Toxic relationships can be different for everyone. They don’t always start out toxic, so it can be tricky to identify if you are in an unhealthy relationship. Even if you have identified it, it can be really hard to leave the partner for many different reasons. While everyone’s recovery is different, here are some tips on how to heal after a toxic relationship.
13 Tips for How to Heal From a Toxic Relationship
Choosing to end a toxic relationship may be the best thing, though that doesn’t mean it is easy. It can be especially challenging to heal if there has been abuse or infidelity in the relationship. If you’re thinking about leaving, or have recently left a toxic relationship, the next step in the process is healing.
Feel Your Emotions
Leaving an unhealthy relationship can summon really painful and confusing feelings. It may give you a sense of freedom, but it can also be incredibly difficult at times. Letting go of a relationship isn’t always easy. Allow yourself to be upset and feel your emotions when you need to. After giving yourself all the time you need to feel everything you need to feel. Trying to stifle the emotions you feel, can elongate your healing. Giving yourself space to feel and process your feelings is the first step to start healing from the relationship.
Try Not to Contact Your Old Partner to “Check In”
After enduring a toxic relationship (especially a long-term toxic relationship), it can be really tempting to want to reach out to your former partner. However, it’s often best to give yourself some time alone and go completely no contact. If you are communicating with the old partner, you may find yourself drawn back into the toxic tango. Despite what they may say, you do not need to stay friends or have any connection with this person. If children are involved and contact is inevitable, there are helpful strategies for co-parenting with a person who is hard for you to be around.
Don’t Expect Closure
Perhaps you want to keep an open line of communication with your ex because you’re hoping for an apology from them as a form of closure. Waiting for a sincere apology can be so exhausting, and in some cases it may not ever come. The closure many survivors need often won’t come from the toxic ex, but from the healing work they do within themselves.
Maintain a Strong Support System with Positive People
Make sure you surround yourself with positive people. A support system can include family, friends, a therapist, support groups, etc. Being able to spend time with people you have a healthy relationship with and can trust can be so beneficial. Toxic relationships have a way of keeping people alone, so now is the time to reconnect with your inner circle or make new friends. Plus, they’ll be a huge support when you’re feeling low, tempted to call your ex. If you’re lonely, reach out to them instead when you need a pick-me-up.
Don’t be Afraid to Admit What You’ve Been Through
Toxic relationships can feel very isolating. If you’re not ready to share your story with others, you may consider writing your experience in a private journal as a way to process everything you’ve been through. If you are ready to share, you may talk with a trusted friend/family member or a therapist. Your story is important, but it’s often so important to be ready and willing to open up about it with others.
Re-Discover Your True Self
Toxic relationships can make people forget who they really are and what they like, outside of the relationship. Once you’re out of an unhealthy relationship, it’s time to prioritize your happiness and get back to doing the things you love. You were someone before the relationship, and you are still someone after the relationship.
Toxic relationships can take a huge toll on a survivor’s emotional and physical well-being. Many people find that they stop taking care of themselves while they’re in a toxic relationship. After a breakup, try making extra time for yourself and do things you truly want to do. This may be reading a book, taking a hot bath, buying yourself something you like, cooking your favorite meal, or even binge watching your favorite show. There’s no wrong way to listen to yourself, prioritize your needs, and practice self-care.
Instead of judging yourself and speaking harshly, try to speak to yourself as you would someone you care about. Allow yourself to be compassionate and acknowledge that other people have been in toxic relationships before. Speaking to yourself with kindness and forgiveness can be one of the best forms of self-care. Be gentle with yourself while you’re working through your recovery and beyond.
Focus on Your Resilience
Coming out of a toxic relationship, try not to think about yourself as a victim, but rather as a strong individual that is now able to focus on yourself and your needs. You are a survivor, and this relationship does not need to define you or your life. Even though it may be difficult to see yourself as a fighter, you got out. You are more resilient than you know.
Do Not Blame Yourself
It is not your fault that someone else treated you poorly. Many relationships start out healthy before becoming toxic. There was no way for you to know what was coming. Therefore, learning not to blame yourself, or to forgive yourself (if you’ve already been hard on yourself) is a critical step in recovering from an unhealthy relationship.
Take Note of What You Experienced
After leaving a toxic relationship, it can be a helpful exercise to take note of the things you no longer will tolerate moving forward. Once you decide you’re ready to seek out new relationships (romantic or platonic), you can establish new boundaries for yourself to help you create the relationships you want. If you’ve noticed a trauma bond, or a similar pattern in other relationships, now is a good time to explore whether previous trauma may be re-activated.
Be Patient with Yourself
The road to recovery isn’t always a straight line and everyone’s healing process will look different. Some days will be much harder than others but allow yourself to take as much time as you need to feel better. If you can afford it, take a mental health day here and there if you’re feeling depleted.
Focus on the Present
Coming out of a toxic relationship, you may be tempted to look into the past or even try to plan everything out for the future. Recovery is an unpredictable process. Instead of trying to plan the future or dwelling on the past, focus on your current situation.
Are you happy at this moment?
What can you do to make the current moment better?
Listen to what your body needs at the time it needs it.
Now that you’ve read these 13 tips to heal from a toxic relationship, known they are just a start. There any many other options for reclaiming your life and thriving. Everyone’s recovery is going to look different, and there’s no right or wrong way to heal and recover. Not sure if you’re in a toxic relationship? Take this quiz to find out.