Last Updated on August 15, 2023 by Angela Vaz
The feeling of emerging from a toxic relationship is like no other.
I was in a toxic relationship for nine and a half years, and leaving it gave me so much peace.
But when you’ve lived with someone who has messed you up emotionally and mentally, it can take a while to recover and heal.
You may have just left a relationship where conflicts became the norm, where you were constantly gaslighted or blamed for things you didn’t do, or you were emotionally manipulated to the point where everything you did or said would have started an unnecessary argument.
Leaving this toxic relationship was probably one of the best things you did for yourself.
You may be able to cut off from the source of the abuse physically, but recovering from it emotionally and mentally will definitely take a couple of months or a year.
It is imperative to heal before you start thinking of dating again or looking to find love.
Because if you’re not careful, your inner voice may still be tainted by the relationship you had with your ex.
And this will affect the future relationships you have with people – not just the romantic ones.
In this post, I will be discussing a few tips that will help you learn how to recover from a toxic relationship.
If you’re still considering whether your relationship is toxic, then please read my post on toxic communication patterns to understand if your relationship can be saved or not.
But before that really quick, get my free guide on how to really reset your life.
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How long does it take to recover from a toxic relationship?
It is essential to understand that everyone’s story is different.
Some people may have already fallen out of love with their partners but may continue to stick around and deal with the abuse due to their level of commitment or other issues like not wanting to disrupt their kids’ lives.
But when you do make the bold move of standing up for yourself and leaving, you have already begun your journey towards healing and peace.
Some people may take only months to heal and recover from a toxic relationship, whereas if the divorce or separation is painful because you still love your ex, the healing might take a year or more.
Everyone processes grief in different ways.
And there is no right or wrong way to heal.
It’s best to take your time and process your feelings as naturally as it comes to you. It’s okay to take your time to recover come back to normalcy.
You aren’t on a clock.
And your mental and emotional health is extremely important.
How do you get over a toxic relationship when you still love your partner?
1. Understand that you deserve to be treated with love and respect
You may still love your partner, and it’s okay to love them.
But it’s another thing altogether to accept the abuse and not be treated with love and respect.
You are a beautiful human being, and you did not agree to be treated this way.
No one deserves to be treated with anything less than love and kindness.
When you love yourself, you will automatically want more because you will have realized your worth and value.
And you will not stand for anything less.
2. Understand that it’s okay to be alone for a while
You may be terrified of moving from a relationship to being alone.
But having the experience of leaving an abusive relationship, I can tell you this much: It is much better to live alone than to live in a household with no peace.
Imagine waking up to no fights, no arguing, no emotional trauma, but only good vibes.
Imagine being able to do what you want whenever you want and do the things you love.
Imagine being able to pursue the dreams that you’ve been holding back only because you are in a toxic relationship.
Choose to be alone over being in a toxic relationship.
And yes, it is possible to be happy living alone after a breakup.
Here are a few posts that might help you:
- How to be happy and not lonely after a breakup
- 13 insightful tips to living alone for the first time
3. Know that things will fall into place provided you take the right decision for yourself
Do what you can to move forward with your life.
Once you move away from your partner, things will be a little haywire for a while because it is a sudden change.
And continue to move toward healing.
Focus on yourself for once.
It’s about time you focus on loving yourself and being kind toward yourself because you’ve placed your partner’s happiness over yours for so long.
Recovering from a toxic relationship – 13 things you should do after leaving a toxic relationship
1. End all contact with the ex
If you are dealing with a divorce or separation or involved with a custody battle over your children, keep the contact extremely formal or, better yet, have a lawyer deal with it.
Otherwise, end all contact with your ex-partner.
Unfollow them on all social media and block their contact on your phone.
Do not try to keep tabs on them or lift their calls if they’re harassing you or promising you they’ll change.
Do not lift calls from their family and friends either.
If there are toxic people in your life, now is the best time to cut them off.
You’ve decided for yourself and your future, and you need to stick to it if you want to come out of this situation happily and peacefully.
Remember that this step will be very hard for you if your ex is emotionally manipulative or if you still have feelings for them.
They will cause you to get upset or try to overstep their boundaries, and it’s normal.
They may even threaten you with self-harm or make threats of breaking into your house. Take appropriate steps if this happens by notifying the authorities.
Stick to your guns and stand up for yourself.
Here are a few posts you may like:
2. You don’t need closure
If the relationship has ended, then that’s all the closure you need.
