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Published on October 1, 2020

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship When You Still Love Your Partner

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship When You Still Love Your Partner

Learning how to leave a toxic relationship is never as easy as saying, “Hit the road, Jack!” – especially not when you are in love with your partner.

If you’ve been in a toxic relationship, you know exactly how emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausting they can be. But if a toxic relationship is so taxing, why is it so hard to leave?

In this article, you will find out why it’s difficult to leave a toxic relationship and how to leave a toxic relationship for good.

How to Know if You’re in a Toxic Relationship

Sometimes it’s hard to know whether you are in a toxic relationship or not. It is often because of the manipulation involved in partner -toxicity.

Another reason why it may be difficult to admit that you’re in a toxic relationship is that there isn’t any outward abuse. Your partner may not hit you or cross any obvious sexual boundaries,[1] but that doesn’t mean you’re in a healthy relationship.

Making a pro/con list can be a helpful first step when learning how to leave a toxic relationship.

Pros might be that your spouse makes you laugh, you enjoy the same hobbies, and you love them.

But, what are the cons of being in your current circumstances?

When you make out this list, it’s important, to be honest with yourself. Does your partner do any of the following?

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  • Doesn’t give you privacy
  • Cut you off from friends/family/finances
  • Prevents you from attending school or work
  • Is controlling and jealous
  • Makes all the decisions in your relationship
  • Pressures you into things you aren’t comfortable with
  • Makes “jokes” or criticizes you
  • Is unfaithful
  • Talks down to you
  • Destroys property
  • Sends threatening text messages
  • Invades your privacy (checks your phone/social media/follows you)
  • Threatens to do something horrible if you leave the relationship
  • Gaslights/acts like the things they are doing are not a big deal

If these toxic behaviors remind you of your spouse, this may be the wake-up call you need to take action and get out of your dangerous relationship.

Why Do People Remain in Toxic Relationships?

One of the main culprits is oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone in your body that releases during moments of intimacy. This could include making love, holding hands, kissing, or even cuddling with someone.

When oxytocin is released, it causes you to be more trusting of your partner, even when trust is not warranted. This sneaky little hormone is also guilty of promoting bonding, which can make it feel impossible to leave your spouse, even when you know they aren’t good for you.

In addition to the effect of oxytocin, here’re 5 more things that make leaving a toxic relationship difficult:

1. Abuse Weakens You Emotionally

Emotional abuse can be devastating to everyone, leaving the individual weak without self-esteem, making starting afresh a difficult decision to make.

2. It Can Be Life-Threatening

Leaving a toxic relationship can be dangerous, leading to all sorts of consequences, even death. Research shows that a toxic partner kills a larger percentage of women in weeks after leaving a toxic relationship than when they remain in the relationship.

3. The “It Will Stop Mindset’

Society has ingrained in us a “don’t give up on anything” mindset in which people follow even when they recognize it might result in something catastrophic. That mindset is also followed by having the thought that the abuse will stop eventually.

4. Social Pressure

There is always that social pressure from friends, family members, etc., to want a relationship – this pressure only makes the situation worse.

5. Social Reaction

People often don’t want to admit to anyone that they are going through a hard time, which cuts across relationships. People in toxic relationships don’t want to admit the kind of abuse they are going through because of fear or shame of being blamed or judged.

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The Effects of Emotional Abuse in a Toxic Relationship

1. Fear

This is a constant concern or awareness of danger. You start to have trust issues with anyone you find yourself with that building a relationship becomes issue overtime.

2. Shame

You don’t feel free to interact with anyone who knows what you have gone through like Friends, family members, etc., which often can result in loneliness.

3. Confusion

Your mind consistently wonders, and you seem to lose concentration and cant focus on a particular task.

4. Drugs or drinking

Abuse often results in excessive use of drugs and drinking. Thought that it could take away the pain is a delusion.

5. Suicide

When the pain and trauma get too much, it can often result in the party taking their lives.

6. Sleep trouble

You don’t get to enjoy sleep as you are supposed to. Thoughts and anxiety become the order of every moment.

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship

1. Know That You Deserve Better

Months or years of being told that you’ll never find anyone better than your spouse can wear on you, and you may even start to believe it. But this isn’t true.

Tearing down self-esteem and self-worth is what abusers do to keep their victims trapped in the relationship.

Let “I deserve better!” become your daily mantra. Remind yourself of your worth every day.

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You’ve tried your hardest to make your relationship work, but sometimes love is not enough, and you need to move on for your own mental and physical wellbeing.

2. Build a Support System

The emotions you go through for a toxic breakup are much the same as going through a breakup of a healthy relationship. You will feel conflicted, lovesick, relieved, depressed, and more.

Leaving a toxic relationship is especially difficult if you have been financially reliant on your ex – but don’t despair!

Instead of focusing on why this will be hard, focus on building a support system you’ll need when you take the plunge. Research shows that friend and family support during trying times lowers psychological distress.

Having a support system around will make it easier for you to move on.

3. Be Firm About Your Decision

Breakups are hard, no matter what the circumstance is. You’re leaving a life that you’ve grown accustomed to, and even if you know the relationship is no longer safe, it still sucks, leaving the life you’ve built for yourself.

There may be times when you are tempted to get back with your partner, but stand firm! You deserve a partner who loves and respects you.

Do not give your ex any false hope of getting back together. Be firm in your decision to leave the relationship and don’t budge.

4. Cut Off Contact

One of the biggest times for how to leave a toxic relationship would be to cut off all contact with your ex once you’ve broken up.

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Keeping in contact with your ex opens the door for you to get back together. Plus, seeing your ex across social media will make the memory of the relationship feel fresh in your mind. Here’s what to do when you experience that.

Instead of dwelling in the past, focus on the future, keep yourself motivated. Delete your ex from social media, block them on your phone, and find ways to avoid seeing them in person. These actions will make it clear that you want nothing to do with them.

5. It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken

If you’re at the point of breaking up, you’ve likely tried all of the tricks to get your spouse to change their toxic ways.

Maybe you went to therapy, took a relationship class, or made date nights a priority – but nothing worked.

Your partner is not going to change, and it’s important to remind yourself of this often.

You did everything you could to help them and reason with them, and it didn’t work. Do not expect miracles after a breakup.

Even if an abusive ex changes their ways, it is likely only due to the shock of the breakup. If you got back together, their likelihood of returning to their toxic behaviors is incredibly high.

Learning how to leave a toxic relationship is one thing, but following through with it is an entirely different story. If you are having trouble leaving an abusive or toxic partner, reach out to a trusted friend, family, or call/text/chat with an abusive relationship support line like Day One.

Final Thoughts

It is often a feeling of attachment or loneliness to wanting to get into another relationship immediately one gets out of a toxic one. Please take things easy, learn to discover yourself, and think of how the last one ended so you don’t experience the same thing. Take your time to heal completely from previous relationship hurts and pains before thinking about going into a new one.

More on How to Leave a Toxic Relationship

Featured photo credit: Max via unsplash.com

Reference

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Sylvia Smith

Sylvia is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships.

How To Resolve Relationship Conflicts without Hurting Each Other How to Leave a Toxic Relationship When You Still Love Your Partner How to Overcome Jealousy in a Relationship How to Stop Nagging And Communicate With Your Partner Better 6 Reasons Why You Should Not Give Up on Love

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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