Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing when to let go.

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

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

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

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

What to do when leaving feels as bad as staying.

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

  1. Be present.

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

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

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

  2. Keep track.

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

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

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

    Try this exercise:

    Finish this sentence: 

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

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

    Notice what happens when you do that.

  4. How do you avoid the truth?

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

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

  5. Give it a deadline.

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

  6. Become selfish.

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

  7. Be honest about your part.

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

  8. What’s your role in the relationship?

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

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

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

  9. Let go of the fantasy.

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

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

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

  10. Accept what is.

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

  11. Fight for you.

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

  12. Stop making excuses.

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

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

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

  14. Not making a decision is making a decision.

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

And finally …

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

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

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

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236 Comments

Lisa

Thank you for this article, I’ve been in a very toxic relationship for the past 27 years! Yup 27! My youngest is 16 years old and it is time, I’m so unhappy and so lonely, I can’t begin to tell you how much and yet I have stayed. That little voice of doubt in your head can twist you in knots and make you believe you can’t do it yourself. I’m ashamed that I’ve stayed this long and allowed my children to see me not stand up for myself and leave. My husband after 4 years of marriage told me he was transgender and identified as a woman, my immediate response was that I can’t be with you through this and I need to leave which I did, all the promises under the sun that he wasn’t going through with it brought me back, our daughter was born and it all started again to the extent that he saw a phsycologist and started taking hormones, I was in a position where I couldn’t leave, he had his testicles removed after our son was born (another time I left and went back and my boy was the result) and grew breasts from taking hormones and then decided that it wasn’t for him after all. We haven’t had sex or any kind of intimate relationship for well over 5 years now! I am deeply unhappy and have told him I want a divorce and his answer was he would pick up his stuff and walk away and leave me with all the debt (over $350,000 including the mortgage on our house that he insisted on buying) knowing full well that there is no way I can handle the debt on my own. His constant mantra is ‘ I need you to survive’ everyday I am so angry and sad and my resentment of him is so strong I am beginning to detest him, but I don’t know how to leave him. He is not mentally stable and I know he’ll never let me go! Every day is a new struggle to make it through the day without crumpling in a heap! I feel so ashamed that I don’t know how to leave, my New Years wish was praying for the strength to walk away from this relationship this year before it kills me. I have no one in the country that I live in, my family are all overseas, no one to run to or turn to but I’m going to get to a stage where I will just walk away I’ve saved this article and I will read it every day in the hope that it will help me get the courage that to need!

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Christin

Wow how I can relate!!! You’re not alone and I understand! Keep your head up.. I think we think too far ahead if we do decide to leave that it freaks us out. I’m stuck because I have no help from family and financially I’d be so broke and he knows that which is really hard to accept. I’m starting to think though I’d rather be broke living month to month. I’m going to start saving money and make a plan…you should also! Whether it’s this year or next year or in 6 months at least you’ll know your moving forward and taking that power it really makes you feel better! Xx

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NSG

I had to leave with a very little money and very less support from my family, both like none. But had to move coz it has became matter of life and death and huge abuse since last 5 years. Am new in this country. But left with no choice. Since last 8 months of separation was in trauma and now feel relaxed.

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Keyshia

Be strong! More than anything you have to love those babies and yourself more than you love him. I’m not one to judge but when you’re tired your’re tired. Only you know when your tired! Stop thinking of him and what he wants. How do you feel? What do you truly want?

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IT

I recently got out of a relationship as well, reading this seems to help but I feel weak. I’ve known this guy for 5 years and have been on and off for 4. I am so young and the way I feel should not ever be felt by any one of any age. I am 21, I have high hopes for myself but being with someone like him made me feel otherwise when we were upset at one another. Everything felt as if it was always my fault, he said I didn’t give him enough space to breath. There are 7 days a week I see him sometimes all those 7 or sometimes 6 or 5, and he works a 9-6 job. Five days a week He come home around 8 sometimes 10. That’s a bit of time to talk about our day then get ready for bed. Is it wrong of me to want to spend time with someone I love on the weekend when I can only see him on Saturday night and some hours Sunday bc of my job? I guess maybe I asked for too much but after years of infidelity I thought I had deserved that time with him. I encourage him to see his family as often as he wanted but he never took it. He would rather go out with his friends and not tell me about it. That’s just a bit of what I have been dealing with the past few years. Although, he did strive for me and make me feel significant and worthy and successful at times. His words hurt when he was upset, through time he everntually knew what to say to hurt me emotionally and mentally. Sometimes physically. After those altercations, I was there begging for him to come back to me and apologizing when the roles should be reversed. He was too shaken up to look me in the after all the hurtful words he said and reminder of what he had done. It has only been a couple of hours since he told me to pack my belongings and go back to my parents. I’m scared that I am to weak and will eventually try to contact him. I want to be myself again. My five years ago self before I ever met him. I read this article and it made me feel a bit better. I am hopeful that I will be happy again within time and that I will move on bravely.

