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.

[irp posts=”1602″ name=”When It’s Not You, It’s Them: The Toxic People That Ruin Friendships, Families, Relationships”]



I’ve been in a relationship for almost six years. It is very confusing because he will provide for me and also dismiss me at the same time. He will pay all the bills in the house and at the same time if my car breaks down won’t even worry how I get to work yet pick up his friends in time. He will say he loves me, sex (which I rarely get pleasure all about him), give me money, but at the same time be cold, rigid, even roll his eyes like he hates the sound of my voice. He will ignore me when I ask him a question but then be very playful at others times. I’m starting to notice he is playful and receptive when he wants something. He gambles every weekend and has no self control when he does. Our bills are paid but he will tell me he will be home at 10pm and won’t get home until 2 a.m. He says time just passes when he is playing poker. I don’t try to control him so the fact he gets rigid when he comes in the house I believe is about his guilt that he lacks self control. We have been looking at rings for two years. His family love me even all of his sisters. They don’t understand why he hasn’t proposed to me neither do I. I asked him out right and he makes excuses that he doesn’t remember what he agree to, ignores me, or calls me to sensitive. It is always my fault! He has acknowledged he did things to me that was wrong but never will apologize. I will apologize for minor things like not give him a kiss when he leaves after he has ignored me all day but he won’t apologize after he refused to get out of bed or “fell sleep” when we were scheduled to look at rings. I don’t understand why he won’t leave me because he is so cold to me right now. He acts like he doesn’t want to be here and works constant overtime. The crazy thing is he isn’t cheating. He is always were he says he is. It’s so strange and so hurtful because I love him so much! Yet after reading this I think I don’t know what real love feels like just toxic love? My mother left me with an abusive drunk who shattered my self-esteem and my dad left also. My man had no self-esteem when we met and was fresh out of a divorce. I helped him build it back, save money, loved him unconditionally, and have become submissive and controlled. I gained so much weight do to his constant cristsim that I was to thin at 140 pound 5’6”. Only for me to realize now that his self-esteem didn’t like all the compliments I got on the beach or in a nice dress. I lost 40 pounds recently and showed him an old picture of me at 140. I told him I’m close to that again. He responded I looked great then. I told him then why did you constantly say I was to thin and could put on 20 pounds? He responded “I did?” I was furious because this is what he does. He acts like he forgets but personally I’m starting to think he doesn’t forget and is a manipulative abuser who will lie so he can always be seen as the victim. If I told some of his friends about his behavior towards me they wouldn’t believe it but I was told by one of his sisters that my man is extremely difficult to deal with and she couldn’t imagine why I would want to marry him. Another one of his friends told me I would be crazy to marry him because he is a POS. I think this is about me and my low self-esteem. This is just another abuser in my life that I’m actually begging to marry! I need help and I need to leave! You have opened my eyes!

Caroline G

Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m supporting you in your story. You deserve to be loved and supported. Here you have to see things with your logical brain and not your heart because your heart is love. You brain is seeing all the red flag.

Eyes wide open

I was in a similar relationship for 16 years. I believed him to be someone completely different than who he really is. He was able to fool me for many years as from the beginning he told me that due to his busy business he needed to compartmentalize the rest of his life in order to have some semblance of normality during his down time.

Over the years whenever I pushed to deepen our relationship I was always told that he was not able to express his love with words and lots of affection but he proved his love by taking care of me and financially supporting me. I was financially reliant on him but I wanted to work to have some independence and take pride from doing a good job. Everytime I attempted to start a small business I would be told to do my research and after I had a business plan he would get me started. Everytime when I was ready, there suddenly was a crisis with his business and he would push me off saying he did not have time or money to start a business for me. Initially I fought him that I followed all his requirements and did not need him to “start a business for me” as I was willing to build it on my own but after dancing to the same futile song many times over many years, I kind of gave up, too tired to fight anymore.

The rest of our relationship, while odd to some as we had 2 residences, was mostly loving, intimate and solid. We were inseparable and outside of the occasional fights for me to be more independent, I believed he truly loved me.

He was loyal, faithful and my best friend. He was never abusive, a great provider and kind to everyone.

After each big fight we had, I felt my broken heart shrink when I did not receive the support I felt I deserved. I even attempted to leave him several times and when I started to rebuild a new life for myself he would reappear to avow his love for me saying he could not live without me, and end up crying that he needed me and no one understood him but me.

Each time I returned, I felt less confident that he would change but was advised that if I truly loved him, I would have to accept him for who he was and what he could give me.

Last year, he told me that his health was failing and that he had to change his lifestyle. I actually was relieved that finally he would slow down and maybe we would become a normal household. Immediately, I researched his conditions and implemented a new diet and lifestyle.

For the first 6 months, things went smoothly and he was getting healthy. I had no idea what happened but one day he started to revert back to his old ways, distancing himself from me.

Then 2 weeks ago he suddenly told me that he had never loved me, was only with me out of guilt and that he never wanted me, period.

I was shocked and devasted! I had given up the chance to have children with him because he was never ready or thought he could be an attentive father and I had compromised due to his commitment to grow old with me and always be just the two of us.

After he left, I called his mother wanting to inform his sister, a nurse, of his health because I still loved him and wanted someone that loved him to know. He had visited his mother the previous month to tell her about it so I felt it safe to talk about it with her.

To my shock and amazement she told me he never said a word and told her everything was great! He told me that she told him to take care of his health as he was too young to die. When I recovered, I asked her all sorts of questions about his childhood since he told me he was the way he was because of something traumatic from his early 20s. Again, I was shocked to learn he has always been the way he is, from a child.

What I have now come to learn is that he started cheating last year with a woman that he believes can “better” his life. He was a complete fraud for the 16 years that I knew him. He has manipulated and lied to everyone who has ever loved him and is actually a pathetic loser!

Of course I was heartbroken when he dumped me but when my eyes were opened to who he truly is, that grief and devastation was quickly replaced with anger and determination to not waste any more precious time loving him. I still cry and sob throughout the day but I only have to remind myself that I do not love him but rather I loved the man I was fooled into believing he was.

Finding this blog has also reassured me that I am not the toxic one but it is actually him! He manipulated my trust and love. He lied throughout my life with him. He defrauded me of my genuine love and loyalty.

Please do not believe you are doomed because you had a bad childhood. There are bad, sad and mad men out there in the world regardless of how good or poor your childhood was. What was written in the blog that was so eloquently explained is that it can happen to anyone!

