Why It’s So Hard To Move On From A Toxic Relationship?

Why It’s So Hard To Move On From A Toxic Relationship?

It’s already hard enough to move on from a normal relationship, but rebounding from a toxic relationship is an even bigger hurdle. There’s something about these dysfunctional couplings that get their claws into you and won’t let go even when you’re desperate to get as far away from your terrible ex as possible. So why is it so hard?

  1. Trauma changes you. Toxic relationships can be quite traumatic. Your ex not being a nice person is one thing but calling what may have actually been an abusive relationship a toxic relationship doesn’t quite capture the severity. Trauma can actually change your brain and impact your memory. It’s not as simple as just “getting over it” if the toxic relationship fundamentally changed you and you feel like another person.
  2. You can get addicted to the turmoil. You might not be the type of person who loves drama, but if you’re used to chaos, peace feels unnatural and uncomfortable. “When we’re looking for something that we want, that we once had, which is a connection with somebody, and they are playing cat and mouse where they are pulling it back and forth, then the body really does become dependent on having that approval,” therapist Shannon Thomas explains.
  3. You don’t trust yourself. The worst part about toxic relationships is the toll they take on other areas of your life. Even if you don’t love your ex anymore, it’s normal to doubt your intuition and intelligence because you can’t imagine how you fell for someone so bad.
  4. You miss the good moments. The thing with toxic relationships is that they weren’t awful every moment you were together. Your ex had to initially present themselves as a good partner so you would fall for them. One of the reasons it’s so hard to move on is because you miss that version of them and the good times you had together. There’s also likely a part of you that hoped that the good side of them would resurface.
  5. They might be familiar. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you might seek out toxic people because you grew up in a toxic environment. Maybe your parents had a rocky relationship. Although it didn’t make you happy, if it’s all you’ve ever known, being in a toxic relationship feels natural to you. So, with your toxic ex gone, you feel ungrounded.
  6. You want to save people. If you’re the type of person who finds yourself in toxic relationships and surrounded by bad friends, it’s because you’re the type of person who wants to “save” or “fix” others. So, it’s hard to get over a toxic relationship when you feel like you didn’t actually change them. It’s not your job to teach other people’s adult children how to be decent people.

How to move on from a toxic relationship

  1. Seek professional help. If the relationship was traumatic, it’s important to seek professional help. As mentioned earlier, trauma changes you, so there’s a lot you need to work through in order to heal and move on. Trauma-informed therapy can be a huge help because your therapist will understand what you went through and how to approach it more than your friends do. If the relationship was abusive, you might consider weighing up your legal options and getting involved in a survivor’s group to keep yourself safe. Although it’s difficult, you can heal from trauma.
  2. Go no contact. A toxic ex won’t let you go without a fight. They might have no intention of getting back together, but chances are, they’ll be snooping into your personal life and might even try to turn mutual friends against you. They might also enjoy seeing you suffer, so they will resurface every few weeks to pour salt on the wound just as you start to heal. Block them, so there’s less room for them to mess with you.
  3. Remember, the nice version you fell for isn’t real. The version of your toxic ex, which was nice, sweet, and sensitive, wasn’t real. It was a ploy to make you fall for them. No one’s perfect, and we say things we don’t mean when we’re upset, but when it comes to toxic relationships, the worst version of them is who they really are.
  4. Work out why you’re attracted to certain things. It’s not your fault if you end up in a toxic relationship. The person in the wrong was your ex, who treated you poorly. With that said, if this is a persistent pattern, the cycle won’t end unless you take steps to break it. So, do some inner work to determine what drew you to these people in the first place. For example, if you have a track record of wanting to fix broken men, avoid these guys altogether. It’s easier to move on when you know it’s the last time this will happen.
  5. Know your worth. Your ex might have made you feel bad about yourself, but you’re not undeserving of love. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and there’s someone out there who will treat you better. Build yourself back up and remember you actually do deserve to be in a healthy relationship.
  6. Be patient. Beating yourself up won’t make things go quicker. So, don’t try to repress how you feel. Acknowledge the feelings and remember they won’t last forever. It’s okay to be upset. If your friends have a tough love approach to things, they might get annoyed that you’re not relieved to be rid of your toxic ex. But, you can’t just get over someone you loved at a snap of your finger – even if leaving them is the better choice in the long run.
  7. Rediscover yourself. If you were in a toxic relationship, you might have made yourself small to keep the peace, or your ex might have shaped you into who they wanted to date. The process of rediscovering yourself can bring a lot of peace and healing.
Aisling is a 20-something year old Irish writer who is the life and relationship guru of her social circle. She loves music, movies, and coffee.