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MH

There’s a book called GETTING PAST YOUR BREAKUP that you needto read. Also do a Google search for “Lewis Howes – Boundaries” podcast. Boundaries are extremely important in relationships and seeing someone 7 days a week may not be the healthiest based on your circumstances. Good luck IT.

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Gloria tucker

You will never be your past self, you will be a stronger self, more intuitive. Its hard to leave an abusive relationship, but none of the tocic issues are yours. They’re his. You need to be absolutely selfish, i.e., think about yourself, your future, your well being, your future, your wants, your needs. Obviously he is not meetinh any of these and have told you he will not by telling you to leave. Leave. Givr yourself time to heal, to learn from your experience. Yes, like drug abuse, you may want to return to your abuser, but fill your time and thoughts eith improving yourself, take a class of your interests, be active, seek to think positively, thats the hardest. Healing eill come, after the pain, the anger, the resentment, the regrets, it will come. Ypu must cut off all, all, all contact eith this man.. if you see him on tje street, walk by as if hes a stranger. Dont know him, dont chat, dont have lunch, dont nothing. Abusive ppl have long standing issues that have nothing to do with you and are not your responsibility. Nothing you can help them with or change. Learn how to recognixe this type of personality. Its hards to identify, but the first time it rares its ugly head, leave. You owe no one any explanations for taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally and psychologically. You should never take abuse and disrespect, no matter how much you love someone. Never invest more in a relationship than the other person.

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michelle

Yes, this article was very informative. It is easier said then done to make change. You are young and have a whole life ahead of you. The advice of like to give is live for you. Now is the time to put you first. Especially if you do not have children. Do all you have on your bucket list before you start another relasho ship or at least tackle a few of those want to do things by yourself. It will bring you strength. Good luck, as I need some too. I have 21 years in a marriage that has struggled for about it’s entirety. Have 5 beautiful kids and a house filled with animals and I’m exhausted from our failing marriage. Physically and mentally. I need strength to let go. Good luck.

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Janice

I can relate so much to this article.
I am now in a position where I have accepted in my head and mind that I need to go go from this relationship. There’s always been something that has held me back like our pets worrying I will never be able to see them again. I feel mentally drained, i suffer with Anxiety and Depression and me being in this relationship is contributing to my mental health it’s taken me sometime to see this though . I am registered as disabled, I suffer with Arthritis and Lupus so I have my good and bad days/weeks I have a lot of hospital admissions and appointments to maintain and it can sometime get too much and I feel like I haven’t got anyone there. I am going to my parents for a few days tomorrow and then hopefully I am going to be strong enough to walk away and go. I can’t do this anymore ☹️😔

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Jen

I am 21 years old. He was the sweetest and lovable and all the good things about him. Recently he is short tempered and can’t control his anger. He will say vulgarities, hurtful mean things to me. And end it with ‘idk what got into me’ or ‘I’ll change’ and apologised saying he’ll be better. But its the same thing over and over. He gets mad at something small and burst into anger. We almost fight everyday and i know its getting toxic and i feel numb. Im scared to leave. I dont want to. I tried asking him to seek professional help. It’s going to hurt alot and i got no one with me.

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Alicia

Thanks so much for this. It has made me realize my worth. I’ve been in the same spot for quite some time and just don’t have the courage to move on. Although he has been married and divorced and in many other relationships I just can’t seem to bring myself to love another man in fear of being done the same way again.