Rachael W

Wow this is my life.. has never comforted me not even after having our kids and getting PND. I use the excuse it’s his epilepsy or his medication.. he’s only ever nice when he’s had something up his nose sadly only time me and the kids get any attention


I can relate to this article…. very well written. I’ve been in a relationship for about 6 years now. I still love him but the excitement isnt there anymore. I care for him and feel bad if something bad happens to him. But he is very toxic and I know he wont make me happy. I know we wont be a happy family ever but I cant let him go. I’m very emotional and I have a fear of not forgiving myself if I let him go. I’m so used to him and his presence. I dont think I can live without him but he is not the one. 🙁 I really don’t know what to do….

Sassy lady

I feel the same way you do. I have been with this man 5 years. He say he love me, but I don’t feel like he do. I feel like he say he love me out of habit. Love don’t hurt. He has cheated on me on our anniversary 2 years ago gave he a nickname and told her he love her too on Facebook. I forgave him but he don’t do nothing to show me he loves me. I feel so stupid at times because I know I love him. His birthday is the same day as our anniversary but yet he forgets. My birthday he tells me your kids are supposed to do for you. Every holiday its something but loves for me to do for him. I do it because it makes him happy but he will not do the same for me. Just recently we took a trip and I struggled with his luggage and he had my luggage that was 33 lbs and his was 88 lbs. But help a young woman with children and let me struggling with his baggage. He didn’t even sit by me. Yes he paid for everything and that’s what he tells me. He said its me i am ungrateful.

Lyndsay D

I’m sorry you feel this way, but you should know you’re not alone. I’m in the same boat. But, you lived without him before, and you will be able to live without him once you find the strength to finally let go. It’s so hard. It’s honestly unbelievably hard and hurts like crazy. I hope you can find the strength. I’ve finally ended things with my boyfriend due to him being so insensitive, manipulative, selfish, indecisive, and he could not be trusted due to the many many many lies and infidelity. I stuck around to give him the opportunity to fix it, but with those kinds of people, it’s all words. No actions.
Actions speak louder than words girlfriend. If he isn’t showing the actions and respect you give to him then you need to let go. Life is supposed to be happy. Not miserable and everyone deserves to be happy (if their not a super scum bag who treat people like they don’t matter)


I’m in a relationship right now that I want to leave. We’ve been together for about 4 years and I’m tired. We’ve had our shares of arguments where things have been said that cant been taken back, I’ve been talked down to so many times , there have been physical fights and I’m just so done. One time he grabbed the wheel of my car when I was driving because we had an argument and crashed and totalled my car. We have a child and I dont want her to be around a toxic relationship that. He drinks to much and antagonizes arguments when I try to walk away. His toxic traits have made me toxic and I don’t like it. I’ve never been in an altercation with my partner until I met him. I tried so many times to get him to leave but the cops don’t do anything.. finding myself but when we get an altercation I end up being the one arrested. When I tell him to leave he just tries kicking down the door I’m scared because I don’t want to leave my apartment or lose my apartment because it’s the only place I have for my daughter when I tell him that I don’t want to be with him and then I want him to leave the house there’s always a problem I don’t know what to do I wish I had help


Some things you might try;
Look for a women’s escaping a violent environment center near you. They have a safe house you can stay in and relocate. They have legal help too. Your daughter will be better off without the fights than to stay in the same apartment.
Leave if you can to a friends or relatives house. Sometimes a break helps.
If you can get enough money to get your own apartment. He probably won’t leave so you have to do it.
Sending you strength and everything you need to leave.


Finding this article at this point in my life is so what I needed at this time, it is empowering. It helps me consolidate that it is not me but my partner who is the aggressor, the toxic one, because they do make us doubt ourselves, because we are the ones who forgive, make excuses and try to do everything for everyone. To think that I nearly sacrificed my relationship with my beautiful, strong-willed but vulnerable daughter to go back to this is mind-blowing. Just helped me to gel in my own mind that I have made the right decision and I know that it will get worse before it gets better, he has told me he will make my life hell and he will try and carry that out, that was probably the main reason for thinking about going back, to stop that from happening.


Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to hear. I have been in a toxic relationship for 7 yrs we have a 5 yr old. We tried counseling and there was always some excuse he had for not going or canceling it. I have wanted to leave for a few years. I finally did leave last year and have had the hardest time with the loss of my family. He is still toxic and got way worse after I left like you said here. He became more controlling. We were going to try to live separately and stay together, my idea. But he didn’t think that was a relationship so he became more angry and we are now in a divorce. Recently I have missed being a family and our daughter just wants us all together again. She has terrible separation anxiety. He wants to talk and try to work things out now that he’s not as mad he says. I really want a family. I was thinking of giving it a chance again. I realize after reading this that I need to set boundaries and stick to them. I need to be treated with love, respect and kindness. I hope after reading this that I can do this and stick to it. I am willing to move on if he can’t do this. I am so happy I read this article! I hope in the future I can see these signs and not fall for it again. I hope I have learned my lesson of setting these boundaries of love, kindness and respect.


This Article is really relatable. The writer has written this in point so relatable it felt like it was my own soul’s reflection. The article is crisp accurate and really straightforward and makes us see things as they are. Thanks for bringing this issue up.


This article hits the nail on the head with what’s going on between my father and his girlfriend. I’m at my wits end dealing with their constant rollercoaster and my dad has put me in the middle of all of it but doesn’t want to listen to a word I have to say. Essentially, she’s the toxic one and he doesn’t see it. They have done the “break up – make up” thing so many times and she says the same stuff and he goes running right back. He is a very genuine guy that is willing to help anyone without anything in return and she, and her family, have taken full advantage of that, have made him choose between her and her family and my brother and I, and have turned him into someone I don’t recognize. He’s making a lot of bad decisions and poor choices, which isn’t the father I grew up with. My mother passed away just over 2 years ago and he’s been with this women for about 9 months and she’s managed to tear the family apart, bankrupt my father, and play the victim the whole time. I don’t know how to make my father see it, truly see it. I know he has to be the one and we were so close to that around Memorial Day when they had a fight but he went running right back to her. He justifies it to himself, and tries to sell her on everyone else, that she loves him and that she’s great and we can all see through it. He’s about to make some huge mistakes because of her and he doesn’t want to listen. The list of 12 toxic traits also was dead on.


When you don’t know how to be treated properly you don’t know any other way! I’ve had 3 relationships in my life going from one abusive manipulating controlling relationship to another and now at the age of 60 diagnosed with complex ptsd. This article explains me to a tea! Thank you – it’s given me the strength to move on and love myself


Me to how do we make sure we don’t fall for this again. I’m guessing the lesson is that we need to set a boundary that we will only accept people who can love, respect and be kind to us.


