13 Ways A Toxic Relationship Hurts You Even After You Leave It

Leaving a toxic relationship isn’t always easy, but once you do it, you expect to feel amazingly free. You do feel that, but it’s not always smooth sailing to try to get back to yourself and your life. These are 13 ways in which your heart will still hurt after you’ve said “good riddance” to your loser ex:

  1. You blame yourself. You’re not to blame for all the crappy things your toxic partner did to you and how he made you feel, but you can’t seem to help blaming yourself. You might think, “Why did I stay with him so long?” or “Why did I believe his lies?” But don’t punish yourself — you’ve gone through enough of that. It’s time to replace those harsh thoughts with self-care.
  2. You don’t trust yourself. Linked to blaming yourself is a lack of self-trust. You don’t know if you can trust your judgment when it comes to men because you ended up with such a horrible person in the past. This makes you more guarded about dating in future.
  3. You can’t trust other men. After dealing with someone who hurt you so much, it’s really tough to trust other men. You fear opening yourself up again and letting someone into your life only to get hurt all over again. Your heart can only take so much.
  4. You feel used. Many toxic partners use you to try to get what they want, whether it be the comfort of a relationship, financial support, or emotional help — they’re always going through drama. When you leave the relationship, you feel like you were used and it hurts so much. It actually makes you feel like the toxic person saw nothing more than a bank account or shoulder to cry on when he looked at you. Don’t forget just how worthy you are, even if he couldn’t see it.
  5. You lack confidence. You don’t come out of a toxic relationship feeling on top of the world — in fact, you feel worthless. Toxic relationships can be abusive. They break you down, degrade you and make you feel like nothing. Toxic partners will make you feel like the problem even though they’re the real trouble. You might feel like you have nothing to offer anyone else, especially if the toxic guy told you as much.
  6. You feel stupid. One way toxic partners break you down is by making you feel stupid or useless. You don’t help them enough when they’re having a hard time. You don’t love them enough. You don’t understand them (with the disclaimer being because you’re not as intelligent as they are). It’s all BS to try to exert power over you, but those effects linger. Another way you could feel stupid is for being with someone who was so below your standards. Now that you’re out of the situation, you want to kick yourself.
  7. You have no energy. After a toxic relationship, you feel you could sleep for a week. They’re so exhausting and after all the stress you’ve gone through, it’s natural to feel really tired or like you just don’t have the energy to do anything. You might also be depressed, and this can hamper your work and friendships. Even though you feel happy to be out of that loser’s life, having given so much of yourself with nothing in return can bring you down in a big way.
  8. You dread hearing from them. What’s worse than going through a traumatic breakup with a toxic person? Hearing from them again. For a while, you’re likely to feel anxious and stressed whenever your phone rings. Toxic people won’t let you go. They’ll turn the breakup into a big struggle or try to charm you back to them. The best thing to do is avoid all their messages, but you can’t help but feel afraid of your phone for a while.
  9. You think no one will love you. The toxic man broke you down. Even though you know it was part of his manipulation strategy, you can’t help but fear there’s truth to the horrible things he said. For instance, that you’re stupid/have nothing to offer anyone/not attractive. Those negative feelings are stubborn and take lots of time to get over, time preferably spent around positive people who truly love you and show you that you are indeed worthy of love.
  10. You build a wall. After giving so much of yourself and being treated so badly in return, you want to guard yourself like never before, so you might build an invisible wall to protect you from getting hurt in future. The problem is that this might block out really good and honest people. (Yes, they do still exist.)
  11. You feel sick. It’s not uncommon for a toxic relationship to make you sick. Research has shown that toxic relationships can really harm your health. All that stress you experienced with your ex can also lower your immune system, so now’s the time to give yourself lots of TLC.
  12. You feel exposed. You lowered your standards and boundaries to accommodate the toxic guy you dated. For instance, when he bled you dry of your kindness even though you knew you were giving too much of it, or when you gave him the benefit of the doubt even though he lied to you. Now, without those standards and boundaries, you feel vulnerable to future attacks from people. It’s time to build up your standards and boundaries and stick to them. This doesn’t mean becoming a hard or bitter person, but it’s about looking after yourself.
  13. You feel alone. You often felt lonely during your toxic relationship. This was not only because you didn’t have your ex to lean on, but also because you couldn’t confide in many people about your relationship. They didn’t understand it or why you were in it. Now that you’re single again, you might find that you’re still alone, especially if your ex was an abuser who isolated you from your loved ones. You don’t have to be on your own — there’s love within reach! Start with giving it to yourself and you’ll be walking in the light again, all the way back to a healthy, happy life.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.