Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


How to Recover From a Toxic Relationship

Healing from a toxic relationship takes time and patience.

Key points

  • It's normal to feel out of control, having several emotions at once, after a toxic relationship.
  • Journaling, and revisiting older journal entries, can show how far one has come in their healing journey.
  • Seeking help from a mental health professional is recommended to those coping with the end of a toxic relationship in unhealthy ways.

Recovering from a toxic relationship can be a challenge, and it can take time. Here are some suggestions to guide you on your journey of healing.

Go No-Contact or Low-Contact

It's difficult to heal when a toxic person tries to hoover you back into contact with them. Block emails, phone numbers, and social media accounts. If you have children with a toxic person, you may still need to have contact with them. Contact a family law attorney to learn your and your children's rights.

Reconnect With Emotionally Healthy People

The toxic person may have isolated you from trusted friends and family. The toxic person saw them as a threat because they would most likely tell you that this was a toxic relationship. Reconnect with the emotionally healthy people in your life.

You may feel some sense of trepidation reconnecting. You may be concerned that you will be judged. It's entirely up to you if you want to discuss the toxic relationship and why you were out of touch. Sometimes a simple, "I know we haven't talked in a while, and I'd like to reconnect," is enough.

Do become aware that you may see toxic behaviors in people you haven't seen before. Practice discernment in choosing which people with whom you want to reconnect.

Forget "Closure"

You most likely will not receive an apology or any form of closure from a toxic person. Toxic people are known for not taking responsibility for their behavior. If you feel you need closure, you most likely will need to give that closure to yourself.

Consider writing an unsent letter to the toxic person. Write down everything that you would tell them if you were face-to-face. Simply writing the letter helps you process what you experienced. You can also have a "goodbye" practice for the relationship, whether shredding your unsent letter, speaking an affirmation, or sharing your experience with others.

Talk With a Mental Health Professional

When you have been through a toxic relationship, you may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. You may have issues trusting others or processing a relationship where a toxic person misrepresented themselves. Your relationship most likely involved emotional, physical, financial, psychological, or sexual abuse.

Talking about your experiences with a mental health professional (MHP) is essential. An MHP can help you process what happened and let you know it's not your fault. An MHP can also help you through any feelings of anger or disappointment towards yourself. They can also help you with the complicated feelings of grief that you may experience after a toxic relationship has ended.

Consider Volunteering

Volunteering is a way for you to reconnect with your community and work towards a common purpose. Studies have found that volunteering improves well-being and life satisfaction, and may even decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety (Stuart et al., 2020; Linning & Jackson, 2018).

It's recommended that you thoroughly research any organization you are considering volunteering with. You want to ensure the organization is healthy and supports its volunteers' well-being.

Take Your Time With Healing

You want to go easy on yourself as you work on rebuilding your life. You'll have days where you feel like things are falling right into place; you'll have days where you won't want to get out of bed. You may experience waves of grief that seem to knock you down. However, over time, and with no contact with the toxic person, those waves will get smaller. With time, you may experience sadness around anniversaries, holidays, or birthdays. But it does get better.

Give yourself time to feel your feelings. You may feel out of control—having several emotions at once can do that. You may feel sadness, grief, relief, disappointment, anger, and even joy—and that is okay. See a mental health professional if you think you are using unhealthy ways to cope, such as drinking too much or spending too much money.

Practice Journaling

When you journal, you are helping your brain process your experiences as you write. Journaling can also provide a helpful tool for making decisions and sorting out memories. You can revisit your older journal entries to see how far you've come on your healing journey. Whatever you want to write about is fine—journal without critiquing yourself.

Healing and rebuilding take time—give yourself time to heal and create a new fulfilling life.

Copyright 2022 Sarkis Media LLC

To find a therapist, please visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.


Linning, M., & Jackson, G. (2018). Volunteering, Health and Wellbeing: What does the evidence tell us? Retrieved June 28, 2022 from….

Stuart, J., Kamerāde, D., Connolly, S., Ellis, A. P., Nichols, G., & Grotz, J. (2020). The impacts of volunteering on the subjective wellbeing of volunteers: A rapid evidence assessment. What Works Centre for Wellbeing: London, UK.

More from Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today