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Britt

I am also currently in a very toxic relationship that I know I need to leave. I do not live with him…he is 41 years old…has plenty of money…and lives with his parents. This has been going on for almost 6 years. Rationally I know I would vehemently tell anyone else to leave a situation like mine. I’ve become the rescuer and nurturer while he continues to take my self respect and self esteem. And I just sit by and let it happen. I have worked really hard at being independent…I’m a nurse…put myself through college at 40 on my own while raising 2 boys. I am kind and loving…I love my patients and friends…I am honest… compassionate. So I don’t understand why he cheats…lies and disrespects me. And why do I stay for it???? He recently went on a drug binge…I took him to rehab today. I will not be able to speak to him for 7 days…my plan is to look deep inside and find the courage to make the break. He hid his phone from me today but gave it to his mom…she can look in it but I can’t…as I’m sure there are several women on the hook. This has all been such a mind blowing destructive experience. I’m intelligent….but none of that matters or has helped me. I need to find myself again and realize that I’m not meant to be in pain constantly while smiling at the outside world. Anyone else going through something similar….I’m sending good vibes and love your way. Stay strong!

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M

Read Getting Past Your Breakup and read material on self-love. This is what’s helping me A LOT at the moment.

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Melissa

I felt as if I was reading my own story. It’s really hard to walk away when you have given someone your all. I made countless sacrifices and cry myself to sleep nightly how do I become stronger. Just know you are not alone

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Britt

It does help to know I’m not alone. People that haven’t experienced something like this don’t get it. I absolutely have to walk away. I know I’ll be fine once I do. I don’t even understand it. I am reading a lot on addictive resltionships and the difficulty of getting out. Remember….you’re not alone either. Much love

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Tammy

After 2 years with a guy who would never fully commit, I’m packing my things and moving out while he is out of town. I always thought that if you give something everything you have, then it will work out. I never asked for marriage or forever, I just wanted him to try. I stayed with him when he had nothing. Through cheating, difficulties at work, through him criticising my weight and everything else about me, I stayed and always put him first. I’ve given everything I have, put aside my pride and dignity countless times… I’m done. There are no words to describe this feeling: grief mixed with a healthy dose of “Finally!”

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Laura

Thank you. I needed this in order to get the courage to try to break up with my girlfriend today. She and I have been out together for almost two years but I need out.
Wish me luck!

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Sheri

I have never been so broken in my entire life. I cry almost every single day. I’m 48 years old. Been married to my husband since we were both 19….29 years. We have two daughters, 14 and 11. We are separated and have been for 11 months. We were separated four years ago too. He has had numerous affairs and this last one has just about done me in. Sooo many lies and found out he’s even paid a one year lease on a home for her that’s in his pricey neighborhood. Each girl he’s had an affair with have been in their twenties. Of course that’s how it usually goes. He continues to say he’s sorry. Going to therapy and crying and begging me he won’t hurt me again. That’s he realizes how horrible he’s been. He wants me and our family back. I have to be the most ignorant person in the world to keep crying over him. Why is this so very hard to let go ??? I dont understand what’s wrong with me. I met a wonderful man a few months after my husband walked out on us and this man is amazing. He loves and adores me. He’s shown me love like I’ve never known. Why in this world can I not walk away from this marriage and try to move on ?? I need Peace and I have none.

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Val

I have been in a toxic relationship for two years, we had a baby and it is hard for me to get out, he has abused me emotionaly, physically and sexually. He is a heartless psychopath by the things he has done to me, and I continue to want to still stay. I know he will never change and I need help to become a stronger person and know my self worth. I just need to get over him to be happy again.

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Karen Young

Val, if you don’t do get out of this relationship for yourself, do it for your baby. The trauma of watching abuse in a home can last forever. You are right – he will never change. You don’t need to get over him to leave – you just need to put distance between you and him, and the wisdom and strength and courage in you will be there to meet you.

