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12 Ways to Stop Enabling Your Toxic Ex

by | Apr 28, 2022 | 0 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.

Are you tired of the way your toxic ex is treating you? Are you wondering how to not enable a toxic person?

Even though we don’t like the way our ex is treating us, we sometimes enable our exes to behave in certain ways.

We often see the term “enabling” when it comes to addicts and describe how family, friends, and loved ones allow them to continue their destructive behaviors because they love and care about them.

Well, the same goes for toxic exes!

Except, in this case, enabling a toxic person has little to do with love and care and more to do with encouraging them to behave horribly against you.

No, you don’t deserve this treatment, but toxic people are special folk who often have distorted perceptions about themselves and the world.

Enabling them means feeding into their behaviors to either give them a reason to attack you or a reason to feel superior to you.

Yeah, I know, the onus shouldn’t be on you to diminish their unsavory behaviors, but that’s, unfortunately, what you need to do when it comes to how to deal with your toxic ex.

That being said, let’s look at how to not enable a toxic person so you can go on to lead a more peaceful life:

How to Not Enable a Toxic Person

1. Go No to Low-Contact

The best way to stop enabling a toxic person is to cease ALL contact with them.

However, it’s impossible to go no-contact when you are trying to parent with your toxic ex. In this case, you would simply go low contact.

Low contact means only communicating with your ex when necessary. This could be to discuss visitation changes, medical issues with the child, etc.

Otherwise, do not strike up conversations with them, and don’t respond unless you absolutely have to. You don’t have to answer their questions or reply if it’s not relevant to your child.

Oh, and make sure all of your communication is in writing! I can’t stress that enough. It will give you evidence of what your ex said, and it may help reduce conflict since they cannot verbally attack you face-to-face or over the phone.

2. Set Boundaries

What happens when you set boundaries with your toxic ex? Will they respect them?

Probably not, but you don’t need your ex to respect your boundaries to make them effective!

Begin by deciding what behaviors of your ex you absolutely will not tolerate. Is it name-calling? Threats? Blame-shifting? Belittling comments?

You can teach your toxic ex how to treat you by setting boundaries on these deal-breaker behaviors. If your ex exhibits any of these behaviors, tell them you will no longer accept being treated that way and end the conversation if they continue to do so.

While doing this will probably not cause your ex to be nicer to you, it will decrease their foul treatment of you because they won’t be getting the reaction they are seeking.

3. Hold Your Toxic Ex Accountable

Toxic people will often do whatever it takes to avoid taking responsibility for their mistakes or shortcomings. While I’m not saying you should bombard your ex with “I told you so,” it’s important to hold them accountable for what they say and do.

For instance, say your ex cancels their weekend visitation with your child and then, lo and behold, accuses you of denying access because you never showed up.

You remind them that they canceled the visit, but they respond with, “I never said that.”

This is why having everything in writing is so important! Just show them the text message and go about your day.

Only hold your ex accountable if:

A. You have proof, and

B. Not doing so may cause an issue with the court order (if you have one).

This will help when it comes to how to not enable a toxic person because you are decreasing their ability to bully you and push you around. Disabling a toxic ex is all about taking away power from their behaviors.

4. Don’t Take Responsibility for Their Behaviors

Sometimes you may ask yourself, “Am I making my exs behavior worse?”

Yeah, probably, but that doesn’t make you responsible for them. It just means that by standing your ground and taking back control of your life, you are inflaming the toxic behaviors related to their mental health issue.

If you ever feel that you are the cause of your treatment, just tell yourself:

“That’s a them problem, not a me problem.”

Because, really, it isn’t your problem that they act like garbage. They are grown-ass adults who know the difference between treating someone respectfully and treating them horribly.

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5. Stop Helping Them

If you’re anything like me, you ended up tangled in a relationship with a toxic person because you felt bad for them and wanted to help them. Toxic people who are needy are good at preying on the goodwill of others in order to entrap them into a relationship.

Now that it’s over, or if you are still in a toxic relationship, you don’t need to help them. They are grown adults who need to start figuring out life for themselves.

Plus, everything you lend support, they see this as a continuation of the relationship, and they will continue their controlling behaviors.

That being said, it’s tricky when you are parenting separately with your ex. When your child is with them, you want to make sure they have everything they need, so you may find yourself helping out by providing necessities like diapers, clothing, etc.

Which is fine. Just don’t lend them financial or emotional support. You don’t need to waste your money or mental energy on them anymore.

6. Stop Showing Up to Their Pity Parties

As I mentioned, many toxic people will prey on your good heart, and they do this by throwing pity parties.

No matter how poorly they treat other people, they will always portray themselves as the victim. Pity parties are their way of deflecting responsibility for all the bad stuff that has happened in their lives.

They also use pity parties to guilt others into apologizing and “making up” for their situation.

These types of toxic people will twist their stories and play the “poor me” card. For example, they may blame others for their financial woes because they were “used” for their money when, in fact, they just suck at finances and live beyond their means.

If you’re wondering how to deal with your ex, who constantly throws pity parties, step back and stop giving them sympathy.

Over time, you’ll be able to look at their situation objectively and avoid getting tangled up in their web of lies.

7. Don’t Defend Yourself

Oh, this is a biggie and perhaps the hardest thing to do when it comes to how to deal with a toxic ex!

Toxic people will often verbally attack you to pull you into an argument or conflict. They want you to defend yourself and continue their nonsense.

At first, not defending yourself can be really hard. No one likes to hear untrue and negative things about themselves, and your first instinct is to try and prove them wrong.

