight hard to keep your relationship intact, but when there is no fight left, the truth will be staring you down like a hunted thing.

All relationships will go through make it or break it times, but healthy relationships recover. They grow closer and become stronger and more resilient. Relationships have a limited amount of resources available – emotional, physical, financial. Sometimes the relationship will be barreled around by a storm and this might use up a vast chunk of the resources that have been banked over time. If the relationship is healthy, it will only be a matter of time before this is topped up. If it isn’t, it will shrivel up from lack of nourishment and eventually die. 

Only you can decide whether to stay or go, but be mindful of your reasons. Sometimes the bravest, most difficult, and most life-changing things lie not in what we do, but in what we stop doing. 

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134 Comments

Giana

This has helped me so much today. I may have to read it everyday. I am only one week out of a toxic 5 year relationship where I clearly loved him more than I did myself. I held on and prayed it would get better, he made it SO hard to leave….I still cant believe I did it. He is starting to date and making sure I know about it, which he knows cuts right through my heart. Trying to be strong, can barely eat, not even sure how I am functioning at work, but praying that I get through it like all of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

I’m so pleased this has been able to give you some comfort when you needed it. Leaving any relationship can be hard but with toxic ones there can be so much self-doubt and manipulation that goes with it. You have so much strength in you and the time will come when you will be so clear of this, and so grateful for the courage you had to let go. I know it’s hard right now, but you will get there. Stay strong. Love to you.

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S

Hi Giana,

I see that your post is a recent one. I am also in a very similar situation as you and noticed that the more you talk about this to others who have gone through the same thing, the easier it gets. I think it’s because you stop seeing your relationship as special and realize that what you once thought was unique, is actually not. I know this sounds odd but please get in touch with me if you want to discuss this. We can have daily calls or something just to try to help each other get through this. I broke up with my ex around the same time as you so we’re probably in similar places right now. I don’t want to give my personal information on this site but I can create a new email address for you to message me on if you feel that you would like to take me up on the offer.

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Giana

Please let mr know where to contact you! Would love to talk. I became weak and had a setback and now I’m
Worried all over again. 🙁

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Yesenia

Giana,

I am currently living your exact same story except I’m so scared to let go but I know it’s there. I would love to connect if interested please reach out. I really am suffering with the thought of letting him go

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MLiana

Hi all,

I am in the same boat… but still scared to leave. Trying to build up the courage again. Except I left once before and then returned for the hope of the fantasy that it would get better and because leaving was more painful than staying. Now I am 8 and a half years in, grappling with the decision whether I should go or not. However I moved to his city where I have no close friends or family and when I initially left or when he ignores me it feels ridiculously lonely! I am caught in a whirlwind of confusion because he says I make up a lot of the things we argue about. I’ve lost sight of what’s true for me and I feel like I can’t trust myself anymore. I keep revisiting this article to convince myself that I’m not crazy.

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Hannah

I’m going through the same exact thing you are, down to every detail. Still with him now and I know it’s not healthy or I wouldn’t be googling “how to leave a toxic relationship”. Would love to talk.. I don’t think I have enough courage to start over.

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Skarlett

I’m in the same situation, trying to find enough courage to leave.. I would love to have someone to talk to.

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Francesco

I am going through the exact same thing. Except I’m a man and my girlfriend is destroying me inside. I could definitely use someone to talk to. If any of you want to talk and want a guys perspective. Please let me know. I’m at my breaking point. I don’t know what to do

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Lauren

I have been reading through various people’s responses and it makes me feel so much better to know I am not alone. I have been seeing a man off and on since 12/2016 who is a narcissist. I have only recently learned what defines a person this way, have been on an emotional roller coaster with this man and yet cannot seem to will the strength to end it for good. Each time (4x to be exact) it has ended, one or both of us keep worming our way back into each other’s life. It’s toxic, and yet I keep going back for more. He has recently been making an effort to change (almost impossible for a narcissist to achieve), yet as soon as there is any kind of issue or disagreement, it is always turned around so I am on the defensive.

Background – he just got out of a 6 year relationship. When we met (12/2016), this woman was still living in his home although in separate bedrooms and their relationship had been crumbling for the past year. We broke up several times because of the obvious difficulties in dating someone this way and yet she moved out at the end of 4/2017. It was then that he said he missed me more than he realized he would, wanted me in his life, and wanted a fresh start with me. He has been making it a point to call and/or text every day (something he was terrible at prior and bothered me).

We are both celebrating our 50th birthdays next month. Last weekend, he invited me as his date to meet his brother and sister and spouses and stay overnight in NYC to celebrate. They had told him to bring someone. I was so excited – I went out and bought a new cocktail dress and couldn’t wait. The hotel and restaurant they’d selected was very upscale and it felt great knowing he wanted me there.

Last night, he texted me (not called) to tell me the plans had “changed.” His family decided to have a “family affair” and hold the celebration at a cousin’s house. I was not invited. He said we’d do something else that weekend.

I was really disappointed. I’d just taken the tags off the dress that morning, found shoes, etc. When I told him how disappointed I was, instead of being apologetic, he said, “Well, what did you want me to do?!?!?!?” I told him it wasn’t for me to tell him, but I was just disappointed.

He said he wasn’t ready to introduce me to his family and that many of his family members still really like his old girlfriend, which makes it harder. Then he said this was why he didn’t want the “stress or obligation” of being involved. I tried to call him, but he wouldn’t answer his phone — said he had a headache and didn’t feel well. This is another passive aggressive way he avoids me too.

I know it wasn’t his fault that his family changed the plans — I just wish he’d wanted me there. I wish he had apologized more and had the empathy to see how disappointed I was that we weren’t going into NYC together. That is the narcissistic part. Instead of thinking about how I feel, it is still about him. It’s always about him!

I said that I hoped we could celebrate ourselves — just the two of us somehow, yet I’m upset that I’m just willing to take it.

There’s been so much more — but this was just the latest in a series of incidents where something has happened, and I have been made to feel badly for being upset or disappointed in some way.

As a footnote, this morning I texted him and said I hoped he felt better and to have a good day. An hour later, I got back “U 2.” We have plans to get together tomorrow night, and I had said I hoped we could figure out birthday plans then.

I know I shouldn’t be putting up with this. I feel weak and spineless that I can’t stand up to him. I don’t know why I’m afraid of losing him either — except that when we’re together, I enjoy his company. I know that isn’t enough. I keep hoping he’ll change.

I’m aware that I should be able to pull myself away from him. My own family (my mom especially) is upset that I continue to go back to him and says I’ll continue to be disappointed and continue on the emotional roller coaster that I’m on.

To make this even MORE complicated, I’ve recently met someone else. He currently doesn’t live in the same state but has his home for sale and is moving to my area where his office headquarters are. I have only been out with him once, but he is taking me to lunch this week. He is super attentive, friendly, warm, and genuinely seems to be a nice person. I have no idea whether I really like him, but part of me keeps being pulled back toward my narcissist — and it makes me feel lousy that my heart wants to be with someone who is not treating me quite the way I want him to.

Anyway, I would love to hear from anyone (including Francesco for a man’s perspective) who wants to share. If you send me an email, I will gladly respond.

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Demora

Stay strong YOU can do this. Know that this too shall pass. Your comment is helping me. I walked out on my wedding a month ago and still chose to stay with him only to keep getting the same results. I too have to decided now to just let it go. However, he is persistent on trying to make me stay in this toxic situation which is killing my courage and strength on the inside. I too can be strong and move on.

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Becca

This was a great find tonight, thank you. I think it will help me through this! I’m day one of leaving a toxic relationship of 3 years. It hasn’t been that long, but long enough to make it difficult. I just don’t understand how I can feel so sad and miserable. I should feel happy and free. I don’t want to care about him, he doesn’t me. Unless I’m the target for criticism. I should be happy!!!!

