Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

When Someone You Love is Toxic – How to Let Go, Without Guilt


When Someone You Love is Toxic How to Let Go of a Toxic Relationship, Without Guilt

If toxic people were an ingestible substance, they would come with a high-powered warning and secure packaging to prevent any chance of accidental contact. Sadly, families are not immune to the poisonous lashings of a toxic relationship.

Though families and relationships can feel impossibly tough at times, they were never meant to ruin. All relationships have their flaws and none of them come packaged with the permanent glow of sunlight and goodness and beautiful things. In any normal relationship there will be fights from time to time. Things will be said and done and forgiven, and occasionally rehashed at strategic moments. For the most part though, they will feel nurturing and life-giving to be in. At the very least, they won’t hurt.

Why do toxic people do toxic things?

Toxic people thrive on control. Not the loving, healthy control that tries to keep everyone safe and happy – buckle your seatbelt, be kind, wear sunscreen – but the type that keeps people small and diminished. 

Everything they do is to keep people small and manageable. This will play out through criticism, judgement, oppression – whatever it takes to keep someone in their place. The more you try to step out of ‘your place’, the more a toxic person will call on toxic behaviour to bring you back and squash you into the tiny box they believe you belong in.

It is likely that toxic people learned their behaviour during their own childhood, either by being exposed to the toxic behaviour of others or by being overpraised without being taught the key quality of empathy. In any toxic relationship there will be other qualities missing too, such as respect, kindness and compassion, but at the heart of a toxic person’s behaviour is the lack of concern around their impact on others. They come with a critical failure to see past their own needs and wants.

Toxic people have a way of choosing open, kind people with beautiful, lavish hearts because these are the ones who will be more likely to fight for the relationship and less likely to abandon.

Even the strongest people can find themselves in a toxic relationship but the longer they stay, the more they are likely to evolve into someone who is a smaller, less confident, more wounded version of the person they used to be.

Non-toxic people who stay in a toxic relationship will never stop trying to make the relationship better, and toxic people know this. They count on it. Non-toxic people will strive to make the relationship work and when they do, the toxic person has exactly what he or she wants – control. 

Toxic Families – A Special Kind of Toxic

Families are a witness to our lives – our best, our worst, our catastrophes, our frailties and flaws. All families come with lessons that we need to learn along the way to being a decent, thriving human. The lessons begin early and they don’t stop, but not everything a family teaches will come with an afterglow. Sometimes the lessons they teach are deeply painful ones that shudder against our core.

Rather than being lessons on how to love and safely open up to the world, the lessons some families teach are about closing down, staying small and burying needs – but for every disempowering lesson, there is one of empowerment, strength and growth that exists with it. In toxic families, these are around how to walk away from the ones we love, how to let go with strength and love, and how to let go of guilt and any fantasy that things could ever be different. And here’s the rub – the pain of a toxic relationship won’t soften until the lesson has been learned.

Love and loyalty don’t always exist together.

Love has a fierce way of keeping us tied to people who wound us. The problem with family is that we grow up in the fold, believing that the way they do things is the way the world works. We trust them, listen to them and absorb what they say. There would have been a time for all of us that regardless of how mind-blowingly destructive the messages from our family were, we would have received them all with a beautiful, wide-eyed innocence, grabbing every detail and letting them shape who we were growing up to be.

Our survival would have once depended on believing in everything they said and did, and resisting the need to challenge or question that we might deserve better. The things we believe when we are young are powerful. They fix themselves upon us and they stay, at least until we realise one day how wrong and small-hearted those messages have been.

At some point, the environment changes – we grow up – but our beliefs don’t always change with it. We stop depending on our family for survival but we hang on to the belief that we have to stay connected and loyal, even though being with them hurts.

The obligation to love and stay loyal to a family member can be immense, but love and loyalty are two separate things and they don’t always belong together.

Loyalty can be a confusing, loaded term and is often the reason that people stay stuck in toxic relationships. What you need to know is this: When loyalty comes with a diminishing of the self, it’s not loyalty, it’s submission.

We stop having to answer to family when we become adults and capable of our own minds.

Why are toxic relationships so destructive?

In any healthy relationship, love is circular – when you give love, it comes back. When what comes back is scrappy, stingy intent under the guise of love, it will eventually leave you small and depleted, which falls wildly, terrifyingly short of where anyone is meant to be.

Healthy people welcome the support and growth of the people they love, even if it means having to change a little to accommodate. When one person in a system changes, whether it’s a relationship of two or a family of many, it can be challenging. Even the strongest and most loving relationships can be touched by feelings of jealousy, inadequacy and insecurity at times in response to somebody’s growth or happiness. We are all vulnerable to feeling the very normal, messy emotions that come with being human.

The difference is that healthy families and relationships will work through the tough stuff. Unhealthy ones will blame, manipulate and lie – whatever they have to do to return things to the way they’ve always been, with the toxic person in control.

Why a Toxic Relationship Will never change.

Reasonable people, however strong and independently minded they are, can easily be drawn into thinking that if they could find the switch, do less, do more, manage it, tweak it, that the relationship will be okay. The cold truth is that if anything was going to be different it would have happened by now. 

Toxic people can change, but it’s highly unlikely. What is certain is that nothing anyone else does can change them. It is likely there will be broken people, broken hearts and broken relationships around them – but the carnage will always be explained away as someone else’s fault. There will be no remorse, regret or insight. What is more likely is that any broken relationship will amplify their toxic behaviour.

Why are toxic people so hard to leave?

If you try to leave a toxic person, things might get worse before they get better – but they will always get better. Always.

Few things will ramp up feelings of insecurity or a need for control more than when someone questions familiar, old behaviour, or tries to break away from old, established patterns in a relationship. For a person whose signature moves involve manipulation, lies, criticism or any other toxic behaviour, when something feels as though it’s changing, they will use even more of their typical toxic behaviour to bring the relationship (or the person) back to a state that feels acceptable.

When things don’t seem to be working, people will always do more of what used to work, even if that behaviour is at the heart of the problem. It’s what we all do. If you are someone who is naturally open and giving, when things don’t feel right in a relationship you will likely give more of yourself, offer more support, be more loving, to get things back on track. 

Breaking away from a toxic relationship can feel like tearing at barbed wire with bare hands. The more you do it, the more it hurts, so for a while, you stop tearing, until you realise that it’s not the tearing that hurts, it’s the barbed wire – the relationship – and whether you tear at it or not, it won’t stop cutting into you.

Think of it like this. Imagine that all relationships and families occupy a space. In healthy ones, the shape of that space will be fluid and open to change, with a lot of space for people to grow. People will move to accommodate the growth and flight of each other. 

For a toxic family or a toxic relationship, that shape is rigid and unyielding. There is no flexibility, no bending, and no room for growth. Everyone has a clearly defined space and for some, that space will be small and heavily boxed. When one person starts to break out of the shape, the whole family feels their own individual sections change. The shape might wobble and things might feel vulnerable, weakened or scary. This is normal, but toxic people will do whatever it takes to restore the space to the way it was. Often, that will mean crumpling the ones who are changing so they fit their space again.

