Trying to move on from a toxic relationship is an uphill battle, especially if it involves letting go of someone you love. Even though it might not have been a healthy relationship, you may be experiencing feelings of loss, guilt, and missing what you thought you had. But releasing and healing from a toxic relationship can be a wonderful opportunity for you to tap into a strength you never knew you had while shifting into a new life of empowerment and freedom.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can begin moving forward from a toxic relationship. We offer tips, resources, and practical steps that will enable you to step into your power and give yourself a second chance at happiness and personal fulfillment.
How To Know You’re In A Toxic Relationship
Although we often think of toxic relationships in terms of romantic attachments, the truth is that any relationship can be toxic. In her book, Toxic People, Dr. Lillian Glass defines toxic relationships as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict, and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.” 
Any relationship can be harmful – whether it’s with a friend or a family member, a romantic partner, a boss, or a coworker. The key to breaking free from the toxicity is recognizing, acknowledging, and ultimately moving on from that toxic relationship.
When To Move On From A Toxic Relationship
A toxic relationship will chip away at your self-esteem, eat away at your joy, and may eventually cause you to become a shell of who you once were. While it can be difficult to pinpoint whether or not you’re in an unhealthy relationship, here are some red flags to consider:
- Lack Of Trust. If you don’t trust this individual enough to be vulnerable, if they have a habit of lying, or use your weaknesses or moments of vulnerability against you, this is a huge red flag.
- Controlling Behaviors. Whether it’s how you dress or something you do, criticism and judgment are not the markers of a healthy connection.
- Making Excuses For Someone Else’s Poor Behavior. Do you find yourself making excuses for someone else’s bad behavior toward you? “Oh, she’s just having a bad day” or “He’s been under a lot of stress at work.”
- Any Kind Of Abuse Or Mistreatment. Verbal, financial, spiritual, emotional, and physical abuse is never okay and a massive sign that you need to get out of that relationship ASAP.
- Unhealthy Communication. The Four Horsemen of Toxic Communication are criticism (putting down someone else), contempt (intentionally hurting someone), defensiveness (making excuses or deflecting), and stonewalling (ignoring or tuning someone out). All of these are cause for concern and could be signs of a harmful relationship .
13 Practical Tips To Move On From Toxic Relationships
The following tips can help you recognize toxicity in a relationship and help you to do what may be feeling impossible right now – move forward to embrace a brighter future.
#1 – Accept that the relationship was harmful
Although it’s easy to shy away from acknowledging the pain from a relationship that made us feel uncomfortable, stressed out, or unhappy, this is an essential part of moving on. It may be difficult for you to accept that what was once a good and comforting relationship has become truly toxic, but accepting this reality is a first step towards getting yourself free.
It can be daunting to try and move on from a destructive relationship, but it is possible. The most important thing to remember is that the relationship was harmful and that you deserve better. This will allow you to begin taking steps towards healing.
#2 – Set boundaries (and stick to them!)
Setting boundaries, while sometimes difficult to stick to, are one of the most important things you can do to leave a toxic relationship behind. When you set a boundary, it sends a message to your subconscious that there is no room in your life for toxic people or anyone who will dampen your light. This incredible act of self-care helps to build self-esteem and trust in yourself. You can practice setting boundaries by not checking the other person’s social media, blocking their number, and not answering calls or texts.
This may feel difficult to do, especially if the breakup is fresh, but stay strong – there are billions of people in this world who are going to treat you with the love you deserve to feel. Don’t waste one minute more on someone who doesn’t recognize your worth and lifts you up.
#3 – Remember who you are
You are so much more than someone who was once in a toxic relationship. You are strong; you are powerful; you are intelligent and capable. No one can take away your self-love or undermine the incredible person you know yourself to be.