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The real McCoy

I just left my toxic wife
Wow what a relief
No more drama and self induced chaos 24.7
It does hurt no lie
I miss her and what I thought we’d become
All expectations really based on distorted reality
You do start going crazy doubting your own truth and witness
But you’ll realize that it’s the addiction to drama that’s actually the hook
It’s a drug too
I wanted to save her
More then myself
Hmmm that’s weird
One breath at a time go forward and work on yourself for now

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AJ

I did the same, as per earlier comments. I haven’t been back here for some time. It has been so difficult and painful. I still get anxious from any form of contact. But is gets better. It may take a long long time, I know that, but not starting would have been worse. I miss her nearly every day. I still get feelings like I want to save her, even after what she did to me. I am trying to figure out why and how I could feel that way. But now i don’t help and I am in a much better position in many ways. I am scared of her begging to come back one day. But I am positive that by then I will respect myself more than ever before.

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Nestor

I have been in this toxic relationship for ya too long it’s embarrassing (15 years) and a son who is now 11 who I’ve raised. It’s the hardest thing to let go as I’ve tried many times and go months and months sometimes only to feel sorry for her or hear her say she misses me or loves me. I always give in and think things will be different. At times even feels like there might be a chance. Her addiction has ruined her life and she is a miserable person with draining and exhausting energy. Here I am again trying to go on without her after a six week run that felt empty as always. She is so detached from the relationship anyone want as far as communication and being available and showing the sacrifice for change. Nothing ever changes! So I’m hoping this time I finally keep moving and give myself a true and real chance to let go and heal to maybe one day find the wife I so much seek and want in my life.

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Becca

Missing is so normal, hurtful and makes you sick. It’s a constant battle within. Especially when you love that person. It’s bad even for me because he doesn’t care. He will never apologize for he has never done anything wrong. I have to constantly remind myself I need to move forward. The scary thought is I have to go back and get my things. I’m here to talk. I think if we meet people that are going through the same helps. Day by day. We will get through this! I’m speaking from being in a very dark place. If I can become stronger, anyone can. We just need support. It helps like nothing ever!

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Lou

After 3 yrs of a toxic relationship I am a month of being out of it. I said no and then he started to lose his control over me. I came out of my dark cloud and could see clearly what he had been doing to manipulate and control me. I could see why friends had told me his possessiveness and jealousy were not right. Yet he didn’t ever consider my feelings. How it was all one sided in his favour and I exhausted myself running around after him..through fear of his mood swings and worry for him. Forgetting about myself
I was left broken. Panicky. Scared and not eat or sleep for weeks.slowly I put myself first and had courage to talk to strangers… I was allowed to…but been conditioned to feel.I couldn’t through fear of repocusion. I joined exercise groups, art,Dancing and got my confidence back. Just last week I travelled across Spain alone on public transport… Not panicking, not stressed, just happy to find me again. It is hard… But concentrate on you. Who you are, what you enjoy…. And find yourself again. I didn’t think I would or could but I got there. I still miss him but know it was for his gains.. And I have learnt from the harsh experience and I will love again… I have faith. Big hugs and please please stay strong. Cut all contact with them

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Kirstie

I feel stuck in my relationship too and would be interested to discuss with someone going through similar experiences. 10 years in, toxic relationship, two kids, scared of leaving as he’s all I’ve known

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meeka

I love this article. I’m 38 in a toxic marriage with 3kids for 14 years. the thought of him moving on is what makes me stay.

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Lauren

I am in the same situation as this. We are 11 years in, and have 3 kids together. I have only ever stayed because I have this picture in my head of what a family is, I have always known he is not the one for me.
I feel that leaving him will destroy him, and I feel responsible for that. He claims that I am his be all and end all, and we come to this place that I want out every couple months, to which he then promises to change, and that things will get better.
I feel that he is a very mild case of emotional abuse, but that he doesn’t even realize he is doing it. He tries to manipulate and control the situation, but I have gotten wise to it.
I am so worried about how this will affect my kids, and although I am unhappy, I can’t imagine not coming home to someone.
I guess it just feels like it would be easier if he wanted this to end as well.

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L

This is also my day one of finally admitting to myself I no longer want to be in a toxic relationship. It is hard for me to leave him now because I am eight months pregnant and financially incapable but I am looking forward on that day where I will finally walk away.

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Hana

This reminds me of my relationship that I am currently trying to get myself out of. It is a constant battle within myself. I met this guy and we have been dating for a year now. When we first met, he was super nice, and I couldn’t believe someone as sweet we him existed. He listened to me when I was upset and he would show so much concern for me, even when I didn’t want to be bothered at the moment. He constantly called and texted very fast also the time. We spoke about our future, hopes, and dreams and he told me that he saw something in me. It was the best feeling. He made me feel brand new, like I wanted to love and be loved! I was happy for the first time and thought wow he is definitely the one!

A few months into our relationship we had an argument- a serious one, an argument that led to throwing words that were not meant to be said. I admit I was wrong in that situation due to being spiteful which came around to bite me in the butt. He then showed me a side to him that I’ve never seen before. He started writing girls in front my face, from Facebook( random girls) and there was one girl he texted “wyd baby”, and she said “you’re only three days late”. My heart melted and we were on bad terms for a good while.

After that, we came to terms that we were going to stay with each other and make it work. He kept bringing the situation up constantly everytime up to this day he uses it as an excuse to do the things that he does. He makes me look to his friends and family like I’m a physcopath when really he is the one that brings Me to feel insecure due to his name calling, constant emotional abuse, and talking to other females behind my back.

When I tell him about a problem that I have with him, he says he doesn’t want to talk about it or brushes me off and says I’m just crazy. But he says that when he’s wrong or when he knows he’s lying.

When we are doing well, he tells me that he loves me very much and wants to make it work and that I should not be worried because he only loves me yet I’m always finding something new ( without trying) that makes me lose my mind over.

I am trying my best to stay strong. I have even distanced myself from my family and its not that I wanted to, its just that when I’m not around him, it makes me feel crazy on the inside of what he’s possibly doing especially since he says hurtful things. How do I get the courage to finally leave this hurtful, lonely, depressing, and toxic relationship? Someone please help me because I feel I can’t go on:(

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I care. I'm angry and hurting too