This is really well written & really opened my eyes ~ thank you so much!

Rabbi Galit Levy-Slater

Beautiful article. i had a toxic relationship with my mom. A therapist-and friend- recommended a book, “Toxic Parents” and suggested “benevolent abandonment.” It was not easy, but I was able to reconnect shortly before her death at (almost) 91, one day after Yom Kippur; I buried her with her parents in Ohio. Because of the holiday of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, I had to perform the funeral service myself.


Here is an interesting story. I have a friend who is in the worst marriage I have ever seen or heard of. They have been married for 25 years and have four teenaged kids. He was caught cheating on his wife (maybe around year 10) and she has since caught him in 5 other affairs. One of those affairs produced a child. 3 years ago he met and fell in love with another woman. This other woman was very unsuspecting as he told her he was legally separated. From the conversations he and I had, his wife was not able to accept the child and had threatened him with divorce for the entire last year. His wife admitted to me that she threatens divorce to get him to feel bad for what he’s done. A year into his relationship with this new woman (girlfriend), his wife finds out. She blames the girlfriend for her misery and will not look at their marriage as a whole. The wife finally filed for divorce and he makes his relationship with his girlfriend public. They are actively trying to conceive a child together.

The problem that I have is that I was once friends with his wife as well. His wife is very manipulative and very controlling. She comes unhinged at the slightest thing. At school meetings if she doesn’t get her way she storms out and doesn’t talk to anyone for weeks. She humiliates him and degrades him in public often. All of our other friends can’t stand going out with them because it is always drama. She airs their dirty laundry and likes to play the martyr. We are all aware of his infidelities because she likes to tell everyone that will listen. It’s very embarrassing for us. We all make fun of their marriage behind their back. She’s not a nice person, which is why I cut off my friendship with her. At this point, we only entertain them because our kids are friends with their kids. Most of us say we like him but can’t stand her. However, I just learned that he has been lying to me.

For the past year I have been trying to be his friend to help him get out of this toxic marriage and have the relationship with the girlfriend that is so very obvious he loves and is happy. But he has lied to all of us saying the divorce is moving forward, yet we just found out that HE stopped the divorce months ago. Even the girlfriend had no idea. This is the 3rd time he’s done this. Each time the girlfriend walks away and he calls me crying about how upset he is that she won’t talk to him. I have given him advice on how to get her back and telling him that he needs to finalize the divorce in order for her to feel secure in their relationship. Inevitably they do talk again because, I believe, their love is that strong. But then he does it again! This time the girlfriend walked away for good and so am I. He calls me venting that he is moving the divorce forward and cries to me about how to get the girlfriend back, yet, all the while he is telling his wife he loves her and wants to save the marriage. He is playing mind games with everyone.

It kills me to walk away, but he is toxic for me now too. How can I be a friend to somebody who does not want to help himself? It’s like he has PTSD from all of his wife’s manipulation and controlling from the onset of his marriage. How does somebody give up real love for more toxicity? What is wrong with his wife for not leaving him and allowing 5 known affairs, a love child, a long term girlfriend, and potentially another love child? What is wrong with him for wanting to stay married to somebody so controlling and manipulative, that breeds his horrid behaviors? He is consciously choosing to stay married to an awful woman and in unhealthy, unhappy marriage and as his friend it breaks my heart. Oh, and they both swear the kids are fine and not impacted by everything. The kids are aware of his affair that produce the child/half sibling and very aware of the girlfriend. Will these kids be OK or are their parents living in a dream world?

Patty V

I hope by now you realize that the man was manipulative with the first wife- that she was not the problem. She fell into that trap, had kids with him, and wanted to keep the family whole. She vented her feelings (perhaps sometimes inappropriately) and she was, according to you, not a nice person- airing dirty laundry, complaining about him. I think you can see that she endured a lot from him, was manipulated in the same manner by him, and was talking her feelings out in order to maintain some sanity. It doesn’t make her a bad person, just shows the lack of good judgement.

Be kinder to yourself and to her now that you know what the real problem person was in these relationships. My opinion based solely on what you wrote. I hope with the passage of time since then, there has been more clarity.


I thank you for your well written article ? It hit home so much for me! As much as the first two responses about the men that Had been in toxic relationships with their girlfriend/wife.
I myself have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for going on 19yrs this May 27th. I love him so so very much, and he is the father of my 17yr old daughter. But I know it is a very toxic relationship. He doesn’t want to be drug free. However, I do! Very much so! And I know I can’t do this while being in this relationship. It’s going to kill me at first if/when I am to leave. As of right now, I have no job and of course no income to leave. So I am fighting on how I’m going to do this. Any suggestions would be very helpful … Thank you so much! Xoxo ?


Please leave the person who is abusive, they feed on control and know your weaknesses
I myself am planning ahead to get out of a verbal abussive relationship.
It’s tocic and I feel ill , he tries to cause a argument but after years I cut it off as no longer have the strength to argue, I feel he’s no longer worth it. He keeps saying I have said things differently to what I say, it’s driving me mental.
Roll on to me getting out and finding myself again.
Good luck everyone.


We were friends from 5 years and started dating from past one year. In the starting it felt like the best thing that has ever happened to me. It felt like he is the one. But eventually he started encroaching upon each and every area of my being leaving no privacy and no space. That was fine until he got really controlling and physically and verbally abusive. I left. He used to do all this and claimed it was because he loves me so much. He never felt remorse or any regret for his actions and made me believe that I am not able to understand his love. It has been 2 weeks since are break up, it is still really fresh. I was on the internet and stumbled upon this article. Nicely written. Thanks a lot. I hope I am others from the same boat gets past through it.


Yeah I know what it’s like I have been hit and pushed by my brother and I’ve been trying Tom get out of the house for a long time I never thought he would get violent until a few years ago and then again a a week ago almost and I almost left my family house next time I’m actually going to get the police involved


Thank you for this reply, because after reading your blog I started thinking maybe I could be the toxic one, quickly forsaking the fact that I’m on this site for a reason. My boyfriend is a taker that never gives. Oooh he’s such a stingy lover.

He drives my emotions crazy, I’m always confused and feeling unloved. He never does anything with me, it feels like he’s hiding me. The scumbag never wants us to break up. He NEVER does anything nice for me. After we make love he always turns the other way. He never cuddles me, and now he’s withholding sex from me with his endless excuses. He criticizes me but never compliments me. When I tell him that he doesn’t love me he says he loves me a lot and I’m just being negative and I think a lot.

