Everyone loves a happily ever after. I have more reason to know this than some because of my occupation. In the romance world, sure, the characters go through Hell with, for the sake of, and because of each other, but there’s always a subconscious assurance that everything’s going to turn out okay at the end. The happy couple will mount their magic unicorn and fly away on a cloud of pixie dust to live “happily ever after,” etc.

But this is the real world.

In the real world, people are not nearly as idealistic, idealized, or just plain ideal as they are in the pages of your favorite novel or on the silver screen. People have bad habits, attitudes, and problems that prevent a relationship from becoming everything it could be. It’s easy, in the throes of romantic love, to take the Barbara Cartland approach as summed up by Mercedes Lackey in Children of the Night: “Anything He does is okay as long as He loves you.” In reality, when we take off the rose-colored glasses, this is a warning sign of a relationship that, if it isn’t already, is about to become toxic. And, pro tip: This is not exclusively relegated to women’s dealings with men. Both genders and all sexual orientations are equally subject to this phenomenon. The possession of this or that genitalia does not predispose one to or make one immune from being a jerk.

Walking away is hard. Why? Because, let’s be real here, being alone is a scary proposition for most people. Even the most cloistered introvert longs for human interaction, affection, and contact sometimes. But when a relationship turns toxic, especially if you have kids in the mix, the best thing you can do for you is get out. Here are 7 reasons why you need to let go of a toxic relationship for your own health, safety, and sanity!

1. It’s better to be alone than in bad company.

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Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing. Staying in bad company can actually be more hurtful and harder to bear than being by yourself. When you’re out of the relationship, you can look back and analyze what happened and what warning signs you should have seen coming. This can help you be prepared if the next relationship starts taking the same turns, so you can either correct it or get out before you become utterly miserable.

This is especially difficult when the toxic party in the relationship is a family member, such as a parent, sibling, or close relation. However, the same basic principles apply. Toxic people tend to stay toxic, but there’s no good reason for you to put up with it. If they want to be miserable, that’s their choice and their problem. You deserve to be happy, even if that means cutting them out of the equation of your life.

You might also want to read 6 Relationship Habits That Are Toxic

2. Holding onto a toxic relationship prevents personal growth.

One of the key signs of a toxic relationship is one party always heaping blame on the other. “You didn’t/You should have/Why did you…?” is an oft-heard refrain. This kind of constant browbeating prevents personal growth because it makes the person on the receiving end feel smaller and like their opinion and feelings don’t matter. This, in turn, leads to a stifling of personal growth, or even reversion back to older, less sophisticated forms of dealing with stress. A healthy relationship encourages growth and dialogue on both sides.

3. Letting go of a toxic relationship creates room for a healthier one.

Toxic relationships by their very nature push aside other relationships, such as with friends, family, and even co-workers. A toxic relationship is less than a step away from outright abuse, if it isn’t there already. By being willing to let go of a toxic relationship, you are subconsciously telling yourself and the world that you’re ready for something healthier and better with someone who loves and cares for you as much as you do him or her.

4. Toxic relationships often become abusive ones.

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I hammer on this point because it’s important: toxic relationships don’t have far to fall to become psychologically, emotionally, physically, or even sexually abusive. Especially if you have kids, you owe it to them to show them what an open, loving, caring relationship can be. Your children are going to follow your example, and if they see Mommy or Daddy staying with someone who constantly says she or he’s worthless or strikes him or her, your kids are going to fall into the same trap as adults. Brazening it out is your right as an adult, but you need to bear in mind that if your partner is willing to strike or emotionally hurt you, it’s likely only a matter of time before they start doing the same thing to your children because your partner doesn’t think you have the courage to stand up to them or leave.

5. Walking away from a toxic relationship shows personal strength.

“You couldn’t last one day without me.” “If brains were dynamite, you couldn’t blow your nose.” “You made me do that, you know.” All of these are flat-out lies, told by a toxic partner because your partner is trying to convince you it’s true precisely so you don’t walk out. Do not believe the lies or the hype here. Walking away shows personal strength and the courage to stand on your own two feet, without someone else rubber-stamping your daily activities or life.

6. A toxic relationship is unhealthy.

Toxic relationships lead to social and emotional isolation. They can also cause anxiety, depression, physical illness, or even lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. This ignores entirely the possible emotional and physical harm an abusive partner can perpetrate on you. You’d be surprised just how cheap walking away is compared to therapy and anti-depressants, especially when children are involved.

7. You are worth more than what a toxic relationship can offer.

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A toxic relationship is extremely one-sided. It’s all about one person to the exclusion of the other. This can leave you feeling worthless, hopeless, and helpless. The reality is, you are none of the above. You are your own person, with your own unique value and things to offer the world. Anyone who tells you otherwise is doing so precisely so they can keep you under their thumb. You know you’re worth more, so be worth more. Walking away from a toxic relationship is the first step to finding something beautiful with someone who will love and treasure you because of everything you are, not in spite of it.

Prison Door

No one should ever feel imprisoned in a relationship of any kind where their peace of mind, emotional and physical health, safety, or security is or could be compromised. You are a unique and beautiful individual with a lot to offer, and you owe it to yourself (and your children, where applicable) to find that special someone who sees and loves you for you, not what they think you should be. If you or someone you love is in a toxic relationship, and you can access a computer where the toxic partner cannot see your history, visit the National Domestic Abuse Hotline Website for advice and tips on how to get out of a toxic or potentially dangerous relationship. If you cannot, or if you need to talk to someone right away, call 1-800-799-7233 in the US for a voice line or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY users. In a worst-case scenario, dial 911 or your locally appropriate emergency services number. Don’t let someone else hold you prisoner in a toxic relationship.

All relationships, however, are filled with ups, downs, and in-betweens. So how do you know you’re in a healthy relationship? Find out here. 10 Signs You’re In A Healthy Relationship

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