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mari

I’m 32 mother of 3 been in an unhealthy relationship for 9 years now hes cheated numerous times and for some reason i feel i owe him something i had rushed into a relationship with this men cause i was desperate i had two kids at the time an was in a very abusive relationship and he helped me out we share one child in coomon hes always said all my children are his but doesnt justify the pain i feel inside from him cheating this happend 3 years ago and it eats at me everyday i left once and got pulled back the fear of being a single mother has gotten the best of me but to continue to sleep with someone yo9u no longer love and have sex with them is the worst feeling ever idk how to get out of this relationship

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Lisa

I know what you are feeling! I too have stayed far to long out of fear! Fear is crippling! As hard as it is, I am starting to find the strength to want to know what’s on the other side. It can’t be as bad as the hell I am in now:(

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Mariela

I’ve only been married 3 years but in the 2nd year i knew this wasnt going for the long haul. I have a daughter from a previous relationship but shes older now her and my husband dont get along he always tries to tell me what i need to do as a parent. Even though he is a horrible father to his own two kids. Bothers him to even pick them up on weekends, i have to force him too.. my husband has a short temper and severe ocd, he light also be a bit bipolar but waiting to see if thats what his therapist thinks. I asked him for a divorce last year cause my mind was made up. I would get disgusted if he even touched me ot tried to kiss me. Hes never struck me but has thrown stuff at me and one day he put a knife to my neck cause i wanted a divorce. Sadly he has cogestive heart failure and started getting sick around the time i asked for the divorce. His family is not close or family oriented so i was all he really had so i stuck aound. Recently he had a heart transplant ive been the only one by his side stopped working to be with him until he started complaining about finances. Now that he has been out of hospital again hos family is no help i drive him to his appointments right after my 10hr shift at work then get home eat shower and back to work. But yet he complains i do nothing for him. Wants me to work, clean and tend to his medical issues. When things arent how he wants he insults me and throws things at me. I need to leave i want to and my mindnis so made up. But i feel guilty cause his family doesn’t seem to care about his health issues no one onows about his meds but me. He cant even memorize them… what do i do i feel hopeless cause I’m so unhappy in my marriage.

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jenny lance

I am 23 years old and I have been through hell and back regarding my relationship. I started dating this guy in August of 2017 and shortly after he asked me to be his girlfriend. When he first asked me, I told him it was too soon. But he was so persistent, that I finally said yes. He is 28 years old (going on 29). This was my first relationship. Right off the bat I had told him one of my biggest pet peeves is when somebody lies straight to my face, and I also told him that I did not know how to be affectionate. I had never been in a relationship before so I didn’t know what to expect. We started off really loving, he was kind and affectionate and through him I learned how to be affectionate as well. We went to dinners, he bought me roses, he fell madly in love with me in such a short amount of time.

Although the first 3 months of our relationship was good, we had little fights here and there that escalated into big fights because I had a tendency to always leave him when things weren’t working out the way I wanted them to. I’ve always had trust issues and insecurities, and I constantly turned small arguments into big ones because I did not fully trust him. Our relationship was very on and off the first 3 months, but those first 3 months were nothing compared to the months that followed.

My family did not know about him. I come from a family where respect for your parents is number one, always. The man who would meet my father would be the man I would be spending my life with. I could not take my boyfriend to meet my family because the relationship was way too new. I had to at least give it a year or two before he could meet my father. My boyfriend at the time did not understand this. He wanted to meet my friends and family because that’s normal in relationships. But it wasn’t a normal thing for my family, I had to respect my parents. So, he never met my parents but he did meet a couple of my friends. My friends liked him as much as I did in the beginning, he was honestly a good man and he tried his best to make me happy. But I still started fights with him and left him constantly. On Halloween I left him alone, on Thanksgiving break we went to Disney World together and we argued so that trip was ruined. I left him alone on Christmas, on New Years.

At around the end of November, our relationship seemed to be suffering constantly. We could never find a resolve to any of our arguments or issues. He became angry and I became more distrusting. He kept making comments about my weight, my appearance, he took all of my insecurities and threw them in my face with every fight. I can understand that my leaving him constantly probably somewhat contributed build up his anger. He told me he constantly felt emasculated by me because he always did everything for me and what I wanted, and I would never do what he wanted. He told me he did not feel like the man in the relationship, that he didn’t feel like he was in control. So, it built up and he became angry and spiteful. He started to lie straight to my face about the smallest things, big things, anything. Also, every time I did leave him I had a tendency to go sleep with another man. He was my “friend with benefit” I suppose. We had no feelings for one another, we just slept with each other sometimes. He was my friend with benefit before I got into a relationship with my ex in August 2017.

