Once you leave a toxic relationship the next struggle is how to stop going back to a toxic relationship again.
The fairy tales we grew up with and the romantic comedies that we love to watch talk about the happily ever afters, where the toxic person is so in love with you that they completely change and become the most caring and amazing partner. These books and movies tell us that love is enough and if there is love people will change.
Well, in real human life things are a little different. We all come with our own experiences and emotional baggage. People can definitely change, but it’s on their time and when they are ready to put in the work. The change might not look like the way you want it to.
While you wait for your person to change you are choosing to get hurt over and over again. This person who you love so much and who claims to love you always has a valid reason to hurt you.
Going through this pain over and over again can take a toll on you. It affects your self-esteem, you can feel symptoms of depression and anxiety.
You might lose the parts of you that you loved about yourself and become a person you don’t recognize anymore. Constant exposure to stress caused by toxic relationships has the potential of affecting our physical health as well.
How to stop going back to a toxic relationship?
If you are reading this article then it means that you have gathered the courage to leave a toxic relationship. It’s not easy to walkout of a toxic relationship. Thank you for choosing yourself and prioritizing your mental health and safety. Here are a few things you can do to continue setting the boundaries and choosing yourself.
Be in the present
As time passes and we have had some distance from the person. We start thinking of the good time we had with them and we start gaslighting ourselves by saying things like, “It was not so bad.” “He was going through a tough time when he treated me like that.” Bring yourself back to the present.
Think about what made you walkout of the relationship. Notice what’s making you minimize your experience, are you feeling lonely, are you missing him. If we still love this person then we can get carried away by what they are saying now and the apologies.
But think to yourself, why will it be different this time around, what has changed? Remember change takes time and it’s expressed through action that can be sustained for life.
Connect with your feelings and needs
Instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt, make space for your feelings. Learn more about yourself. Identify how you want to be treated in a relationship.
When we are in a safe and secure relationship we feel calm and things feel easy like it has a natural flow to it, conversations are more grounding as opposed to leaving you confused.
Notice how you felt when you were in a relationship with that person.
Could you express yourself to this person without walking on eggshells? Did you have to prepare yourself before every conversation with this person?
Did conversations with them leave you feeling confused? Did you feel safe setting boundaries or did you find yourself tolerating things that you would never advise your friends to tolerate?
Remember both the toxic part and caring part together makes them, you cannot get one and not the other. Check with yourself and see how the idea of going back to the toxicity feels now.
Grief is a part of this process
Ending anything comes with a sense of loss. Even though this relationship was difficult and you know you are doing the right thing by walking away from it, it will still hurt.
Just because you hurting does not mean you should go back to something that was breaking you. Allow yourself to go through the process of grief.
It’s ok to feel sad and miss the good moments. It’s ok to grieve what you had imagined your future would look like with this person and the plans that did not come to fruition.
Just because this person was not the right one does not mean you will always be alone or every one will be like this.
You don’t have to go through this alone
You might carry shame from not listening to your friends and family and defending this person. You might feel embarrassed about letting them into your struggle.
But, remember your friends and family want the best for you. They will be proud of you for choosing yourself and will want to support you in your grief.
Seek support from a mental health professional. It is a struggle to hold yourself back from going back to a toxic relationship. There is a sense of comfort in familiarity.
If you still have empathy for this person and still feel for them you will feel pulled towards them irrespective of how they treated you. That’s when you can lean into your support system to give you the strength to value yourself.
Cut off contact
Cutting off contact completely with someone helps and gives us the space we need to take care of ourselves when moving away from a toxic relationship.
Wanting to stock your ex after a break up is something we all are guilty of doing. As much as I understand it’s the curiosity about how they might be doing without us, are they hurting as much as we are makes us check their profile.
Keeping them in your awareness and putting in so much energy on them will take you away from making space for your hurt. This will just add to your pain. Cutting off from them will allow you to have the space to grief and heal.
Its ok to be selfish
A lot of people in toxic relationships say that they feel like they are being selfish if they are not considering the ex’s circumstances for their bad behavior.
They say that their ex had a difficult childhood and caring about themselves while having that knowledge and not giving them time and space to change makes them selfish.
Protecting yourself from the trauma and wanting a happy and safe relationship is not being selfish. You don’t have to choose to put yourself through the trauma just so that they can heal.
Talk about your feelings
A lot of the time we don’t talk about our feelings. We feel like we don’t want to inconvenience someone with our emotions.
Or you might feel like you have talked about it with your friends and family but you still don’t find relief. What’s the point of talking about it, or your friends are tired of hearing the same thing again and again.
In counseling we say that you need to keep talking about something till you don’t want to talk about it any more.
That’s why it’s important to seek professional help. A trained therapist will be able to provide you a safe space to talk about your feelings for as long as you need to while giving you the guidance that you need to heal from it.
In order to start our processes of healing from the trauma, we have to stop going back to toxic relationships. Continued exposure to the source of trauma interferers with the healing process.
I know it’s not easy and there are lots of things that are pulling you back to it. But, it’s ok to choose yourself.
If you are curious about why you keep going back to a toxic relationship check out this article.