By Cynthia Madison
Letting go of a toxic partner is a sign of courage and strength.
After years of emotional manipulation and suppressing your personality, you’re finally free and you’re ready to look for a meaningful relationship.
So why don’t you see the silver lining yet?
Getting out of a toxic relationship should feel empowering and liberating, but we may not feel like that right away. The first months after the breakup can be very confusing.
Our ex-partner is physically gone, but the negative energy they built around us is still there, preventing us from healing and being kind to ourselves. After being under someone else’s shadow for years, we may feel alone and vulnerable, and we may find it hard to trust ourselves. With time, this will all pass, and we can learn to value ourselves for who we are.
Be kind to yourself.
If you’ve been in a destructive relationship for years, you may not remember the last time you received a compliment. Maybe your partner told you that you’re not good enough, that you’ll never find someone else who loves you, or that you’ll never be happy on your own.
These words are not true and they have never been about you. They are the way your ex expressed their own fears and insecurities. Allow yourself to heal at your own rhythm. Don’t force yourself to start dating right away if you don’t feel ready yet, and never, ever blame yourself for how you are feeling.
Don’t replay all the hurtful words your ex has said about you. Focus on the positives instead: you had the strength to say no and break the cycle. It’s the beginning of a beautiful journey, and you shouldn’t let the past haunt you.
Surround yourself with positive energy.
After ending a toxic relationship, you may realize that all your old friends are gone and you’re not as close with your family. A toxic partner doesn’t want you to develop healthy, nurturing friendships that cherish your independence and help you grow as a person. They want you to be isolated. They want to build a wall between you and the outside world so that they can control you better.
This you versus them mindset needs to stop, and now is the best time to reconnect with people you lost contact with.
Did your ex have a problem with your best friend? Call them to meet up for a coffee. Did you stop attending family gatherings because your toxic partner didn’t like them? They’d love to have you back.
Celebrate the things you love about yourself.
Forget about the things your ex said they loved about you—if they mentioned any at all. What do you love about yourself? What do you think your strengths are?
Make a list of all the things that make you feel confident and focus on nurturing them. Try to break free from your ex’s perspective and rebuild your own image. When you know what makes you special, without comparing yourself to someone else, no one will make you doubt yourself.
Experiment and have fun.
Toxic relationships often make us suppress our feelings and prevent us from exploring. Now that you’re single, you may feel that you wasted years wearing clothes you didn’t love, you didn’t visit any exciting places, you missed out on many great parties, and, let’s face it, your sex life wasn’t amazing either.
Don’t assume that it’s too late and that you’ll just have to live with regrets for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to learn, grow, and have fun.
Go ahead and dye your hair a crazy color. Book that trip to a Bali retreat. Go clubbing, flirt, and see the sunrise. Buy that plunge-neck dress and wear it with pride. Buy your first vibrator and explore your body without feeling awkward or ashamed. Take the time to discover what you love, and later on, it will be easier for you to find someone who’s right for you.
Set boundaries and learn to say no.
One of the dangers of being in a toxic relationship is that it puts you in a destructive mindset where you’re attracted to toxic people. Ending one toxic relationship doesn’t help if it’s followed by a second one, so learn to spot the early signs of toxic behavior and say no before it’s too late.
Does spending time with this person leave you drained instead of happy? Do you feel pushed around and like you don’t have a voice? Tell them you don’t tolerate this kind of behavior.
This doesn’t apply only to romantic relationships; toxic friendships are just as harmful, and you’re likelier to accept them if you already tolerate destructive behavior from someone else.
Channel your kindness toward something or someone who deserves it.
The fact that you were in a toxic relationship doesn’t make you weak or inferior in any way. In fact, toxic partners thrive on smart, kind, caring individuals who want to help and be supportive. This is a great quality, and a bad relationship shouldn’t stop you from honing it.
What you should do is direct this kindness toward a good cause—something or someone who deserves it and appreciates it. It can be a new friend who respects you and shows genuine interest in your well-being, a charitable cause you’ve always believed in, or you can channel this energy toward your own personal growth.
Loving yourself is not a sign of narcissism or arrogance; it’s a condition of happiness and self-growth.
When you love yourself with all your strengths and flaws, this love will transfer to everything around you and will build the basis of healthy relationships.