Sometimes out of a sense of love and terribly misplaced loyalty, people caught in a toxic relationship might sacrifice growth and change and step back into the rigid tiny space a toxic person manipulates them towards. It will be clear when this has happened because of the soul-sucking grief at being back there in the mess with people (or person) who feel so bad to be with.

But they do it because they love me. They said so.

Sometimes toxic people will hide behind the defence that they are doing what they do because they love you, or that what they do is ‘no big deal’ and that you’re the one causing the trouble because you’re just too sensitive, too serious, too – weak, stupid, useless, needy, insecure, jealous – too ‘whatever’ to get it. You will have heard the word plenty of times before. 

The only truth you need to know is this: If it hurts, it’s hurtful. Fullstop.

Love never holds people back from growing. It doesn’t diminish, and it doesn’t contaminate. If someone loves you, it feels like love. It feels supportive and nurturing and life-giving. If it doesn’t do this, it’s not love. It’s self-serving crap designed to keep you tethered and bound to someone else’s idea of how you should be.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship, but a healthy one is a tolerant, loving, accepting, responsive one.

The one truth that matters.

If it feels like growth or something that will nourish you, follow that. It might mean walking away from people you care about – parents, sisters, brothers, friends – but this can be done with love and the door left open for when they are able to meet you closer to your terms – ones that don’t break you.

Set the boundaries with grace and love and leave it to the toxic person to decide which side of that boundary they want to stand on. Boundaries aren’t about spite or manipulation and they don’t have to be about ending the relationship. They are something drawn in strength and courage to let people see with great clarity where the doorway is to you. If the relationship ends, it’s not because of your lack of love or loyalty, but because the toxic person chose not to treat you in the way you deserve. Their choice. 

Though it is up to you to decide the conditions on which you will let someone close to you, whether or not somebody wants to be close to you enough to respect those conditions is up to them. The choice to trample over what you need means they are choosing not to be with you. It doesn’t mean you are excluding them from your life.

Toxic people also have their conditions of relationship and though they might not be explicit, they are likely to include an expectation that you will tolerate ridicule, judgement, criticism, oppression, lying, manipulation – whatever they do. No relationship is worth that and it is always okay to say ‘no’ to anything that diminishes you.

The world and those who genuinely love you want you to be as whole as you can be. Sometimes choosing health and wholeness means stepping bravely away from that which would see your spirit broken and malnourished.

When you were young and vulnerable and dependent for survival on the adults in your life, you had no say in the conditions on which you let people close to you. But your life isn’t like that now. You get to say. You get to choose the terms of your relationships and the people you get close to.

There is absolutely no obligation to choose people who are toxic just because they are family. If they are toxic, the simple truth is that they have not chosen you. The version of you that they have chosen is the one that is less than the person you would be without them.

The growth.

Walking away from a toxic relationship isn’t easy, but it is always brave and always strong. It is always okay. And it is always – always – worth it. This is the learning and the growth that is hidden in the toxic mess.

Letting go will likely come with guilt, anger and grief for the family or person you thought you had. They might fight harder for you to stay. They will probably be crueller, more manipulative and more toxic than ever. They will do what they’ve always done because it has always worked. Keep moving forward and let every hurtful, small-hearted thing they say or do fuel your step.

You can’t pretend toxic behaviour away or love it away or eat it, drink it, smoke it, depress it or gamble it away. You can’t avoid the impact by being smaller, by crouching or bending or flexing around it. But you can walk away from it – so far away that the most guided toxic fuelled missile that’s thrown at you won’t find you.

One day they might catch up to you – not catch you, catch up to you – with their growth and their healing but until then, choose your own health and happiness over their need to control you. 

You can love people, let go of them and keep the door open on your terms, for whenever they are ready to treat you with love, respect and kindness. This is one of the hardest lessons but one of the most life-giving and courageous ones.

Sometimes there are not two sides. There is only one. Toxic people will have you believing that the one truthful side is theirs. It’s not. It never was. Don’t believe their highly diseased, stingy version of love. It’s been drawing your breath, suffocating you and it will slowly kill you if you let it, and the way you ‘let it’ is by standing still while it spirals around you, takes aim and shoots. 

If you want to stay, that’s completely okay, but see their toxic behaviour for what it is – a desperate attempt to keep you little and controlled. Be bigger, stronger, braver than anything that would lessen you. Be authentic and real and give yourself whatever you need to let that be. Be her. Be him. Be whoever you can be if the small minds and tiny hearts of others couldn’t stop you.

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I just left a toxic relationship. I feel so much guilt and very depressed. Feels like I am never going to be OK. How do I continue to move forward?


Thanks as today I broke away and find myself in that place of guilt, thinking I could of and done so much more with this relationship….
His father tells me to walk away and that he loves him as a son but hates him as a man….


Hi! Im going through it now my boyfriend and I been together for 6 years but in between the years his called a bunch of horrible names, I left him and told me he would change, he didn’t. He stopped working and iwas caring the weight we have no children together but I 3 kids of my own. We live together, I’ve notice I started to change I felt insecure, I felt ugly, useless very depressed.and his mouth got Uglier. Now he walked out on us and his texting me were are you, it’s your fault, you did this, ex I feel like I have to fix it. I love him very much I hoped for life together, but I know it’s not getting better so ignore him it really hurts but I know this is not what I want. I want to settle with someone I can love and who loves me right back. I’m 38 and even though I feel hurt I have to say to my self it’s not my fault I deserve better and my kids do too! It’s a battle but I know I’m a little stronger this time because it’s been 3 weeks and I don’t feed into it us all you I’m back with him in 3 days. So I know I’m headed right. It just hurts having an empty space no longer holding and cuddling with that person.


I lived with a verbally and physically abusive man for 42 years . Not every day was hell but much of it was. I wanted my 6 children to have stability ..a place to call home. After they grew up I thought it was my time to get away and he became seriously disabled. I find it difficult to leave an ill man when he is down. When People ask me why I don’t leave there are many reasons , finances being one of them and there is always a thread of fear . Even sick I know what he is capable of and it is not pleasant. I had handguns removed and have taken steps to keep myself safe but I find once fear is introduced into a relationship it never completely goes away. Maybe that is because I over think and am aware of what that kind of evil he is capable of. It is an invisible chain that can choke the life out of you. Walking on egg shells means not pushing buttons. I lived a life with the devil by my side.

many years

Dear Kate
Me too…42 years with a Narcissist. They can be so charming and yet turn on you in a moment’s for no apparent reason. I recommend Leslie Vernick’s blog where every Wednesday she posts about surviving a toxic marriage with different aspects she discusses, with a comment board to, with people pouring their hearts out. The answer is to find strength within yourself, and there isn’t always an easy way out. Keep your own sanity in place, be strong, despise the evil you have had to endure, and if you are like me, you have tried for years to get the abuser’s attention and they defuse every attempt you make in order for them to see how they have hurt you. They will never ‘get it’. I have been doing research for ten years, trying to figure things out. I sleep in a different room as I need my own space, and that has been for the last twelve years. And me too, because of finances, and his control over them for years, it is what has kept me ‘stuck’. Your situation is a bit different, but I think I would be in your shoes if my husband were disabled. We do what we have to do. But for the younger generation who are posting here, I say emphatically GET OUT of the toxic relationships you are in, don’t buy in to the lies, and cheap thrills of sex, as that is not even a relationship. If you can’t communicate on a give and take level, then you really don’t have a relationship in the first place. You are just existing for the next ‘fix’ and I am not talking about drugs, but the real things in life which make a real, genuine relationship. Study up on Covert Narcissists. You will be amazed a how much your ex or lover fits that personality. Don’t let them continue to destroy your life. Move on!