Hi there, I know really well exactly what you are feeling and the toxic relationship you are in is textbook. Meaning this is what a narcissist psychopath acts like. I know because I have loved one (at least I thought it was love-and what I gave was love—but what I received was most definitely not “love”. Loving people aren’t perfect people but they also don’t go around damaging other human beings. A person who loves you won’t run off to the next lover for attention or whatever they claim whilst in the relationship with you. That’s a really shitty garbage human being right there with huge issues that need to be addressed by the person first and then by a professional. Those people can not even be in healthy relationships. They don’t have a clue how. They don’t have the skills necessary AT ALL. Ever. And believe me when I tell you that these broken people will not walk off into any sunset with another man or woman and suddenly become the men and women we’d all hoped they’d be for us. They are toxic. And in all honesty they enjoy the toxicity. They aren’t emotionally involved. But you are. That’s why it’s so easy for them to run around behind your/our:mine (who Evers) back and play the game with a new unsuspecting fresh victim. You were chosen by a person who acts more like a predator than anything else. Stand back and really look at the situation. Pull the love goggles off. Were you loving and kind? Absolutely I’m sure you were. Were you manipulated over and over….absolutely yes. Do you want to be with a manipulative jack ass for ever? Who’s definitely cheated on you? That crap behavior won’t stop. Believe me. I have been in my nightmare for 16 horrifying years. 2 small kids. One with special needs. A dug abuser and all around abuser. They whittle you down. Steal your self confidence. Make you feel worthless and valueless. And be assured they’re also the ones that can make you feel valuable and worthy. It’s really sick. And if you hang in like I have you will look back with complete regret at not having left at the first sign of sickness. I have been ruined financially. Betrayed in the must inhunane and disgusting ways imaginable. What’s bizarre….no one would ever know what I have suffered bc on the outside to the rest of the world I am a strong woman. A confident woman. The truth about abuse is frightening and so traumatic and damaging. None of us deserved this. It’s what we got because we chose to try and help or save people who first led us to believe they wanted us to save them. That was all part of their manipulation though. We were chosen for our “goodness” to be a constant source of attention and love and reaching out. We were chosen for our sense of never wanting to give up on something. Meanwhile these truly damaged people do not want help they dont want to change (even they they will say over and over that they do want to change) they willl never follow through. Ever. Which is why we are all here reading these self help articles.
Just leave. Drop it like a bad habit and never look back. Ever. My ex is such an abuser and so messed up in the head that I don’t even want him near me or my children. He’s not good for anyone. My 8 year old daughter even knows. She sees him for what and who he is. It’s sad! Really sad. Of course I wished for better for her and for all of us. But if that toxic person isn’t willing to do the REAL WORK they need to be dumped and treated like the trash they’ve been acting like. They need good healthy doses of reality.
If you see your ex mate moving on (which you will bc these people have no scruples ….be glad your not the next victim…say a prayer for the next victim….hope she’s not as naive as we were….no one deserves to be hurt like we’ve been hurt. No one. ) I do apologize if I sound harsh. But I have been through it all. Been dragged through the dirt. It horrifies me to confront the truth of what I’ve lived through and the poor choices I have made. And if I can help myself and even one other person then that will make what I’ve lived through valuable in some way. I’ve been alone in my relationship for years. Been cheated on. Found out in horrifyingly disgusting ways. While I was pregnant with our special needs child. Heard every excuse in the book and was blamed for his cheating….by him! It was my fault. Lies upon lies. This is a man that I took care of. Cooked for. Provided for. Cleaned after. Financially backed and helped. Nothing I ever did was enough and so I DID MORE AND MORE AND MORE until finally I realized the game. Finally I realized the brutal human being I had been dumb enough to play wife and home maker with. To this day he still will say how much he loves me. HA. OF COURSE HE DOES! What’s not to love about all of us? We are good people, with good hearts….what’s not to “love”. These people will say whatever. Pay attention from now on to the actions. The actions will show you what’s real every time.
Douche bag texting another chick or dude while with you?
Is this what love looks like to us? No. we know better.
Let go of that m-fer.
Another tactic these people will use is finding any and all ways to BIND YOU TO THEM. Not just emotionally, but physically, financially, through children and pets, every single way possible. They don’t want to be left. That hurts there sick ego.
So leave them. Hit them where they deserve to be hit for the destruction they’ve caused in your life. Write down there traits “good” and bad. Then analyze your list. Were the God things really good? Or were they ways to keep you around. Things they did to passify you. Things they maybe even bribed you with.
For me, realizing that every thing I thought was good was really just another manipulation was a really hard pill to swallow. I denied for a long time. Until I couldn’t deny it anymore. A person can’t be good and bad. There isn’t a gray area with abusers. You are either not abusive. Or you are. Good people don’t go around abusing others. Doesn’t happen. Ever.
And if you had to learn to defend yourself from abuse, even using violence yourself….you are not an abuser. You were trying to save yourself from the person who you trusted to never even think of raising a hand at you. 💔😞
After years of struggling it came down to this for me.
Does this persons values align with my values?
I’m talking core values. Whatever your core values are. Name them. Write them down.
Next to each of your beautiful values write down if your “partner” has showed you that they have the same values. I’m not talking about what they say are their values. I’m taking about what they SHOW YOU their values are.
You (I included) have been conditioned to feel bad for these people. To feel bad leaving. To feel bad for giving up. Etc.
don’t feel bad. This isn’t about them anymore. This is about YOU. For the first time in god knows how long…you, I, we, are liking out for number 1 first and foremost. Don’t fall for bullshit when they come runining back to you after they’ve gone and screwed with a few more people in the short time you’ve been apart. Your hunch and your intuition about these losers and their cheating habits is DEAD ON.
Drop them. Don’t even waste time thinking about what you could have done different. You did the best you could. Truly. Now pick yourself up! Be nice to yourself. Be kind to yourself and be everything you know you deserve and the next time we all partner up it will be with other human beings who share our same values. They won’t make you question it even once! ❤️❤️
Should we find ourselves in a relationship again though with tell tale signs that something isn’t right….we’ll know and be done with it.
I’m in this journey with all of you.
I’m working on letting go without anger and resentment. I hope to be able to pray for my ex in earnest. But first and foremost I want to be done for good and move on to what I know I deserve, and right now I’m moving on to ME ❤️ I’m going to be the best partner I’ve ever had. I’m going to have my own back. I’ll never betray myself again in life.

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sue

I have read all these threads and your one made me want to reply. I too am in a similar relationship. The constant digs the name calling the put downs and then there’s the talking and messaging other women on Facebook. I get that crazy feeling also like if he turns his fone off…because we don’t live together I have been known to get a cab over to his just so I know he’s not up to anything. It’s always one rule for him and a different rule for me. I’m at such a lost and so scared to leave because I just wudnt know how to cope. I’m mentally so exhausted being on this roller coaster ride cos that is how it feels, everyday I don’t know how he’s going to feel…I can normally tell from the minute I speak to him what mood he is in. I need to find the strength to go and I know One day I will…I just think for me I need to build my self esteem back up…I’ve realised u can’t change anyone only urself and make changes then maybe he will change himself but I don’t have much hope…

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Andrea

Hi, Giana, I read all the comments on this thread and yours is the one I feel the most identified. I’m living everything you mentioned, even the dating part. I’m very anxious and don’t know what to think/do, this is just so painful…
Any advice? How are you right now?

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Holding it together

Hello,

This website has content that is informative and expertly outlines the various emotions that go hand in hand with tumultuous events in life. That being said, I need to share my current experience with a toxic relationship with my wife. The marriage has taken a turn for the worse over the last 9 months. It was a slow progression and the emotional/verbal abuse that I’ve endured has gone beyond it’s peak. I’ve taken accountability for my part in what has brought us to this point. I tried to calmly reason and talk, but that has never meant anything.

We have a daughter who is 1 and she is sometimes caught in the middle of my wifes rampage and yelling. I walk away from fights when the baby is around because my wife can’t control her rage and reasoning with her is futile. I sometimes take the upstairs to escape the chaos while my wife is downstairs berating me, even what I’m not in the room. Couples therapy that has lasted about 7months and we are now on our 2nd couples therapist. It’s a waste of time when my wife refuses to address her mental well being and fills the therapy session with everything except avoiding talking about her behavior. One example is her barricading the bedroom door during the morning and not allowing my daughter and I to leave the bedroom until she got an explanation for what I plan to do to “fix things.” As if I was the only one responsible for the last few months. Thanks to that 20minute baracade, I was late to a meeting at work and our daughter was crying for her morning milk. My wife didn’t care…she just wanted her explanation. That’s a completely selfish act and her selfishness has taken various shapes. I can go on and on, link the signs of a toxic relationship that are outlined here, but ultimately I still have to go home to this life and try to keep the peace for my daughters sake as well.

-feeling lost

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

I so wish that you and your baby daughter didn’t have to go through this. It also sounds as though your wife is struggling with things at the moment. I notice that you have said that your daughter is 1, and that your marriage took a turn for the worse 9 months ago. Has the possibility of post-natal depression in your wife been ruled out? Depression doesn’t always look like sadness or withdrawal. Sometimes it can look like anger and the confusion you’re describing here. It’s just something to think about. Post-natal depression is very real and can really change women and relationships when it happens. It can certainly be managed effectively though. Of course, I can only go by what you have described, and it might not be PND at all, but it might be. A clue would be the difference in your wife’s behaviour between now and the way she was before the birth of your daughter. If there is any chance it might be post-natal depression, please encourage your wife to speak with a doctor. It will be important for your wife, your daughter and you. A doctor will be able to see if depression is driving your wife’s behaviour. If it is post-natal depression, there are really effective ways to manage it to bring hormones, neurochemicals etc back to balance.

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Lauren

How timely, and I can’t thank you enough. I ended my brief but toxic relationship with a man I had only been dating for several months. We met via an online dating site but it was under the pretense that he was divorced and single. Unbeknownst to me, while he WAS divorced, he was still living with his “ex-girlfriend” of 6 years but in supposed separate bedrooms and they were on the outs. By the time our first date happened, I was hooked, and he didn’t tell me about the the ex-GF until we were on this date. He made it sound like she was moving out and they had been on the outs for 6 months already. So…I believed him… and waited for her to move out.

