Finding Closure From A Toxic Relationship: Expert Tips

— Researched and written by Dr. Sandip Roy.

Today’s dating landscape makes it challenging to find a partner we can open our hearts to. People, and we, often carry the baggage of betrayals and heartbreaks.

Past hurts make us fear exposing our vulnerability to new people. There are worries like, “Will my simplicity be exploited?” or “Can I recover if I’m betrayed again?”

Worse, the toxic person doesn’t give closure when they break up. They want you to hang in uncertainty, and not move on to another relationship.

  • Closure or need for closure (NFC) has been defined as a desire for a definite answer to a question, instead of uncertainty, confusion, or ambiguity. In relationships, it clears any doubt about the relationship being over.
  • Psychologists call it the “need for cognitive closure” — as humans have a “need” to seek information to avoid ambiguity and find clear answers to their doubts.

Without the peace of closure, you blame yourself for the relationship not working out. And it gets harder to handle the lingering hurt, anger, and betrayal.

These feelings are complex, but experts suggest ways to achieve closure and heal from a toxic relationship.

How To Get Closure From a Toxic Relationship

After a bad relationship ends, it can be a lonely task to find closure.

Here are some helpful tips to get closure after a toxic relationship ends:

1. Admit That Your Relationship Was Toxic

Often, accepting the bitter truth sets us free. So, first, accept that the relationship was bad.

  • Then accept that they are no longer going to be there in your good times and bad times from here on. So, you have to re-design your life without those habits and that person.
  • Reflect objectively on our role in the relationship. Admit if you allowed them to lead you to some unhealthy behaviors, like smoking or using drugs.
  • Focus on your healing, and not go back to ask your ex-partner to resolve your doubt. In any case, they are not going to solve it for you.

Nonjudgmental acceptance lets you analyze what you did right and wrong without criticizing yourself, feeling sorry for yourself, or building up revenge.

Take some time to think about what went wrong.

  • What was your part in it?
  • What can you learn for the future?
  • What unhealthy things were happening?

Analyzing past mistakes shows you how to make better choices in the future.

My advice: Remind yourself that you are a victim, not a fool who keeps falling for such people.

2. Process Your Difficult Emotions Fully

You might go through too many difficult emotions all at once. It is perfectly acceptable to feel unhinged by your negative emotions.

  • You might feel overpowered by anger, shame, guilt, and sadness, but they are a natural reaction to your breakup.
  • Do not suppress them or try to push them away, as both are unhealthy ways to handle difficult emotions. You need to willingly let those feelings wash over you ᅳ it is an integral part of healing from your hurtful breakup.
  • Psychologists put it this way: “Sit with your feelings.” They mean that you must give yourself permission to experience your negative emotions. ⁤
  • As you process and understand the message of your difficult emotions, you find it easier to release them and prepare yourself for post-traumatic growth. ⁤

This tough act helps you let go of their memories and influences, pushing you on your path to healing. ⁤

3. Understand That You Deserve Better

To get closure from a toxic relationship, you need to acknowledge that you deserve someone better.

  • They were toxic, not you. You didn’t choose them for their toxicity.
  • Accept that your relationship was neither healthy nor supportive, and none of it was yours to blame.
  • One bad experience shouldn’t make you feel as if there isn’t anyone out there who is good for you.
  • Re-affirm your self-worth and stay open to a healthier, happier relationship.

You’re worthy of someone who will show you the respect and love you deserve.

4. Allow Yourself To Grieve The Loss

You’re grieving the loss of a relationship that was difficult and ended badly. Acknowledge that.

  • You will go through a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, and relief. Let these emotions happen.
  • Let yourself mourn the end of the relationship. It might be tough, but it’s an essential part of the healing process.
  • You might feel like questioning your sadness over someone who hurt you, but grief isn’t just about the person, but also about the loss of a part of you that you invested in that relationship.
  • You are grieving what the relationship brought you – feelings of being wanted, praised, loved, and even the warmth of companionship. Wistfully, you are mourning lost dreams and plans for the future.

Your grieving process is an essential step towards your closure and healing.

Just remember to remain compassionate with yourself as you navigate the stages of grief, both consciously and subconsciously.

Try writing a grief journal, making new plans for your future, and spending time with friends and family.

Read Mia Roldan’s book: Navigating Grief: A Guided Journal: Prompts and Exercises for Reflection and Healing.

