Holding on to a toxic relationship, instead of letting go, is, more often than not, the norm.
The strength that it takes to walk away from any relationship, much less a toxic one, is huge and the fear of the pain that we might feel even worse.
If you want to find the strength to stop holding on to a toxic relationship, it’s important to understand why we are doing the holding on – what is motivating us to not let go and walk away from something that is only making us miserable.
To help you understand, here are 5 reasons you might be holding on to a toxic relationship and ways to push back on the reasons so that you can move on.
#1 – Fear of being alone.
It is the human condition to want to be in a pair. To have someone to share one’s life and experiences with. That is the goal.
Unfortunately, for many of us, we are willing to settle for ‘good enough’ when it comes to finding the other half of our twosome. We believe that, if we let go of the bird in hand, we will NEVER find another person to love. The prospect of putting ourselves out there again so that we can find that person is overwhelmingly daunting. So, we hold on to the one we have now. No matter how bad they are for us.
Let me tell you, from decades of personal and professional experience, there is always another person out there for us. We might not find them right away but we will NEVER find them if we stay in the relationship that we are in.
So, if you are staying in your toxic relationship because you believe that if you leave you will always be alone, let me tell you that you won’t! There is a person out there for you, a person who will be your perfect half, who will make you whole.
#2 – Low self-esteem.
I can’t tell you how many of my clients who are in toxic relationships have very low self-esteem.
They just don’t believe that they are worthy of good love and, if they do, they have no idea how to go out and find it.
Unfortunately, the result of toxic relationships can be the lowering of self -esteem. We are unhappy, isolated from our friends, belittled for any perceived shortcomings and know, deep down, that we aren’t being treated well.
And if we don’t feel good about ourselves we attract men who don’t feel good about us either.
For me, part of letting go of my toxic love was focusing on my business. I was able to redirect the pain of letting go of the relationship into something that made me feel really good about myself. And feeling good about myself allowed me to let him go and find someone who sees just how awesome I am.
#3 – Patterns and habits.
I can’t overemphasize enough how big a role patterns play in our lives.
Think about your daily routines and patterns and how off you feel those days that your routines are broken. Like if you always have breakfast before you head out the door and one day you just can’t and how you just don’t feel yourself for the rest of the day.
Now imagine this in relationship. When a relationship is new and good, we establish patterns and routines with our partners. And those patterns and routines become entrenched in our lives. Breaking them can be nearly impossible.
Do you imagine what Christmas would be like without your partner? Or wonder who you would go to the movies with on Wednesdays? Those are the patterns that keep us with our toxic loves. We don’t want to let go of them, can’t conceive of life without them, and that keeps us trapped.
Interestingly, even the breaking up and getting back together gets routine. With my toxic relationship, I would break up with him and then, like clockwork, 8 weeks later he would reach out to me and before I knew it I was back where I started. I can’t tell you how many times that happened.
I have since learned that if you can get past that 8 week mark you can break a pattern. And I can promise you that you will find someone else to go to the movies with on Wednesdays. I did.
#4 – Self-blame.
One of the most insidious things about toxic love is that, after a while, we start to blame ourselves for everything that is going wrong.
I have a client whose husband had a relationship with one of their employees. For three years my client has asked her husband to fire that woman and for three years he has promised to and hasn’t. She is beside herself and rightly so.
The thing is, her husband has done a remarkable job making her feel like their issues are HER fault. He says that if she could just let this go they could be happy. That she has no compassion for this other woman’s children – what would they do if their mother had no income? Because of his accusations, she truly questions her mental health some days.
Do you blame yourself for why your relationship is toxic? Do you believe that if you could just have been a little bit nicer or paid more attention to him or had sex with him when he wanted you to that everything would be just fine?
If yes, stop. Your person is making your life difficult and, while you might play a role in the situation, I can promise you that it’s NOT all your fault.
#5 – You are soulmates.
Do you believe that the relationship that you share with your person is like none other? That the intense passion and connection that you share can not compare with anyone else’s relationship and that letting it go would be such a waste?
Let me tell you, EVERYONE feels that way about their relationship. I hate to burst your bubble but, while the love you have for this person might be strong, it’s not the ultimate love in the world and letting go of it will not be the end of love for you.
As a matter of fact, if you can let go of your toxic love then you are WAY more likely to find a connection that is real and wonderful and magic.
Holding on to a toxic relationship often happens because we fear the pain that we will feel if we let go.
But letting go of toxic love is very important for a happy life. Can you imagine spending the rest of your life living with someone who makes your life miserable more often than they make you happy?
Could you ever be happy if the rest of your life is the same as your life today?
I know that, for me, finally getting out of my toxic relationship gave me the time, strength and focus to build my business and my self-esteem. It made me understand that I could break patterns and not only survive but thrive. I learned that I was okay being alone and that while to me our love was special, really there is other, better love in this world.
So, what are you waiting for? Letting go of a toxic love is something that you can start doing right now!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.