Destructive relationships: how to end them

Destructive relationships can be emotionally draining, physically harmful, and can have long-lasting negative effects. Whether it’s a toxic friendship, a damaging romantic partnership, or a dysfunctional family dynamic, it’s essential to recognize the signs of a destructive relationship and take steps to end it. In this article, we’ll explore strategies for identifying and putting an end to destructive relationships, fostering healthy boundaries, and prioritizing self-care.


Recognizing destructive relationships

Destructive relationships come in many forms, and it’s crucial to be able to recognize the signs. Here are some common indicators of a destructive relationship:

Control and manipulation

One or both parties in the relationship may display controlling behavior, manipulate the other person’s emotions or actions, or use guilt and coercion to get their way.

Lack of trust

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. If there’s a pervasive lack of trust, constant suspicion, or betrayal, it’s a strong indicator of a destructive dynamic.

Emotional and verbal abuse

Emotional and verbal abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. Insults, belittling, intimidation, and constant criticism are all forms of emotional abuse that can erode a person’s self-esteem and well-being.


In a codependent relationship, one or both partners rely on the other for their self-worth, identity, and emotional well-being, which can lead to an unhealthy and unbalanced dynamic.

Ending destructive relationships

Once you’ve identified that you’re in a destructive relationship, it’s essential to take steps to end it. However, this can be a challenging and complex process. Here are some strategies for ending destructive relationships:

Recognize your worth

Acknowledge that you deserve to be in a healthy, positive relationship. Recognize your own value and prioritize your well-being.

Seek support

Reach out to close friends, family members, or a therapist for support and guidance. Having a strong support system can provide you with the emotional strength to end the destructive relationship.

Set boundaries

Establish clear boundaries with the other person and communicate your needs. Be firm in asserting what you will and will not tolerate in the relationship.

Communicate effectively

If it’s safe to do so, communicate openly and honestly with the other person about your decision to end the relationship. It’s important to express your feelings calmly and assertively.

Fostering healthy boundaries

After ending a destructive relationship, it’s important to prioritize healthy boundaries in your future interactions. Here are some tips for fostering healthy boundaries:

Know your limits

Identify your emotional, physical, and mental limits and communicate them to others. It’s okay to say no to people and situations that make you uncomfortable.

Practice self-care

Make self-care a priority. Engage in activities that bring you joy, relaxation, and fulfillment, whether it’s exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.

Surround yourself with positive people

Cultivate relationships with people who support and uplift you. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can help reinforce healthy boundaries.

Learn to say “no”

Don’t be afraid to decline invitations, requests, or demands that don’t align with your values or well-being. It’s essential to assert your boundaries assertively and respectfully.

Seek professional help

If you’re struggling to establish boundaries or feel overwhelmed by the aftermath of a destructive relationship, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor.

Moving forward

Ending a destructive relationship can be a pivotal step toward reclaiming your emotional well-being and personal growth. It’s important to remember that healing is a process, and it’s okay to seek support as you move forward. Take the time to reflect on the lessons learned and focus on cultivating healthy, positive relationships in the future.