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How to Get Over Your Toxic Ex: 8 Steps to Heal and Move On

by | Feb 10, 2022 | 4 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?

You fought against the abuse and finally broke free, and now you don’t know how to get over your toxic ex.

You’re probably asking yourself, “Why do I still love them? Why do I still care?”

Well, you are not crazy, and you are not alone.

Many people who leave these types of relationships find themselves struggling to get over a toxic relationship.

Toxic people behave in certain ways in order to gain control over you.

The way this treatment affects you doesn’t magically dissipate after the relationship is over.

Let’s start by looking at what happens after you love and leave a toxic relationship:

How to Get Over Your Toxic Ex

Before we look at how to get over your toxic ex, it’s important to understand why those feelings are still lingering despite everything that happened.

There are many things in play here. Maybe you have a kid together and are holding onto the idea of having a “perfect family.” Or maybe you miss the times when your ex made you feel really good about yourself.

Toxic behaviors can be complex, but their underlying goal is to confuse you and break you down to the point where you rely solely on them for support and comfort. This is how they trap you.

Once you break free of that, you are left with a void that you then have to relearn how to fill yourself – which is one of the most difficult stages of healing after toxic emotional abuse.

It’s natural to want to gravitate back to that source, that familiarity. But you know deep down that your ex is not going to change, and returning to them would mean walking right back into the same abusive relationship you left.

Yet the feelings remain, and it’s difficult to disconnect yourself from your ex when you can’t bring yourself to get over them.

When you are in this situation, there are things you can do to begin that separation and allow yourself the space to rediscover yourself and heal.

1. Stop Analyzing and Rationalizing What Happened

I always stress the importance of understanding toxic relationships in order to understand the situation you were in and start to gain clarity about what happened to you.

However, if you find yourself constantly analyzing and obsessing over what happened, it’s time to stop.

Give yourself grace and understand that there was nothing you could have done differently to make the situation better. Likewise, there is no good reason why your ex treated you the way they did.

There is no explanation and no changing things. Period.

Now is the time to accept that you no longer need this toxic person in your life. If this means finding healthy ways to otherwise occupy your mind (video games, Netflix, taking naps, etc.), then do what you have to do to distract yourself from analyzing, obsessing, and rationalizing.

2. Acknowledge Your Feelings

While you want to find ways to distract yourself from intrusive thoughts, it’s important to be real and honest with yourself about how you feel.

You are allowed to grieve during this process, and part of that means feeling negative emotions such as anger and sadness.

Let yourself feel grateful that you can finally FINALLY release all of the feelings you kept bottled up during the relationship.

Whether you express yourself to a friend, a therapist, or in your journal, you are free to feel and talk about your feelings with no more judgment or dismissiveness from your toxic ex.

3. Do Things That Used to Make You Happy

While they may not make you feel happy right now, while you are getting over your ex, return to the activities you used to enjoy.

This is where your old self exists. You’ll either reconnect with that person or realize that you have grown and changed into someone new.

Either way, engaging in activities you once enjoyed will help you find yourself, distract yourself, and discover what you want and don’t want in life.

Taking the first step in this stage of healing after toxic emotional abuse is difficult, but giving yourself that push will help you move past the longing and heartache.

4. Stop Blaming Yourself

How much of your toxic relationship involved you getting blamed for EVERYTHING? You were probably told on a regular basis how much you “overreact” or are to blame for your toxic ex’s behaviors.

Guess what? Blame time is over! These accusations were not true then, and they are not true now.

Narcissism is a diagnosable mental disorder that develops over a long period of time. There is nothing you did to make your ex toxic, and you are not the reason they acted the way that they did.

5. Don’t Give Them Your Sympathy

It’s possible that something horrible happened to your ex over the course of their lifetime to make them the way they are, but you are not responsible for that, and they tried to take it out on you.

Therefore, they do not deserve your sympathy.

It doesn’t matter what they went through, their crappy coping skills are no excuse for you to accept how poorly you were treated.

Do I personally pity toxic people? I do because they had very little control over the way their mind developed and how they developed twisted perceptions of themselves and the world.

