You know he’s trouble and you’re all too aware of how awful he makes you feel. Yet, for whatever reason, you can’t seem to leave. Maybe it’s the hope he will change and become a wonderful boyfriend. Maybe you’re scared of being single and figure that a bad man is better than no man. Maybe you’ve become used to the ups and downs and the highs and lows and find yourself needing the drama. Whatever your reasons for staying in a destructive relationship, it can feel like an addiction, can’t it?
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Many years ago, I was in an addictive relationship myself. I couldn’t get enough of his attention even though he rarely gave it. I felt I couldn’t be without his love even though he never really loved me. I couldn’t imagine life without him even though life with him was miserable. I was hooked on an illusion, strung out on a fantasy.
While it took a long time, I eventually had to face the cold, hard truth: My relationship was like a drug. While it would give me glimpses of euphoria and elation, it was poisoning my life. It was hurting me and making me sick. And so I began the painful process of removing him from my life and getting clean and sober.
How about you? Are you addicted to a destructive relationship? Are you in need of some relationship rehab? If you’re sick and tired of your relationship making you sick and tired, here are five steps to help get you on the path to recovery.
Step One: Admit you’re an addict
As with any addiction, the first step is to acknowledge you have a problem. Objectively look at your relationship – not as you want it to be but as it actually is. If you continually feel hurt, unsettled, disappointed, or fearful, you are in a bad relationship. Accept that the only person you can change is yourself and realize that now is the time to call it quits.
Step Two: Enter a period of detox
It isn’t fun, but the best way to get out of a destructive relationship is to go cold turkey. This means you end it – and end it for good. Don’t try to be “friends” with him or to keep the sexual aspect of your relationship going. That will only cause the process to take longer and be even more painful. Listen, there are going to be withdrawals. There will be moments when it’s going to hurt like crazy. Keep in mind that this pain is temporary and nothing compared to years (or a lifetime) of being in a harmful relationship.
Step Three: Find a sponsor
It’s difficult to beat an addiction – even the relationship kind – without the help and support of others. Your sponsor should be a friend or confidant who can offer encouraging advice and keep you on the path of sobriety should you want to contact your ex. She’s the one you need to call when you find yourself falling off the wagon and contemplating a relapse.
Step Four: Replace negative behaviors with positive ones
Eating well and creating a workout regimen are great ways to start bringing a little health back into your life. As is figuring out the dynamics of a positive relationship – and working to find one when you feel strong enough. Drinking and partying in an attempt to dull your pain are not. Don’t trade an unhealthy situation for one that is equally as bad.
Step Five: Begin to help other addicts
One of the greatest gifts we can give is to share our experiences, insights, and compassion with those who are hurting. As you start to heal and begin to grow stronger, offer your shoulder to a woman who is struggling through a bad relationship herself. Not only will this empower her, it will keep you on your own path of sobriety. The guy I told you about earlier? Looking back, I’ve come to realize he’s one of the main reasons why I began my career as a relationship advice writer. Horrible experiences become wonderful ones when we learn from them and use that knowledge to encourage others.