We got closer, enjoyed our time together, became intimate as well as closer emotionally, and I deluded myself into thinking she would move out soon — especially because he appeared to be falling for me…

But…he kept a photo of the two of them as his profile photo, told me she would “always have a place in his heart,” reminding me every time we were together that this “didn’t mean he and I were going steady” — and that was supposed to be funny. He didn’t want to consider us being in a relationship, yet when he spent the weekend with me, cooked me breakfast, was intimate with me, took me to dinner, it had all the hallmarks of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. We laughed, held hands, shared stories about our families, our past, etc.

It would, however, take him sometimes a day or more to respond to a text from me. Or he wouldn’t answer his cell phone even though I knew he had just texted me. Sometimes he would seem to pick a fight with me by text for no obvious reason. He could go days without contacting me. He told me he regarded me as a “dress shirt he wore every now and then and liked to carefully put on a hanger and hang in his closet until he took it out again” — and all I did was ignore the obvious and hear what I wanted to hear. I kept hoping that the more amazing I was to him, the closer he’d be to making “Cam” (not her real name) move out and then we’d have a “real relationship.” Any time I brought up the subject with him, he made it clear it wasn’t a subject he was willing to discuss with me. Kept saying it was “complicated.”

I also walked on eggshells with texting him. He frequently misconstrued my words (and I’m a good communicator) and accused me of being icy or testy with him — which was never the case.

The final straw was yesterday. We had just spent an entire weekend at my home together — a very good one. I am leaving for vacation with my 2 daughters on Feb 16 and was hoping to spend time with him before I left — hopefully celebrating Valentine’s a day early. He had yet to mention it but made a point to mock any tv commercial he saw that mentioned the holiday. I laughed at most of them too. When I let him know what days I was free leading up to my trip, I didn’t even mention the holiday. It took him 24 hours to respond and said he couldn’t remember what dates I’d mentioned. When I told him again, I suggested Monday and maybe even celebrating the holiday with me Monday. His response was that he didn’t celebrate that holiday and that I’d “have to do better than THAT.” I told him maybe he’d like to plan something else as I liked surprises. This led him to accuse me of “fishing for a gift” and reminding we weren’t even in a “full-blown relationship” because he was still “untangling his old one.” I also have no idea whether he was planning to spend VD with “Cam” either – from what he said, they did not have a romantic relationship anymore — but who knows.

I had tried ending things with him a month ago and couldn’t. Just as your article said, I was more afraid of losing the intimacy with him and the time I got to spend with him than accepting that I felt insecure about what and who he was going home to, his lack of showing me that he cared, and his frequent anger at me via text when I hinted at my developing feelings for him.

I finally got the strength last night to tell him we were done and I didn’t want to do this anymore. This situation was toxic and unhealthy for me. He was not to contact me FOR ANY REASON until he untangled his relationship with “Cam,” felt it was a healthy decision, and still wanted to be with me. Then and only then would I PERHAPS consider being with him…but for now, I have made a decision that has been more difficult than I thought it would be. I really wanted things to work with him but know that I was looking ahead to a possible fantasy future that did not exist.

He texted me this morning (so much for not texting me for any reason) to say he was sorry but that he also was not trying to change my mind. He told me I was a beautiful and good woman. I know I am. I still can’t help hoping “Cam” will move out, and he will change his life, but I also know I can’t sit back and allow myself to continue in this type of situation.

I will most likely be reading your article over and over again to remind myself that I did the best thing I could for myself even if it is difficult and painful. I deserve so much better than what he has been giving me.

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Petra

Please remember those that carry contagious disease, and are quite literally “toxic people” that try to form “toxic relationships”… The threat maybe real! Thank you for avoiding them, because their contagious diseases are often preventable! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as a saying goes. Goodbye, toxic people! We’re just trying to live our lives in love and peace.

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lynne

l am so happy that l found this today..l realised just this morning that l have been holding on to a bad relationship for the best part of twenty years…l met a man and fell in love l thought he was my life long partner..maybe 6 months in l realised this doesnt feel good, dont get me wrong he is a lovely lovely man but his first love is stocks and shares and l was left way outside the office door.
l hoped it would get better, l kept myself busy, l gave him all the hours he wanted but it was never enough…from 7.00 in the morning to midnight and beyond he’d sit staring at that computer screen with all its charts and ringing bells…and l waited and waited, no days out no cosy nights in…weekends he spent researching scared to miss an investment opportunity…l was so alone, l thought it would get better..he used to say l’ll make it big today, but l’d do better if you stopped nagging me..when he didn’t invest well it was my negativity that was to blame…and this went on until this weekend l realised how sad, heavy and empty my life felt…l’ve had many hours of therapy for ‘mental health’ stuff, but now l realise why l was so unhappy, insecure, crazy…
weird thing is he’s never made it big he is stony broke, always has been…but l’m out of it and l am determined to thrive…l’m scared to death and the pain l feel is awful but l will do it…
thank you for this article..xx

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome Lynne. I’m pleased this article found you when it did. You sound so strong and clear and you can do this. It sounds as though you have fought hard for this relationship, but now it’s time to look after you. Love and strength to you x

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Annie M.

This article is so well articulated and touches on so many hidden aspects of toxic relationships that the average person might not think about day to day. I am newly out of a horrible relationship ridden with drugs and deception. The man I was seeing was also seeing someone else on the side and hasn’t really made much of an effort to apologize or explain himself. I blocked his number shortly after finding out and let him know that I no longer wanted to hear from him and got the most predictable, manipulative response ever-“Fine, I will lose your number officially too. I hope you do well because you deserve it… I was just worried about you and wanted to know why you haven’t responded… but whatever I guess we’ll just never talk again.” (Epic eye roll). I still feel sick to my stomach every day knowing that he’s been seeing this other girl… but I’m also fully aware that I was always in love with the idea of him rather than really in love with who he is. I have the worst track record when it comes to choosing men… they have all been drug addicts, abandoned, or severely hurt in some matter. I am attracted to these guys like a MAGNET. Not surprisingly, every time I end these relationships, every part of my life improves- my looks, my health, my work ethic…every thing. Yet, I always feel totally empty inside. It’s always been such a gift and a curse to be so incredibly aware of my own shortcomings and tendencies. I am currently doing ALL the things that are recommended to recover from a bad break up… but unfortunately I have nobody to talk to…not even one girlfriend. I’m very lost in my own company lately, but I think there’s a lot of growth and opportunity that can be found in my loneliness. I am confident that I can move past this. I’m working on just noticing my feelings as they go by rather than letting them manifest into something I can’t control. I really appreciate you taking the time to write all of this. Everything I have read on this website is just so well written and so insanely needed. I might never know you, but you are so needed and I just really want you to know how appreciated you are. I will continue to walk into my own discomfort and embrace it. “Sometimes new beginnings can feel like endings.”

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Rissa

I just got out of a toxic relationship as well. I was the reacher, and she the retreater. She was manipulative and distant, and repeatedly invalidated my feelings. But I saw red flags and still stayed because I thought I could get past them – worse, I thought I could “save” her. I’m realizing that I do this with many, if not all, of my relationships. I cling to people and the validation they can give in order to fill that deep lonely emptiness I feel when I’m not with someone. I would encourage you, and pretty much everyone commenting here, to look at attachment styles and codependency in relationships. I realized that my ex fit the bill, and that despite the problems she brought to the relationship, she could never have been the person I thought she could be because she’s so unwilling to change. Until she does, we can’t have any sort of relationship or contact. I’m learning to focus on my own wellbeing instead of going to other people and things for validation and happiness. I hope that my ex finds a way to start this process, because I do still care for her.

But I’m still focused on me and my own healing from both this relationship and my past relationships that have created these bad habits and patterns I find myself in.