I’m always the one working on fixing our relationship, all he does is make one empty promise after the other. He disgusts me because he holds an angelic facade while he’s pure evil. I gave him everything, he had nothing when we met and now he treats like I’m worthless. I just don’t understand why such cruel people exist. He has hurt me so much I’ve lost so much weight and so much of myself trying to make him love me.

And now I have mend my broken heart. And I hate that I still love him. But I know I am better than this shit!


I just want you to know!!!! You’re awesome!!!! And you can do it!!! Leave his ass today!!!!


This sounds exactly like my ex. I ended things a few days ago and of course I’m the bad guy who was playing with his emotions and feelings. He just takes and takes and takes and I just gave and gave and gave. I’ve had to deal with his alcoholism and substance abuse. If it wasnt me coming to his house or us going to a hotel so we could have sex he made no effort to spend time with, go on dates, accompany me anywhere. All he did was accuse me of cheating the entire 4 1/2 years we’ve been together while he in fact was the one cheating. His behavior confuses me as well. One minute he cant live without me the next minute I’m a cheating ass fat bitch. Anytime I would try to talk to him about my feelings, ” I was wrong for constantly trying to start “drama” while methodically avoiding a discussion about his shitty behavior. I fell out of love with him a long time ago and I stuck it out hoping things would be better but after more disrespect and more disappointment and his complete lack of empathy and regard for me and everything around him I knew I had to go. Hands down the most draining situation I’ve ever had to deal with in life. I love him, but he adds no value at all to my life, just heartache. I have committed to feeling whole again, working on my self esteem and finding my happiness again. I can’t wait till the day gets here where I no longer care anymore and just look back on this nightmare the past 4 1/2 years and just laugh.


RUN… you are definately better than that shit! Sadly we teach people how they can treat us. If lucky, the people we meet and let into our lives already have learned emotional intelligence and are healthy enough to treat others well and supportive and loving and encouraging growth. But so many times that is not how they show up. They show up angry and resentful and emotionally undeveloped. And unfortunately we too are emotionally undeveloped or broken from early life mis treatment, not having the opportunity or awareness to heal ourselves before going back into the world of others with self worth and self esteem intact.


This article hit the nail right on the head. My father is the most emotionally manipulative person I have met in my life. My childhood and adolescence was filled with emotional and physical abuse (largely when he drank). I vowed to myself that the minute I turned 18, I’d walk away.

I still haven’t been able to. I come from an Asian background whereby I was always taught that your parents are your responsibility. Throw in the part where my mom passed away when I was a child (making him a single parent) and it makes it really hard to walk away.

He’s burned bridges with all of his family and regularly fights with his friends. All he has is my sibling and I but my sibling doesn’t share my concerns or responsibilities. He’s always been a drinker but the last few years have been really rough including hospitalisations for alcohol poisoning. I so desperately want to walk away from stress and constant worrying. I feel like I’m unable to live my own life. My friends and sibling travel and have fun but I feel like I can’t do any of these things.

I really wish I could just walk away but my sense of obligation runs too deep. I wish I could find away to walk away and still live with myself – without the guilt that I know will accompany me.


Thank you for this article. It has helped me examine one of those last thorny questions. Does my mom love me?

My mom labeled me as a child who “overreacts”, told me that my dad never hit me, told me is was shameful to be afraid of him, and finally told me that if anything ever had happened, it was my fault. When I confided in a trusted adult, my parents doubled down on the “overreact” narrative, and alienated me from the family.

After forty years, a fortune spent on professional help, long talks with mom, and lots of prayer, I understand that it is unlikely that mom will ever change.

And after reading this article, I can finally acknowledge, without a tear, that my mom does not love me. It does not feel like love, it feels like hurt. It has felt like hurt for years and years.

This may seem like a bad thing, this realization. And it is bad. But it is good too. Because for many years, when I have voiced “my mom does not love me”, to my spouse or friend, I have been told “of course she does!” or “she loves you in her own way”. This is to make me fell better, because of course, everyone’s mother should love them.

But in fact, these comments make me feel worse. What is wrong with me? If she loves me, and our relationship is so broken, then I must fix it. If she loves me, and it feels so bad, it must be my fault. If she loves me and she treats me this way, than I must be a an ungrateful child who deserves it. And if she loves me, and says that the abuse never happened, then did it?

The realization that my mom does not love me is freeing. It is not my fault.

And do I love her? I am not sure. I do know that if you do not love someone, it is harder for them to hurt you, and that is a good thing. I want less hurt. I want to be a better mother, a better wife and a better person. For now, I am going to ask God to love her, as God surly does, because I cannot love her enough.


For 7 years I loved someone more then myself this showed in how much weight I gained over those years. He constantly made me feel unattractive unloved and unwanted. Strung me along for 7 years knowing he never wanted to be in a relationship. He did just enough to keep me on a short leash as I basically catered to his needs and mine were never met. I was considered “friend” he never took me out always made me feel like I was unattractive and doing something wrong.I finally decided to walk away two weeks ago.He was under the assumption that even though I decided to move out that I would still pay half of the rent until May. (Not going to happen) Since I am refusing to pay rent for a residence I no longer reside in he has expressed that he will never speak to me again and has blocked my number. This kind of behavior he has done for 7 years as a way to manipulate me when I don’t do things the way he wants.Now I am left depressed and questioning my self worth and trying hard to fight through it.