I wrote this to describe the toxic cycle we find ourselves in. I hope it helps at least one person feel understood and not Alone:

A moist pillow
I’ve laid on 1000 times
Dejavu dejavu dejavu
Yet if you call, I will come to you

Repressing this moment
And looking forward onto you
Your eyes contain my dreams so I follow you


Admitting I am in a toxic relationship is like admitting weakness.
I have been with this guy for over two years, and when there has been a falling out I have always run after him to make it right although my head tells me it’s not me it’s him. I am in love with him, it’s not just an addiction, I also know how he treats me is not healthy.
He has walked out of me from restaurants more than once, blocked me from messaging countless times, told me its over I stop contact and somehow I let him back in. I have paid for most of our nights out, holidays and more.
Told me I’m stupid, I’m mad…..yet I have a successful job and know I couldn’t have that if that was the case.
He is not interested in seeing my family and friends and makes that quite clear, makes me feel guilty if I spend anytime with them. Often accuses me of cheating on him.
With all that why do I love him, because I sit here hoping he will change, see what we can have together as a future.
I get played and I see it like a puppy or kitten, that when he has punished me long enough he tangles the toy and I go playing.
How can I break this cycle? I want to but don’t want to lose him and reall I can’t have both.
The guilt I feel is immense for even thinking like this, is that right?


Hi,I want to say that this has been of great help. I just got in a relationship with someone after 6 years of being single. We really hit it off but then she started to change,and sometimes did silent treatment for 48 hours with me pining to hear from her. Everytime she would say that we are not suitable for each other and stuffs like this and that she wants to break up but i would always run after her and change her mind. She also says that she wants to be alone because she has a lot of stuffs in her mind,and she also says that i may have to return to my country soon,which is true,but i will be coming back after 3 weeks,but i think she doubts it. So it is either she is doing this so that if i don’t come back she is not hurt so much or she really has a lot of stuffs to do that she wants to be alone. But what i don’t understand is i always try to get her to talk to me and everything goes well until one day she just stops replying,giving me the silent treatment. So i really want to know if she is doing this because she is a toxic person,or she doesn’t want to get hurt afterwards. Anyone went through this?


I’m in a bad place . I want to break it off. He’s being cold and manipulative. Says he loves me but can’t trust me. I’m tired of running after him. But tomorrow it’s his birthday. And then mine after 15 days. I don’t want to be alone on my birthday. I’m terrified of how hard it will be for me. And easy for him. I don’t know how I’ll survive this.


Really inspiring. I’m in a toxic relationship myself, I’m scared if I break up with her she will end up physically harming herself or me. She is really vengeful and I just can’t bear more fighting. On the other hand if, if she chooses to take it out on herself I don’t want to hold myself responsible. I feel stuck, without a choice. I know this is an emotional trap, but seeing that doesn’t doesn’t change the fact that I feel without control. In three days we’re going to a music festival and it’s our anniversary a week after that. I don’t know how exactly I will handle it but I am looking for support in my family and friends and hope to go about it gracefully. Failing that, I just hope I will go through with it. I wanted to break free for some time now, but I just feel like I can’t. But as I came to realize, I have to, for my own (and hers, too) sake. Any advice is welcome.



I have had this article in my favorites for nearly a year now. That is how good it is first of all and yes, I read it over and over again to calm myself down and then to gather the courage to do what is stated, what is right.

I have been in a toxic relationship with a woman for nearly 2 years now and am finding myself to be addicted to her more than being in love with her. I feel extremely helpless and it is absolutely mind boggling how the human brain just continues to dwell over things or people who cause you more harm than good. Yes, it is relieving to see I am not alone but I feel so sorry for all of us because it is such a dark and lonely place to be in.

It started off as a no strings attached physical relationship that we both mutually accepted, until she wanted more and showed signs of love and affection and that is when I get sucked in and have been in this misery ever since.

She doesn’t let me go and at the same time doesn’t have me all in a normal way either. When at first I found meeting at odd times and not meeting on weekends (as couples in a relationships do) weird, I confronted her only to find out she was in a relationship with someone else. I was full of empathy for her as I felt she was in a difficult situation and probably cant pull out of that relationship, however, there have been so many other situations and incidents (that included other people besides the guy she is in a relationship with) that have made me the most insecure, jealous, needy and most importantly; a disturbed person. She has chosen to share things with me that are just unacceptable and not knowing would be better.

I have never entered her house so don’t know what goes on every single night. She knows every single thing about me and has met my family (parents and siblings). Only I know how hurt I sleep and how hurt I wake up each day.

I have tried to break up but whenever she has come around or called, I give in and think that I should just forgive her and I go back to the hope we will be OK together. It actually gets worse by the day and i still just can’t let go.

I am struggling and just want to gather the courage to do a ‘zero contact’ once and for all.

I would like to get a woman’s perspective, if someone has been in a similar situation, if anybody would like to get in touch.

I have tried traveling, meeting other people, speaking to friends, keeping myself busy with hobbies and also seen a hypnotist and a psychiatrist. Nothing helps which is sad and quite scary.

I really have to let go. I just don’t know what I am waiting for and from where I will get the strength.

Good Luck to Everyone and thank you Hey Sigmund!….


Hi. You just said it in your last sentence.This is what Im thinking. Please correct me if Im wrong. Youre afraid of the unknown and that can be extreemly debilitating which I believe is your case. You doubt your ability to be OK on your own and you dont want to face it. The world is a scary place but not everyone or everything is scary out there. Remember, if youre afraid of being on your own, youre not. You have YOU, plus your friends and family. Get a pet too if you can. Do you have the resources to live on your own? If so, you are a lucky lucky person and already very much ahead of the game. Focus on what you do have and really put it into perspective. Youre stronger than you think armed with your resources and you need to feel guilty for nothing, in case this is what you feel as well. One step at a time. Youve got this 🙂


Hi Julie,

Thank you so much for taking the time and for the words of encouragement. Yes, I do well for myself and have all the resources for being on my own and I am not scared of that either as at one point of time I was on my own and was extremely happy. I don’t have a difficult time dating either but I just keep putting everyone else away because I’m so drawn towards her and I just keep constantly thinking about her. It’s like I’m possessed (so sorry to say) as I thought I was a guy with high morals and have made such tough decisions in my life based on ethics. Anyway, looking ahead now and I’ve read your words a few times now and feel like I’m gathering all the strength in the world to cut off complete ties with this person. I got this! Thank you thank you thank you!