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Dani

Hi Annie a lot of what you said really struck a chord with me. It sounded as if I was speaking about my life with what you were saying. I am also attracted to the wrong guys like a magnet. I also do not have any girlfriends to speak to and I know how hard that is. Maybe it’s different for you but I know I might keep a guy in my life longer than I should or even want to because he is not only my boyfriend but also my best friend and friend all in one. This is very unhealthy and I know that. If you’d be willing to speak I created an email address so you could contact me if you like. I’d love to have someone else to talk and it seems we share the same issues. The email is dv564721@gmail. Hope to hear from you.

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Mike

I have a child which I’ve raised due to his mothers toxicity. She’s been to prison twice since his birth. Her drug addiction controls her. He is now ten. I’ve given her chance after chance to come home even after both of her short prison terms only to be disappointed in her actions and her reasons for returning and taking the opportunity to be a family. I’m broken and severely damaged yet I manage to give my son stability and a chance at life. I’m not strong enough I feel. My lust and my loneliness keep me letting her back into my life on top of giving out son a chance to have whatever he might have left of a mother. I’ve cried in my knees for god to help me release these chains and I’m still there stuck. I loose faith I will ever conquer this. I feel sometimes the only way I will let go is if someone else comes into my life and gives me all those things that a relationship requires that I have to give . God help me

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AJ

My marriage of 9 years has just ended. Sadly the signs were there from early on when we met 13 years ago.
She couldn’t stand me even talking to another woman, and having to work with other women made things a problem. We would break up over this and get back together. This happened many times. I thought “how can she not realise how much I love her and that I am 100% committed?” and thought she would come to her senses.
We got married and there were many good times. But underlying it all were her insecurities. These led to excessive spending and always wanting the next exciting thing; holidays, clothes, fancy restaurants. We bought property and moved and no house was ever a home to her. She never felt at home. She would buy furniture and furnishings to make it home but it never worked.
I complied most of the time. There were times though when her spending got out of hand and I became the bad guy because she had drained our finances so badly. She couldn’t take responsibility and took it out on me. I became an enemy.
There were major anxiety episodes where she couldn’t leave the house and I was there to get her out of them. But she would look after herself to get back to normal and then forget it all again.
Everything changed me from being a fun and positive person. I supported her and did everything for her, not me. I sacrificed the things that made me happy. I changed. And the worst thing is that this change changed me from being the person she fell in love with to someone she fell out of love with!! So the years of 100% commitment, love and thinking she would change actually changed me and not her, and led to today situation.
All along I had a belief that I was a great person and loved her so much and she would eventually look after herself and come to her senses and we would live happily ever after. But in the end she never changed and I did, but for the worse. I don’t understand why I could never let go, and I feel stupid for it. If it was happening to someone else I’d be saying why are you still there? Get out, she’s destroying you, she’ll never change. But I hung on. And even now, she was the one to end it. I tried to save things. Why? I am a fool and it is embarrassing.
Yesterday I found your article and it changed my day. I started out feeling down, hollow and upset, the same way I have felt for the last month. But I found your article and it made things clear. I am not alone in this. She has actually done me a favour by ending it for us. I am now on a better path. But I still am disappointed. Disappointed in myself that I wasn’t the one to end it. A long time ago.

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S

Hi AJ,

I wrote this to another person who is in the same place that we are in. I also am just coming out of a toxic relationship and instead of going to therapy, I want to speak to others who are going through a similar situation. I think it helps to know that your situation is not special, but rather, it is generic and can really happen to anyone. I’m a bit hesitant about sharing my personal information but like I said to Giana, I can create a fake email or something for you to get in touch with me if you’re interested in taking me up on the offer.

Hang in there.
-S

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The real McCoy

How sweet it is to read that I’m not the only one going through this
It’s quite maddening watching someone you love breakdown into nothing and this someone you love actually blames you for all the hurt

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Claire

I read this article and it brings tears to my eyes. I am fully aware that the relationship I am in is a really toxic one.. I had been a happy person previously, with a lot of friends but now I have lost most of them, the ones I didnt are the ones who can put up with my constant excuses I made to not go out. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 4 years, off and on. He’s cheated on me before and I forgave him, where now I have anxiety issues and the main cause of my stress and depression comes from him. I can’t eat alone, I can’t spend enough time with my family, I can’t do a lot of things. There are times where I am possessive as well, as he’s done things in the past that was really hard for me to accept and I admit I’m no perfect person although even all my friends and parents do agree that he’s just way too much.

The thing is I don’t know how to let go, because he used to do drugs and now he’s stopped because I always would say I’d leave if he does it again. But now he’s just really possessive and emotionally, sometimes physically abusive. I’m unhappy most of the time. Birthdays, New Years.. I really would rather spend with the people I really love. I would say that I love him but I just can’t leave because I’m afraid he’d start doing drugs again or going off with other girls and when I see it, it hurts me so much inside. Many people ask why I still stay but I just can’t seem to explain to them.. I just want to let go already. He’s taking such a toll on my life.. I’m also sort of afraid he might try something like go on social media to say stuff or come by my work place. I know he’s afraid that I’ll leave, but even if I do leave it’ll be hard to get a clean break.

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Fonda

I’m realizing he’s doing these horrible things to me on purpose and I have a 3 year old, it’s wrong for me to be treated like this but I’m wrong to let my child go through anything more than he has. I will need therapy;(

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Shelly

Very well written. I was married for 21 yrs. Drivorced for three. I replay the marriage over and over. I am trying to move on. I’m stuck because my ex refused to communicate his feelings to me. He just shuts down. I question whether he know now to express his feelings. It’s the unknown for me. He makes comments like “I should know”. Or says that I am ignorant. Keeping in mind he did drugs throughout the marriage. He did receive 30 days of treatment for 15 yrears of drug use. He pops pill. And he needed sex 24/7. So he had many addictions. I need to know how to get past not getting any feedback from him. It’s a game to him.

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Melissa Rossow

18 years ago I met a younger man who was the most beautiful and amazing person I had ever met. He told me soon after that he did not want a monogamous relationship, but I had been so attracted to every part of him, that I agreed to enter into this relationship.
I didn’t really want that, of course, I wanted him to want me and then love me enough to only want me so I stayed, trying to be the most perfect and gorgeous person I can be.
Of course it wasnt’ enough. I remembered a previous relationship where the guy was dating several womenwhen I met him, but soon after being together he did not bother them, and we eventially got married. Certainly this could happen again, right?
This story with the toxic one begins 19 years ago. We had a great few years, I know he had quick sex with others, but it was not a relationship, so I justified this as okay.
Please don’t think that I didn’t have other offers at this time, because I did. I just didn’t want to leave L because I just thought if I was a little better, it would be okay,
When he told me I was the most important woman the world to him, I just figured he would have the decency to tell me if this ever changed. I fould out the hard way there was another he had grown to put above me, andhe was pretending at his sports club that they were a couple. apparently, she went to the club with his, I am a dancer and yoga teacher, not interested in that stuff, had to do my thing.
I found out and left him for 5r years. There was never anyone that meant anything. I wanted him back because I missed him so much so I called him and we got together for 8 months, even though she was still in the picture.
ut my heart was broken. He treated me like shit compared to what had occurred before. He ended up just ghosting me, I ghosting him, that was 2 years ago.
But I can’t help missing him and crying that we are over. I cry over songs like “Old Friend:, Out of a Limb, etc.
I am not younger and gorgeous anyore. I am just ok looking. If I had money I could get fixed up, but he was well off and paid for all that. I don’t have it.
I am becoming invisible, men don’t notice me, I am
sure I have ruined my life. sometimes I don’t want to go on, but my charity of animal rescue and yoga classes keep me going.
Can you help?

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Charles

People will use you if you give them permission. If you are looking backward you can’t look forward at the same time. Your problem is not your looks but the way you think. Change your thoughts and you will have what you think, be it negative or positive. It’s not what you look like on the outside that is the sole determinant of relationship success but how you are and how you think on the inside. Read Byron Katie “I need your love is that True” and Laura Doyle ‘The Surrendered wife” and Henry Cloud “Boundaries” to build you a life that can get you love. First you will learn to get it fro your self and stop leaking your power all over the place with people that down appreciate it. Make yourself worth having so you can be worth keeping. Wanting someone that abuses you is the worst thing possible. A relationship should be nourishing and healing and happy and that can happen to you!