At the beginning of January 2018, we called it quits (kinda). It just was not working. A few days after our breakup, I slept with the same man I was talking about above. Then, my ex and I got back together again. I did not tell him that I had slept with this man again because when I first did it earlier in the relationship, I ended up telling my ex about it when we got back together and he asked me to never see this person again. So I kept this from him when we got back together. A few days went by and we were breaking up again. At the end of January, we called it quits almost completely. I had not contacted him in a couple of weeks, it was silence on both sides.

And then, come February, I get an email from him (because I had him blocked on everything else) with a screenshot of roses he ordered for another girl for Valentines Day. That email completely ruined my progress to move on. I did not want him to move on with another girl, especially so quickly. He sent me that email to hurt my feelings, and it worked. I found myself begging for him back, literally. I would drive by at his house at night (we lived 2-3 minutes from each other) and see her car there. At times I would get out and knock on the door and stay there for an hour or two. For 4-5 days straight, I was outside his house while he was with her. Eventually, he stopped ignoring me and we would talk about possibly getting back together and trying to make things work. The girl he was seeing did not know that him and I were still speaking. She also worked (still works) with him. One night I went to his place, we slept together, and then 10 minutes later after I left he went over to her house and slept with her. That pissed me off. I felt so disgusted by the person he had become. But I still kept seeing him, while he was seeing her. She had no idea, and my attempts at trying to tell her (on Facebook/Instagram) failed because she never checked her messages. I was successful at reaching her one time, but he made her block me on Facebook and told her wasn’t seeing me anymore, which was a lie. He also lied to me when I asked him if he had asked this girl to be his girlfriend. He said no every time I asked, but finally told me that he had asked her to be his girlfriend one weekend when they went to the beach. This also pissed me off. How could he do that to me and still claim to love me?

In around early March, him and I decided we would try to work on things. He left the girl he was seeing and we were going to try to make us work. But surprise surprise, we just could not make it work. I would start arguments about her, he would get angry, punch a wall, punch through his chandelier. He even broke my phone and laptop. We just were not working. It got so bad that he involved my friends, my roommates and my family in our relationship. He sent my father a text message with a video of me drunk and texted him a bunch of nonsense. My roommates hated him, he involved them too. He was making my life miserable and I became depressed, to the point where I tried to kill myself and ended up in the hospital.

He tried to contact me while I was in the hospital, but the hospital would not let him get through to me. I had put him on a blocked list so he could not speak to me while I was in the hospital. My family came up to take me home when they found out what had happened. I sold all of my belongings, withdrew from school, and moved back home. He was still trying to contact me when this was happening. I did not answer at first, but I still loved him so I gave in. We started talking once again, even after I had tried to end my life over the stress and hell he put me through. He told me he wanted to try long distance, I told him a lot had to change for us to even be able to do that. Little did I know, he was seeing that girl from his job again. Even after everything we had been through, even after everything I had been through, he saw this girl again. That hurt me the most.

But I still loved him, and I believed him when he told me he loved me. I agreed to long distance with him. We tried and tried and tried but came to the conclusion that our relationship was too broken to fix. There was no more trust on either side. Everything was ruined. He constantly tells me he loves me, and I feel like I love him too. But I also feel like love was not supposed to be like that.

Recently, we have decided to officially end things and cut all communication. I feel disappointed in this outcome, I really felt like I loved him but what do I know? Anyways, I hope this article helps me through the moving on process. It’s been really difficult and I wish him and I didn’t end up here, but we did. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.

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Cynthia

My grand daughter is 27 and in a very abusive relationship. Physically and emotionally. I want to alert his parents although she is asking that I don’t involve his family… I am so afraid he will soon do something so terrible and I should have done more…

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Rose

I have been in a toxic relationship for 2 years. It has broken me emotionally and mentally which is in my opinion worst than physical abuse because bruises and cuts go away, the emotional abuse does not. I have tried to leave but then always end up coming back because I have that hope that he will change and be better but it’s always the same or worse. He always found a way to blame me and I started believing that it was my fault and I started to believe I wasn’t worth anything. I am still hurting and I know it will be tough moving on especially trying to heal my emotional wounds. Toxic relationships are the hardest ones to leave and get over. You just have to believe you’re worthy and love yourself to succeed and move on. ❤

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WeRIndia

We need to understand that there is nothing more relatable than the love between a couple in Healthy Relationships. Thanks for sharing this article with us.

