In my previous article, I pointed out all the signs of a healthy relationship - the kind you want. I also gave you some signals to look out for that you're in a bad romance.
In this article, we're going to take a look at the steps to escape a toxic relationship if you think you're in one.
Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling
You might argue that a "toxic" relationship is a bit more extreme than an "unhealthy" one, but the reality is that if you're not in a relationship that is POSITIVE and moving forward in healthy ways, you need to get OUT of it. You're just wasting your time, energy, and love.
Let's summarize the worst parts of a relationship - which are the BIG signs you're in a toxic relationship:
Toxic Relationship - Sign #1: Criticism -
When your partner (or you) is more into pointing out your flaws and what they see as "bad" about you, you know this isn't going to work out. Relationships don't just stop being critical without some serious work.
Toxic Relationship - Sign #2: Contempt -
When your partner (or you) is instantly triggered by things you say or do, reacting with an almost violent roll of the eyes, you've got a relationship that's going to need a serious amount of work to fix. This is one of the "four horsemen" of the relationship apocalypse.
Toxic Relationship - Sign #3: Avoidance -
If you or your partner start avoiding each other more than feeling compelled to be together, you're in a toxic relationship. Simply put - you've reached a place where you aren't even feeling attraction - which is a bad place. Really bad.
Toxic Relationship - Sign #4: The Dark Cloud -
If you constantly have a cloud of negative energy in your relationship...
If your goodwill is down to zero, and you almost don't even care if your partner cheats, then you know that sound in the distance is the "Bell of Doom" for you.
These are the 4 major indicators of a toxic relationship.
So how do you get out of this relationship before it really causes damage to you and your heart?
Can you get out of a toxic relationship?
Yes, you can.
And all it requires is some focus on these 4 steps:
Get Out Of A Toxic Relationship - STEP 1: Make THE LIST
Something I see every day in my coaching is that people have a kind of addiction to TALKING and THINKING about their situation. But they will almost recoil in fear at the thought of listing the problems, evidence, and reasons for leaving a relationship.
I'm not sure if this is because we're secretly ashamed of the situation we're in, or that we know if we put it down on paper that it will become more real. After all the evidence will all be right there.
And yes, you'll have to make a serious decision about what you want to do about your situation.
You see, one of the crazy things about people is that they often feel better about doing nothing. It seems easier to not make a decision to break up.
But the truth is that if you choose not to decide, you've still made a choice. You're choosing to stay, even if you're not willing to admit it.
Write them down...
One of the best things you can do to get your life on track, and get yourself out of a bad relationship is to have the guts to take inventory of your relationship.
Get a piece of paper out and make a list of all the reasons you should leave the relationship.
That's it. One of the simplest exercises ever.
You might wonder why I didn't say "And then make a list of the reasons you should STAY in the relationship."
Well, simply put, you probably already know that you need to go. That's the reason you're reading this article right now. So you don't need more confusing and conflicting data.
You need to face the truth and see the evidence that we tend to ignore every day.
Just trust yourself that you aren't feeling this way for "no reason."
Trust your intuition and your heart...
Remember, when you keep things floating around in the swirling cloud of your thoughts and feelings, you'll be pushed around in your own head. You'll never be able to get a firm grasp on what you know is true.
Instead, every new mood will just serve to confuse you.
ON A GOOD DAY: "Today he's nice, so I'll stay in the relationship..."
The next day: "He's a total jerk... but I'm still happy from the previous day when he was nice, so I'll just ride that a little longer..."
The rest of the week: "He's cold and distant, but I'll still keep hoping for another good day so I don't have to make the really hard decision..."
You see how we play these head games with ourselves?
Be brave - put it down on paper. We'll come back to this in a minute.
Okay, now the NEXT STEP in getting out of this failed romance -
Break Out Of A Toxic Relationship - STEP 2: Cut Them OFF
It's time to do the dirty...
That's right. You gotta do what you've probably tried to do in the past. You have to break it off with them.
