Dating after a Toxic Relationship in 2022: Things to Know
We all can recall the gut-wrecking feeling of wanting to get back in the dating scene, but the experience of the previous toxic relationship still haunts you. It might have taken you months, perhaps years to rebuild yourself and regain that sense of self-worth that you lost by dating a toxic partner.
So, now you ask yourself, is it worth it to go through another relationship drama? Though dating can be daunting and tricky, it has its beautiful moments as well. And to ensure you don’t miss out on landing a healthy relationship, we’ve compiled all the information you need to start dating after your previous toxic relationship.
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Table of Contents
- Things to Know When You’re Dating After a Toxic Relationship
- 14 Types Of Toxic Behavior
- 6 Ways To Break Toxic Habits When Dating after a Toxic Relationship
- When Should You Start Dating Again?
- Can You Fix a Toxic Relationship?
- 4 Indicators you might be able to work things out with your former partner
- Wrap Up
Things to Know When You’re Dating After a Toxic Relationship
Here we’ll take you through the definition of a toxic relationship so that you can identify one and run for the hills in case your next one bears any red flags.
Did you know that a toxic relationship varies from an abusive one? We’ve highlighted their distinctions below. We’ll also take you through what to expect in your next relationship.
What Is a Toxic Relationship?
A toxic relationship is an unhealthy relationship that revolves around drama, arguments, and disappointments. A couple in a toxic relationship is seldom happy and seems dissatisfied with each other and the relationship.
The levels of toxicity in a relationship can vary, so there are no specific criteria for categorizing toxic couples. But generally, a couple that rarely shares beautiful moments is toxic and better off without each other.
Toxic Relationships VS Abusive Relationships
While a toxic relationship can heavily take a toll on your emotional well-being, you’re not at risk of physical harm inflicted by your partner. An abusive relationship on the other hand exposes you to physical as well as mental and verbal abuse.
Sometimes the toxic partner can take control of your finances, ensuring you remain helpless and hopeless. So, though toxic relationships are unhealthy, they don’t breach that safety risk that abusive relationships expose one to. Anyone who doesn’t make you happy no matter what should be uprooted from your life.
Another distinction between toxic relationships and abusive relationships is in the former case, both partners are usually to blame for the damage whereby in the latter, it’s mostly one partner that inflicts harm on the other.
5 Things On What To Expect When Dating After a Toxic Relationship
Though dating can be fun, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’ve been through an unhealthy relationship. Remember that you were also a perpetrator in the previous toxic relationship and not majorly a victim.
So, first and foremost, before diving back into the dating pool, you should evaluate yourself to point out all the toxic qualities adopted from your ex. Equally important, work through self-esteem issues before dating someone else so that you don’t carry your past relationship baggage into your new one.
Below is a simple checklist on what to expect when dating after a toxic relationship. It’s our free dose of vaccine to you to help uncover surprising emotions and habits that might have passed you the first time around. Toxic partners can change our outlook on relationships, sometimes negatively. But the fact that you’re here seeking help on how to navigate the experience must mean that all hope is not lost.
Here’s what you’re going to go through when dating after a toxic relationship.
1. You’ll be Cautious and Picky
You feel like your ex didn’t deserve all your time and devotion. Perhaps you jumped into the relationship without getting to know them that well. And because you don’t want to repeat the same mistake, you’ve become increasingly picky and cautious with who gets your attention.
It’s completely normal, so don’t fret. You do deserve the best and so it’s very much okay to set standards to weed out the undeserving. Just stick to the qualities you desire in your next partner, and you’ll eventually get a suitable one, even if it takes some digging.
2. Trust doesn’t Come Easily Anymore
You trusted your previous loves and they crushed you. Some don’t even apologize for what they did, which makes you more closed off to the word ‘TRUST.’
Now that you’re ready to date again, you find it hard to let your guard down and be vulnerable. It’s wholly understandable. But when you find someone worthy of your attention, don’t be afraid to open your heart to them, even just a little bit.
3. You’ll Miss the Drama
You might not admit it, but if your past toxic relationship was driven by constant drama, chances are you’ll crave that adrenaline rush. Relationship dramas can be addictive, in case you didn’t know.
And now that you’re alone, peace may seem like boredom, but it’s quite the opposite. Embrace the tranquil life you now have and seek that in your next healthy relationships.
4. Your Self-worth is Lower
As someone who has struggled with lower self-worth from a toxic relationship, I encourage you that it’s quite normal, and the feeling passes eventually. It all depends on what you do when doubting yourself.
You don’t feel lovable enough, maybe it’s your looks or personality. Either way, your mind keeps telling you that there must be something wrong with you, that’s why your ex treated you the way they did.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Associate with people i.e. friends and family who appreciate your value and will make you feel good about yourself. You’ll perk up soon enough!
5. You’ll Seem Edgy
Being in a relationship where arguments and fights are the order of the day can really take a toll on your perspective. You’re always overthinking and looking for non-existent telltale signs of wrangles.
