Getting out of a toxic relationship with someone you are addicted to can be difficult.
But you can do it.
And this post is here to help.
Note: I will write from a woman’s perspective. But the same steps can apply to a man.
- Introduction: It’s Not Love
- 1. Get leverage over yourself
- 2. Plan ahead of time
- 3. Keep a journal
- 4. Prepare your support network
- 5. Stop sharing life events
- 6. Do exciting things with new people
- 7. Lie to him
- 8. Give less, be more egoistic
- 9. Start an affair
- 10. If sex is great, get a vibrator
- 11. If you’re on the pill, quit it
- 12. Get emotionally close to someone else
- Should You End a Toxic Relationship?
Introduction: It’s Not Love
First of all, if you think it’s love, know that it’s probably not love.
Understand that “someone you love” and “toxic relationship” is an oxymorons. Just because you have feelings for someone it doesn’t mean they are justified.
But, most importantly, it’s not love but your attachment system has gone awry. It’s possible that you have an anxious attachment style and you cannot tolerate the distance.
If he is an abusive partner, it’s also possible that it’s the abuse that is keeping you hooked.
Don’t worry: there is truly no shame in that and it’s more common than you think.
Relationship researcher John Gottman was shocked to hear that woman after woman told him that the hottest sex they had was right after a beating.
Of course, it was not the sex that was good, it was the perverse attraction of dominance and violence.
But from now on, you will only accept love from someone who’s able to provide a healthy relationship.
And now let’s follow the steps for getting you out of this toxic relationship you’re in:
1. Get leverage over yourself
Most women go back to their abusers (Buss, 2021).
That is not a mystery, unluckily.
And plenty of ink has been written on the “why” that is the case.
This article though is more about the HOW, and how to execute the breakup.
And the “how” is that while now HE has leverage on you, you need to remove his leverage, and gain your own leverage over yourself.
No statistics or moral argument will do (Becker, 1997).
Instead, you want emotional leverage. Some way of doing it is to ask yourself:
- How would you feel if a man treated your daughter/mother / best friend the way he treats you?
- How do you differ from your daughter/mother / best friend? Don’t you deserve the same?
- How would your daughter/mother / best friend feel if she saw your partner abusing you?
- What kind of role model are you being for the people you care about?
The difference is that your daughter has you, but… You don’t have you. If you don’t get out soon, your daughter won’t have you either.
2. Plan ahead of time
Don’t break up with the abusive partner at a moment’s notice.
The attachment will be too strong and you’ll suffer more. And the risk of getting back will be too strong.
Start thinking that you will break up instead, and plan your move in advance. The more you think about the breakup, the more the relationship will become a thing of the past in your mind.
And once you start considering your relationship finished, the act of actually ending it will be much easier.
3. Keep a journal
Keep a journal.
Because studies show that partners who keep a journal break up at a higher rate than those who don’t.
But we’ll go one step further.
I don’t want you to keep just a normal journal with ups and downs: in your chronicles, you will mostly focus on the negatives of the toxic relationship.
A journal with a bias on a partner’s defects and relationship issues will do two good things:
- will focus your mind on the negatives and
- it will build a wall between the two of you.
The journal is your secret to keep away from your partner.
And the more secrets you have, the less connected the two of you are. Use the journal afterward as well to remind yourself why, indeed, it was a bad relationship.
4. Prepare your support network
Do you know why lots of people go back to abusive partners?
Because they don’t know what else to do and where else to go!
Crazy, isn’t it?
Don’t fall for that: options are power.
And options will empower you to move on for good.
Build a network of friends and family that will be there for you once you end your toxic relationship. Don’t underestimate this step: it’s important to have someone to confide with and someone to take your mind off.
This is one of the reasons women are more socially successful than men: they are better at building support networks.
5. Stop sharing life events
Stop confiding with him, stop sharing stories about your day, and stop telling your feelings.
Because it’s that sense that “our partner knows us” that keeps us longing to get back to our partners.
But the opposite is also true.
The less your partner really knows the real you, including what’s going on with your life, the easier it will be to leave.
The less information you feed your toxic relationship, the easier it will be to detach yourself.
6. Do exciting things with new people
What is it that often breaks people apart?
It’s moving on with our lives while our partners don’t change with us.
Start doing just that!
Go skydiving, start Toastmasters, hit the gym or an oratory club. Whatever it is that you might like and your partner won’t do.
The more you move ahead without your partner, the more you will get out of your toxic relationship.. Naturally.
And if it involves adrenaline, all the better: it’ll make you feel alive without your partner.
Move forward… And he’ll naturally be rear-view mirror stuff
7. Lie to him
Good relationships are built on honesty.
And dying relationships are built on lies.
When you start building a wall of lies between you and him, the disconnect between you and him will grow. And the larger it grows, the farther apart you move.
There is also a psychological factor here that helps, and it’s cognitive dissonance.
Since we usually lie to people we don’t really care too much for, your brain will also think that you must really dislike him if he’s not worthy of the truth.
8. Give less, be more egoistic
Here is another tip straight from psychology:
The more we give, the more we feel like someone must be worthy of us.
But the opposite is also true: the less you give, the less you think he is worthy.
By giving less, you also set in motion a “vicious circle”. Vicious circles are how most relationships end, and once you start on… You end up right where you wanted to be.
9. Start an affair
Simple, yet so effective.
Going home after the high of an exciting affair will quickly drive a wedge between you and the toxic partner in a way that nothing else can match.
There is a caveat though.
This is only valid if you can start an affair with someone “better”. Don’t make the mistake of just sleeping with someone randomly. That will make you feel bad and, icing on the cake, will subconsciously tell you that your partner is not that bad after all.
But find someone more exciting, and you’re golden.
10. If sex is great, get a vibrator
If sex is one of the things that keep you close to him, get a vibrator.
If you only had sex with one person so far, it’s easy to forget that orgasms can be had with… Pretty much anything.
For men, pay a hooker.
Get the hottest woman you’ve ever had. If you’re into boobs, pick one with huge boobs.
If you’re into assessment, pick the finest ass you’ve ever seen.
11. If you’re on the pill, quit it
When you quit the pill, your hormone levels change.
That makes it possible that your feelings for him will change as well.
But getting back to condoms will also help. It will give you the feeling that you two are a bit more distant.
And it will give you the sensation you two are moving apart, which is exactly what you want.
And if he gets winey: even better. The more you can draw out poor behavior from him, the more you’ll be able to leave the abuser.
12. Get emotionally close to someone else
Love has a lot of overlap with emotional intimacy. It’s rare that we’re in love with someone without any emotional connection.
Thus, if you can get emotionally close to someone else, then getting out of your toxic relationship will happen naturally.
Some smart colleague, someone in your same situation or, better of all, someone from your new activities is perfect.
Should You End a Toxic Relationship?
Well, if it’s truly toxic, then yes.
If you are not yet sure, here are a few resources for you:
- Avoidant and anxious attachments
- Signs of abusive relationships
- Jealous boyfriend or paranoid boyfriend?
- Signs you’re dating a sociopath
There is a lot more, but those will help you get started.
Most of all, check this article that will help you think through your relationship and come to a decision:
Toxic relationships often have a pattern of fighting and making up that’s addictive.
That’s fine, it’s normal, don’t beat yourself up over it.
The secret sauce is to start thinking you will end it beforehand. That will make your partner more and more alien to you. And in the meanwhile, you will start building a life outside your relationship. And will drive a natural wedge between you two.
Then add the other steps in here and getting out of the toxic relationship will be a breeze of pleasure.