Hmm. Let me ask, how are things going? Have you attempted the no contact? I feel as though in continuing this relationship with her, it is feeding something that you feel you want/need. Have you tried to figure out what that may be? I feel you are a good person and maybe she is not by continuing to toy with your emotions with your permission. Maybe you have a hard time communicating your feelings appropriately. You’ve probably heard it from your therapist, but again, you are definitely getting something you need in this as is she.Maybe in some way you feel needed by her? Is she manipulating you into feeling needed? Guilting you? Figure out why you still think positive about a relationship that makes you feel so awful. Do the no contact. That means no phone/ computer use of any kind. Give it time..let it permiate and see how that makes you feel.


I have jumped from one toxic relationship to another. Both my parents were abusive . Unfortunately I have had toxic friends, relatives and romantic partners. Two years ago i was close to being suicidal. I quit my job because of a toxic boss. From then I have been working on myself , my emotional health. Seven years ago when i was 23 , i got involved with a man 40 years older to me. I have been trying to leave him for years. He is really controlling , He used to make comments on my weight ,he is an alcoholic and abusive when drinking. He was or seemed to be the most loving person I met. Even though he has stopped me from doing a lot of things , moving forward in my career , and to move on relationship wise. He is much too old for me . He has been the most affectionate towards me . Whenever i tell him I want to cut contact he says he loves me and no one will get me. (I always fear that the abuse I have gone through scares people). I have been able to make significant changes in a lot of ways but leaving him is difficult. He keeps telling me he doesn’t want to live,will die when i talk about cutting contact or needing space. He begins complaining about his life, how his children don’t talk to him and how alone he is. I feel bad for cutting off from an old , lonely person. At the same time he drains all my energy. I get depressed talking to him but feel guilty leaving him.


Upon his return, he was very cold to his partner, who discovered the following day that he had been cheating on her with a long-time out of state girlfriend whenever he would visit his daughters – which was every few weeks for the entire relationship. An explosive incident took place, and his partner left and stayed with friends. A month later, the man and his partner had deep conversations; he agreed to break all contact with the other woman for good and to try to heal the relationship, and his partner moved back in. Two weeks later, his ex-wife sent boxes to the man of her work materials that she needed upon arriving, letting him know only after she sent them. Three weeks later his ex-wife moved over. Upon the first meeting of his partner and his ex-wife, his partner was warm and cordial and his ex-wife was cold and dismissive of her, acting like his partner was invisible. The ex-wife began showing up randomly and unannounced several times a day, parking outside the gate to make phone calls, and finding excuses unrelated to their daughter to randomly show up. The ex was never on time, sometimes arriving hours later than she said she would to pick up their daughter, making his partner wait. His partner was not ready for his ex to come into their living space yet, but was working on acceptance and trying to be kind to his ex. The ex-wife showed continued hostility towards his partner, being nasty to her in front of his daughter and speaking poorly of his partner to their daughters and to her friends. His partner asked that he tell his ex-wife to stop this kind of behavior, which he did. He told her to notify both when she is coming over, in case one or the other isn’t home. She did this grudgingly, and complained to her friends and daughters about it, further vilifying his partner to others. His partner asked the man if he could please set boundaries with his ex-wife by creating some kind of pick-up schedule so things could be more smooth and predictable. He refused, saying she was always able to see her daughters whenever she wanted and he’s not going to tell her no, despite the fact that his situation had changed to his being in a committed relationship. His partner felt there were no boundaries with his ex-wife, that her personal boundaries and what should be normal relationship boundaries were being violated, and she felt devalued and invalidated; that she was secondary to his ex-wife’s every want and whim.

One day while his partner was in town with his daughter, they pulled into where the man worked to pay a visit. In the parking lot they were surprised to find the ex-wife there and the man checking and adding to her car oil. A few weeks later, the eldest daughter came to stay with the man and his partner for a few weeks. One day, during his youngest daughter’s air riflery match and one of the rare times his ex showed up for an event, his partner tried to warmly engage her in conversation. His eldest daughter was sitting next to them. His ex only gave curt answers and acted as if his partner didn’t exist. Later that day, his eldest came to him and told him his partner was really trying, but his ex just wouldn’t have any of it. At that point he and his ex-wife had an agreement that they would exchange weekends with both girls. His partner put the eldest on her auto insurance and let her use the car to go to her internship work, simply asking the daughter to let her or her father know where she was taking the car. One day the girls they said they were going to go into town, but instead called their mom and asked if they could visit her. The man and his partner were unaware of this, and had planned to do something fun with the girls when they returned from town. The ex-wife said yes, come over, rather than telling them to ask their father if he was good with them spending time with her on his weekend, or calling him to let him know of the girls’ request, as any person respectful of the other parent’s time would do. When the girls returned many hours later, both the man and his partner were upset for them not saying where they were going and because of the lost opportunity to spend quality time. His partner scolded the eldest for saying she was going to town but instead going to visit their mom on their dad’s weekend and not telling their dad, and the eldest daughter despised his partner from that point on.

When the eldest daughter was departing at the airport, the man, his partner, youngest daughter and ex-wife were there to say goodbye. His ex parked next to the man and his partner. It was raining hard, and his partner offered for the ex-wife to walk under her umbrella. The man said to his ex, “Where’s your umbrella?” She angrily responded, “I don’t have one. I don’t have a lot of things” and refused to walk under the umbrella his partner held out for her to share. “Man, that is one bitter woman,” he whispered to his partner. Inside the airport, his eldest daughter hugged everyone except his partner, who she wouldn’t even look at. Back in the parking lot, his ex asked if she could take their youngest daughter on a trip for a couple weeks. The man was already aching from the departure of his eldest daughter, and said firmly, “I can’t talk about that right now!” His ex smirked and held up her hands like she was warding off an attack and snapped, “Fine. I’ll talk to you later.”

This pattern continued for the next couple of months, with his ex-wife being cold and hostile to his partner despite his partner’s attempts at warmth. The alternating weekend schedule disappeared after the eldest daughter left and was back to random, last minute random pick ups and drop offs. His partner was considering being more inclusive of his ex, maybe inviting her for dinners now and then. The man and his partner became very active with his daughter’s extracurricular school activities. During this time, his partner inadvertently discovered that the man had not ceased communications with the woman he had cheated on her with as he had ardently promised to do. His partner felt very violated by the deception, and there was a big fight. About a week later, his ex showed up to drop off their daughter and he and his ex were engaged in a long conversation at the gate. After the conversation, the man informed his partner that his ex had asked him to maintain her car and he had said yes because his ex told him she was having a hard time. His partner was upset because they had previously discussed this issue in depth, agreeing that his ex would be responsible for maintaining her own car (which he had given to her) and that in case of emergency help would certainly be warranted, and if possible they would go together to help. Again, his partner felt invalidated and personal and relationship boundaries violated because he did not discuss a change in agreement with her before saying yes, and was again giving into his ex-wife’s wants. She felt that his ex was repeatedly and intentionally encroaching upon the relationship and using manipulation to get what she wanted. His partner asked him, “So if she needs her oil checked or changed, now you’re going to do it for her?” “Yes, if that’s what she needs,” he angrily replied. At that point, his partner had had enough, packed her things, and moved out.

Within days, his ex-wife was spending time at his house, which very quickly became spending every weekend, including Friday and Sunday nights, at his house. It was as if his partner had immediately been replaced by his ex-wife. His ex-wife boasted to her friends that she was so glad she was able to get his now ex-partner out of the way, because life is so much easier for her now, and continued to vilify his ex-partner to her friends and both daughters.


