Don’t waste time being with the wrong person.
Are you wondering how to know when to break up with your toxic partner?
No one enjoys breaking up, but sometimes, figuring out how to break up with someone is important for your own happiness as well as theirs — especially if you’re in a toxic relationship.
There may be times in life where you’re dating someone with narcissistic traits, or they’re simply unhealthy for you, or you two aren’t good for each other. In instances like that, which is better: Breaking up or sticking it out?
The answer is that breakups can be healthy for you, and when you’re stuck in a relationship with someone who doesn’t love you or isn’t right for you, you can hurt yourself by choosing to stay.
About a year ago, I had a conversation with a 70-year-old man who was dating my 50-year-old friend. He’d been married and divorced twice, fathered children, and had a successful career in the entertainment industry.
He lived, partied, and was on his way to living a quiet life where he and my friend took a few trips a year.
Our conversation was focused around relationships and he said something to me that hit like a load of bricks: “You can waste time being with the wrong person.”
All of a sudden, I realized how futile trying to “make it work” is. When it’s time to “make it work” it’s actually time to get out.
That being said, the discernment it requires to choose to persevere or to terminate the relationship is a rarity among the parties involved. That is to say, your attachments cloud your judgment.
So, here are 7 reasons why it’s best to put a bad relationship in the rear-view-mirror and figure our how to survive a breakup:
1. In order to put a stop to narcissistic abuse
To put a stop to something, you have to know what it is. In fact, a powerful mindfulness technique is “naming” thoughts or feelings as they come up. Once something is named, it shifts the relationship you have to it.
A narcissist is someone who lacks empathy; in fact, they fake it. The part of their neurobiology that cues them into how others feel has been damaged, most likely from years of abuse and a shaming parent or one who abandoned the family.
Narcissists are often charming and lure in their victims through something called “love bombing” or “idealization.” They’re everything the victim sees as romantic and fulfilling, but it’s a ploy.
What’s actually going on is the narcissist is feeding off their victim’s energy. The void of insecurity that lives within the narcissist can never be filled — especially by a codependent person just trying to “love them into changing.”
Once the narcissist feels like they have their victim hooked, the insults begin. They’re subtle at first, and chip away at the very hurts that felt like they were being soothed during the idealization phase.
These insults are often dismissed as “He’s having a bad day.”
Narcissists don’t have real friends. They have people that either put up with them, mostly in a business setting, a string of “crazy exes,” and delusions of grandeur.
The allure of a narcissist is how they make you feel special and in doing so, separate you from friends and family. Then you begin to depend on them like an asthmatic on an inhaler.
Soon, they begin lying, stepping out, cheating, hiding information, and making you feel crazy for having feelings other than viewing them as gods.
Women can go into deep depressions trying to keep these relationships alive. And when they look back, there were sweet moments. However, if they look deeper, the narcissist didn’t orchestrate those moments, they just feigned participation. This gave them a feeling of deep connection.
So, by the time you wake up to the toxic abuse, is the time you’re discarded. When it gets to this point, you’re a wreck and moreover, the narcissist can call the victim crazy to whoever they move onto next.
Since you’re a wreck, being called crazy often applies when what’s really happening is you’re trying to compile the scraps of your sanity that were removed over the course of the relationship.
Hence, breakup without hesitation with anyone who insults you. Don’t try to fix them, get them to see your point of view, or get them to read articles on “how to have a healthy relationship.”
If anyone, even jokingly, calls you fat, stupid, old, or says something to the effect of, “I’m the only one who would put up with you,” get out and never look back! It will save your life!
2. It can salvage the good years of your life
Okay, so you thought you got a great partner, but as time passes, you realize they’re a vapid human being or that you have no shared interests or anything in common or they’re completely self-absorbed. Run!
I mean, hardly anyone goes into the process of finding your soulmate with the expectation it will ruin your lives. But looking at anyone as a soulmate is a set up to ruin your life.
Humans are flawed. Spending any amount of time trying to get another person to look at their flaws will suck the good years of your life.
Humans are selfish. Not only that, you’re told being selfish is good with phrases like, “Love yourself first.”
Well, real love is a giving economy. Two people who love each other give to each other and work as a team. However, most people treat other people like a delivery service — Give me what I ordered and then don’t bother me with your demands.
I define the good years of your life as the ones where you have peace of mind. That means you can trust the person you’re with and they trust you in return. It works.
However, if there is no trust, no love, no shared happiness, don’t bother trying to gain it back. Breakup and do the work where you can trust yourself enough to never be with a lying jerk again.
3. You can break old habits that led you to bad decisions
People often do exactly what their parents did in their relationship. So, a breakup doesn’t mean that you abandon your legacy.
It means you become more mindful about what parts you replicate and what parts you heal.
A lot of people actually duplicate your parents’ patterns as a means of never really growing up and taking responsibility for your own life. You stay perpetually adolescent.
There isn’t much benefit in growing up if it means being the one who pays the bills by working a job that sucks. No one wants that.
However, when you begin to invest your time in learning who you are and what makes you come alive, you gain emotional intelligence (EQ).
People with EQ are actually happier because they make wiser choices that benefit themselves and the collective more often.
So, if you find yourself stuck in an old family pattern, mimicking the same problems your parents had, breaking up can be the very thing that cleans up that pattern and helps you to look at how to repair it for good so that your next relationship can begin in good health.
4. You can let go of someone who’ll never change
People can be stupid. That means they refuse to be open minded and evolve their beliefs. Instead, they function with a very limited awareness and multiple blind spots.
Being indoctrinated happens to well-meaning folks every day. You wouldn’t believe how many “self help” cults there are. I’m not saying everyone has to be enlightened to be in a relationship.
However, if you are dating someone and hope they will wake up and change one day, just break up with them. What are you doing staying with them other than moonlighting as their guru? Stop.
Let them have their life and pray to God that they cause no harm to themselves or others with their ignorance.
Then give them a pamphlet on the Eightfold Buddhist path and maybe stay friends on Instagram, but don’t date them hoping they’ll become someone else.
5. You can change and better yourself and your circumstances
You’ll need many mentors in your life who are rooted in truth in order to better yourself. The people you breakup up with or who dump you can be teachers along the way. They can also be crutches while you get through your own healing. So this is where mercy applies to breakup.
You need grace and mercy to become a better version of yourself. The version that doesn’t identify with your wounds, but who exists in your worth. You could be a victim of existence, or you can become the co-creator of your reality.
Breakups are tools to learn what you need and what you don’t. They also create space for true pathways of transformation.
6. Breaking up can teach children to get through loss
A lot of people stay together “for the kids.” At times this is noble and necessary. However, loss is a part of life.
So, when it comes time to leave a spouse and there has to be shared custody, rather than let bitterness take over, it can be a time to demonstrate true courage so that the kids understand how to weather loss.
This is a great gift to give them as they will use it through their whole life.
7. You’ll have the opportunity to invest time in your own growth
As my friend said, “You can waste time.” So, taking time to see how you are spending it can make a huge difference in the quality of your existence. Simply, an unexamined life is not worth living.
Again, very few people aim for the destruction of your beliefs as a goal of getting into a romantic relationship. However, that is what’s going to happen. You’ll be forced to look at yourself, and if you’re not willing to do that, then it’s best to be single.
Real relationships are spiritual journeys, so it’s okay to try and fail. Then fail and learn. And know that when done for the right reasons, breakups can save lives.
Rebekah Freedom is a spiritual advisor & breakup specialist who holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. She divides her time between living in Colorado and California.