Three years ago I met this guy I fell ib love with. I just moved to new country where wanted to find a job and create a life. At the beginning it was nice. We were descovering the city together, make some easy sports. Slowly we spent more and more together. That summer he brought me into mountain world..I started to like hiking as nature is beautiful. He had a mountain project and left a job for it. He conquerred Europas highest peas alone.He had a people with whom he was going to the mountains but he never involved me with these people. He was always saying nobody is hood, nobody was training properly- only him did so. Slowly he started to define my days..every free time we went to the mountains. We saw beautiful things and places and I was so happy. Our intimacy was great and like our bodies knew eachother. He started to push me to train- he said this is health. I wss looking for a job and found one in neighbour country. We talked what to do- i said I want to stay there as I can drive to work daily. So we found a flat but just before to take it he started to excuse with a job. As he was renting a room in a shared apartment, he suggested I should do the same. I said no I want my place I am too old and independent to live like a student. Then we talked what will happen if I move to another country. he ssid to find a job there and moved with me. So I found a nice flat almost under the mountains, furnished it and waiting that we start living together. He did not move but he came every weekend. Fre time we dpent in mountains and he started to push me to train every day hard. At the beggining everything went ok, but gor him I was too slow always. Hw started to humuliate me, for him I become a stupid cow, uselles and incapable of anything. He started to define my work schedule, how to communicate, how to eat…I started to loose my self esteem, confidence…the only thong he liked until the end was my cooking…I zried to please him, gave him home..but nothing was ok. We had no other people around and every time I asked why I do not meet his ftiends, he said it is irrelevant. One and a half years passed and every day together was suffering…then he presented me to his parents…not that he did it on his own but I demanded it. They day I met his parents was not nice. his parents are cold people, as him they know everything and foing everything right. They were not interested in me and I knew they are not accepting me. They did not ask anything just if I do sports. mother only thank me for doing his laundry as before he always brought it home( we borth come from same country..which is not the coutry we live in). Thw day I met his parents I realized he comes from patriarhic gamily, where love has nothing to do. Only from the outside everything needs to look perfect.
Day after we went to a hill and he broke his ribs. I wanted to take him to the fictor but he only called his mother( both his parents are doctors). She said nothing is broken but after three days he went to do rrntgen. Hw had ribs broken..which I knew already. After that we draw back to the country I lived and those 6 hours of driving were only to humuliate me, saying I am nothing, I do not know nothing. I felt devadtated. I cried but he was harder snd harder. When we arrived I took all the stuff out and made a dinner. He had his monolog further and then we went to sleep. Next 1.5 months he was with me ( he was at the sickleave) and I needed to train daily…my body and mind became tired and my results stopped. I was slower and he was more and more mean. But my love was still there for him. For him everything I did was a wadte if time…going with friends fir a ciffe was forbidden, laundy I should do once a month max- if no fresh wardrobe, he said it is better to buy. Cleaning the flat was waste of time…I was listening daily how terrible I am, stupid and crazy…this went for another two years. Then I found a better job in a city/country he lives and moved there. I thought we will live together but he kept his room in a flat share. He started to demand I train more, i learn to communicate the way he does and his family. He said this is the only right way. I nwver heard anything positive about other people from his mounth…everybody wax stupid and unhealthy. I never ft to have any place in a flat. I cooked, cleaned, worked..but I was too slow in the mountains…nothing was good for him..then beside everything else he said I am fat and uselless..he said he wants children as his parents expect 2-3 and that I am not capable of that. He was further using me in all ways and humuliating me every single second. One evening I collapsed emotionally and physically- I asked him to leave me this night alone. But he said he will not leave. He grabbed my aroung next ans started to squeezze..as he would woke up, he stopped and said he needs to stop or something bad will happen. Then he said he has the right to stay and he went to sleep. Next morning I was devastated and harldy went to work. In the evening I came home and he was gone..all his things were away. Next day we talked but nothing changed. He came to me another two months using and taking everything he could and further humuliating me. One day he said i need to find hmyself and maybe he will see in a month or a year. Then he dissapeared. He ruined me and jeopardize my life. But he does not see that..he is happy and doing what he wants further. He took everything
I need to save myself, save my job to survive. It is gard..every day is full of pain. Many times I miss him and dream he will come back. Even if I know he is not normal, even if he looks nice and sweet ftom the outside. It is hards to survive every day.
He used and abused my body, mind and heart…without regrets and only that he could advance…
Once I asked him why he decided for me since I am different- he said because of good ebergy, because of good hart and since I am sweet and nice..and that he believed he can change me. Change me to the person close to the way he is.
He isolated me from the world..he always said he is advancing in life…since he teain and is fast, he has a lot of money and can communicate….he said he does right and this is the only right way. Indeed he has a perfect body and health. Now he has friends that I never seen in 3 years…like I was only a tool for these three years…sad and painful…i hope i will manage to build my life back and have a life of joy and love


Don’t let him get to you, you’re stronger than you know!! Think about what you need to do to be and stay healthy because you need to be and stay healthy for you, it’s all up to you. No one can make the decision for you, and no one will be crying but you if you stay. Life is a gift, you deserve to enjoy it and be with someone who thinks the world revolves around you no matter what you look like!!!!!

Linda N

Please leave immediately! I just turned 55 and have been disabled sixteen years. I have left a near 13 year abusive relationship. My own adult daughter that is not his I have come to realize has helped hide all he has done for over a decade. I am currently homeless. They expected me to die from complications of diabetes and starvation. It has been very hard. I have experienced abuse at two shelters froze in the streets but wouldn’t trade ever again for my peice of mind, freedom , and happiness to be me and live my life as I want enjoying my interests. I know it will get better in time. It is still better than being with someone who secretly hated me. This is the one year anniversary of his first murder attempt. He has also sent people to assault/kidnap me. Just today hooked up with DV center to help with housing. Your daughter’s attitude shows how much they care nothing about your feelings. Live for yourself there is no guilt in that! Years of your life have been sacrifed for a family that cared nothing about all you have given up to give them Peace and Happiness, IT IS YOUR TURN NOW! Contact the nearest DV center and start making your exit plan. Don’t discuss it with your family as they very obviously don’t have your best interest in their hearts. Good Luck, and Peace be with you all of your days.


‘m 50 years old, and a married woman and I am confused more than ever in my life. My mom has dementia now so I cant talk to her like I use too and I don’t have no one to talk too.

I’ve been with my husband since we were in high school, and have two daughters.

He was very abusive physically, verbally, and mentally as we were growing up as well as cheated on me many of times. I spent my years trying to do my very best on raising my daughters.

He stopped being physically abusive for about 10 years now. However, the verbal abuse still has been on going. But with me being older now I do argue back with him and will call him ugly names back and I don’t like it. I feel very mean now and feisty and I don’t want to be mean.

For a couple of years now I do not find interests with him anymore, and would like a peace of mind for the remaining years of my life. However, now that I want to call it quits he is all over me and is being super nice to me, because he knows I’m serious. I hear him crying in another room whenever we are home. I actually feel sorry for him, which is what he did all our lives together and I fell for it. But now I just want a peace of mind.

I have an old 2000 jeep so it seems that he likes for it to break down on me so that I can ask him to take it to get fixed, because he always took my cars to get fixed. But it seems that since I really want to back off with our relationship my truck is breaking down even more.

I told my daughters that I’m ready now to start my life and they are not happy with it, they told me that I’m being selfish and need to think of everyone that is in my life and especially of my two beautiful grandkids. They are not being supportive.They know of the abuse but feel like I’m too old and need to really think about it.