Maybe passive aggressiveness played a number on the way your brain works, and you can’t stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Don’t think too hard. Relax and try to evaluate things at face value.
14 Types Of Toxic Behavior
This one isn’t just to help you spot toxic traits in your partner but in you as well. Remember that you are also partly to blame for the toxic relationship, but in a situation where you’re unhappy, it’s easier to see the bad in your partner and not yourself.
So, as we go through the types of toxic behavior, we implore you to assess yourself and see if you fall under any of the criteria. This is to help you be the best version of yourself.
Holding on to something your partner did a couple of years ago isn’t healthy and is a surefire sign of toxic behavior in a relationship. If your partner did you wrong, you should be able to talk about it, let them apologize, and let it go. Don’t bring it up the next time you two disagree or use it as leverage to win the argument.
Bottom line; always trust your partner to listen to your grievances and concerns rather than letting them fester.
2. Unavailability of Support
A huge sign of toxic behavior in a relationship is feeling like you’re competing. A happy healthy relationship is based on mutual support where both parties want the best for each other.
But things begin to take a downward spiral when every achievement in one partner is a cringe-worthy moment for the other. One partner begins to feel underappreciated with the impression that their needs and interests don’t matter. Watch out for this!
While it’s perfectly normal to be a little envious of your partner from time to time, if your jealousy keeps you from wishing them well, that’s a huge red flag of toxic behavior.
Also, always being suspicious of your partner can lead to mistrust, which is unhealthy and can degrade your relationship.
4. Constant Tension
If you find yourself always on edge, even when there’s nothing to be worried about, it’s an indicator that something’s off. Ordinary life stressors such as the death of a loved one or illness can cause tension, but facing stress with no catalyst insight can impede your psychological health, which in turn affects how you relate with your partner.
If you find yourself in constant stress, I advise you to consult a psychologist before it erodes your mental and physical health any further.
5. Constant Disrespect
Respect is one of the main things people expect in every relationship. So, lack of respect is a red flag and a type of toxic behavior. Studies show that men value respect more than love in a relationship as opposed to women who place love above all else. Thus, intentional disrespect can significantly bruise his manliness, which in turn affects how he treats you as a woman.
6. Unhealthy Communication
A healthy relationship involves communicating with kindness and mutual respect. But if your conversations are hostile and filled with criticism, sarcasm and mockery, it’s an indicator of toxic behavior.
Sometimes unhealthy communication could be in the form of non-verbal cues like passive-aggressiveness or avoiding communication altogether, just to escape the inevitable fights.
7. Treading on Eggshells
You’ve had enough of the fights that never seem to end. So, you begin to keep issues to yourself. You always seem to watch what you are doing when your partner is around to avoid provoking tension. Always being on your guide is exhausting and can start to impact your mental well-being.
There are many angles to look at this trait. Perhaps your partner is simply a dishonest person who never comes clean about their whereabouts. Then there’s the aspect of lying to your partner for the fear of raging insecurity and suspicion.
You might have not done anything wrong. You just went to hang out with your friends, but you have to come up with a lie because you’re afraid of how they’ll react to the truth. Either way, dishonesty is toxic behavior and shouldn’t be justified. Your partner should be able to trust you to be loyal to them. If not, then you’re better off with someone else who can.
9. Dictatorial Behaviors
Does your partner always keep tabs on you? Do they text and call you a hundred times every day to know where you are and what you are doing and often snap when you don’t answer immediately? Perhaps they even sneak into your phone when they get the slightest chance.
These are all toxic traits of a person who wants to control your every move, and they often stem from mistrust or excessive jealousy.
10. Lack of Self Care
One of the toxic behaviors in a relationship is letting yourself go. You don’t pay attention to basic self-care habits like taking a shower and oral hygiene.
You might even stop pursuing your hobbies and favorite pastime activities either because your partner doesn’t approve of them or because you lack the energy for them.
11. Counteractive Financial Behavior
If you have a joint financial account with your partner, you should be able to agree on how you’ll save and spend the money. It can be toxic if your partner intentionally counteracts the agreement to spend the money on purchasing unnecessary items or withdrawing large sums without consulting the other.
Sometimes it’s easier for each partner to stick to their own financial accounts unless they have a joint business.
12. Lost Personal Relationships
In any relationship, it’s always good to remember and spend time with your family and friends. But if you are forced to give up on your personal relationships to avoid conflicts with your partner, that’s a red flag of a toxic relationship.
Alternatively, you might find yourself too preoccupied with your partner to keep up with your other relationships. This is equally unhealthy and needs to be controlled.
13. Disregarding your Needs
Another toxic behavior to watch out for is foregoing your needs for the sake of your partner. You simply go along with whatever they want to do, even when you don’t agree with it. So, they want to take you out at the same time your favorite show comes on Friday night. You never miss that show, but because you don’t want to upset your partner or start an argument, you go along and say, “Great, can’t wait.” Red flag!
Always speak your mind to have your needs met in a relationship, no matter how small they may seem.