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Gayle

I have been dating this guy for 4 months, and I am seeing signs of a toxic relationship. I cannot do anything right, he never compliments me, he is negative ALL the time, he says I take up his bed space, snore, and wake him up at night, so I told him the other day I have a solution to this problem “I will not be spending the night with you anymore”. We are not living together. I have my own house to come home to…. I think this is the beginning to the end of this relationship. He was married 19 years and is divorced. He never tells me how he feels towards me. I think I am just a person to fulfill his loneliness from the divorce. I am contemplating ending this relationship because I feel so neglected and awful every time we are together. I have never known a man who did not like intimacy from a woman. He does not like to hold hands, touch, kiss and only sex once in a blue moon when he wants it…..which is not much. I am truly with a narcissistic man, and its really getting old……I am too old to waste my time. I am looking for a husband I am in my mid 50s and time is of the essence. I must get strong and move on, although I care deeply for this man and am very physically attracted to him. I feel it is a matter of time. Should I tell him, I am going to look for someone else? Or should I just quit seeing him cold turkey and tell him I am done??

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Maria L

I feel so low as a woman, i know it sounds crazy but after all the bad things he is telling me im starting to believe that its me n only me there is something wrong with. I live witht my partner for the last 7 years. we are not married. He was married before and got divorced. I met him 5 years after his separation. From the start of the relationship, iv always been the one fighting for us. Whenever we had an argument iv always ended up being the one to say sorry, eventhough i know it wasn’t my fault. Im not saying i am perfect and whenever i am wrong i admit that to my partner. He will never say he is sorry, very rarely. Neither can he have a conversation about our problems, it always ends up wih him talking about MY mistakes and what I need to change “so he can accept me” we never talk about what he can do for us for me. it always ends up with a fight and no solution, but him saying to me go to hell ur worth shit ur an idiot the worse woman on earth , u name it, just the worse u can imagen. it always end up with a figh, whatever it is, even if i complain of him not giving me any attention for example. by speaking my heart off. I end up crying for hours calling my friends for support yet to stubborn to listen to anyone’s advice. I know they are right ab him not being good for me, i agree, yet i cant find the strength to leave him. After the fighting he always kinda trying to “get me close” like nothing ever happened, but thats after iv cried and suffered begging him to talk but he just tells me to fuck off from his life. Can someone tell me why he does this to me? when a day ago he tells me all this bad things of how happy he would get if i only could just leave. i seriously have no respect for my self anymore, i have no self esteem , never had the best but never so low either. and i feel so lonely. my friends will always comment how beautiful i look , but ill never hear it from him. never. lately iv tried to come closer to him but he just rejects me, in a really hurtful way.when i asked what’s going on he says that im not doing it right, that he cant feel the touch of my hand. That im not “soft” enough. i really have no idea what he means by that, when im the same as i alwyas been with him. because i really wanted to be close to him, i told my self that i would try to come close first as we havent had sex for the last month and a half. Its ridiculous i know, and iv asked him if there is anyone else in his life as he feels the way he feels about me. he just starts calling me names and that im sick. iv confronted him that perhaps he just doesn’t love me anymore and thats why he is the way he is and whatever i do seems wrong to him, his answer is he dosent give a shit about me. The next day as if nothing ever happened. I really need help and i dnt know how to get out of this nightmare, am i that blind? how did i let my self fall so low for this man that treats me like trash?

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Lynn Cyphers

Your story made me tear up, same here, I never get compliments, attention, taken any where, called a dummy, fool or stupid, even talks about my cooking…. when I’m packing heavy items he doesn’t even offer to help, likes and flirts with females on Facebook, doesn’t come to my house but I commute with my kid on the hwy to see him , then he doesn’t even call to see if we have made it…. … I really want out and I hate my heart has to be dragged around like trash

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Alexandra

I am having trouble leaving my boyfriend. I know our relationship is in a bad spot and I know he won’t change I also know I am not good to him just like he is not good to me. We have 2 boys but we are both young (22 and 25) I feel like there is better out there for both of us but I feel so guilty for wanting to leave. I love him but I’m not in love anymore and it hurts knowing he can’t take me as I am and has told me to leave more than once because he doesn’t want to change. I don’t know why I stay.

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Jessie

Hi.
I am 8 months pregnant and decided yesterday that I wasn’t going to take anymore. When I read your article about toxic people it was him exactly. I would listen to the means things he would say and try to use them constructively to be better. He said that he doesn’t actually mean the words, he really loves me, I know that I’m his favorite person so it’s okay. It was his way of keeping me around. I would tell him to stop treating me that way or I was going to leave (I was out of options) he would tell me if I left that it was over and he wasn’t going to work on things. In reality he wasn’t working on anything but keeping me low. Doing just enough to keep me around but never changing the hurtful behavior. Anyways, my last straw was when I asked him to not ignore me (my normal punishment) And I told him I still would like the courtesy of knowing where he was if he wasn’t coming home. Two days later he was out till 3am. I asked to talk the following day and he told me that I’m Impossible and I need anger management then slammed the door. I said very calmly I’m moving out. He leaves, I pack up everything I own, no furniture not even nursery, because he bought it all. I got a moving truck and within hours I had flown my mom out, packed my stuff, put my two dogs in the moving truck and left. I left the car even because it’s not technically mine. I’m done having him hold money over my head. I am not working but have saved up enough. Im trying to manage my mind the guilty emails and texts he’s sending me are painful but this is his way of manipulating me. He’s not saying he misses and loves me and he messed up. He’s saying youre a quitter, I hope you’re proud of yourself when you look back, can’t believe you gave up so easily. I need to learn to set boundaries for the way I allow him to treat me. I desperately want to stop making myself feel so shitty and finding ways he’s right and I’m wrong. I am a self aware, smart woman who is about to have a baby. I left a life people dream of but I left a relationship that was breaking me down. Wish me luck.

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Lynn

All the stories posted gave me life. I had to save the article which was amazingly encouraging. I know deserve better. I just feel like a failure because it seems like every relationship I have been in seems like the men are so selfish. I have a huge heart and will do anything for the man I love to see him happy – even if it makes me uncomfortable temporarily. I never get back what I give. I’m tired of being drained. I love him but I know that his love for me ain’t equivalent to my love for him. I blame myself for accepting bs when it started. He knows how much I love him and I feel he takes advantage of that. I want out but dam so hurt and so confused. Any advice to help me take that step and not look back?

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Victoria

I am so sad to read the comments of so many women like me that are being taken for granted. I also have been through a rollercoaster of a relationship that has robbed me of my happiness. Naturally I am attracted to men full of problems, the romantic types that later borrow money and tell you what you want to hear…
(deep breath) I was so in love in my guy who didn’t do much to deserve me, he had my love and adoration and just wasted it away. Drinking, and all kinds of other bullshit. His endless attempts to start some new weird business, that makes no money, he’s always broke. I have turned cold, I have so little compassion for those type of men, just disgusted… I am a pretty strong person and I thought “Dont give up, just a little longer. Next winter, next summer, after my birthday, after new years, it’s been 5 long f-ing years. We had amazing times, but the bad times definitely outweighed the good ones. It’s mostly great sex but that doesnt fix the rest of the relationship, no sir. I don’t even get a spark when I kissed him last, that’s when I knew, I got very scared, because my crazy dedication was the glue.

He borrowed again and then after 2 days of no contact, I decided I have tried absolutely everything in my power and I didn’t have to, but I did so I guess this is it. I went to his house when he wasb’t there and got all my stuff and never talked to him again. Blocked him and told him I would call the police if he came by. I am so afraid to be sucked back into this horrible black hole of desire, resentment, and mockery.
You can say that I am a state of shock because I don’t know what I feel anymore, but I know one thing – I will NEVER be used again. There are good men out there so I intend to be a lot more selective in who I get into relationship with. I understand now that lust and relationships are two very different things.