I stood in this relationship because of my girls and not wanting them to not have a dad. But I really feel like I can’t live like this anymore, even with him being super nice too me.

I even look at the way other men treat their spouses and admire it.

The home we live in is only under his name, because his parents signed over the house to him after they took out a huge loan. Right now I dont have the money to move, I’m only 5K in debt so I was planning on asking my daughter if I can stay with her, but since both daughters say I’m being selfish, I feel like I will be a nuisance.

I am going through menopause but I dont feel its menopause I’ve been feeling like this for a very long time.

I’m so lost and I don’t know what to do. I know you’ve seen or talked too many people in similar situations.

I would like some advise. Can you help me with giving me advise? Am I doing wrong? I dont know anyone else to turn to. Am I being selfish?


Hi. So. Here is my humble opinion… you need professional counseling. It’s really helpful when you have low self esteem, which you do. Also, don’t leave your husband, just use him for what he can give you. He gives you a home, and some form of security. I would take that and emotionally detach. Live your own life. Find your own hobbies, make new friends, join a group… do new things and become who you want to really be. Practice your own ability to ignore him, and just simply stop trying to make it work and focus on your own happiness.

Good luck.


I think a congratulations is in order: Congratulations for listening to yourself 🙂 All this time, you have been fulfilling the needs of others to the detriment of your own. You chose them over yourself. And personally, I think children need parents to think of them, but now that your daughters are old enough to fulfill their own needs, you can take that weight off your shoulders. BREATHE. It is YOUR turn 🙂
Do you have an income that will give you the opportunity to move out on your own?
Be prepared that people will be shocked at the changes you make and whilst their reactions may not be positive – in no way should you be swayed by them. Like I said: it is your turn 🙂
Once you listen to yourself and do what you need to do – positive people will surround you 🙂


I just want to say I am so sorry you are going through this and with no support. My heart goes out to you. I am in a similar situation and my husband has been having panic attacks because he knows I don’t want this anymore. He is also being the husband I’ve always needed. I have 3 daughters and my 2 oldest have seen how he has treated me and honestly want me to leave despite the years together because they know my health is more important. I’m still just as conflicted as you. You are not alone. You/we are meant to be loved and live happily. You are never too old to find someone to treat you right.


I’ve just read your brilliant article about toxic relationships. I set myself free but you have underlined and endorsed that what I did was so correct and right. I cannot thank you enough. I can go to sleep now a very contented and happy person. What a ⭐️ you are. xxx


I have a question. After decades of my Mother abusing me in a toxic relationship and my sister following in her footsteps, the last straw came when my husband and I purchased a house for my parents and sister to live in and they pay the mortgage. My sister brought in her daughter and now my niece brought in a dog. We did not want the dog and my parents told my husband they did not either. Next day, you know what happened. My Mother said she never said it and my sister went into her typical toxic rage on my husband. I had told him many times about this but this was his first time experiencing it. I am now done. I am so sad because this does not have to be but it has to for my own mental health. So long story short, I have read about many people telling their abusers they are quitting them but I don’t want another abusive argument. Is it best to tell them or not?

Rosemarie D

My husband is crazy. He keeps me from family and friends. Now he wants to keep me from my 1st grandchild. He just lost his son. He has bladder cancer. I cant cope anymore.

Keri Ringo

Wow. What a wonderfully inspiring and soulfully captivating article. This is honestly the best article I’ve read on Toxic Relationships in the last 5 years of trying to understand, accept and walk away from a toxic Mother and an even more toxic Partner. After reading this I feel more at peace inside of myself, and ready to move on, than I ever have before. And the timing of this I can definitely put down to a Universal Synchronicity… Thank you so much. ???


I’ve been on a two year journey of grief, gas lighting, trying to fix my toxic spouse, and then hoping she might magically change.
I’ve had the knowledge in my head about letting go for my own sake and for my children, but after 16 years of marriage, and frankly, the love I still have for her, it has been a hard lesson to learn.
Thank you for this article. It’s one tool of many of late which is helping me make the choice to step away from the toxicity and let her go. I appreciate the idea that I can step away from the toxicity, but not slam the door.


Jason, I have also been married 16 years in a toxic situation. Its the hardest thing Ive ever done to leave her because she is the love of my life. We have so many great adventures and memories. But, we only get along if I do it her way, have her opinion, treat her well. its all very performance based love on her end. I have lashed out and fought and quarreled with her constantly because I don’t like being dominated and controlled. I am not submissive yet I have found I became more and more submissive in order to find peace in our marriage. I often blamed myself for losing my temper saying and doing things I regret because I reached my breaking point so many times before. I feel bad about it still and find myself trying to make it right and heal wounds and apologize. Yet she rarely sees anything wrong with her own words or actions, rarely apologizes if ever. I even with all that being said, I still love her and when its good its great, but when its bad its hell.


I’m in the same situation. I’ve been with my high school sweetheart for over 30 years. He was physical, mentally, and verbally abusive. About 10 years ago the abuse stopped. And for the past 5 years I find no interests in him and despise him, but now he is super super nice and doesnt want me to leave. He said that I must have found someone else. This is one of his lines for years.
He cries daily and gives me my space in hoping I dont leave.

My mom has dementia now so I cannot move in with her because my sister and nephew is helping her. My daughters are upset with me and said I’m being selfish and that makes me feel guilty. But I want out now. I just dont know where and how to get up and go. I love him because I’ve been with him for many years. But I’m not in love with him no more. I’m soooo lost , confused, and want out. I dont know anymore.

Laura L

I am in the same situation as you. I have an ex that just will not leave. He does things to help out but then uses that as leverage to stick around. I know it is my fault for letting him even help but there is history there. It is so hard and everyday becomes a struggle , especially when you are dealing with other things on top of it. I have said many things that I regret and haven’t been a perfect angel either but it hasn’t worked, nothing is working. He just won’t go away and let me be free.

Alone, and trapped

Dawn E.

I was contemplating my divorce when a friend of mine said “Don’t ever let anyone compromise your own happiness”. That statement in itself stuck to me like glue and allowed me to see this for me, not to anyone’s understanding. I wish all the best to you and know you are special and important.


