No one starts out looking for a toxic relationship. They just sort of happen, but they have a strange way of becoming habitual.
Suddenly, toxicity is like your “thing.” You might share memes about it, joke about it with your friends, and desperately try to cover up the fact that deep down, you are humiliated and angered by the fact you wind up with people who treat you horribly.
Chances are if you’ve ever found yourself up at night Googling “signs of a toxic relationship,” you’re probably in one. And getting out of it can feel impossible. It’s ironically scarier to leave than it is to stay.
But eventually, you do. Or maybe the other person cuts you loose. It hurts, but it’s really a blessing because now, you have the time and space you need to love yourself in all the ways they didn’t.
- Toxic relationships can erode self-esteem and identity, making self-love crucial for recovery and rediscovery of personal identity post-breakup.
- Healing after a toxic relationship involves acknowledging the hurt, cleansing life of unhealthy attachments, and learning to thrive independently.
- Therapy, particularly trauma-informed, can be an effective aid in the healing journey, providing a safe space for venting and structured help.
Table of Contents
Self-love After a Toxic Relationship
Just because we know self-love is important doesn’t mean we always practice it. Like many other parts of mental health, it can fall by the wayside as we go through everyday life.
But self-love is crucial to recovering and rediscovering your identity. Self-compassion helps you heal from trauma, and it allows you to reclaim parts of yourself that felt lost in the relationship.
When I’ve been in bad relationships, I’ve known they were toxic because I didn’t feel like myself in them. I was trying hard to either hide myself or morph into whoever I thought my partner would like best. And the worst part was that they seemed to like it when I did what they wanted. Losing myself was validated by their responses, so I just kept going until I couldn’t take it anymore.
But what do you do with the you that’s left in the smoke after the relationship finally goes up in flames?
How Toxic Relationships Impact Your Self-Esteem
We’ll often justify toxicity as being “not that bad” because we want to minimize the effects it’s having on us. If we tell ourselves that our partner’s sarcasm isn’t as bad as another person’s blatant verbal abuse, we temporarily ease the pain that their words inflict on us.
But you know it never really goes away. Every minute spent in the presence of a toxic person ultimately leeches your energy and distances you further from yourself, your goals, and the relationship you truly want and deserve.
It’s really living out of touch with your values that makes you feel horribly ashamed, guilty, and anxious. You wonder why you constantly feel like you’ve done something wrong, and you usually look to your partner for answers.
We all know toxic people have plenty of those to go around.
Eventually, you come to realize that it’s not even them that’s the problem anymore. It’s you constantly justifying their behavior, tolerating it, and letting yourself be treated like you’re unworthy.
Practicing self-love is part of rebuilding self-esteem after a toxic relationship.
Mending Your Broken Heart Through Self-Love
So what you should do first? Here are a few things you can do today to begin a new journey and start anew!
Cleanse Your Life of Unhealthy Attachments
Anything you’re holding onto that keeps you tethered to that individual needs to go. Whether it’s photos on your social media, gifts they gave you, or things you made for them, all of it should be removed to give yourself the fresh start you need.
Oh! I get it. Believe me, I’ve been there. Letting go is hard, no, it sucks!
Part of you wants to hold on just because it’s familiar territory. But pain doesn’t need to be your pedestal. You can let go and learn how to thrive on your own.
Take Time to Accept Your Hurt
You can’t heal from what you refuse to acknowledge.
So, allow yourself to grieve the relationship you wanted, the one you thought you had, and even the parts of it that felt amazing sometimes.
At the same time, acknowledge how unhealthy that relationship was for you. You don’t need to do it from a victim standpoint because you aren’t a victim anymore. You’re someone who is strong and courageous, choosing to grow, heal, and blossom into who you really are.
Start Rebuilding Life on Your Own Terms
Ask yourself, “What would I like to do?” You might think, in the back of your mind, that the person you were with never would have liked it. You may hesitate, still living by their judgment even if they’re no longer around.
Push past those feelings and begin to do things that bring you joy and make you feel alive. Whether it’s taking yourself out for a pizza, painting, practicing yoga, or just watching Netflix as you enjoy breakfast in bed on a Saturday morning.
You’ll find that self-love after a toxic relationship really looks a lot like learning how to date yourself.
Never Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Not everyone will understand your struggles. Maybe you don’t want to talk about them with people you know. That’s okay. Consider reaching out to a therapist, especially one who is trauma-informed.
Therapy can be an amazing space to vent and get structured help for your problems as you rediscover what it means to live and love as yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some signs of a toxic relationship?
Signs include feeling humiliated or angered by your partner’s treatment, losing your identity to please them, and feeling justified in their toxic behavior.
How does a toxic relationship impact self-esteem?
Toxic relationships drain your energy, distance you from your goals, and make you feel unworthy. They erode self-esteem as you live against your values and dreams.
What are some steps to self-love after a toxic relationship?
Steps include removing unhealthy attachments, acknowledging and accepting your hurt, rebuilding life on your terms, and seeking help from a trauma-informed therapist if needed.