How to get over a toxic relationship

Getting out of a toxic relationship is extremely difficult in and of itself but, unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Once you’re single again you still have to deal with the repercussions of that relationship in an effort to move forward. Here's The Mix's guide for how to get over a toxic relationship.

A young woman is sitting at a desk. She is getting over a toxic relationship.

TW: Includes references to domestic abuse and toxic relationships.

Recognise and celebrate getting out of your toxic relationship

Firstly, we want you to know that you’re awesome. You managed to find a way out of that horrible, toxic relationship. Whether that was your choice or theirs, it’s over. You can finally breathe a sigh of relief. At the risk of sounding too mushy, you’re so brave for being here wanting to move on. You found the strength to move forward. That’s huge. So let’s do the damn thing.

The aftermath of a toxic relationship

An unhealthy, toxic (and all around bad) relationship can mean many different things to many different people. From emotional and physical abuse to subtle gaslighting and/or unhealthy behaviours, toxicity isn’t just one thing. But the outcome is often the same. You usually end up feeling demoralised, low, taken advantage of, not good enough, and scared of future relationships – romantic or otherwise. Problem is, most people don’t recognise the red flags until they’re out of it.

If you’re in this boat, don’t feel like there’s a specific timeline to adhere to when it comes to working out how to get over a toxic relationship. The healing process takes time. Your recovery can only be done at your own pace. Take all the time you need. We’ll be here cheering you on every step of the way.

If you feel like you’re ready to move forward, but don’t know how – we’ve got you covered. You can follow these tips to make sure you’re safe, well, and in control of your journey.

Rebuild your self esteem and remember how to love yourself

Do you feel rubbish? Clothes feel wrong? The way you walk doesn’t feel right? Beating yourself up for your choices? Yeah, toxic relationships start to do that to you over time.

So before you get back out there, cheesy as it sounds, take some time to date yourself first. Relearn (or just learn) how to appreciate your wonderful self. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean buying new clothes or getting a fancy haircut (although you totally can). Just focus on spending time by yourself and enjoying your own company.

Remember, it’s a lot easier to love and be loved when you love yourself. Read our article on low self esteem here for more help.

Build non-sexual and non-romantic relationships

A toxic relationship doesn’t just affect who you are as a romantic partner – it could affect friendships and family relationships too. It might be easier to work on building platonic, loving relationships before re-entering the dating world. That way you know that you have a solid support network around you in case anything goes wrong. And it’s good practice for rebuilding trust in your relationships. So spend quality time with friends and family members to really know what a good relationship is.

Have a think. Do they value you? How do you feel around them? Can you work through issues together? What’s the best way someone can show you affection? Figuring out how to be comfortable with these relationships can feel empowering. And it’ll ensure you’re more confident when you start a new romantic relationship.

Be wary of rebounding

Unfortunately, oftentimes abusers can make you feel worthless – or maybe even worse than worthless. This can lead to you constantly seeking validation and believing that you aren’t strong enough to be on your own. It’s usually how they get/keep you under their control. Absolutely sickening, we know.

Of course, it’s all rubbish. But the power of this manipulative, emotionally abusive behaviour can’t be underestimated. Despite wanting to break up with your toxic partner, being on your own can seem pretty much impossible. This might cause you to rebound and get with someone else as soon as you’re out.

But slow down. You definitely don’t need a relationship to prove your self-worth. You are enough on your own. You deserve only the best. Someone who’ll enhance your life rather than making it whole. Again, take a minute to get to know yourself before you get with someone else. 

 Think you might be on the rebound? This article could help.

Clearing the air about your toxic relationship

It’s great to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings during this time. Talking to friends, family, or a new partner about your past could help you, and them, understand what you’re going through. Then, you can get the level of support that you need.

But, sometimes, talking about your experiences and innermost feelings can be incredibly difficult and draining. It can leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed. So don’t discuss anything simply because you feel you should. Only share what you feel comfortable sharing, when you feel comfortable sharing it. This is your experience and you’re the only one who should have a say about how it’s told.

Your friends, family, and any new partners should listen and support you rather than judge and question you. There’s no ‘right’ time to share. So don’t rush anything. If you do, it’ll probably just tumble out as an incoherent mess cause you’re not in the best space to share that information.

A healthy relationship is based on healthy communication

If you do feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings, whether they’re about the past or not, that’s a big step. And it’s something to keep working on. 

A healthy relationship (platonic and romantic) is based on healthy communication. If you’re not happy about something, say so. If a behaviour is troubling you, mention it. Nip it in the bud. When you’re having a bad day, don’t be afraid to let your friends, family, or new partner know. You don’t necessarily have to talk about it but they can still be there for you.

When it comes to communication, you don’t have to delve into your past. As long as you can be open about what you want and need in the present.

Remind yourself you are worth the best

It’s as simple as that, and as complicated as that. It can take a lot of time and patience to build your self-worth back up. But doing so is essential to getting over a toxic relationship and creating new, better, healthier relationships in future. So don’t just settle. You didn’t deserve to be treated that way. What you deserve is nothing short of all the love in the world.

Remember that there’s no one answer to how to get over a toxic relationship. It’s much better to focus on your individual feelings than trying to find the perfect advice. The only real advice we can give is to do what’s most comfortable for you. Don’t try to meet any expectations.

If you need more support, you can speak to our support team here at The Mix.

Next Steps

  • Read articles on a range of relationship topics on The Mix's Relationship Support Page in partnership with Click.
  • Relate is an affordable relationship and sex counselling service. 0300 100 1234
  • Rape Crisis offers support and advice to victims of rape and sexual assault, no matter how long ago the attack was. 0808 802 99 99
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 23-Jun-2022