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Bobbi

Thank you for this article, it was an eye opener for me and very encouraging.
I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4 months now, 4 months which transformed me from a happy and content woman to a depressed, crying all the time one. Sometimes I am so filled with anxiety that I can go almost a day having difficulty breathing and experiencing chest pains, I don’t want to get out of bed and I have no desire to do absolutely anything. I force myself to go to work, where my customers ask me what is wrong and I have to lie that I’m tired or sick. I am 44 with 2 grown wonderful children, yet this relationship has reduced me to a crying heap. I cry at home, I cry at work, I cry in my car… I can’t cry in front of him though because he says that I’m weak. I only see him when he “has time”, sometimes once every 2 weeks and sometimes it’s only for an hour. If I ask for any other time, even if it’s just half an hour, he gets annoyed, because “he has to eat, sleep, do laundry”. Yet he’ll spend a day helping a friend move or stay up to drive a coworker home, the same female coworker he was going to go to a drive-in theatre with…
When I was upset that he drove her once again, all I needed was a reassurance that he loves me, but instead he got mad and now only texts me if I text him. I feel like I’m not a priority for him, I feel like he doesn’t care for my needs as a woman and I feel like I’m the only one that makes an effort in this relationship. I am very embarrassed to have scooped down so low and I don’t want to continue this but I’m also afraid to end it. Reading your article and all the comments made me realize I’m not alone and I see hope in the future.

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D.H

I was in a toxic relationship for 12 years married for 6 years and divorced in 2006. We have 3 children together. Divorcing him was the best decision I ever made. After the divorce I met someone else and ended up in another toxic relationship we’ve been together now for 12 years. Not married, no kids together.. I’ve tried many times to leave this toxic relationship but he won’t leave me alone. He is a emotional,mental abuser. He also has anger fits when things aren’t going his way or if certain things are bother him. He is a narcissist and bi-polar. He uses self pity and suicide words when I want to leave the relationship. He has physically abused me in the past and been arrested on many occasions over the past 12 years. I feel like a prisoner in my own home, because emotionally and mentally I’m a wreck not because I can’t leave my home but because I feel helpless and so depressed due to my situation! I have a job so I’m not fully dependant on him. But recently I’ve been on sick leave cause my health is deteriorating. Right now I’m focusing my energy on my health and taking the necessary steps to becoming better for myself and my kids who are now 22,20,16 years old. I know that this toxic relationship is not good for me and I wish it was easy to just walk way from him. I left my ex husband of 12 years and I know I can do it again with this relationship. But I feel so empty inside and I have low self esteem from the damage done to me all these years. A part of me is afraid to leave cause of the consequences that may occur. My family is aware of my situation but I choose to not involve them. I feel trapped inside,and my insecurities and fear is keeping me from leaving him. Sometimes I feel the only way out of this is being with god, but then again I feel it’s selfish of me to think that way cause my kids need me and my pets. All I want is to live a happy healthy lifestyle, free of negativity. I need the courage to walk away and allow myself to be alone so I can rebuild my life all over again. I wish it were that easy!

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Mythri

Hi, I have been married for 8 years now. But over the last 5 years our relationship was filled with abuse, and neglect. I have been putting up with it thinking he would change especially looking at how I take care of him and his family. But nothing changed. He and his family just kept taking me for granted and I feel so used and abused at the end of all this. We don’t have avg children (thankfully). All my friends and family are telling me to leave him, but I’m yet to get the courage to do it. I don’t know what’s stopping me. I don’t remember the last time I was happy and I feel depressed and hurt all the time. He doesn’t care to repair the relationship and just calls me names and verbally and mentally abuses me. I really wish I could get the strength to divorce him and move on.

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Amie H

This is such an important article. I am lucky enough to not have been in a toxic relationship but my friend has been and it was so difficult to deal with. I tried to give her advice, without being pushy. Thankfully we got her out of it.

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Bob

I notice all responses are female. I am an over 65 man and had to end a toxic multiple year on n off relationship. I found this article most fitting. This last break up is without any animosity. That’s a plus. I guess I was just addicted a habitual relationship that lacked fulfillment. Going to be tough. Especially at this age. Any comments?

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Kevin

I believe that you do need to be selfish, absolutely. It’s a dog eat dog world unfortunately and you need to look after yourself.