5. Set Strict, Healthy Boundaries

It’s time to draw a line in the sand.

  • Once you have acknowledged you deserve better and allowed yourself to grieve, set these six boundaries with your toxic ex.
  • Rebuilding emotional health after an unhealthy relationship requires establishing boundaries to protect your personal space and peace.
  • Firm boundaries help fix your self-worth, especially if the toxic person and their enablers have hurt it.
  • Make it crystal clear to them what you will and will not accept. Stay courageous to voice a “no” without any guilt.
  • Take a resolute stand and be assertive in enforcing your boundaries.

Do not compromise on your comfort zone.

6. Seek And Lean On Your Support System

Solitude is not a prerequisite for healing. You don’t have to face this tough time alone.

A strong, empathetic support system can accelerate your recovery process.

  • Get by with a little help from those who care about you.
  • Connect with everyone available — friends, family, a support group, or a therapist.
  • Share your experiences and open up about your vulnerabilities and difficulties with your friends and family. Talking about your experience can be therapeutic.
  • People with similar experiences can give you strength and ideas on how to heal, as well as offer a compassionate ear and a supportive shoulder.

The presence, advice, and encouragement of a support group can help you rise from the gloom of that toxic relationship.

7. Commit To Self-Compassion And Self-Love

Everything will matter when you matter.

Self-compassion means being understanding, loving, and kind to yourself, the same way you’d be with someone you deeply care about, like your best friend.

It also means giving yourself a break when things don’t go right rather than beating yourself up about it.

Treat yourself with compassion when you see areas where you could have bettered the relationship.

  • If you feel shame at having overstayed in an emotionally abusive relationship, pinpoint the underlying reasons. Did you have some insecurities or deep-seated needs?
  • If you conclude that you were unfair to a loyal and loving partner, and feel guilty, first forgive yourself for not knowing better then. Consider apologizing to your ex.
  • Write down your mistakes and how you would handle similar situations differently in the future.

Seeing your flaws can make you feel guilt, shame, or regret, but these feelings are steps to your improvable self, not a morass of distress.

Emotions, even when uncomfortable, are pieces of information. They are not calls to impulsive action, but rather guides to become a better version of yourself.

  • Self-love helps you make life-positive choices that boost your emotional health, personal growth, and happiness in life. When you show yourself the love you deserve, tough times get easier to handle.
  • Self-forgiveness can be challenging, especially since we are not trained on how to forgive ourselves. The flip side— self-criticism—hinders healing and personal growth.

Forgiving yourself and your ex-partner is an inseparable part of finding closure. Not forgiving and holding grudges only prolong your pain.

If you have difficulty pardoning them, reframe forgiveness:

  • Think of forgiving as pushing them out of your mind space and moving on, not condoning their mistakes.

Beware, this process can be triggering, so do this in a supportive environment, with a professional counselor.

8. Let Go of Grudges And False Hopes

Have you heard this evocative quote from the movie “Life of Pi”:

“I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.”

This might be the toughest part — you don’t get to say goodbye to a toxic ex.

Letting go means accepting the end of the relationship. It’s releasing the false hope of getting back with them and expecting things to get perfect magically.

You have to start the process of emotional detachment from the relationship. You have to remind yourself why ending things was necessary for your well-being.

Also, you’ve to learn to forgive.

9. End All Communication With Them

Break ties with them.

Of course, this person was once a major part of your life, but going forward with their toxic influence can lead to obsession, insecurity, or prolonged pain.

  • Completely break contact with your ex. Block them on social media and emails, cut off mutual friends, and stop visiting places they are likely to frequent.
  • Delete or block their number, and remove their photos from your devices and clouds.
  • Cutting off all communication is tough if you must stay in touch (like co-parenting or sharing the same house or office). In such cases, tell them your boundaries and expectations for respectful communication.

Remember, keeping even a thin line of communication open can prevent closure. And block your recovery of psychological independence and mental health.

Get someone to check in with you every few days to see if you plan to contact your ex, and stop you from doing it.

Let yourself have some silence, as it can be a powerful tool to find your emotional balance.

10. Build A Self-Care Routine

Channel your residual emotions from a toxic breakup into positive activities.

Make self-care a daily habit. Self-care is essential, not a luxury.b Make sure you spend time enjoying yourself and explore your interests more.

