How To Move On After Being In An Unhealthy Relationship
It happens to so many of us in this life– we find ourselves in an unhealthy relationship and (in the best of cases) we make a conscious effort to remove ourselves from that relationship, but realizing that you are in an unhealthy relationship and having the courage to step out it is only the first step. To truly break free takes time, courage, and a little bit of help from those who have lived through similar situations. Take it from someone who has been there– you can do it!
In the past, I have chosen to end a number of unhealthy relationships which I had found myself in, so I know how hard it can be to stay strong after breaking free, especially when you spend a while being single and all your attempts to find someone to love fall on the rocky shores of rejection. I’ll admit it, there were even times where I thought the only person in the world who was capable of loving me was the woman I had left behind, but in the end, my confidence, my stubbornness and my resolve to stay single forever rather than return to an unhealthy relationship ultimately paid off. Just think– if I, at any point, had allowed myself to succumb to feelings of loneliness and had returned to an unhealthy relationship instead of waiting and searching for the right woman, I never would have met the girl of my dreams, I never would have fallen in love with her, and I most certainly never would have asked her to marry me. Happy endings do happen, you just have to have a few unhappy ones on the way there sometimes. To help you stay strong and keep yourself from going back to an unhealthy relationship, here are some tips that have served me well in the past:
Perhaps the most powerful psychological tool that I devised to keep myself from going back to any one of a series of damaging relationships was a list of reasons why I could not allow myself to go back at all (and why I was better off single anyway.) Your own list can contain any number of reasons why you left in the first place, but remember– the bigger you make your list, the more convincing it will be when you have to refer back to it (and refer back to it, you will.) Remember this list! Take the time to save it, back it up on your computer, and whenever you start to think about the “good old days” with the man or woman you broke free of (or start to think that maybe it wasn’t so bad, that you could tolerate whatever was going on because, deep down, you still love that person) read the list. Add to it. Remember each moment encapsulated in each reason you have for not going back and ask yourself: is what little happiness you might get out of the relationship worth all the crap you’re going to have to deal with in order to experience it? Trust me, if you had reason enough to leave the first time, it isn’t.
Take time to remind yourself why it is awesome to be single. If you can’t think of any good ideas (or just want some good reminders) check out this list that I put together to help me stay single until I found the woman who was right for me. It’s called 101 Reasons to Stay Single, and its become so popular that it has even been optioned to be adapted for television!
Remember to be nice to yourself. Give yourself time to adapt to the change and appreciate your newfound singledom. Be generous to yourself. Take time to go places by yourself and really enjoy the time that you’ve been given. Look at the time you spend being single as a gift. Suddenly you have so much time to do the kinds of things that you want to do! Suddenly you have time to pursue your dreams relentlessly and carve your niche in the wall of the world. You won’t have that if you go back to an unhealthy relationship, and you’ll be unhappy too! It’s a lose-lose situation!
It can also be a good idea to spend time with the friends who support your choice to end your unhealthy relationship (even if the only “friends” you have who support your choice are your parents.) Friends who think you’re crazy for ending your unhealthy relationship don’t have the kind of insight as to the nature of the relationship that you do, so they’re likely (unfortunately) to steer you in directions you’ll ultimately regret going in. Stay away from them (or limit your contact with them) during this period, especially if they make a point of trying to get you back together with the person you’re trying to avoid. Remember: They don’t know the relationship you left like you do. If things were bad enough for you to leave, then it shouldn’t matter what anyone says. Don’t go back. You can do better given enough time. I did!