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How To Free Yourself From A Toxic Ex

Toxic relationships can have lasting effects on both your mental and physical health. Due to the stress induced by the situation, toxic relationships can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. The constant conflict can cause a decline in mental health, increasing a person’s likelihood of developing conditions like depression and anxiety.

Sometimes, the paranoia developed from such a turbulent relationship may also make it difficult to leave. Other times, the relationship will continue to haunt you, be it due to your toxic ex-partner’s persistence or the wounds of your own trauma. Freeing yourself from such baggage might involve a number of strategies, which can cover everything from self-help, digital cleansing, psychological intervention, and legal protection.

Unfollow Their Social Media

Moving on from former partners is more complicated in the age of social media. Photos of your ex on Facebook and Instagram may continue to remind you of happier times. However, relationship experts explain that the emotional connection people feel to their partners can be partly physiological. The brain will create a separation response when away from people it has formed attachments to. This separation response creates feelings of grief, sadness, and heartache. Consequently, to train your brain to move forward, unfollow your partner from social media to reduce your exposure to them.

Protect Your Digital Data

During your relationship, you might have trusted your partner enough to share sensitive data, such as intimate photos, or account passwords. A scorned ex may use such information to cause you distress.

Protect your digital data by changing any passwords you might have shared with your partner. Give your phone additional protection by using a pin code or password. Unfortunately, when it comes to preventing intimate photos from getting leaked, you don’t have much of an option other than to request your ex to delete them. In case your photos do get leaked, check your state’s laws regarding revenge porn. You may be able to send a DMCA notice.

Seek Help From Law Enforcement

If your partner was violent or abusive, it may help to get law enforcement involved to prevent them from harming you in the future. Survivors of domestic violence or individuals experiencing threats and harassment may be qualified to file restraining orders against their former partners.

To guide you through this process, approach an enforcement officer near your location. One officer you may not have considered contacting is a forensic psychologist. These professionals often act as victim advocates, offering support and social welfare services to people victimized by crimes. Their forensic psychology background will allow them to use their knowledge of the legal and criminal justice system to help you understand your legal options. They can provide information and resources to support you through difficult legal processes. In some cases, they can even provide legal support at court hearings.

Attend Therapy or Counselling

It always helps to talk about your issues with a professional trained to handle difficult conflicts. Professionals with degrees in psychology, such as therapists and counselors, may be able to prescribe strategies that can help you navigate both your loss and any misguided beliefs you might have sustained during the course of your relationship. By talking to a therapist or counselor, you can get to know yourself better and build back some of the confidence you might have lost after the breakup.

Look at your breakup as an opportunity: separation from a toxic partner gives you space to discover new love, the kind that you give yourself. Once you let go of your toxic ex, you’re free to define your self-worth according to your own terms. 

Written exclusively for ImprovingLivesCounseling.com 

by Anne Corsair