Except you can’t. They have it in their head that you are the bad guy, and there is no changing that! Your ex may see your defense as a challenge which will further fuel their behavior toward you.

Just remember that you don’t have to defend yourself! Who cares what your ex thinks? You know who you are, and you don’t need to prove that to them.

The more you stop defending yourself, the easier it will be, and the less what they say will bother you. You know what they are saying about you is fueled by lies, and it won’t change who you are.

8. Don’t Criticize or Argue With Them

Speaking of challenging your ex, it’s best that you don’t unless you absolutely have to. Many toxic individuals see criticisms and arguments against them as attacks, and they will get vehemently defensive.

However, you don’t want to always comply with your ex just to avoid conflict. This just means that if you want to stop enabling them, you shouldn’t provoke them.

Of course, if it involves your child, you need to speak up – but be careful how you do so. The best way to approach your ex with an issue is to be straightforward and business-like, leaving emotion out of it.

For instance, say your ex won’t rear-face your child (true story). Instead of telling them that it’s the law and that they are a bad parent for refusing to do so, simply send them a copy of the law and request that they rear-face your child.

Yeah, they’re probably going to argue with you, but you have said what you needed to say. Unfortunately, from my experience, the courts don’t really care about car seat laws, but I was able to address the issue without enticing a huge blowout.

Otherwise, don’t tell them how to live their life or start arguments with them. They aren’t going to change, so it’s not worth the fight.

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9. Respond Instead of Reacting

So I’ve talked about not defending yourself or getting pulled into arguments, and this point really ties into that.

Again, toxic people want to upset you. They will say and do things to make your blood boil because they want you to explode at them. They can then take your explosion, perceive it as an attack, and come at you with verbal abuse.

Reacting is one way you may be enabling your ex. Reacting involves addressing a situation with emotion, which is usually anger and frustration.

On the other hand, responding means processing the situation and acting in a logical and calculated way. Doing this takes time and practice.

I’ll give you an example: Say your ex texts you and says you’re a bad parent because your child wore the same outfit two days in a row.

What’s your first instinct? That’s right, you’re going to be angry. Then you’re going to bite back at them and explain all of the ways that you are a good parent in order to prove them wrong.

What happens then? Your ex will likely take this as an opportunity to criticize you further, bring up every tiny mistake you made in the past, and threaten you (take you to court, take your kid away, etc.).

Fun times, right?

What if you responded instead? You read the text, give yourself a moment to think (and calm down) and realize that it doesn’t matter what they say because you know you are a good parent.

You ignore their text or send something back like, “Oops, didn’t notice that.”

And that’s that.

They may try to pull you into a further argument, but the more you respond (which includes ignoring), the more they will realize they are not getting what they want, and the behaviors will minimize or stop altogether.

10. Don’t Take it Personally

This point is more of a tactic for applying the other tips I’ve mentioned, but it’s important to mention.

When it comes to how not to enable your ex, you need to learn how to stop letting what they say and do to you bother you on a personal level.

They are not the keepers of your personality, and they are in no position to speak any truth about who you are.

So don’t take what they say personally!

They are jerks, and they are going to say and do things with the sole purpose of making you feel like trash. It’s how they gain control over people and maintain their sense of superiority.

Many toxic people want to see you upset and weak. So, the less you let them affect you personally, the less satisfaction they will get from their behaviors.

One thing that worked for me was talking it out with other people. I hate to be pitied or patronized but hearing my friends and family tell me that my ex was wrong helped me begin to rebuild my sense of self.

I stopped taking his insults to heart and questioning my skills and personality. Now, I just see his attacks as a sad attempt to get a reaction out of me that will never happen.

11. Remove Yourself From Their Life

Yes, the ol’ Gray Rock! Gray Rock is a tactic you can use to minimize your ex’s effect on your life.

Basically, you make yourself as interesting to them as a gray rock. That means you block them on social media and stop sharing personal life details with them.

Toxic people will use anything they can against you, so they have nothing to fight with when you stop providing ammo.

Even as a parent, you don’t have to share personal details with your ex. They don’t need to know how you make money, what you do for fun, who you hang out with, etc. No court order will force you to provide those details unless they feel your child may be in danger.

Of course, there may be stipulations that state you must share details about your child’s life (their extracurricular activities, medical issues, etc.) or information if you take a trip out of the city. You still have to follow these.

But your ex doesn’t need to know anything about your life, and you don’t need to know anything about theirs. Do your best to keep your lives separate to avoid enabling your ex.

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12. Take Care of Yourself

Do you want to know the best way to say “EFF YOU!” to your toxic ex?

Go live your best life.

Think about it: This individual did everything in their power to push you down and take control of you. They treated you in horrible ways so that you would be too scared to leave because you couldn’t function without them.

And look at you now!

By showing your ex that all their hard work went to waste, you are giving them a huge middle finger, and all you have to do is take care of yourself.

Done are the days when your ex gets to be at the center of your world. They can’t invalidate, manipulate, or make demands of you anymore.

While you were never responsible for your toxic ex, you are responsible for yourself. So now is the time to nurture yourself and your personal growth!

Enabling a Toxic Ex: No More!

There you go! With some time, patience, and practice, you can easily stop enabling your toxic ex.

Will their behaviors disappear completely? Probably not, but you will notice a difference in how they treat you. They may try to jab at you for a reaction from time to time, but they will likely stop coming full force at you.

They’ll either get fed up with trying, bored, or move on to someone else who will react to them.

Have you tried any of these things to stop enabling your toxic ex? What worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

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