Sounds like an aweful lot of hard work for no real benefit to yourself. Consider yourself lucky to be free from that way of living your life be grateful for the experience so you never enter into one simlar again and please ignor the ex wife and her vilifing you to anyone that listens she is the EX wife for a reason and be it now or in a few years he will either see her for what she is or he will stay within her clutches draining him and ruining any relationship he may have.. dont take it personally it wasn’t you in particular she didn’t like you could have been anyone and it would have played out in a similar way.. Thank god your not apart of that negative environment any more concentrate on you and making you happy. ✌💙


Thank you for your kind words Thea. The challenge I’m having is even though we broke up last September, I just can’t seem to cut him off. Throughout much of the relationship there was – and continues to be – a complete lack of respect and compassion on his part, gaslighting, invalidation, boundary violations… the whole ball of wax that goes with psychopathic behavior. Yet, he texts me, and I just go along with whatever as the FWB distraction. He has a string of ex-girlfriends and ex-lovers he’s constantly texting or sexting with besides kowtowing to his ex and being her puppet. The problem is, there are a lot of things we really like about each other, and I am having a terrible time bringing myself to go No Contact. I just don’t know how to find the strength to do it.


Shortly after his daughter’s acceptance, his ex-wife’s alimony payments went down to half of what she had been getting and she announced that she was going to be selling the house their daughters grew up in, leaving her job, and moving to where the man lives (without having a new job lined up yet), in the process abandoning her eldest daughter who is in college. Both daughters were devastated; everyone was thrown into a morass of stress and anxiety. His partner said to the man, “This isn’t about your daughter. This is about her. She’s coming here for you.” The man and his partner discussed in-depth how they would handle, as a couple, different scenarios regarding his ex. The ex-wife got rid of almost everything, including their daughters’ things. A few weeks before the man went to his ex-wife’s home on a final trip to go through things in their old home and bring his daughter back with him, he told his ex-wife that he was in a relationship and that his partner lives with him.

The ex-wife almost immediately started making demands of the man, saying that he promised many years ago that he would help her if she ever wanted to move back to Hawaii. He tried to resist, saying that that was a long time ago, and things are different now. She proceeded to become very angry, saying, “You said you would. What did that mean? Are you going to give me a place to stay? Pay for my way out there? Store my things for me?” He tried to resist, however her hostility, interspersed with periods of silence, refusal to respond to texts, and cold, abrupt communication, continued. The man told his partner, “You were right. It isn’t about our daughter. It’s all about HER.” Finally, his ex asked if she could store some of her things at his house, which he and his partner lived in. He discussed it with his partner, who pointed out to him that there wasn’t even enough room for their own things, let alone his ex-wife’s things, and why isn’t she asking her friend who lives just down the road from where she’ll be living? The man asked that his partner call his ex-wife to deal with the issue.

Shortly thereafter, his partner had a phone conversation with the ex-wife for the first time. His partner spoke with his ex in a kind manner, stating that she hoped they could become friends eventually. His ex said she didn’t want to be friends, and expressed anger that the man never told her about his relationship, and that she knew nothing about her ex-husband’s partner but her daughter would be living there with both of them. His partner agreed that she felt the same way; the relationship should not have been hidden. His ex-wife was very frustrated, saying, “He always does whatever the hell he wants to do without saying anything or having any regard for anyone else’s feelings. What pisses me off is not that he does them, but that he only says anything after the fact.” (This quote is important, so read it again.) His partner offered to tell the ex-wife anything she would like to know to help ease her mind, and proceeded to have a nice, though slightly awkward conversation with her. “She seems alright,” his partner thought. “Maybe this can work out.” His partner, in a gesture of goodwill, offered to his ex to store a few boxes of things she might need immediately upon arriving. The ex-wife declined the offer of storing anything, and declined again after his partner offered a second time, texting back, “Thank you for coming towards me. You and he should use the space for both of your things. I’m fine.” A few days later, the ex-wife asked the man to help her find a storage unit. Again, he asked his partner to help out, which she willingly did. His partner researched storage units near where the ex-wife would be living, and texted the ex-wife to inform her that she had found several options. The ex-wife texted back “Thanks, but I don’t need any storage unit information.”

A few weeks later, the man went on his final trip to get his daughter and go through things at the house. He helped his ex-wife have a yard sale, they attended the eighth grade graduation of their youngest, went out to dinner, and moved some things of the eldest’s to her home two hours away. The man worked long hours to try to fix up the house for sale. While there, his ex-wife asked if she could send him some boxes of things she’ll need right away when she gets there to store at his house. She also asked if she could use his P.O. box for her mail. She would be living just down the street from a good friend of hers, eighty miles round trip from where the man and his partner live, but instead of asking her nearby friend, who she would also be working with, she asked the man. To get her mail would entail a 100-mile round trip. He said yes then told his partner after the fact. His partner was very upset because the ex-wife had turned down her offers twice yet asked the man when his partner wasn’t around. His partner felt invalidated and that boundaries were violated when she wasn’t included in the decision, especially after the decision had already been made twice and was now changed unilaterally. His partner tried to explain to the man that his ex-wife was manipulating him and doing anything she could to insert herself and get close to him, but the man could not see it. She tried to explain how frustrated she was and how invalidated she felt, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears as the conversation deteriorated. The man insisted that his partner not contact his ex-wife about the matter. His partner was felt so devalued, invalidated, helpless and angry that she sent the ex-wife a text anyway requesting that she respect the boundaries of her ex-husband’s relationship and his partner, stating that she had previously turned down two offers of storing boxes and that this action was manipulative. The ex-wife became upset by the text, which clearly stated what had occurred and exposed the manipulation, then showed it to the man who likewise became upset in response to his ex-wife’s anger as well as to his partner ignoring his request to not contact his ex. His ex-wife then proceeded to vilify his partner to her family and their eldest daughter. His ex also refused to store anything at the man’s house, and refused to let any of his youngest daughter’s things come to his house other than what the girl could fit in her suitcase.


I’ve decided to post my story in three parts because of the maximum amount of characters allowed in a post. It was actually part of an therapy exercise on recognizing manipulation and boundary violations. Obviously, I am the “partner” in the story.

A Portrait of Manipulation and Boundary Violations

Those who are easily manipulated often have weak or non-existent boundaries. Additionally, they also cannot perceive or respect the boundaries of others, particularly those who are close to them, because they do not have any boundaries themselves. Manipulators take advantage of their target’s lack of boundaries and weaknesses to advance their own ends, especially if they are familiar with the target’s personality traits such as people-pleasing and other behaviors they know they can manipulate for their own personal gain.

Read the following and try to spot the instances of covert and overt manipulation and the boundary violations of all parties.

A man who lives in Hawaii had been divorced for seven years and has two teenage daughters that he loves dearly would visit his daughters and their mother (his ex-wife) who lived out of state every six weeks for a week at a time. His ex-wife was also originally from Hawaii. During his visits, he slept in a room downstairs, did repairs and improvements on his ex-wife’s house that she got in the divorce (along with large monthly alimony payments and child support), took care of the yard, worked on her car, and took the family on outings and out to dinner. The man had become involved with a woman in his home state that he has decided to be in a long-term relationship with, yet he did not want to tell his ex-wife about his relationship.