Finally, I noticed like so many of you I noticed the signs and I ignored them, over and over. I did it for a reason, I wanted things to work out so I was heavily compromising my own values just to be the one. What I got in the end is just a guy who did nothing, gave me nothing, broke things, pawned things, in a dirty apartment, I look back and I am kind of laughing at myself for being stupid, but that life.

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Sara

Your story is exactly the same as mine and I mean down to every detail. Does nothing, breaks things, always borrows, tiny depressing apartment, classic smooth talker and tells you what you want to hear. I see right through that. That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is everything is your fault. He didn’t wake up work work on time? Your fault. He lost his credit card? You must’ve moved it. You pick a restaurant for dinner and he isn’t satisfied with the meal? Your fault because you chose the place- night ruined! Everything even if you weren’t even there is your fault. He takes no responsibility. The put downs and insults about your driving when he’s in fact terrible at driving and crashed my car because he never looks properly! If I mention nicely and calmly that he needs to be a bit more observant when driving I’m a horrible mean person. I didn’t even get upset or bring up the incident about him crashing my car as he would’ve gone absolutely ballistic yelling and carrying on how it wasn’t his fault and I must’ve done somthing to distract him. The list goes on. Still havnt left him it’s almost been 3 years 🙁

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Sec

Hi,

All these posts gave me hope. I’ve been in an on and off toxic relationship for 9 years. I’m not the strong girl I used to be and I don’t have the strength to move on for good. Like everyone else i’m holding on to the fantasy. I get dumped at least once a month for little things like asking a question. I get called crazy, controlling and psycho. I try so hard but it’s never good enough. I get ignored for no reason and I just want to know whats wrong with me.

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JK

It’s nice to know that your not alone. I know it sounds weird but to know that your not the only one crying your eyes out, looking in the mirror and not recognizing yourself. I’ve been with my partner for almost 11 years. Since I was 15, and I’m 25. I started to accept the disrespect early in the relationship and idk, continued to just go with it. I’ve only slept with him and one other person my entire life and this other person was way back in high school, yet he accuses me and makes me feel like I’m out cheating or up to no good. Probably because of all the cheating he’s done in the relationship. I can name about 6 other girls that he brought and created problems with during our relationship and still I begged and pleaded to be with him. I mean I got down on my hands and knees and begged him to stay with me, when most of the time he was the one in the wrong, doing wrong. He thinks because he changed his ways and doesn’t cheat anymore bc that I should just be set in the relationship. I’ve alienated my friends and family, embarrassed myself at work, hid bruises and scratches from overly aggressive arguments. It’s just too much. And for some reason I stay. I stayed. I’m staying. I can’t let go. I don’t know how. I know I’m unhappy, I know I deserve better, but I just can’t let go.

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Tjaimes

What a fabulous article! I am in same situation and 2.5 months shy of 6 years although may be over now after another odd day of constant blame. I can usually feel a vibe from male partner and this time not.
I am an overly independent individual with trust issues no doubt. I am a very strong minded person and great with business been self employed since 22 years old and changed that in 2007 due to a plan i made to move from city to rural for my kids, smaller town and more able to keep eye on them working as single parent by choice. I am 50 yrs now a medic/firefighter. I made some crazy domestic mistakes in my lifetime that whether involved for no meaning or good thought meaning cost me mentally and financially huge. I am not the pramiscuous type. I dont have to chase men and would never would. We all have flaws and i am aware if mine by far and some how i think can be extreme. I am black or white sitting neutral not preferred. Well after a crazy ordeal i went thru legal issue ..i messed with crap and knew it for the crazy reason i chose i have literally paid mentally, physically and financially for it. Prior to that legal event(4 years) before i was hit the the case , i had met a man as i never went out in that past time..going to school..raising my kids, working. I have an aura of I AM ME. I played the meeting low being skeptical, we had so much in common and to add the physical was unbelievable for both from intricate bone structure and features. As time passed and yip yap…a couple months. I started seeing things as odd and controlling. Ibthought being out of socialization for so long running rat race..maybe its me. I let things go although spoke up about it in a stand my ground voice. Months..years go by …fast forwarding and the most turbulent heart wrenching tear up verbally, soul draining events would occur out of no where. The on off switch as I WAS TO BLAME. WOE! He had tantrums about working fire dept and ems, going to class, interrogation of all where abouts including walmart and i was a liar for leaving an errand out. Although ironic how he cheated on his wife 20 years ago and i am not a cheater although i accepted him as he was honest to tell me. I sat neutral on that..i had no trust or distrust. I lost contact with friends…his moods unbelievable and the most ugly flew out of mouth. I knew all this..recognized all, although since i dont love easily and dint trust well i gave this man a part if me and has a hold on me even as strong minded and back boned i am …I FEEL SO WEAK. i all of the sudden as physically fit i am had acute onset of pure body and joint pain. The stress off never knowing what to encounter and working hard to b a quality mom literally tearing me up. My whole mind and body depleted…i have become melted and as far as being known as a well accomplished individual i have melted to I DO NOT KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE. 😱😧
There is so much to say and describe that i have already yapped enough in this response. The pain involved i cant describe…i have never given my heart as i did here and it has literally tore me up…i cant get over how weak and dark i have turned. How worthless i feel. So not me and it has taken over.I am aware of my issues of trust etc..and read quite often we attract what we signal off. I am amazed that that aura of my issues attracts 30 years back. I really have work to do. I literally feel like death and with so much heart ache, pain and disappointment in myself that has literally killed all of me and surroundings and who i was.

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Lk

This article must be the best thing I have read today. I’m in a toxic relationship with my boyfriend. I have been trying to leave for the past 10months but I always fall back in. Every time I leave he blows up my phone comes and begs me to stay and promises to be better and like a fool I always believe him, which I think makes me very weak. I think it has to do with the fear of being alone and I keep convincing myself that it’s going to get better. And in the process I know I have been settling for the emotional abuse the endless cheating lack of communication broken promises and sometimes physical abuse. I’m just waiting for the day when I will feel I’m strong enough to leave and never look back. I don’t know why we choose to stay in such relationships because deep down we always know they ain’t right for us.

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KitBot86

Get out before you end up like me. 5 years and still here. This man has done all he can to break me–and I don’t know if I’m staying because I love him, or if I have some twisted subconscious need for chaos. Name calling, spitting, holes in walls, broken phones (so many broken phones…), beatings, and one DV charge…I’ve think about leaving daily. I know I’m no example for anyone else at this point..but if I had one piece of advice, it would be to get out as early as possible. Just end it before you become to entangled with such a destructive and toxic person. It’s not worth you sanity. In the 5 years I’ve been with him..I feel like I’ve aged 20.

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Needs to be over

My husband entered into an affair with an extremely toxic woman. She has controlled him ever since. He has tried to end it over and over again and winds up giving into her every time because he’s terrified of “destroying her life”. She purposely got pregnant and they now have a son. My husband has been the main caregiver as she is so selfish and her main priorities are destroying me and getting high. My husband corresponds with me in secret and we have worked through a lot of our issues. We had a fairly strong marriage before she entered it (together over 20 years). He is planning on moving back home soon and has seen a lawyer about making sure he has shared custody of their son. The problem with my husband is that even though he knows this is what he needs to do and he loves me, our children, etc. he is terrified of actually leaving her. He has given himself a deadline and has made some progress (such as finally admitting what is going on to his parents). He has been cut off from all his friends and family since she entered his life and also stopped working. She monitors his every movement. She goes through his phone, email, things, etc. When he is with us (kids and me), she is texting his constantly. It’s insane. He says this is the hardest thing he’s ever done and if there was no child, he would have ended things a long time ago. Instead of showing her signs that the end is in sight, he winds up reassuring her and “committing to her for life”. I am trying very hard to be supportive and not judge as I know once he is able to be free from her and can see straight, he will be able to go through his stages of grieve and start to think clearly. He freely admits that he has made bad decision after bad decision since meeting her. But he gets confused because she is good to him (when he’s doing everything she wants). From the outside looking in, it’s so easy to see what is happening. He has moments of clarity where he sees it as well, but then she starts manipulating and controlling him. She knows exactly what to say to him. He can’t stand up to her. As for why I haven’t moved on, all I can say is that I love him and he loves me. We built a good life together and complimented each other. Prior to her, he always brought out the best in me and was my biggest cheerleader and vice versa. We still have that strong connection. I have no doubt we can heal and grow even stronger in the future. I have accepted his son is a package deal with him and he will be welcome in our house. We haven’t shared what is going on with a lot of people…only closest friend and certain family members. This is to ensure his transition home is smoother.