Do I sympathize with them? Absolutely not. They are cognizant human beings who choose to treat people in vile ways. This is unacceptable.

6. Limit Your Contact or Go No Contact

Once the relationship is over, part of how to get over your toxic ex is realizing that there is nothing to go back to. For that reason, there is no reason to keep in touch.

I know it’s hard to quit someone cold turkey. You want to ease yourself out of the connection you had by talking to them or seeing them – but this doesn’t work with most toxic peopple.

They will try to “hoover” you back into a relationship by pulling out all of the charming moves that hooked you in the first place. If you’re not careful, you could end up back where you started and right where they want you – under their control.

Your best course of action is to cut all ties with your ex. That means blocking them on social media, on your phone, not talking to them, etc.

Unless, of course, you have children together. Then you’ll want to limit communication to need-to-know information in written forms. You can learn more about doing that and other parallel parenting skills here.

7. Learn How to Love and Trust Yourself

As I mentioned, leaving a toxic relationship means facing a void. Sure, they didn’t exactly fill that void with warm and fuzzy feelings, but there was something there that is now suddenly gone.

That void is you, and for so long, you weren’t able to be yourself – you had to be who your ex wanted you to be.

One of the last stages of healing after toxic emotional abuse is learning how to love and trust yourself again. You need to fill that void with yourself by focusing on your own self-care, wants, and needs.

You need to start trusting yourself again as well. Because your ex forced you to rely on them when it comes to making decisions, it’s hard to suddenly start making your own choices in the real world.

It takes time and baby steps but the more you treat yourself with kindness and make decisions, the more you will fill that void, and the less you will feel that something is missing in your life.

8. Seek Support and Professional Help

The type of abuse you faced from your toxic ex was probably complex and subtle, meaning that their abusive tactics weren’t easily noticeable.

You were treated in a way to create confusion and eradicates who you really are. That hurt runs deep.

So there’s nothing wrong with seeking professional help. You are currently existing in a huge tangled web of hurt and confusion that a therapist or counselor can help you work through.

There are also some great online support groups you can join where you can share your feelings and experiences with people who have been through the same thing and can understand you on a deeper level.

But don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and family as well. They may not completely understand what you went through, but they can help you find yourself again and get over your ex.

Why Is It So Hard Getting Over a Toxic Ex?

Because they likely treated you in such as way that it would be hard to get over them in order to keep you “trapped.”

However, you can get over your ex and complete your journey of healing from toxic emotional abuse – it just takes some work and introspection.

At the end of the day, if you have to write out a list of all the horrible things your ex did to you and read it every time you feel a pang of guilt or longing, do it.

Now is YOUR time to do the things you need to do to feel normal again!

You got this!

Have you left a toxic relationship? How did you get over the leftover feelings? Share your experience in the comments!

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  1. Avatar

    I am trying my hardest to stay in a positive mindset and spirit, it’s very difficult right now, but, I am the one that left the relationship, there was so much uncertainty in such a little bit of time and I already knew that if I didn’t let go no matter how much it hurt, that I was gonna be more damaged than be healed!

  2. Avatar

    I didn’t choose to leave but I know I should have. We have been split up for a year and a half and even when we were together it was an emotional roller coaster…not healthy. We have stayed in touch so he has continued to be a constant in my life. Now he has a girlfriend and why does it hurt so bad to see him move on?…even when I know I don’t want the narcissism and alcoholic treatment back?? Im struggling!

    • Chelsy

      I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this 🙁 There could be many reasons why it hurts to see him move on: You question why you were “good enough” to be treated right. You’re lonely. You are still dealing with the dependency you have on him because of the emotional abuse. It’s hard to say without knowing your unique situation, but one thing is clear: Cut off all contact with him! Unless you have a child together (and there are still ways to get around communication), then you have no reason to keep in touch. It’s obviously hurting you and getting in your way of healing. I have a course for healing from narcissistic relationships. Not trying to pitch anything, but it’s comprehensive and it might help:

    • Avatar

      Scary how much your comment was like reading my current life…from being apart for a year and a half to him being a narcissist alcoholic and now moving on. I am struggling so much with jealousies and hurt over that yet I know I would never want that draining relationship back. Why is it so hard??


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