His daughters came to visit and met his partner. The youngest daughter bonded with his partner; the older daughter was ambivalent and seemingly upset that her father was with someone new. As the months progressed, his partner suggested that it would be healthy to tell his ex-wife about their relationship. The man refused, saying he didn’t want any problems her, and he feared she would try to get more alimony if she knew, or make him stay in a hotel, in which case he wouldn’t be able to afford to see his daughters as often.

This pattern of secrecy and caretaking continued for over a year, until his youngest daughter was accepted into a private school in his home state. Being that his daughter would now be living with him and his partner, he would no longer be visiting his ex-wife’s home, nor doing anything for her, such as landscape and home maintenance, auto maintenance, eating out at restaurants, or buying things for her house. Both the man and his partner were very happy and excited, planning a long-term family dynamic as life partners and imagining how wonderful things would be. The plan was for his daughter to spend summers and holiday vacations from school with her mother, and live with her father during the school semesters. He still had yet to tell his ex-wife about his relationship.


I’m so glad I just came upon this site. I have never posted on a forum before, however I am desperately seeking input from survivors of emotional/psychological abuse in relationships. I’m going through my own hellacious experience of trying to extricate my heart from a toxic person who repeatedly cheats, lies pathologically, and has violated every boundary, and more, including keeping his ex-wife and every ex-girlfriend/lover on a string in his pocket. I love his good qualities, but the bad ones overshadow everything. Though we’ve been broken up for a year, (together for two) whenever he contacts me (frequently) I just cave and get reeled right back into the girlfriend sans commitment scenario. I can’t figure out why I allow myself to be drawn into such a demeaning position. It’s like I can’t help myself, and I am disgusted that I cannot find the strength to shut the door. Sometimes he seems to have “Ah ha” moments, but they go out the window seemingly within hours. Recently I made the great choice of getting a book called “Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People” by Jackson MacKenzie. I can’t recommend it enough. However, I have found that this great book is not enough in my case, so today I put in a call to a psychologist who specializes in this type of emotional and psychological trauma. If any of you are interested in my story, which is long and I haven’t posted, let me know and I will post it. I wrote it in story form and titled it “A Portrait of Manipulation and Boundary Violations.” Maybe some of you out there will have some suggestions if you think it is appropriate to post a story like that on this forum. Blessing to you all.


Toxic relationship. Oh yes it exists, and it can kill you. I was a happy healthy man 10 years ago when i met her, today i am a sad man having cardiovascular disease because of her. I had to reach this point to realize enough is enough. I blame myself because i did not react earlier, because i saw it as a challenge, because i played her toxic game. These people are just miserable beings who try to make others miserable too.Ten years of my life thrown away along with my health and mentality. But i will get up again. I know i can . Though i’m on my sixth decade, i am not dead yet, and after this harsh lesson, i know i will make it better with my next relationship.


Why would one walk away from a toxic relationship but keep the door open? Toxic people won’t change and keeping the door open keeps alive that wish or hope that it will one day work. This seems like a push pull decision that does not help one heal. I am out of the toxic relationship now, learning a lot about myself and why I attracted/stayed, and am doing NO contact and do not want any open doors.


This was good to read, I have been with someone for 5 years and 2 years ago she left me so I slept with another woman.

She came back and I admitted the truth of sleeping with another, ( I know maybe stupid but I really hate lying)

She admitted to being unjust and sorry for leaving, but the level of abuse I receive daily is at a point where she will tell me to kill myself very angrily with such animosity it feels spine chilling.

I was only trying to move on when I slept with someone else and she was the one dumping me about the 3rd time by then.

I wonder has anyone detoxifed a romance this sour?

Can someone heal when they feel cheated by you?


My granddaughter won’t talk to me anymore because she feels that her fathers funeral cost shouldn’t be taken from his estate and repaid to my daughter. It is very selfish of her and her brother to think that my daughter shouldn’t be paid back $2,000.00 out of an estate of over $200,000.00 dollars. Nothing I say to her will change her mind. She said until we agree to not ever talk about it again she had nothing to say to me. It will be hard but I know I have to walk away from this toxic relationship with my granddaughter.


I love this article. It definitely opened my eyes to things in my life that I was deliberately shutting off to. It is so well written and honest. Thank you.


I just ended a 9 year relationship, I feel that I have been taking advantage of thru out those years, everything has been on me, I have token care of all the bills, now I have to admit that he has always live with me in my home, the previous home was our family home were I grow up at, so I decided to buy me home the who process was done by me myself and I, and after moving into my new home, I try to fight him off but he kept pressuring me so 3 months later, I let him move in, he had an job and had been on it for a couple of year, so I figure ok I will try it again, so it been a little of a year In a half since he live with me, well he quit his job, so I had, had enough, so I ask him to leave cause I could not depend on him to there finically, he move but now my problem is the pressure he keep calling me all day and night, he keeps telling me he has nowhere to go, that he is sleeping in his car, and that make me feel guilty, mind you the whole year in a half that he was living here he did not help me pay no bills. I guess I put up with it, cause see I can paid my bills and still have a little extra, but when he quite his job I had to help him pay his car note, so that he wouldn’t want to drive mines. I just need to know how to get over the guilt cause I do feel bad for him I’m not trying to hurt anyone so do I be unhappy so that he can be happy he a grown man……please help hurt and confuse


I too was caught in feeling sorry for the toxic man that I supported for five years! He had all the sob story excuses why things were hard or bad for him, and he was such a good guy in many ways, I fell for it. I did feel sorry for him! Even though I was not even in love with him, even though he would yell at me! How sick was I???? But I am out now, and I have been working on the guilt with a therapist, and all these kinds of websites. Nikki, these are grown men who are capable of living their own lives. Why do WE feel more sorry for them than we do for our own selves! What has helped me is to write out all the things I did for him, then I wrote out all the things he got when I left him… He got the house, most of the furniture, all the appliances, etc. because I just had to get out and I did not care about those things. How he handles it or is able to maintain it all is not my problem. Good luck, keep working on yourself. Where is it written we have to take care of others forsaking ourselves.


wow this was so intense… i felt like its my story as well… sighs…i wish everyone light, love and peace…