My point in sharing all of this is asking how I can get my husband to work through this paralyzing fear and guilt to propel him to do what he knows he needs to do?

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Becca

I need a friend here. I’m so lost, so hurt. So messed up. I have no one anymore.. he took that from me. If anyone is out there, that could talk please let me know..

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Becca

Thank you, sincerely.. I’m so messed up. I keep getting booted off when I type a reply.

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S

Hi Beca,

Feel free to email me at staystrong2532017@gmail.com

I created this email address because when I was going through the break up 3 months ago, I wanted people to talk to and I just kept it. Let me know whenever you want to talk.

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S

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to give an update on my situation for all those who are still on the edge and want to know what life is like once you cross over to the “other side.”

My first 3 weeks after completely blocking my partner from my life were hell – literally hell. I cried my eyes out every day and I felt this unbearable pain in the pit of my stomach. At the same time, I forced myself to work out and listen to all sorts of motivational and inspirational videos on youtube (I’d recommend Tony Robbins and alot of good Ted Talks).

It’s now been almost 3 months and I feel much more hopeful. The pain hasn’t completely left me but I at least feel that I can live without him and move on. I know that for those of you trying to break up, my words and experience will mean nothing because you won’t know what it’s like to be on this side of life (after the breakup) until you go through the experience yourself.

No matter who you are and what you decide to do, however, I can tell you that you can live without your significant other. Of course, it won’t be easy and people will deal with pain differently but it IS doable. All you have to do is make that choice and stick to it. Then just wait it out and give yourself all the time you need to hurt and be angry. But trust that you will move on if you choose to.

If anyone wants to talk, let me know. My email address is staystrong2532017@gmail.com.

Best,
S

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AJ

I agree, S. You can definitely survive and live a happy life on your own. There is nothing to fear about being alone. It is liberating.

My problem is staying out of contact with the toxic partner. The longer I don’t hear from her the easier things get and life becomes better and it seems my field of vision of a happy life grows; I wake up to what’s around me and how other people are happy and how good life should be. And then I hear from her, and the field of vision seems to reduce into a tightening tunnel. I feel sick when I see she has messaged or tried to call.
I have told her I never want to speak to her and will never call her again and I will never answer communications from her. But she doesn’t give up. The last four days have been very tough. I finally gave her a reality check last week, finally getting angry for the first time, something I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to do. But finally it came and felt great. But the reality check seems to have made her panic that I mean it and although she ended it, I have finally made it 100% finished. Everyday has been call after call which I have ignored. It has stressed me out to the point of almost vomiting, feeling like I was going to have a heart attack, and feeling like I was going to have an emotional breakdown at work. I usually delete the voice messages without listening, but made the mistake of listening to the last one. She sounded upset and it triggered my stupid emotional response to want to save her. But I haven’t. I’ve ignored it. I know it’s all part of the manipulation. I cannot go back to being treated like I was.

AJ

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Lauren

Hi,

I can relate. Not that I have personal experience with a drug addiction/withdrawal, I’ve been told that having this feeling (which you obviously have as well) is akin to going through a drug withdrawal on par with heroin. In six months, I have broken up with my toxic narcisstic boyfriend 5x.

And like you, it has been nearly impossible to get MAD at him. I have always wound up coming back whether due to my fear of being alone (which I’m working on) or I just keep hoping he will change and become the guy I keep thinking he can be.

I had the courage to unfriend him on FB so that I wouldn’t obsessively keep looking at photos or his updates, but I have yet to be able to block his number on my phone. I don’t want to hear from him and like you, I feel a tiny bit better and more calm and relieved each day I don’t hear from him. Yet…when (not if) he does contact me, I will feel that same pit in my stomach, that same feeling of wanting to vomit, and that inexplicable sense of dread and excitement that he has thought about me, and I know my anxiety will stir up again, and I could get on another emotional roller coaster.

He is an addiction because I crave hearing from him even though I know it is toxic, poisonous, and bad for me. When I see him initially, I get a high. I feel desirable, sexy, and wanted. Within a few days, however, he has “gotten his prize,” the “chase” is over, and he reverts back to saying he doesn’t want to be involved, he feels I’m an “obligation” rather than someone to look forward to seeing, doesn’t know why he feels the way he does, would rather run away for the weekend to visit his friends across the country than be with me for a holiday weekend and has no remorse, no empathy. He doesn’t relate to my feeling disappointed when he cancels on me or want to do things specifically because they make me happy. He also can’t tell me he loves me.

I’m hoping I have the strength to do what you did and ignore his calls and texts (which will come as they always do eventually — when HE misses ME). I don’t have the strength to block his number. It sounds like you do not as well. I just want him to fade away. I deserve so much more from someone. I don’t know why I keep subjecting myself to this.

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Bella

I’m in the same boat and would like someone to talk to. I’m in a crazy up and down 5 year relationship and trying to find the courage to leave.

What scares me the most is the plans we’ve made together and the future I thought I had set out. Leaving would mean that all of that will be gone and I would have to start over.

When something goes wrong in our relationship I would always be the one saying “Let’s fix it” and he would be the one saying “I’m not going to deal with it”, along with all the shouting and swearing. It is really belittling and takes away my self worth as a person.

But like most people here, the fear of leaving overpowers it all, and time and time again I give him ‘one more chance’ and end up staying.

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Sheryl

Feel so broken. Been together 4 years. There’s been cheating and lies , even an STi, physical and verbal abuse. Feel on edge constantly from the past cheating. Says he’s changed but still very active in social media. Weird thing is I have seen some changes in him , but I’ve lost trust and the person I was in the process. He keeps saying I don’t see the good he is doing, he’s booked a holiday for us. But I actually feel ready to leave now, have sort of intitiated breaking it off, but when someone has become your life and you still love them how do you even begin to truly go ahead fully with those steps. I know this situation is not right for me, I’m unwell and I’m stressed constantly and it’s harder because I have some changes in him, but it’s just not the same for me anymore deep down.

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Al

24 years for me, started off well, i was the rotten one at first taken all the love, but sure enough grew up, was brilliant, few arguments, but started going downhill, split up few times got back together, we had a son, her first child. moved abroad twice, i couldnt settle away from good job in uk, tried 3 times to live down under, she loved it. since menopause then an op and now any illness ailment etc lus her mountainous debts and still she bleeds me dry and i give in and pay her debts up. Now back in oz, i deeply unhappy, she coming out at my expense saying i can go back to uk she staying for good. torn between knowing and being told to let hr go as she toxic, or trying to force myself to stay here see if we can make a go again all the while our son back in uk. she cld and determined to stay and leave him there. i know i should leave her but feel sick at thought too. worse too i been unemployed since arriving due to downturn. need to try and let go. we never married but promised a few times

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AJ

It’s not love, AI.
24 years and you know it’s wrong.
It was 14 years for me. And she ended it. It’s been four months now. And it is still incredibly hard for me. Not her. I realize now she gave up a long time ago and hung on and bled me dry financially while at the same time being unfaithful. That’s why it’s not hard for her. It sounds like your partner sadly has a similar lack of care, respect and feeling for you. I’m sorry. But for your own life and self-respect you need to take control. It hurts incredibly hard. I don’t know when it will stop for me. I feel sick every day, but it does get easier. I think about where I was four months ago, three months ago, two months ago and last month, and every month has been an improvement. Cutting contact is important. Otherwise they will manipulate and try and to draw you back into the cycle.
I wish you the best.

Reply

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