I am so very sorry for your broken ? I too am in a toxic relationship. I loved this article and could relate to every piece of it, every word. I have no children with this person he however has a child that manipulates and fuels his cruelness. I will keep this article and re-read and re-read as I am in the process of leaving. Not sure where to go but I just know I NEED too. I finally see him for who and what he is and most importantly I see what I allowed him to reduce me too. I deserve better.

shawn k

Desperately, I have been searching for why I still love my ex wife. She “left” over two years ago and keeps returning when she falls on her face. We have 2 young children together. She essentially abandoned them. Hasn’t paid child support in over a year. now living in a homeless shelter. Recommended to after I dropped her off at a mental institution. 4 days. that was her stay. We miss her so much. And she is so cold to us. Pushing us away while shacking up with whatever man will have her. Only to ask us for help when she fails again. I have been broken so badly by her. My weakness I suppose. I do not claim innocence. I wasn’t as emotionally supportive as I should have been. We went through hard times together. I was fighting drug addiction and alcoholism when she met me. Odd thing is it was when I quit cold turkey, alcohol and drugs, went to school, she started cheating. Blatantly cheating. even after 6 years just writing about this gets me burning. How is it we can love someone so much who only means to use, manipulate, lie and hurt us intentionally. I have had other relationships since. But they aren’t her. My heart just cant allow the emotion I have for my ex wife to be there for the relationship. And sadly I have lost every one. But I am still on good terms with all of them. I guess I will never understand it. A sense of regret constantly fills me and a hope that she will call and say, Please, come get me, I am ready. what do we do with this burden of loss. How do we recover. I play strong for my kids. She doesn’t even get to visit them. unless I approve it. And usually, I wont because I know nothing good is going to come from it. I did appreciate this article and am thankful I found this site. this has been a bit of an eye opener. whats the next step to release? to overcome the fear of letting go and how do I move forward without my head down, feeling so ashamed and ugly because surely if this person who I love so much can not love me, with all that she does, No one else can. what do I do next. I am poor. cant afford counceling or insurance. But I make too much to receive any assistance. Any advice would greatly help me, I think.

Sincerely, truly broken hearted.


I am in such a similar quandary, with such similar thoughts – My heart belongs to someone very toxic and it’s purgatory… but the truth appears to be that people like you and I cannot move forward and grow all the while we are still shackled.

The article says:
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 that hurts – and whether you tear at it or not, it won’t stop cutting into you.

That’s the thing that I think you and I need to focus on …and keep tearing until the blinds fall away to let in the sunlight.

Good Luck and best wishes


The really toxic ones will say you are the love of my life at certain points aftet theyve realized they can not take out their rage and deceit of not being able to do heroin anymore and trying to break you in any way to elevate themselves while they relapse in the methadone program because I wanted the said person to go camping. They will literally ruin a whole season every season for years. I can rwmeber each time or a holiday from each season when he acted out in abusive rage becaude he is angry because he cant to heroin and abuse pills


She loved you while u were broken and couldn’t see it, now she lost herself, helping you! Love her from afar, this is her lesson to learn and yours too! Work on u! It’s super hard to watch someone fall apart, but hitting rock bottom and coming up, is the best rebirth ever! she did it for you too! That is what true love is, we don’t know what our path holds but can we hold on or not?

Jessica R

Wow, Great article! I was left in tears thinking this whole time I made a mistake leaving a toxic relationship. I was searching, asking my family, my friends if I made a mistake and I didn’t. I was with this guy for 6 years. From the very beginning I noticed a few red flags but I thought that it wasn’t a big deal. I noticed there was a lot of jealous from both parties, then it progressed to us both not being able to have female or male friends. We both didn’t agree on much, we had different views on life but we managed throughout the years to try to agree on things (it was really hard). As the years went on, I noticed the relationship was falling apart. We lost respect for each other, we didn’t trust each other, one kept blaming the other for doing things that we were not supposed to do. We fought all the time! Though the way he expressed his anger was humiliating, he had me controlled completely. I was so naive, so dumb to realize that this man dominated me. In the beginning like I mentioned we both treated each other equally bad. But, I noticed within the 3rd year things started to change. He started screaming at me in front of people, he would throw my things all around his room, he would call me every bad word in the dictionary. He would accuse me, disrespect me in every level possible. I know, I’m sure you are probably wondering how could I have stayed that long. Well, he had me manipulated. He had bought a house and was doing good for himself but I guess I was more interested in the materialistic aspect than the relationship. My dreams were to be married, happy, build a family. He wasn’t ready and I don’t blame him. We barely even spoke to each other when we would hang out. I was scared of even telling him about my day without him getting upset over something. He had a lot of anger issues and I guess I was trying to get past it and I didn’t realize how much he drained me. He told me I didn’t deserve to be married bc I didn’t know how to be a wife. You know the funny this is, I remember more of the bad than the good. And that says something! On the day of our 6th year together, I knew in my gut that I had made up my mind to leave him and I did. I was crying constantly. Move forward a couple months, I don’t know why I feel like I made a mistake. I had second doubts. I started reading and reading trying to find an answer if what I did was wrong. I guess I was also afraid of seeing him with another woman. But this article, made me realize that my decision was the best one I ever made. Don’t get me wrong, I’m struggling, I’m trying to keep myself distracted, hanging out with people, etc. It’s so hard trying to pick up the pieces that once were left broken covered with dust and trying to piece my life together again. I thought he was my best friend, why would he want to hurt me? I never understood. I can’t fully put the blame on him bc I made mistakes too. I just hope that in time all these feelings of anger, sadness, pity, and sorrow go away. I want to be happy, smiling knowing that I’m free. I don’t want to be crying anymore. To all of you out there in a toxic relationship: get out while you can, don’t let it progress further. The longer you stay the harder it gets to leave. Just a reminder those years that you are together, you will never get them back. I really hope that this helps someone to get out of a toxic relationship.


I am so very sorry for your broken ? I too am in a toxic relationship. I loved this article and could relate to every piece of it, every word. I have no children with this person he however has a child that manipulates and fuels his cruelness. I will keep this article and re-read and re-read as I am in the process of leaving him, well he is leaving me as he is out for himself and is cruler than ever cause he dies not need my help anymore. I finally see him for who and what he is and most importantly I see what I allowed him to reduce me too. I deserve to be happy, respected, loved and supported as do you and your children. I journal to get my feelings out and when done list 3 things I am grateful for. It helps. God Bless

Summer k

I am selfish and have alienated all my “friends” to the point I have none. What should I do now. I live in a small town. And the entire town thinks I am a bad person. Yes, I have done some horrible things to loyal friends. To the point none of these people will take me back.
I believe my issue is control. And I need attention. If the attention is not on me or I am not winning. I lose it and burn my bridges.
I need help but don’t know what I can do at this point

Laura P

I just broke up with a toxic boyfriend. Luckily it only lasted about half a year, but I was in love. It was my first ever relationship, and he was considerably older. He told me he could be an amazing, sensitive, thoughtful, generous human being, but that deep down on the inside, he was a bad guy. I didn’t believe him. I thought he was being hard on himself, and I wanted to try my hardest to prove to him that he was wrong, that he was a special human being.