Maybe, you can help me with my situation. It’s similar, my husbands family is very toxic. We have been together for 14 years, I have felt with their verbal and emotional abuse for quite sometime. But here is the kicker, about 3 years ago his family tried to have me prosecuted and taken away from my 3 beautiful children. They put my children, husband, and mainly myself through so much heartache and pain. This heartache and pain I carry with me daily, my case was closed unfounded in February 2017. But my husband family continues to slander myself through social media, in the community where we live in which is not very big. We don’t live near them at all our kids don’t go to the same school either. My kids great grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins had not had anything to do with them the past 3 years but was a huge part of their lives for 10 years. I don’t talk about adult issues with my children because they are children. When they asked me why don’t their Grandmother, Aunt, Uncle, Cousins call them on holidays and their birthday, I as a mother chose to tell my kids they they have chosen not to be a part of our lives right now and it isn’t their fault at all or your mommy or daddy’s and left it at that. That is just a brief overview. There is still one particular family of my husbands that continues to be a part of our lives which I am grateful for on the count of our children because besides them it’s just my family. They are loved by many of course. But my issue is all of this heartache and pain I have been dealing with for the last 3 years has completely drained me as a person. I know one of my down falls is I have a big heart and I do carry it on my shoulder and I let people take advantage of my kindness, I am aware of that, in which I am working on it. But the main reason I am replying to this article is for some advice because I can’t talk to anyone in my family because they don’t listen to me, they much rather tell me what to do and pass judgement on me, so I stopped trying. So let me get to the point here. I love my husband he is the father of our 3 beautiful children and I always thought we would spend the rest of our lives together. But these past 3 years have been very difficult for me, even though none of it was my fault or his it has taken a toll on our relationship. I see him hurting from not seeing his grandmother even though I tell him he can it is fine with me, he could even take our children with him but he choose not too. This incident his toxic family created to cause me hurt pain because I am a successful educated women and they think I owe them something has made me look differently toward my own husband. Why is that? I have tried so hard not too, but even time I look at him it’s like the wound in my heart I am trying to heal from his family gets torn open again and when one set of his family comes by to visit some way some how they mention the toxic part of the family in front of me and there goes that wound being torn open again. I know people change, some for the better, some for the worst but my question is how can I heal from his hurt I carry with me daily? I know people do grow apart and change and I feel like this has happened with me as a person but should I continue to relive this pain daily and be unhappy or should I make a change for the better of my family? I am so emotional, physical, and mental confused. I cry about this almost daily to we’re I am starting to full numb inside and I know this is not healthy or normal. Can you please advise? Thank you in advance!


I just finished a 2 year toxic relationship. The woman ended it. She took everything from me. The thing what is killing me is the fact that she showed no emotion. The part of this article that really hit home to me was the part about being a giving person. That has always been my problem. The thing that scares me the most is I know that I should be happy that it is over but I still feel horrible. What do I do to just let go!!!


I was just broken up with for the umpteenth time. Ending an eight year relationship with the only partner I’ve ever been with since the age of 18. I was abused growing up as a child, so I definitely haven’t been able to define proper boundaries with this relationship. I read elsewhere how important it is to let go of the fantasy we hold onto in unhealthy relationships. In the beginning there is always possibility, but the relationship is the entire miserable reality, not the ideal we hope for.

I too gave and received nothing in return as well. I can see that this is replicated in relationships with his family as well, but it still hurts to know someone could treat you that way despite you giving everything.

Another thing that has helped is to shift the love from the ideal/romantic love and move it to compassion. Appreciative for the love that you shared together, that is now something different than it once was.

I think the hardest part is accepting that we have to be our own best friend, finding comfort and security in ourselves alone. I became so small with this person, that I just felt comfortable with the crumbs he would give me. If someone like him couldn’t appreciate me, why would anyone better?

I’m dedicating my time to bettering my self-trust and respect now. Other than knowing someone you love doesn’t care about you, the hardest part for me was knowing I was someone who couldn’t walk away. We cannot expect anyone to love us if we do not love ourselves and stand up for our values and boundaries.

You should be proud of being a loving person, who strived to see the best in someone. Now it’s time to do the same for the person who needs it most; you.


I wish I could have the same strength. I’m still confused what to do. My story sound so similar but i have 2 kids which is making even more difficult. What is really the right thing to do?


i know the relationship i just left (only moments before writing this) was toxic. I am a guy who was verbally and emotionally abused. If anything upset her, she would immediately call me names. She would go on rants about how she never loved me only to say she really did love me later in the day. If I didnt do what she wanted, then she would threaten to do things to cause emotional harm to me.

We actually broke up a week prior, and even though I had been through all this stuff, I still wanted to go back! Why? I dont even understand myself.

I dont know how I am going to do it, but I have to find the strength to never go back to her.

Are there any other guys who have gone through similar? even a woman’s point of view, who has gone through similar, would be generously accepted. what have others done to make sure they keep the strength to keep saying they wont go back and stick to it?


I am going through something similar. It has been 5-6 years on and off.
I have had my time of separation with her yet every time she crawls back into my thoughts i go after her. Even if she was the one who was wrong. I just drop all my pride and run towards her.


Hi.. I’ve been in an almost identical situation with someone who has severe mental health issues.. I sacrificed Everything for her.. She has been so destructive in my life.. I feel a shadow of myself.. However, my faith will keep me strong no matter the pain.. Maybe we can help each other to get through this.. What do you think?


Whatever you described is something i can’t totally related with. 100 percent. You just know how crazy it all is and yet you run back because you think “this time would be better”.Being accused of things you never did, the constant name calling, the long and frustrating rants coupled with hostility for reasons that never makes sense. At least logically. You stay up wondering what you did wrong – what made her blow up the way she did ? You sit quietly and take the verbal bashing because you have come to learn that fighting back or any attempt of defending yourself is beyond pointless. She never hears you out or let’s you speak. Any sincere or earnest attempts to talk about your problems are met with ignorance, denial, blame shifting and sadly, even avoidance. There is hardly any peace, mutual understanding or room for growth. My story is too long to share here and we only dated for 7 months but I finally decided to walk away after the last episode aka verbal assault. It’s been 21 days since we spoke and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. Trust me it ain’t easy . And everyone will tell you the same old mantra – walk away now and spare yourself the continuous hurt . I isn’t easy but what I learnt was that you can never change anyone. No amount of love, honesty, loyalty or care can make someone look at you any differently from the image they have already painted in their minds. It’s really not you. People will tell you it’s all about self love and recognizing your worth and summoning the strength to walk away. It’s true but not always doable. If you don’t love yourself, don’t fret. Walk away because you deserve better. Self love will follow suit. Best of luck.


Hi. What a moving article. I see a lot of my own actions in what you describe. I believe I have been the toxic one. Not for a need for control because I think I thought I didnt need that because my partner loved me but because I took her love for granted and stopped making an effort. I believe I have belittled her over the years but not to be nasty rather for fun believing she enjoyed it too. I can see now that after enough time it was not fun at all just unnecessary ribbing. I have always loved and supported but my love was not generous or rich. I believe I am loosing her now and it is making me take a long hard look at myself and how I have behaved over the years. The many missed opportunities to express my love and make her feel special. that was all she ever wanted and mostly I failed. My father was very demeaning and unpleasant to my mother so I know my behaviour is learnt, I just hope that I can change for good and that its not too late to make a difference and my partner to see and believe that I never want to go back to how I have been. when you see the possibility of losing the most important person in your life it has for me enabled me to look deep inside and recognise a significant need for change and improvement. We have been together for 17 years and have 3 young children. I am determined to break the mould and show them how to love properly to respect honour and cherish the wonderful woman that is their mother.


Its amazing u was able to recognize your past mistake. That is the first postive step in moving forward. I pray your family works out


Hello ,

I love this article, however it makes me wonder who is the toxic one in my relationship.
In my situation, I don’t believe she is all to blame. Our relationship started toxic , ( it was an affair) so there was never a solid foundation of trust or respect.
While reading through this I see Her and Me , we both know we are no good for each other , but we act like we are addicted to each other .
We don’t like being with each other that much but we HATE NOT being with each other . It’s the most unhealthy relationship I have ever been in , and leaving it , is harder then anything I have done .

