Ending a toxic relationship is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but is there a way to peacefully end it that won’t leave you feeling emotionally drained and negative? If you and your partner are in a battle to the end, it isn’t likely to be a happy ending, but leaving with your dignity intact and feeling positive about the future is about the best you can hope to achieve.
You are worthy of love and if you aren’t getting that from your partner, you should seek it elsewhere. Read our 7 ways to peacefully end a toxic relationship below and apply some of this advice to get out of a miserable, toxic, loveless partnership.
7 Ways to Peacefully End a Toxic Relationship
1. Accept responsibility for your part
You probably don’t want to hear this, but you are not blameless when it comes to being in a toxic relationship. This might mean that you should have spoken up when things were just a little annoying, but before they became emotionally draining. No matter, your partner is not the only person in the partnership so you play a part, and you are accountable for that role. Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you won’t allow yourself to be treated badly in a toxic relationship ever again, because you are worth more.
2. Surround yourself with positive social support
Your social support system will be very important to you now as you seek to peacefully exit your toxic relationship. Bounce concerns off of your friends and ask for their input. You will probably be surprised by how helpful people can be when they know that their friend is suffering.
3. Be objective about the relationship
Try to look at the relationship as if you were setting each person up on a date for the first time. What do the two of them have in common? How about their differences? If you met your partner today, would you be attracted to them? Would you even be friends? These objective, outside observations will help you to gain perspective on your toxic relationship.
4. Identify and express your emotional states
Anxiety, stress, feeling worthless, hopelessness; all of these are negative emotions that you need to be able to recognize in yourself. When something doesn’t feel right, put a name to it. Say “I feel depressed when ___ happens” or “I am angry about _____.”
Being able to name your negative emotions is a good start to knowing that there are too many of them and that you want them to be positive emotions like joy instead. To peacefully end a toxic relationship, tell your partner that you feel __ and you want to feel happy instead.
Researchers looked at adolescent relationships and depression and found that keeping silent about feelings was a cause of depression for many teens. The research done by Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee say that teens limit ‘self- expression in order to avoid conflict or possible dissolution of an intimate relationship, (e.g., ‘I don’t speak my feelings in an intimate relationship when I know they will cause disagreement.’ ‘I rarely express my anger at those close to me.’ ‘I think it’s better to keep my feelings to myself when they conflict with my partner’s.’ Avoiding expression of emotions is repression, which leads to resentment about not being understood by your partner and feelings of hopelessness that things will never improve. Speak up.
5. Find what you are lacking that is keeping you from leaving
There’s a reason that you are staying in a toxic relationship. It could be simply a matter of having housing, but something is making you stay with your partner. Once you know what it is that is keeping you there, ask yourself, “If ____ wasn’t an issue and I had that on my own, would I still choose to stay?” If the answer is no, it’s time to find a way to get what you are missing so you can move on.
6. Find a lesson in the distress
Leaving a toxic relationship rarely creates positive emotions. While you are in the midst of emotional distress, think about the relationship as a lesson for future relationships. One of the best ways to peacefully end a toxic relationship is to find a way to walk away having grown as a person and learned something about yourself.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota looked at people who were experiencing a breakup and their reported levels of personal growth after the end of a toxic relationship. The research participants who had the most personal growth were people who were rated highest in agreeableness. People who are agreeable tend to be kind, warm, and cooperative and, they seek out social relationship support after a breakup.