So I forgave, and forgave, and forgave… each time he ignored me when I said “no”, each time he accused me of being a slut, each time he criticized my relationships, my character, my lifestyle, my choices, even my house decor! And he moved the relationship forward so quickly… even though I wasn’t ready to let him into my life, he forced himself in.
I thought it was love… maybe it was, but it built and unsteady foundation for a healthy, lasting relationship. I felt hopeful when he said he’d change, when he owned up to his kistakes and even stopped drinking! But soon little remnants of his past behavior came creeping back, and then he started drinking again… Appearing on short notice, blaming me for lots of problems.

When I started acquiring his toxicity, and I started name-calling, and being insensitive, I realized thst this had to end. I called him a coward, just to hurt him… and I enjoyed it. That’s when I knew I lost myself in this whole mess.

I still love him. I wish him the best, and I hope he untangles the knots inside himself in a healthy way.


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Lead with warmth and confidence: ‘Yes I know this feels big, and yes I know you can handle it.’ 

We’re not saying they’ll handle it well, and we’re not dismissing their anxiety. What we’re saying is ‘I know you can handle the discomfort of anxiety.’ 

It’s not our job to relive this discomfort. We’ll want to, but we don’t have to. Our job is to give them the experiences they need (when it’s safe) to let them see that they can handle the discomfort of anxiety. 

This is important, because there will  always be anxiety when they do something brave, new, important, growthful. 

They can feel anxious and do brave. Leading with warmth and confidence is about, ‘Yes, I believe you that this feels bad, and yes, I believe in you.’ When we believe in them, they will follow. So often though, it will start with us.♥️
There are things we do because we love them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel loved because of those things.

Of course our kids know we love them, and we know they love us. But sometimes, they might feel disconnected from that feeling of being ‘loved by’. As parents, we might feel disconnected from the feeling of being ‘appreciated by’.

It’s no coincidence that sometimes their need to feel loved, and our need to feel appreciated collide. This collision won’t sound like crashing metal or breaking concrete. It will sound like anger, frustration, demanding, nagging. 

It will feel like not mattering, resentment, disconnection. It can burst through us like meteors of anger, frustration, irritation, defiance. It can be this way for us and our young ones. (And our adult relationships too.)

We humans have funny ways of saying, ‘I miss you.’

Our ‘I miss you’ might sound like nagging, annoyance, anger. It might feel like resentment, rage, being taken for granted, sadness, loneliness. It might look like being less playful, less delighting in their presence.

Their ‘I miss you’ might look like tantrums, aggression, tears, ignoring, defiant indifference, attention-seeking (attention-needing). It might sound like demands, anger, frustration.

The point is, there are things we do because we love them - cleaning, the laundry, the groceries, cooking. And yes, we want them to be grateful, but feeling grateful and feeling loved are different things. 

Sometimes the things that make them feel loved are so surprising and simple and unexpected - seeking them out for play, micro-connections, the way you touch their hair at bedtime, the sound of your laugh at their jokes, when you delight in their presence (‘Gosh I’ve missed you today!’ Or, ‘I love being your mum so much. I love it better than everything. Even chips. If someone said you can be queen of the universe or Molly’s mum, I’d say ‘Pfft don’t annoy me with your offers of a crown. I’m Molly’s mum and I’ll never love being anything more.’’)

So ask them, ‘What do I do that makes you feel loved?’ If they say ‘When you buy me Lego’, gently guide them away from bought things, and towards what you do for them or with them.♥️
We don’t have to protect them from the discomfort of anxiety. We’ll want to, but we don’t have to.

OAnxiety often feels bigger than them, but it isn’t. This is a wisdom that only comes from experience. The more they sit with their anxiety, the more they will see that they can feel anxious and do brave anyway. Sometimes brave means moving forward. Sometimes it means standing still while the feeling washes away. 

It’s about sharing the space, not getting pushed out of it.

Our job as their adults isn’t to fix the discomfort of anxiety, but to help them recognise that they can handle that discomfort - because it’s going to be there whenever they do something brave, hard , important. When we move them to avoid anxiety, we potentially, inadvertently, also move them to avoid brave, hard, growthful things. 

‘Brave’ rarely feels brave. It will feel jagged and raw. Sometimes fragile and threadbare. Sometimes it will as though it’s breathing fire. But that’s how brave feels sometimes. 

The more they sit with the discomfort of anxiety, the more they will see that anxiety isn’t an enemy. They don’t have to be scared of it. It’s a faithful ally, a protector, and it’s telling them, ‘Brave lives here. Stay with me. Let me show you.’♥️
#parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinkids #teenanxiety
We have to stop treating anxiety as a disorder. Even for kids who have seismic levels of anxiety, pathologising anxiety will not serve them at all. All it will do is add to their need to avoid the thing that’s driving anxiety, which will most often be something brave, hard, important. (Of course if they are in front of an actual danger, we help anxiety do its job and get them out of the way of that danger, but that’s not the anxiety we’re talking about here.)

The key to anxiety isn’t in the ‘getting rid of’ anxiety, but in the ‘moving with’ anxiety. 

The story they (or we) put to their anxiety will determine their response. ‘You have anxiety. We need to fix it or avoid the thing that’s causing it,’ will drive a different response to, ‘Of course you have anxiety. You’re about to do something brave. What’s one little step you can take towards it?’

This doesn’t mean they will be able to ‘move with’ their anxiety straight away. The point is, the way we talk to them about anxiety matters. 

We don’t want them to be scared of anxiety, because we don’t want them to be scared of the brave, important, new, hard things that drive anxiety. Instead, we want to validate and normalise their anxiety, and attach it to a story that opens the way for brave: 

‘Yes you feel anxious - that’s because you’re about to do something brave. Sometimes it feels like it happens for no reason at all. That’s because we don’t always know what your brain is thinking. Maybe it’s thinking about doing something brave. Maybe it’s thinking about something that happened last week or last year. We don’t always know, and that’s okay. It can feel scary, and you’re safe. I would never let you do something unsafe, or something I didn’t think you could handle. Yes you feel anxious, and yes you can do this. You mightn’t feel brave, but you can do brave. What can I do to help you be brave right now?’♥️

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