We have caused each other more hurt in 3 years , then I have ever experienced in all of my relationships combined and I’m 48 ), but if she contacted me today , I would go to her !


I have the exact same story I would like very much to talk about it with you. Would you be willing to contact me?


Personally having read your comments i dont think it would be a good thing for you to connect. The reason fr your connection appears to be to reaffirm each others feelings about your toxic partners and what stood out to me the most as the common denominator was the fact that you all agree that you would take you toxic partners back at the drop of a hat. I would be concerned that your connection would simply serve to justify the feelings and reasons of taking your toxic partners back rather than letting them go. Taking someone back you are addicted to is never a good thing. Like any addiction it can eventually destroy you. I just left a toxic relationship today. I wrote him a long note after speaking to him. I felt we were also addicted to each other and it is very easy to mistake this addiction for some type of fate that whispers that you belong together and that your bond is some sign of positive significance when in fact it is no more than your weakness and the one thing that is pure illusion unless that bond brings you happiness and a healthy relationship with that person.


I have just left a 4 year relationship that has been extremely toxic. I met him 6 months after separating with his wife. We started a relationship that no one was allowed to know about as it would make him look bad and he claimed his son would have nothing to do with him. Of course I didn’t want that. Stupidly I stayed his secret and before I knew it 4 years had passed while he still lived in same house as her.
He convinced me his ex was so toxic and I and everyone else felt so sorry for him. He used to dump me all the time and I of course ran after him. I had serious surgery and he didn’t visit claiming someone would see him. He constantly accused me of being with other men (which I wasnt). If he finished with me and hadn’t heard from me for a few days he would wait until dark and walk up and down past my house checking if I was home or if someone was over. I caught him several times. Yes I made excuses.
On occasion we went away I always paid more than my half and he regularly started arguments and then would take off and leave me hours from home. Our last episode was this week we had been getting on so well we were going on 10 day holiday life was great. I had organised it i had packed for him we were off. After the 1st night I had to carry him home he was so drunk (claiming to have been drugged) took him 2 more days to recover. I was kind and loving and looked after him. Then we went out I was having such a good time up to him accusing me of eyeing up a married man sitting with his wife across the bar. He told me he wasn’t blind or stupid and how could I do it to him. He proceeded to curse at me. I went outside and after being called a horrible f**king c**t I admittedly slapped him across the face. I admittedly felt guilty. He walked off screaming abuses at me. I ran after him as I was a woman in a foreign country alone. He ran up street and hid. I went back to apartment and rang him 108 times he switched phone off and didn’t come back until next morning. Claiming it was all my fault. He went missing again the next day. Every thing on holidays was my fault and continues to be so. He is 49 and I am 38. I feel like I am losing my mind. I am no longer the confident girl I once was. I cared so much for him yet he could never see it. I did so much for him yet it was never enough and always taken for granted. I feel sick that I miss him. Please god give me the strength to stay away from him. I would love him to realise what he has done but he thinks it’s all my fault.


What a douche Bag, You sound like a lovely person, Get out of that relationship and stay away. you are getting played.. you do not deserve to be the “other woman” or hidden away. you sound like a gem.

I would love to talk if you would like or need to. it pays to have someone you can vent to, be stong you deserve better.


I think people living similar situations can only benefit from connecting. Since you left your toxic partner a short time ago, I can tell you that after a similar 14 year relationship that I ended 7 years ago, you are far from “cured”. It will take a long time for anyone who emerges from such a negative relationship to be immune to the power of the toxic partner. It took me years of professional help to recover my self esteem and to realize that control, disrespect, criticism is a form of abuse and the worse part is that it leaves no apparent scars for others to notice.

Today I can say I am recovered but I am always on alert when meeting people. One thing for sure, I will walk away from any person that I think is toxic. I have regained my self esteem and my self confidence and have learned to love myself first.


Wow, I feel like I am living the exact same way as you right now, started off badly as an affair too. We just don’t get along when together but find it impossible to be apart. I’ve been trying to get out this relationship but it is so hard and I’m trying to come up with a strategy to make it end as peacefully as possible. Please let me know how you were able to break up with her.


Hello All,

I am in the same situation. We met while she was still married and I was going through a custody battle. We lacked the respect and growth required of a relationship and used each other to “escape” from our situations.
I have grown to love her more than anything and have sacrificed friends, family, and even my child in the pursuit of making us whole and forgiving the pain and hurt we have caused each other. I see a lot of myself as well as her in this article but I seem to be the only one at this point killing myself to make it work and get the help which we need. It doesn’t help that I suffer from Depression and Anxiety which seems to always be the crutch used to blame me because I overreact or withdraw.
We both had horrible childhoods which have led us to our inability to make rational decisions with regard to the relationship, but she definitely wields all of the control. She once again left and didn’t speak to me for more than 3 months, changed her phone number, etc. I moved to Utah in January for her and she woke up one morning, started a huge fight with me which as usual got out of control and left. She just recently called me and I immediately let her berate me about things I did in the past (its never anything she did) for 7 hours and then promptly talked her into canceling her flight to VA (still living with now ex-husband) and drove all night straight to LA from Utah to get her. Things were amazing for the first few days with me trying my best not to rock the boat and make plans for us to see a therapist. The arguing and blaming me for everything once again started 5 days after picking her up and she left again, and of course it is all my fault. I have setup numerous couples counseling appointments which she refuses to attend as I am the one who needs to change and she needs to see that change yet she does not communicate with me at all unless she feels like it. I am so lost, hurt and utterly destroyed after spending months finally putting the pieces of my life back together. My heart has once again led me down a dark hole I want desperately to climb out of.


It sounds like she does what she wants, when she wants, regardless if it hurts you or not because she is anticipating and relying on you to accept the blame, which only feeds her Narcissistic ego further In turn causing more and more episodes just as you’re gojng through. Throw a wrench at her just one time.. don’t go to her, don’t call, don’t accept the blame. If she truly loved you she wouldn’t be doing it in the first place but if she cares at all let her show it when you throw the wrench. If she only continues to place blame after this, just know of you choose to stay this is all it will ever be. I would know, I just lived it and almost lost Everything in the process; kids, house, job, sanity… They’ll jeopardize it all and we both know love should not be full of so much hurt. Good luck. I wish you well.


Glad to know I not alone in this situation. Yes although i know my affair is toxic, and it deterioating my self, i would always go back to her whenever she call me. Maybe its my dream for us that kept me, or my ego to save her, to become “hero” in her toxic marriage.
Now she conceived my child and want to keep it. At first i terrified and have a feeling of guilt and shame
, and to know that i could never be with her again, it devastated me. After several fights, it became clear to me, what i done to her is ruin her despite what all i want is her happiness.
I know i wrong and i couldnt do anything to undo it, i just hope for her happiness and “our” baby. But habit is indeed powerful thing, i still struggling not to think about her, text her, reminisce how she love me.
Sorry for my english, I just want to share


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