And you can't do what you probably did before, which was leave a little "secret door" for them to come back into the relationship again.
Let's be perfectly, brutally honest - a lot of the times that people "break up," they're just trying to create some tension in their relationship. They secretly know they'll get back together the second the chance comes up.
But they go through the motions of ending it, hoping that this might teach their partner a lesson.
Or at least inject some new passion when they give in to a booty call...
Have firm boundaries...
If you're in a toxic relationship, you have to be more clear about making it a REAL ending.
If you really want out of the relationship, then you have to:
Cut off contact with them. This might mean blocking their phone number from calls or texts. This will make sure that you're not tempted.
Stay away from places they go. If you go to places they frequent, you're basically rolling the dice on running into them. And that's usually intentional. Don't get sucked into this semi-stalker behavior.
Keep walking. If you do encounter your ex, either in the halls at work or on the street, you keep walking. Yes, you can say "hi," but you DO NOT STOP.
You probably know that your soon-to-be-ex-has a soft, alluring side that can charm his way back into your bed. (C'mon, that's how people get back together most of the time...) Highly toxic people have this way of turning on their charm when they want something - or someone.
You have to be on your guard for any chance or planned encounter that could put you back in contact with them.
REMEMBER: Just because you miss the good times with your ex does NOT mean he's The One for you!
Get Yourself Out Of A Toxic Relationship - STEP 3: Remember Your Billing
Okay, it's time to get that pen and paper back out once more. Only now you're going to make a list of all the BEST stuff about you.
Imagine you're writing up a relationship resume, for the awesome, smart, funny guy you're about to meet.
What would you put on it?
What are your assets?
What are your best qualities as a person?
You have to know your own value.
What is it you bring to a relationship?
Know your worth.
An easy way of completing this one is to think about what you'd say to a relative or good friend that was trying to leave their partner.
What would you say to them?
And would it be any different if they were saying it to you?
Keep this list of your good traits around to review when you inevitably feel low. If you hit a low mood, you have to have a way to climb out of that pit.
And then you need to start reviewing that list from Step 1 on a daily basis.
You have to remind yourself regularly about why you don't want to be with him.
Your mind will play this trick on you where it stops remembering the bad stuff and only remembers the good times. It will be very tempting to go back into that relationship if you start forgetting the reasons why you left.
Even better is to have a vivid memory - a single emotional memory - of him that you can summon at will. Just remember a situation where he just completely repulsed you with his jerky, toxic behavior. And then replay that memory over and over several times in your head.
Make that your go-to memory of him and I guarantee that falling back into the same old situation with him is going to seem a lot less attractive.
Escape A Toxic Relationship - STEP 4: Have A Life Boat...
At some point, you'll probably need some help to make this transition out of your Toxic relationship.
You might need to call a friend...
Or talk to your therapist...
Or bend your mom's ear...
Just recognize up front that this is okay. Sometimes you need a friend to help calm you and ground you.
We all do from time to time...
Think about it - there's no organization that helps people deal with broken relationships and breakups.
You're pretty much on your own!
Which is why many people often go right back into a toxic relationship - because they don't have a supportive environment to hold them outside the relationship.
Your supportive friends and family want to be there for you. They want to help, so call on them when you need them.
Have a healthy support system in place...
But there's another kind of help you can get that doesn't involve anyone else. Sometimes you just don't want to let other people in on your process of healing.
It can be a bit embarrassing to admit you're stuck...
So what can you do to avoid having to break your own privacy?
Get a PLAN.
You need a roadmap to navigate the tricky twists and turns of relationships. It's not as easy as it once was.
You need to know:
What men want...
How to keep him from pulling away...
How to get him to commit to you...
How to avoid toxic and unhealthy relationships...
How to get him to fall in love with you...
And much much more...
I have a roadmap for you - the advanced tips and advice that will help you make your relationship succeed - even in spite of your flaws and shortcomings.
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