  • Find things to do that help release feelings like anger or sadness. This could be running, strength training, a new creative hobby, reviving your spiritual practices, or focusing sharply on your career.
  • You will find yourself gradually shifting from staying focused on the breakup to doing things that make you happy and empowered. You will also find your streak of independence back.
  • Prioritize personal growth. Set a goal to be 1% better every week. Build a steady discipline, set new goals, and train on new skills.

Try to build some happiness habits like charity work and social volunteering.

11. Hold Yourself From Going Back

Don’t be self-critical of still having leftover feelings for your toxic ex.

  • Deep emotional attachments take time to fade away, even take months or years to vanish. It is quite normal to feel drawn to your ex, since your brain hasn’t made new connections yet.
  • As you heal from this breakup, don’t add to your distress by berating yourself for still being influenced by this person.
  • There may be moments of weakness or nostalgia when you might want to reconnect with them. Stay firm and keep your decision to stay away from that sad life during those times.

Remind yourself why you made that decision in the first place — for your own well-being.

If it seems hard, talk to a therapist.

12. Consult A Therapist: Therapy Can Help

Feeling emotionally drained after leaving a toxic relationship is normal, and it’s okay to reach out for professional help.

Therapists and counselors can provide a safe space for you to unpack your emotions, offer unbiased advice, and guide you with effective strategies to navigate your healing process.

Their expert guidance can help you establish healthier coping mechanisms for the future. Don’t hesitate to seek their counsel, especially when you feel too overwhelmed to handle it on your own.

  • Do your research. If you decide to go for therapy, take your time to research and find a therapist who specializes in relationships or trauma recovery and aligns with your needs.
  • Ask for recommendations. If you’re not sure where to start looking for a therapist, ask trusted friends or medical professionals for recommendations.
  • Be patient with yourself. Healing takes time. Allow yourself to grow at your own pace. It’s not about how quickly you can move on, it’s about the quality of your healing process.
How to Get Closure From a Toxic Relationship?

“Closure is the process of achieving a sense of completion or finality and resolving emotional distress after the end of a relationship.”

FAQs

  1. What toxic behaviors are common in American society?

    Some common toxic behaviors in American society are:

    1. Jealousy & Possessiveness. Jealousy is acceptable in small amounts, but it is a problem when it turns into possessiveness. Toxic people can get intensely jealous and suspicious, and limit the other person’s independence.

    2. Lack of Respect. A common sign of toxic relationships is frequent disrespect, obvious or subtle. They often walk over the other person’s boundaries, stifling their autonomy. They might ask them questions about their private things and invade their space without asking.

    3. Verbal and Emotional Abuse. These relationships are plagued by frequent harsh words, angry insults, or demeaning language. Toxic people can be emotionally abusive through constant criticism, humiliation, intimidation, or even threats. These erode self-esteem over time and create an unhealthy power dynamic within the relationship.

    4. Controlling Behavior. Controlling behavior may involve overtly monitoring their partner’s activities or restricting them from making independent decisions. They may isolate their partners from friends and their origin family to remove their support system against their dominating behavior.

    5. Manipulation. Toxic individuals can manipulate their partners into their way of thinking and choosing. They could even make their partner always confused and unsure of their own judgment (“gaslighting”). Their other tactics could be guilt-tripping, blame-shifting, or withholding love.

  2. What is the best takeaway from a toxic relationship?

    The best takeaway from a toxic relationship is to get out with the knowledge about how a relationship should not be done. This helps get closure.

    Strike a balanced perspective instead of shifting all blame to them:

    * Even when they were the main aggressor, you might have had some input into the bad relationship.
    * With a clear head, find out if you had any role in each turn of the relationship.
    * Ask yourself how you might have unknowingly facilitated their unhealthy behaviors or escalated tensions.

    Make time for self-assessment without blaming yourself:
    * Find out if certain of your actions might have allowed them to mistreat you or added to the relationship’s difficulties.
    * Self-examination particularly helps those who have trauma bonding withdrawal, where victims crave to go back to their abusers.
    * Assume responsibility so that you make peace with your past and grow “out” of the relationship, into a more confident and self-loving individual.

Final Words

Without fulfilling your psychological need for closure, it is hard to start fresh ones.

The way to start with the closure process, especially after a toxic relationship, is to recognize the manipulation, abuse, and long-term effects.

Talk to a therapist if you’re feeling overwhelmed after a breakup.


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