Maybe there was a time when being with him felt right, but you’re not so sure anymore. Maybe the relationship constantly makes you feel insecure, scared, hurt, diminished, anxious, exhausted, or like you’re playing with fire and he just doesn’t seem to be interested in changing for the better. A toxic guy will drain the life from you if you don’t walk away. Here’s how to let him go for good.
- Accept reality and let go of the fantasy. You can’t begin to let go until you take a good hard look at the relationship and come to terms with the ways that it keeps coming up short. Do you consistently feel disappointed by his behavior and comments? Are you always hoping for a response that you never get? Is your self-esteem suffering? If he doesn’t change his ways, can you honestly make do with that? The more you keep fantasizing about what could be, the more you’ll keep justifying staying with him. Yes, things could be so much better and you can be truly happy—just not with him.
- Stop making excuses. If you keep looking for reasons why he’s worth another shot, you’re probably going to find it. After all, no matter how toxic he is, there is something good that drew you to him. There may be things you love about him still. Instead of making excuses, focus on how you really feel about being with him. If it doesn’t feel good at its core, it’s because it’s not. Think about what you want from the relationship. Have you ever had it? How long have you felt like what you have is broken? Look at the cold, hard facts.
- Identify the perks of being with him and find an alternative source. All relationships have benefits even the most toxic ones. What makes you like him? What exactly are you getting from the relationship? Does he make you feel wanted or attractive? Does he remind you of your father in a way that brings you comfort? Does his passion for life fuel yours? However this relationship completes you, you need to find other healthier ways to fill that void and nourish yourself so you don’t have to rely on him to do that for you.
- Choose yourself without remorse. Loving someone should never come at the expense of your own self. You matter. What you need matters. You are deserving of love, especially when you’re the only one giving it to yourself. Be selfish. Put yourself first. He’s a grown man who’s in control of his actions and if he can’t give you what you want, why should you devote time and energy to loving him? It’s not going to be easy to walk away, but remember that you and your happiness are worth fighting for, so fight like hell.
- Set a deadline. You can’t keep hoping that things will get better or waiting for the moment when you’ll just wake up and decide it’s time to leave him. You need to be intentional about letting him go. Pick a day when you absolutely have to end things with him. It could be three weeks or three months from now—whatever time frame you can work with. During that period, put all your effort in getting the relationship to work. When the deadline comes and things are still pretty much unchanged, you’ll know you tried. Be strong and dump him as planned.
- Enforce strict rules of separation. I know how hard it is to distance yourself from someone that means a lot to you. Going from spending so much time together to not speaking at all will leave you dizzy, but it’s an important step to take if you want to move on. Delete his number. Block him everywhere. Get rid of mementos from the relationship. It might be tempting to hang on that stuff he left at your place, but you shouldn’t. If you must keep anything, store them somewhere out of sight until you’ve moved on.
- Bribe yourself. If you want to motivate yourself to do or not do something, attaching a reward to it can be an effective strategy. As you’re liberating yourself from the holds of that toxic guy, give yourself incentives along the way. You can make deal with yourself to not scroll through his social media feed or initiate any communication with him for a week. If you succeed, treat yourself to something nice like a spa treatment or really expensive tub of mouthwateringly good ice cream.
- Lean on the things that bring you joy. Letting go usually isn’t easy even when someone has treated us badly. You might feel lost for a while or be find it difficult to cope with life without him. You’re going to need all the support you can get during this period. Surround yourself with positive influences—friends, family, and activities that you find pleasure in. Choose to live in the present rather than wallowing in nostalgia. Consider trying new things. Do what you can to shift the focus back to yourself.
- Give yourself permission to grieve. Love is addictive, and just like with any other intoxicating substance, letting go and staying away is going to be very hard. It’s going to hurt a lot. There’s simply no way around that except you don’t care for the guy at all. Get plenty of rest. Let the tears run free. Find solace in the certainty that the pain won’t last forever. Instead of trying to avoid it, face the pain head-on. Don’t give your feelings a chance to come back and haunt you.