When things get hard remember that this is just a temporary phase – your journey will only have meaning if you keep moving forward no matter what. So, keep reminding yourself that there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
#4 – Treat yourself with the love you deserve
The way we treat ourselves is often how we treat others and how we allow ourselves to be treated. When you treat yourself with the love you deserve, you are essentially training yourself to have a healthy relationship with others. Become mindful of any negative self-talk you engage in and practice choosing thoughts and words that show self-respect and compassion.
#5 – Fill the void and surround yourself with positivity
The phrase sounds cliché, but focusing on positivity will positively influence your mood and outlook as well. Fill the void with self-development and self-care activities that you love. Whether this is going for a run, painting, or writing in a journal – these things will help you heal and begin living in your heart again.
Self-care is a great way to find new hope and optimism in life. If you’ve experienced harm and toxicity in a marriage or another close relationship, it’s essential to focus on taking care of yourself. This may include:
- Taking time for yourself each day to do something you enjoy
- Putting yourself first sometimes, even if it means saying no to others
- Spending time with positive people who make you feel good about yourself
- Engaging in activities that help you relax and de-stress.
#6 – Be patient with yourself
Healing is not a linear process. It can be highly frustrating when you feel like you aren’t moving forward at a quick enough pace. But keep in mind – regardless of whether your relationship lasted only a few weeks or if you spent months or even years with this person, it took a lot of darkness for you to end up in this state of suffering you’re in. Give yourself the love you deserve and allow yourself time to heal.
Showing yourself compassion and patience is vital for healing from a toxic relationship. You can practice this by writing a love note to yourself. In it, pretend that you are your own best friend who has watched this suffering you’ve gone through. Offer words of support and wisdom based on what you’ve learned. Remember to express how proud you are of the strength you’ve shown and commend yourself for just being able to get through the day.
#7 – Practice mindfulness
Even though you may wish to leave your toxic relationship in the past, your mind may have other ideas. It’s very easy to ruminate over old memories or fantasize about what you should have said when moving on from an unhealthy relationship. But this ends up wreaking havoc on your mental health so do your best to practice present-moment awareness. When you practice staying in the present moment, you’ll start to become aware of when your thoughts veer off the track into self-destructive narratives that hinder your healing.
You can practice mindfulness by developing a meditation or spiritual routine or engaging in some quick mindfulness exercises to recenter yourself and your thoughts throughout the day. One thing you could do is to go outside and simply observe nature for a few minutes. Notice the leaves swaying peacefully in the breeze or follow an ant as it makes its way along the ground. Solely focusing your attention on these simple pleasures can help train your mind to stay in the here and now.
#8 – Open yourself up to new experiences
A great way to shake up your routine and empower yourself is to try something new. Opening yourself up to new experiences will help boost your self-esteem and overall well-being. Try hiking in the woods or cooking a dish you’ve never tried before. You can also couple these new experiences with meeting new people – join a book club, try a painting class, or take indoor rock climbing lessons. Spending time on a new activity will improve your mental health, and you may walk away with some new and positive relationships.
#9 – Change your inner dialogue
What you tell yourself about the situation is so important. You have to be able to acknowledge the toxicity of the relationship, along with any part you may have played in supporting it. For example, if this person has hurt you repeatedly, say that out loud – “My partner has hurt me repeatedly.” Doing this will help you acknowledge the pain and move towards healing.
You’ll also want to take a look at how you’re addressing yourself, which is called self-talk. What do you say to yourself when the toxic relationship comes up in conversation, or you find yourself dwelling on it? Is your inner dialogue moving you forward or holding you back? Watch out for common phrases like, “I am never going to find anyone again” or “This is my lot in life.” These kinds of narratives will maintain the pain you’re feeling.
Instead of them, try using positive self-affirmations like, “I am ready to get back out there and meet someone wonderful” or “I deserve a partner who will be there for me and treat me well.” By changing how you think about yourself, your future relationships, and people who harm you, you’ll start to move on and heal.
#10 – Be compassionate towards yourself and let yourself grieve
It’s not easy to say no when everyone around you says yes. Take time for yourself and make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, exercising, and doing the things that bring hope, comfort, and healing into your life. To be completely happy means being complete with yourself by treating your mind, body, and soul with the nourishment they deserve.