If the relationship isn’t working, get out! Life is to short.

I agree with everything in this article, by the way, good job.

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Natalie

I am amazed at how much I can relate to this article. I never ever wanted to believe that I was in a toxic relationship. Even after the first time he put his hands on me.
I met him when I was 20 years old. He was homeless and addicted to drugs. He told me he dabbled in Coke and pills. He was 20 at the time also. Already had a felony in his record for vandelizing property. But he seemed genuine about wanting to turn his life around so I let him move in…we met online and he lived in Illinois and I’m in California. So he moved in and I had bunk beds and no intention on sharing my bed….but the very first night he refused to sleep anywhere but in my bed with me. I found this a little strange and invasive but brushed it off. The first few weeks were fine then once we started having sex he started getting mad about guy friends I had….so he started reaching out to his ex girlfriend . This is how our first physical altercation happened. He grabbed me by my hair and held it tightly in his hands. And I rememeber thinking “oh hell no! This is NOT the kind of relationship I want” and I kicked him out. since he had nowhere to go he went to my cousin’s house because he had made friends with her boyfriend. This was withing the first month or so of him living with me. For whatever reason he told me he was sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again….the first of many lies he would tell me. I became pregnant with our daughter within 4 months of him living with me. He began drinking too much…smoking pot behind my back and lying about it. Fast forward 11 years later and the tables had actually turned from me kicking him out for being deceitful….to him begging me to take him back….to me kicking him out for being deceitful to him not caring and staying gone til I begged HIM to come back saying that IIIII would change. Because I had become so paranoid about his lies and drug use and adultery that I believed him when he said he only did all these things because of how I acted. I finally kicked him out and he went back to illinois leaving me and my daughter. It has been a little over a month that he’s been gone and I feel like I’m withdrawing off of heroin! I’ve never done drugs before and I never knew how to handle an addict. I know I did things wrong…mainly not standing my ground from the very beginning…pushing back the line that he had no problem crossing each and every time. The longer he is away the more I can see us for what we were. A very very toxic relationship. I feel like a failure in my marriage….and even more as a mother because I couldn’t keep us all together. I even almost followed him out there. Out in my 2 weeks notice at work and packed everything up…but my anxiety shot thru the roof to the point where I couldn’t think or see or breathe. I knew my body was trying to tell me it was a bad idea…and it was. My husband is so addicted that his entire mood revolves around whether he has smoked…whether he has more to smoke. His entire personality has changed. I know that this separation was 1) long overdue 2) the best thing for me and 3)was the only way anything was ever going to change between us. Even now when he thought I was moving to illinois he began talking to me more and being nice…then once I told him I couldn’t move out there it was fear and desperation on his part…he tried guilt tripping and manipulating me….I finally had to block him on everything and tell him not to message me unless it’s about our daughter to which he said I would never hear from him again and he was cutting me out of his life for good. And it actually hurt to think of…but what can I do? I will not ever chase him again not will I allow him to keep lying to me. Time would wise up and learn my self Worth and teach my daughter how to be a strong woman!

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Helen M

this is extremely relatable at the moment, and as for the past month and a half. i met this sophomore who seemed as immediately charming and so sweet overall. after weeks of leading me on, i finally ask if he is seeing someone. it figures he has a girlfriend. yes, the fact that he has a girlfriend, hurts, but i still want him, and i want what we could be, which i now know isnt possible. the only time im happy is when im around him; and not in a good way. for the rest of the school day i feel so terrible and crappy. so terrible. it was today where my friends told me that i was a “side piece” and it made sense. at the end of the day, we are just friends. and the fact that he was perfectly fine without telling me he has a girlfriend just shows how much he doesn’t care about my feelings and how depressed i am in my situation, and life in general. i have lost my self respect, self confidence and overall happiness. i almost made a huge mistake and i was making bad choices with this guy. im completely corrupted, and it isn’t worth it. he is having a negative outcome on my life. its time i do whats right for me and let go to a relationship that isnt going anywhere. i deserve more than that, and so do all you. goodbye. :/

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Suzie

Hi Bob. Been in one for 23 yrs. He does not live with me, thank God, but strings me along with broken promises. I am 62 and put up with it because of my age. We are friends and not even that so much. He wants a physical relationship and I don6, with him. Tried that long ago.

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