Anyone in a toxic relationship or has been in one knows the scars and the trauma it leaves. Toxic people go after your self-esteem, your independence, your support system, and anything else that has nothing to do with them or does not suit them. So when looking to exit a toxic relationship, you must be very specific and know what you are capable of. I stress: DO NOT approach this lightly. You know the hell of being in this type of relationship. But, the hell you know is NOTHING compared to what you will face by leaving that person.
Disclaimer: If you are worried for your safety (yours, kids, family members, etc.), please get in touch with your local police department to help.
Make sure you’re ready
If you are not 100% sure that you are done with this relationship, do not make a move to exit it. This may not sound like competent advice. More often than not, when we are not ready and we go to end the relationship, we find ourselves right back where we started, which gives the toxic person more power over us than they had before. So, how do you know you’re ready?
Ask yourself the following:
Do I realize my life would be better without this person?
Do I realize I do not need this person in order to be happy?
Do I believe that I deserve to be treated like the awesome, amazing individual I am?
Do I still say to myself, “this person will change”?
Do I believe that it is me that brings out the bad behavior in this person?
If you are still hoping that this person will change, or believe you have that power to make them change, then you are not ready to exit this relationship.
If you don’t believe you deserve to be treated as you treat others, then you are not ready to exit this relationship.
Note: When, if all possible, join a support group or hire a coach/counselor with experience with these relationships. You can never have too much help.
Have a plan
Depending on your situation, whether you are married, living with someone, or dating, it is essential to have a plan in place. One that you know you will stick to. If you are married, get in touch with a divorce attorney and discuss your rights, etc.
A plan would look something like this:
If you live with this person and you own the home, change the locks. Pack up that person’s things, and have them neatly outside the front door, ready to go. So, when they do come home and can’t get in, they have no reason to enter; all their belongings are waiting for them. If you are worried about their reaction, contact the police and make sure they are aware, and possibly have them there when the person arrives home, so there are no problems. This also lets your partner know that you are very serious and not afraid to take action.
Do you have a place to go that you’ll be safe?
Begin saving money. Create a secret bank account and begin slowly, but surely, saving money, i.e., when you go grocery shopping, maybe pick up a gift card to that grocery store, etc. This is if your finances are combined, or they solely support you.
Change all of your passwords. Even if you feel they don’t know all your passwords, change them. Do you have shared bank accounts?
Shared bank accounts mean you should remove your money from the account and open a new one. This should be done on the same day as the lockout. This way, they can not block access or empty the account and keep it all.
So, that’s the scary stuff. But preparation is important.
At this point, you already realize you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. There is no winning with this person. There is no accountability or responsibility for them. When communicating, do NOT fight. Do NOT take their bait. The idea here is to speak “simple stupid.” “I am done.” “I understand you’re hurt.” “No, there is nothing you can do.” Even if you need to repeat the same phrase over and over again, that is the right way to approach these types of conversations. Again, if you don’t feel that you are ready, do not do this. You must be prepared to go “NO CONTACT” with this person. It doesn’t mean they will go NO CONTACT. But, you have to do whatever is necessary. If you are married, follow the instructions of your divorce attorney. It is crucial to be non-reactive. When you show emotion or are reactive with this person, they know that they still can manipulate you. Use “I” statements. Do not put the energy into accusing or explaining yourself. That’s not gonna get you anywhere.
Decide who you want to be
Being in a toxic relationship, you lose a lot of your identity, if not all of it. So, when you first make a move to know you’re done, you don’t necessarily know who you are anymore. You may not even remember who you were. But, it is VERY important regardless to not let this person control how you behave. So, when I say, “Decide who you want to be,” you need to stick with that. Meaning, do you want to go down to the level that they’re going down to. Name-calling, threats, not being respectful, etc. Or, do you want to rise above that and not play their games? You’re coming out of a relationship that it’s all you being reactive to what your partner is doing or not doing. In this case, you need to learn how to be proactive and be doing what is in the best interest of you and/or your children.
Let’s recap the important parts here.
Have a plan.
Know how to communicate.
Decide who you want to be and stick with that.
I do offer a free no-strings-attached, 60-minute session. PLEASE do not hesitate to take advantage of that if this is something you’re considering.