How To Leave An Emotionally Abusive Relationship That You *Know* Must End

If it's a toxic relationship, it's not going to get better.

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Ending an unhealthy relationship is a difficult decision that many people must make. Often, it's harder to get out of an emotionally abusive relationship than it is to get out of any other unhealthy relationship. This is particularly true when the relationship involves domestic abuse or extreme co-dependency.

Even so, ending an unhealthy relationship is more than possible and, usually, very necessary. Some unions are irreversibly broken and you have two choices — remain miserable, or walk away.


The divorce rate in the United States, hovering around the fifty percent mark, is enough for us to assume that unhealthy relationships are about as common as healthy ones. Yet, not all unhealthiness is created equal.

Abusive relationships, those that involve emotional or physical abuse, are often more common than we realize.


In fact, most statistics state that sixty percent of women have experienced abuse at some point in their present or past relationships. Men, as most of us know, can also be the victims, though typically not quite as often.

Of course, abuse isn't the only reason for ending an unhealthy relationship, it just happens to be the biggest reason. Unhealthy relationships may still need to be ended even when neither party demonstrates overt malice.

One partner being controlling of the other, one partner constantly giving while their counterpart takes, and partners who never communicate with each other (and aren't willing to learn how to) also constitute relationships that are anything but solid. Thus, they are deserving of reconsideration.

There are many reasons people choose to stay rather than end an unhealthy relationship where abuse is involved. Some people simply become apathetic while others genuinely love the person they are with, even if their partnership is tainted with harmful aspects. Yet, one of the biggest reasons people choose to stay rather than go has to do with being alone.


A 2013 study that was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that many people stay in unhealthy relationships because of the fear of loneliness.

They reason that having a partner, even less than an ideal partner or one that makes them miserable, is better than having no partner at all.

The 153 participants in the study said they refrained from ending an unhealthy relationship because of fear of not having a long-term companion, fear of spinsterhood, fear of losing their current partner, fear of growing old alone, and fear of not having children or a family.

Another aspect that keeps people from ending an unhealthy relationship has to do with the perception of self: the study where people said if they were alone, they'd feel worthless and be subject to judgments from others.


Though people may fear being alone, ending an unhealthy relationship is always the smart thing to do. Yes, you do risk loneliness, but you also open yourself up to the possibility of finding true happiness. Thus, if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship that is sinking with no signs of a life raft, take the following three steps to finally leave once and for all:

Here is how to leave an emotionally abusive relationship that you know must end:

1. Ask for help

Ending an unhealthy relationship isn't always easy to do, particularly when emotional abuse is involved. But asking for help can give you the encouragement and the support to say, “Enough is enough.”

2. Sever all ties

Perhaps the most important step in ending an unhealthy relationship has to do with cutting all the ties. This essentially means that you need to quit your partner "cold turkey": don't keep in touch, don't text, and don't drunk dial them after Friday night clubbing.

3. Get back out there

If loneliness is the biggest reason people don't end a relationship even when they should, then combating that loneliness is the antidote. So, get yourself back out there — get back in the saddle and ride!


Be open to meeting new people, going out and trying new things, and even take your coworker up on the offer to introduce you to her cousin. The faster you realize that you really aren't destined for a life of loneliness and a myriad of cats, the less likely you will be to regret your decision and return to the union that made you oh-so miserable.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong. If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or log onto

The Romance Code is a relationship coach who shows people how to navigate the ups and downs of love.