top of page

How to Stop Going Back to a Toxic Relationship

by Emily Somma

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

When a woman goes back to a toxic partner, no matter how others choose to judge her choices from the outside looking in, she doesn’t make that decision because she is addicted to pain. Sometimes a particularly masterful manipulator can convince a woman to give him or her another chance. Maybe they’re playing the victim, tugging on her arm, subtly saying, “It’s your job to save me.”

Some former partners will use whatever they can use—including their children—to regain lost leverage over a woman who at some point held her hand out like a stop sign and said, “Enough.” There are a myriad of circumstances and conditions that draw women back to unhealthy relationships, two of the most obvious are the loneliness she feels breaking out on her own, and the uncertainty of her future.

If you’re a woman who chose to leave a toxic partner, your healing journey may feel like wading through quicksand. Quicksand won’t pull you under, but it can stop you from moving forward. Let’s take a few minutes to figure out how you can get unstuck so that, with more lighthearted footsteps, you can begin moving forward toward a successful, healing, and toxic-person-proof future.

Related articles: Ending Toxic Relationships

Related articles: Toxic Codependency


Something abuse recovery counselors often see are women who have ended a relationship that consistently depleted them, and always left them with the short end of the deal, trying to self-comfort by romancing the past. Toxic and abusive people don’t break you down every moment of every day. Quite the opposite. When you first met your former partner, he or she may have quite literally charmed your socks off. That’s how smooth operators win you over.

They’re charming. They’re attentive. Particularly after an explosive event, you may have noticed your former partner seemed more committed to your relationship than ever, always giving you just enough to keep you in it. In the wake of the pain you endured, you may find yourself re-living memories of happier times simply because those memories are comforting. Comforting as they feel to you, as intimate partner violence expert Margo Kennedy explains, those memories are not the reality, they are an illusion.

The bad times are the reality, the honeymoon moments are just what your toxic ex did to get you and keep you exactly where they wanted you to be. If you are trying to self-soothe by romancing the past, now is the time to splash cold water on your face. Stay in the present and learn to comfort yourself in ways that won’t weaken your resolve not to go back to the relationship or end up misleading you into seeking shelter in a future relationship that looks a lot like the one you ended.

PERSONALITY IN LOCKDOWN If you feel as if your self-confidence, along with your vitality and curiosity about life, don’t seem to be there anymore, there is something you need to know: When you are in a toxic relationship, to help you get through it many of your natural qualities go into lockdown. Even if these days you can’t see them, or feel them, it’s not that your curiosity, your concentration, your creativity, and your self-confidence have gone away.

Underneath all the protective layers you put around you, they are still there. With support and education, and hard work on your part to chip and claw your way through all those protective layers, you’ll feel yourself building new roads, new connections, to those amazing qualities within you that will eventually surface.


Having made the move to get up and out of a toxic relationship, you may find that instead of making your healing journey be about you, you spend time obsessively researching words like narcissist and sociopath. In her book, Becoming Toxic Person Proof, best-selling author, and Toxic Relationship Specialist, Sarah K. Ramsey says these days there is a narcissist blow-out happening. This is not to say your ex isn’t a narcissist, but that by trying to understand the pain you endured by getting inside their heads and understanding them, you’re giving them your power.

Before you can rebuild yourself, you need to reach out and make the most of whatever resources are available to you for support and education. If you live in a city, your local women’s center may offer drop-in counseling and other services to help you on your healing journey. If you are in a rural area, there may be fewer options, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t out there.

Make your discoveries be self-discoveries. Make your healing journey be about you, and before you know it, you’ll be coming out on the other side, successful, healing, and toxic person proof.


bottom of page