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How to Detoxify From Your Toxic Relationship

By Ashley Miller ; Updated June 13, 2017

Toxic relationships are any type of relationship you have with someone whose behaviors attempt to make you feel bad, belittled or worthless. Toxic people sap your energy and undermine your self-esteem. Often, toxic relationships involve verbal or physical abuse or controlling behaviors, according to author Conte Terrell in her book "Deliverance to a Fresh Spirit: 12-Step Guide for Ending Toxic Relationships." Toxic relationships are unhealthy, dysfunctional and create a negative impact on your life, but you can overcome the abuse, hurt and pain of toxic relationships.

  1. Recognize the toxic patterns in your relationship. Think about how he makes you feel. Focus on whether you feel energized and alive in his presence, or if you leave every encounter feeling drained and tired. Perhaps he criticizes you or belittles you in an attempt to keep you down. Maybe he's a control freak and makes you feel like you have to ask his permission to do anything. Stop making excuses for his behavior and admit that your relationship is toxic.

  2. Confront the person about her behaviors. In order to set healthier boundaries or determine if you should end the relationship, you need to point out her toxic behaviors. According to Cheryl Richardson in an article for, you can do this in a loving, respectful way without antagonizing or putting her on the defense. Point out the negative behaviors using "I" statements, such as "I feel bad when you criticize me. Our relationship is important to me. Will you stop doing this?"

  3. Decide whether to stay in the relationship. If he is willing to try to change his behaviors, you might think it's worth it to stick around and see how it goes. However, if he responds defensively or negatively to your request, you may want to consider ending the relationship.

  4. Get outside support. Talk to a therapist or a trusted friend or family member. It's not easy to confront toxic people with their behaviors, and it can be even harder to end the relationship. Having support can provide you with validation and acceptance during this difficult encounter. Talking to a therapist can help you identify the issues that drew you to the toxic relationship in the first place.

  5. Develop your self-esteem. Do something that makes you feel good. Learn a new skill or meet new people. By feeling better about yourself, you'll cultivate a feeling of independence and be better able to maintain healthier boundaries in the future.

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