You don’t need to find out if they’re seeing someone else or find out who they’ve been cheating on you with for closure.
Close that book and move on with your life.
You don’t need an apology; you don’t need to know what happened.
You only need to know how to move forward with your life.
It’s time you focus on more important things like your life, career, and people you love.
3. Don’t fight your emotions
I’m not going to lie; you’re going to feel a surge of emotions in the first few months after the split.
And it’s not going to be an easy wave to ride.
You’re going to have moments of relief, followed by regret, followed by anger and dead rage, and extreme gut-wrenching sadness – not in that particular order.
And it’s okay.
It will be like this for a few months, and it will get better.
Sit with your emotions.
Don’t try to drown it with alcohol or drugs.
Remember, these will help you feel better for a short while before the emotions surface again. And then it will be 10X worse.
So, when the emotions come, let them come.
Let them wash over you.
4. Deal with your emotions in a healthy manner
Find healthy ways to deal with your emotions instead of alcohol, drugs, shopping, or binge-eating.
You’ve been hurt for a long time.
So, don’t expect to heal immediately.
Treat yourself with kindness and love, and be patient with yourself.
Here are a couple of methods that helped me get clarity and speed up my healing:
- Read books on healing and self-love
- Journal every single day (this will help you let out your negative emotions and also help you see how much progress you’ve made)
- Talk to a counsellor or therapist (they will give you coping techniques if you’re facing severe anxiety or depression)
- Meditate (to find calm and peace again)
I continue to journal, meditate and read books even now.
And although I’ve healed completely, these activities bring me much-needed peace and clarity.
5. Rediscover your identity
When you’ve lived in a toxic relationship for a long time, you will tend to lose your identity because you’ll constantly place your partner’s needs and wants above yours.
It becomes almost normal for you to blend into the background and keep your hopes and dreams on the sidelines.
Now that you’re free and single, it is time to rediscover who you are and what makes you tick.
This is the start of a beautiful journey of self-love and self-discovery.
Slowly get back to yourself by doing more of the things you love.
Start reading, or cooking, or drawing. Do things that you stopped doing during the relationship.
Learn a new skill.
I started taking online classes in Domestika, and I’ve enjoyed rediscovering my passion for drawing.
6. Start working toward personal goals
Apart from rediscovering who you really are and passionately working on your skills and hobbies, setting goals for yourself is also essential.
Don’t be afraid to dream of a brighter and happier future.
You have all the time in the world to paint it and make it come true.
There is so much life has to offer.
Here are a few posts that will help:
- 13 easy ways to reset your life
- 35 honest ways to get your life together
- 15 ways to start afresh this new year
7. Be gentle with yourself
Remember that healing takes time.
Some people heal quicker than others. But some take time.
And it’s okay to be either.
Recovery does not have a deadline.
You can take your time.
Be kind to yourself because you have been through an awful lot, and it’s okay to feel all the negative feelings you are feeling.
You are not alone or unique.
It’s important to note that several other people have been in your shoes and fought the same battles for many, many years.
It will take time to build back that self-confidence, and it’s okay.
Take that time. Talk to yourself like you would a child and go easy on yourself.
Treat yourself with nothing but kindness and patience.
All you have is the present, so focus on that and move forward.
8. Avoid self-blame
Sometimes you may feel stupid for not having walked away early or not seeing things for what they were.
And it’s okay.
We are all human, and we make mistakes when we love someone. It’s hard to see things clearly when blinded by love and commitment.
So, let it go.
Be grateful that you got away when you did and show yourself that kindness that you’d show a friend who got out of a toxic relationship.
You’ve already taken the most extensive and boldest step.
Now, it’s only going to go up from here.
Don’t be harsh on yourself.
You’re not a victim.
You’re a survivor.
You lived through all of it, and you’ve walked through the most brutal storms.
It’s going to be more rainbows and sunshine from now on.
9. Take it one day at a time
Healing isn’t an upward journey.
You’re going to find some saturation points or dips once in a while.
It may feel like you’re not making progress, but you are.
And although it sounds so very cliche, time does indeed heal all wounds.
I remember feeling so deflated when my best friend would tell me this, and I’d keep asking my friends if it would indeed get better and if I’d eventually feel like myself again – but I did.
I made it, and you will too.
Just remember to take it one day at a time.
You don’t need to focus on tomorrow or worry about next week.
Practice focusing on the present moment. Remember every rough phase you’ve ever been through in your life.
You’ve survived 100% of all your bad days.
