You Left Your Toxic Relationship, But Has It Left You?

Being in a toxic relationship can sometimes be hard to spot—even the worst of relationships are good some of the time, which might make things tricky to see clearly. They’re also addictive, and often when you’re in a toxic relationship, you’re usually being gaslighted by the other party or have your self-esteem stripped away, so you feel like you have no other choice.

Knowing you’re in a toxic relationship is the first thing you have to do in order to break free of one, but it’s not the last step, and the effects of a toxic relationship can be longlasting.

Recognizing A Toxic Relationship

a woman walking away from a man clearly upset
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Eric Ward
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Eric Ward

There are some things to look for. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner, or if you brace yourself for that “gotcha” moment when you’ll end up in trouble, or you feel like all the effort in your relationship comes from you, then these might be some red flags.

Ultimately, if even a small part of you wonders if you’re in a toxic relationship, there is a pretty strong chance that that question is coming from somewhere important. But even after you leave a toxic relationship, it often stays with you.

You Think You’re Not Worthy Of Love

a woman covering her face
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Anthony Tran
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Anthony Tran

After enduring a toxic relationship, it can be hard not to feel like everything was your fault, and because of that, you feel like you’re not worth loving in a real way—if they didn’t love you, could anyone?

He Was Probably Right About Me

woman standing on her own in an alley
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Eric Ward
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Eric Ward

One of the trademarks of a toxic relationship is emotional abuse, which can come in the form of your ex tearing you down and making you feel like you’re what’s wrong with your relationship and that you’re not a good person.

Those things end up so ingrained in you that they can be hard to shake, and those feelings of being at fault may stick around.

My Baggage Makes Me Unloveable

woman looking out the window
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Joshua Rawson-Harris
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Joshua Rawson-Harris

Everyone has baggage in their life because everyone has had some kind of struggle to overcome. There is a special kind of baggage that seems to come with being in a toxic relationship, though, and it might feel like that baggage is going to make you damaged goods.

My Mental Health Is Struggling

a woman looking down
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Volkan Olmez
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Volkan Olmez

Realizing that you’re struggling with your mental health is such an important thing to know about yourself, but knowing that might not be the same as you getting help, especially if you came from a situation where it was used against you or exacerbated.

I Didn’t Try Hard Enough

woman waiting for the train
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Eutah Mizushima
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Eutah Mizushima

This is a big one that a lot of people who leave toxic relationships feel in retrospect. Because they were blamed for so much of what went wrong during the relationship, it only makes sense that, after the relationship, that lingering feeling of being at fault would still be there.

I’ll Never Find Happiness Again

a woman with tattoos
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Gabriel Nunes
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Gabriel Nunes

In a toxic relationship, things aren’t always bad. In fact, often, the great times were amazing in the same way that the bad times were awful. Those good times might leave you worrying that you’ll never find that kind of happiness again.

I’m Worried My Friends Are Going To Judge Me

woman looking out over the water
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Artem Kovalev
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Artem Kovalev

It’s quite likely that the people in your life noticed that you were struggling with your relationship, and if they were good friends, maybe they even brought it up to you.

It can be hard to not feel like you’re going to be judged or told, “See, we told you!” if you discuss it with them. If anything, they’ll probably feel as relieved as you do to hear you open up about it.

I Don’t Want To Be Hurt Again

woman holding a sheet
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Yoann Boyer
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Yoann Boyer

This is a big one. The fear of being hurt the same way as you have been in the past is valid and often looming when you think about dating again. It can lead to you being very guarded in a way that stops you from letting people in.

All Men Are The Same

woman walking in a field
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sandra Seitamaa
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Sandra Seitamaa

A lot of us joke about this, but if you’ve ever dealt with a toxic relationship, this is a real fear. It’s hard not to hold the sins of an ex against future relationships. It’s important to be careful when you let new people in, but it’s also important to know that not everyone is your ex.

I Don’t Trust My Taste In People Anymore

woman standing in front of trees
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Anton Malanin
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Anton Malanin

This is another way that we blame ourselves after coming out of a bad relationship. You chose that person in the first place, so there must be something wrong with you—or that’s what you tell yourself, anyway. In fact, it’s much more likely that the person you got to know was not a true representation of who your ex was, and you can’t blame yourself for their lies.

I’m So Tired All The Time

a woman with her hair in a bun
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Ravi Roshan
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Ravi Roshan

Emotional exhaustion is a real thing, and you’ll feel it in a real way after leaving a bad relationship. It will take time to recover from what you went through, and you have to give yourself the time to heal.

Maybe The World Isn’t A Nice Place Afterall

a woman holding her hair
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Arvin Keynes
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Arvin Keynes

After having your heart broken in such a devastating way, it’s hard to see the world as a nice place, and you could find yourself feeling very negative and pessimistic.

What’s The Point In Taking Care Of Myself

woman looking out over the ocean
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Yaoqi Lai
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Yaoqi Lai

When your self-worth is at an all-time low, doing simple things like showering regularly or applying that luxurious skincare routine can seem like far too much work. Sometimes, it’s just easier to eat bad food and never leave your house. It’s OK to do those things sometimes, but not all the time.

I Feel Powerless

woman in the winter time
Photo Credit: Unsplash / freestocks
Photo Credit: Unsplash / freestocks

The biggest thing that a toxic relationship does to you is that it strips you of your power and your autonomy. When you leave that relationship, you still feel like you have no power to make decisions for yourself, or really even know where to start.

What Can I Do To Help Myself?

woman driving a truck
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Averie Woodard
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Averie Woodard

If you’re seeing these patterns or struggling with moving on, there are some things that you can do to help yourself. It’s difficult to come to a place where you want to deal with the trauma, so when you get there, you should be proud.

Accept That The Relationship Was Toxic

woman wearing a turtleneck
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Chelsea Ferenando
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Chelsea Ferenando

The first thing that you have to do is accept that even if you loved that person and the relationship was good some of the time, it was still toxic, and it’s a good thing that it’s over.

Seek Professional Help

brunette woman walking around
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Verne Ho
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Verne Ho

The best thing that you can do for yourself is to seek some kind of professional help. You don’t have to see a therapist forever or take medication if you don’t want to, but a couple of sessions might help you put things back into perspective.

Be Open With Your Friends

woman smoking in front of a door
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Philippe Oursel
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Philippe Oursel

Another thing you should do is to be open about what you went through with your friends and family. They’ll be able to help you remember who you are and will be a more reliable lens for seeing the world, at least for a while.

Start Some New Routines

woman sitting in a field of flowers
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Kari Shea
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Kari Shea

Change can be your friend. Starting fresh is a great way to get your life back on track after a dark time, even if that means doing little things like getting up at the same time every day or going for a walk. Reclaim your life and your time, and don’t forget that things do get better.