14. Wishing for Change
You’ve prayed and hoped for change. You’ve fought for change and years later, you’re still waiting for change. Maybe you’ve stayed in a toxic relationship for the sake of your kids or because of the fun you had in the budding stage. You’ve tried to change yourself so that they’ll notice and hopefully change as well.
After months or years of no change, it’s important to ask yourself whether it’s still worth withstanding or taking French leave.
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6 Ways To Break Toxic Habits When Dating after a Toxic Relationship
Here are a few tips on how to break even in your next relationship to avoid accidental toxicity.
1. Don’t Ever Let Your Partner Make You Feel Bad About Yourself
No one, especially a new partner or a first date, is allowed to make you feel inferior. Don’t ever entertain someone who makes you doubt your self-worth.
2. Let Go of Any Bitterness
You must let go of all past relationship grudges to open yourself up to new dating experiences. That’s why it’s very important to allow yourself time to heal before embarking on a new relationship.
Additionally, never use someone to try to get over an ex. It rarely ends well.
3. Focus on Healthy Communication
Lack of communication or passive-aggressiveness is a breeding ground for toxic relationships. If your new partner wrongs you in some way, don’t keep it to yourself. Just be honest and open with them about your feelings.
4. Don’t Get Mixed up With Their Personal Drama
Things get sticky fast if you get involved in your new partner’s personal business. It’s best to stay out of anything that doesn’t concern you, particularly their past relationships, baby mama or baby daddy drama, or work issues.
5. Don’t Ignore That Red Flag
If you’re looking to date long-term, you should never ignore or justify the red flags when you see them. If you find yourself saying, “He or she is perfect except for this little thing,” you might want to ensure that the thing is an actual deal-breaker.
I’m sure you know these deal breakers by now…. Varying morals or religion, not wanting kids while you do, perhaps someone who doesn’t want to marry. What might not seem important as you start dating could get you heartbroken if you keep hoping those disparities will melt away.
6. Never Make Assumptions
Better to be a curious cat than to make assumptions when dating. Ask anything and everything that pops into your brain. Breaking the assumptions habit is about being curious about the person you’re in a relationship with. Ask everything, assume nothing.
When Should You Start Dating Again?
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you want to get over someone, you have to get underneath someone else.” It sounds appealing, right? But is that really healthy? Absolutely not.
Finding a rebound is a popular quick fix many people use to get over a toxic relationship. The urge to dress up and wow the world as you dive into the crazy world of casual sex and one-night stands is crazy.
But the best way to heal from a toxic relationship is to take time for yourself. Toxic relationships are daunting and leave you feeling burnt out so, it’s entirely fine to be a little selfish as you pick yourself up. Therefore, coming to the question of when should you start dating again, no one can dictate to you when to start.
As long as you’re not jumping into a new relationship the next day after a break-up, you alone can determine when to start dating again. Just make sure when you do, it’ll be for the right reasons and not because your friends set you up on a date to get over your ex.
Can You Fix a Toxic Relationship?
You broke up with your toxic partner. You now realize that you shoulder part of the blame for the relationship failure and wonder if it’s possible to salvage the relationship before moving on completely.
The answer is yes. Not all toxic relationships are doomed. As long as both partners are willing to change, a toxic relationship can be turned into a healthy one.
4 Indicators you might be able to work things out with your former partner
1. Taking Accountability
Recognizing past toxic behaviors that choked the relationship is important for both parties. From jealousy to insecurities to passive-aggressiveness to lack of support you name it. Lay it all on the table and own up to your past mistakes.
2. Focus on Understanding Not Blaming
Your conversations should be about understanding why your partner did what they did rather than shifting blame and pointing fingers. Instead of saying, “It’s your fault for doing XYZ”, try saying, “I think we misunderstood each other. How can we work on it together?”
3. Willingness to Contribute
It’s a good sign if both you and your partner are willing to invest in enhancing your relationship. This may manifest by increasing interest in communication, openness, and spending quality time with each other.
4. Accepting Outside Help
Sometimes, you might need a helping hand to work through some issues, either individually or as a couple. Seeking help to address recurring relationship issues is a good step toward fixing a toxic relationship.
Sometimes you can’t pinpoint everything contributing to the toxicity from within, and that’s where relationship counselors come in because they can offer unbiased support. They can also advise on new ways of addressing conflict, making it easier to break free from consistent toxic patterns.
Toxic relationships can really take a toll on how we look at things, including our outlook on future relationships. Diving back into the dating pool after going through a toxic relationship can be scary for anyone, especially if you’ve been in a string of toxic ones.
If you’re trying to pull yourself up and give love another shot, we’ve equipped you with all you need to get started. Remember, self-love comes first before anything. Before you trust someone else with your heart, you must first trust that you’re worthy of love, to begin with. In no time, you’ll find yourself a happy positive relationship you can grow in.
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Author: Ruth Jesse
Ruth is a life coach who specialises in finance, relationships and career development. Outside work, she loves writing novels and guides for personal development.