Be compassionate if you need time just for yourself and let yourself feel the grief that’s there. You didn’t get into the relationship expecting it to go south, so allowing yourself time to process any feelings of betrayal or rejection will be immensely helpful in allowing you to move on.
#11 – Practice forgiveness (but don’t expect an apology)
Forgiveness can be a challenging practice to put into motion. This is especially true when you are talking about forgiveness in the realm of toxic relationships. It feels entirely counter-intuitive to consider forgiving someone who has been emotionally abusive or who has even put you through physical abuse. But one thing that people don’t often realize is that being willing to forgive is not about the other person – it’s about you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re letting the person off the hook for the pain they’ve caused, and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to contact them. Forgiveness means choosing to let go of your suffering so as to not allow this person to continue living in your head rent-free. At the end of the day, it’s about you releasing the pain that is preventing you from fully inhabiting your joy and inner peace.
#12 – Lean on your support network
Support is key when you are moving on from a toxic relationship. It may be tempting to isolate yourself as you are trying to heal, but reaching out to the other relationships in your life will keep you from drowning in your suffering and, more importantly, help remind you to maintain your resolve to stay away from that toxic person when you feel weak.
Support can come from many places – you may have family members or friends you are particularly close to, or maybe a mental health professional such as a therapist you can lean on. If you are having trouble finding a support system, seek out counseling or find a support group. This may help you feel understood and recognize that it’s not only you experiencing these heavy emotions.
#13 – Create vision boards for your future self
Vision boards are a great way to set intentions for your new life path. On your vision board, consider both tangible goals (dating someone new, finding the perfect house or job, making new friends, etc.) and more intangible goals (feeling happy in your body, finding peace within yourself). Creating vision boards will help you focus on where you want to go in your life and motivate you to take small steps towards that future self.
Would you love to receive a letter from someone special who knows you better than anyone else? Why not write a letter to your future self?
Moving On From A Toxic Relationship As An Act Of Self-Care
Establishing a support system is vital for healing from a toxic connection and is one of the many ways you can practice self-care in the aftermath of a separation. While there are many avenues you can take to set up a support network, you may find it helpful to get some expert guidance. A great resource that will support you through the healing process and beyond is our online course 30 Days Of Simple Self-Care: Living Through Heartbreak.
This self-guided course is designed to help you heal from the darkness that a toxic person infuses into your life by encouraging you to cultivate a sense of compassion towards yourself and your suffering. It can be difficult to comfort yourself and practice self-compassion, especially after coming out of a toxic situation. Toxic relationships can make you feel unworthy, closed off, and hardened. They can cause you to believe that you are helpless, rip away your feelings of safety and security, and cause so much stress that you become ill.
This course will help you release these limiting beliefs through specially curated meditations, daily exercises, and guided reflections. Every tool is designed to fully support you through the healing process by teaching you how to see yourself and your experiences through the lens of love.
Showing yourself unconditional compassion and self-care can feel impossible after going through a toxic relationship. You might’ve become so used to judgment and criticism, guilt trips, and gaslighting techniques that anything else feels foreign. But this course will act like an informed friend who will take your hand and walk you back towards the light of compassion, understanding, and empathy – all at your own pace. Instead of persistent thoughts that are causing you to question your judgment and worth, you will learn how to shift your mindset into one that is rooted in love.
The Bottom Line
Even though it can be a rough road coming out of a toxic situation, there are plenty of things you can do that will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Creating a self-care toolbox with mindfulness techniques, practices rooted in self-compassion, and expert guidance like 30 Days Of Simple Self-Care: Living Through Heartbreak will help you step back into the light and become an even better version of yourself.
Passionate about lifelong learning? At Skill & Care®, we provide high-quality resources for personal and professional development, carefully curated by educational experts to help you reach your full potential. Visit our learning platform today to explore our latest courses and resources.