Pat yourself on the back and live in the moment.
10. Do not date till you’ve healed completely
You may be anxious and want to get back into the dating game again.
Don’t date until you’ve healed.
You will not be able to see clearly because your mind and heart haven’t healed from the relationship you’ve had.
And you may not make the wisest decisions when choosing whom to date next.
You will also be very vulnerable due to the lack of love and respect you received from your previous relationship, and this will prompt you to accept even the tiniest of breadcrumbs from a stranger.
So, to avoid hurting yourself or the next person, you date – heal first.
Reach a stage where you’re happy living alone, and you’ve built the confidence to see what a beautiful human being you are.
And when you feel ready to date, then go right ahead.
You will find love again.
Take some time to analyze what you are looking for in a partner and your future relationship before you start dating again.
And do not settle for anything less.
And if you’ve healed before you start dating, there is a very good chance that you will find the right person for you before you know it.
11. Lean on your friends and family
Have a support group that you can count on.
There will be days when you’ll feel lonely or miserable, or you may go down a road of rumination where everything will play in your head non-stop.
Don’t allow yourself to go down a road of depression and self-pity.
Thank your lucky stars that you were brave enough to walk away from that toxicity.
Call your best friends and family who have been supportive of you and let them know how you feel.
If you’ve lost friends along the way due to your partner isolating you from them, then make new friends.
Go out and join a book club or take part in a physical class like drawing, swimming, or cooking.
Reconnect with your old friends and explain to them what happened.
Talk to your family and let them know what’s been happening.
You’d be surprised at how kind and supportive people are.
12. Let go of all your negative feelings
You may feel regret for having wasted a lot of time in that dead-end relationship.
You may feel anger for your ex for treating you the way they did.
You may feel betrayed for being lied to, manipulated, etc.
And these feelings are normal.
It’s okay to feel these feelings.
But do not act on it.
Remember that everyone is born different.
And perhaps the relationship started healthily, or you were blinded by love initially.
With time, their true nature surfaced, and instead of letting go, you held on because you were committed.
It’s not a bad thing. It only shows how strong and resilient you were.
This relationship was a learning experience, and you will now be able to see all those red flags so much more clearly because you are taking the time to heal.
This relationship has only made you wiser and stronger.
So let it go.
Let go of the past and focus on the present because that’s all you have in your control – the present.
13. Don’t be afraid to share your story
When I got out of my toxic relationship, I was very vulnerable, and at times, I wouldn’t know what to say.
If you don’t want to talk about it or feel comfortable, be honest and tell people that.
This is your story, and you get to decide how and when you want to talk about it.
But once you heal and you feel comfortable talking about your past, feel free to share it with people.
You might inspire and help someone else in your shoes leave their toxic relationship with their abusive partners.
Remember, you don’t need to put your ex-partner down. But you can talk about your experiences with the relationship.
Walking away from a toxic relationship requires a lot of guts and courage.
Kudos to you if you’ve already taken that big step and are out.
Recovering from a toxic relationship will take some time, but if you are determined to win back your life and want to find true happiness, you will make it.
There is no stopping you.
Remember to be kind to yourself, give yourself time to process everything, and make peace with it.
Do not look back into the past and nitpick over who did what and where things went wrong.
Remember, closure is a myth.
Accept what has happened gracefully and look ahead.
Be kind to yourself and allow yourself some bad days where you will not feel your best.
Let go of negative feelings like anger or hate. These will not serve you and will only bring you down.
Instead, focus on hope, happiness, faith, and love.
Love yourself, for you’ve come a long way from a mess, and your life is only going to go upwards from now.
If, at any stage, you feel overwhelmed or depressed and can’t seem to find a way out, consider getting professional help.
A therapist will help you by giving you coping techniques and a completely unbiased opinion.
Remember to treat yourself with kindness and patience.
You are loved.
You are a beautiful human being.
You are a survivor.
If you have recently found yourself single, here are a few more posts to help you:
- 13 signs of unrequited love and how to let go
- 13 signs you are healing from your breakup
- How I got over my cheating ex
- Will you find someone better than your ex? Yes, you will. Here’s why
- How to love yourself while you’re single
- How to stop letting things bother you
- The ultimate guide to getting over heartbreak and finding happiness again
- 35 honest ways to get your life together
- How to trust the process and just let go
- How to live alone and not be lonely
- How to let go of the past
- 15 ways to get a fresh start this year
- 13 ways to reset your life
- How to create a plan and stick to it