10 things mentally strong people do to move on from a toxic relationship

You haven’t been happy in a very long time. So why is it so difficult to leave?

When we’ve invested so much in someone moving on is bound to be hard.

That’s one of the reasons why toxic relationships can pull you back in time and time again.

Yet you must be strong. Your future self will thank you for it.

Mentally tough people take powerful action so that they can move on from a toxic relationship.

1) They’re courageous enough to face the truth

Denial is dangerous.

It keeps us stuck in toxic situations.

We are unable to start a healing journey until we can admit the extent of the problem.

Sometimes, even when we know things aren’t right, we cling on to wishful thinking:

“Maybe it will get better.”

“We loved each other once, it can be like that again.”

“They say they will change.”

As crushing as it can be, mentally tough people are brave enough to be honest with themselves.

They accept the truth as it is…”I am in a toxic relationship.”

Reality isn’t always how we would wish it to be. But accepting it is vitally important.

Strong people then use this all-important fact as a starting point to grow from.

2) They remind themselves of their true worth

One of the many problems of being caught in toxic cycles is that it wears you down.

It strips away self-esteem and confidence so you may start to doubt your value.

Your partner may even have been manipulative and intentionally tried to strip away your sense of worth in order to have more control.

Either way, your self-belief may be at its lowest.

All too often, even in seemingly healthy relationships, people end up mistakenly looking to their other half for validation.

Mentally tough people recognize this is a trap.

The only truly reliable source comes from within.

We need self-validation in order to stay strong, back ourselves, and to be able to enforce all important conditions for people who want to be in our lives.

It’s time to tell yourself:

  • I am worth more than this
  • I deserve better
  • I am enough, exactly as I am
  • Better times are on the way for me

3) They create solid boundaries

Most of us give very little thought to our boundaries. But when they have seriously eroded it’s time to be more conscious about them.

As pointed out by Stanford University:

“Boundaries help determine what is and is not okay in a relationship– whether that be with friends, partners, co-workers, bosses, or family members. Ideally, we put them in place to protect our well-being. They help us to build trust, safety, and respect in relationships. Common boundaries include emotional, physical, sexual, intellectual, and financial; they can apply to any aspect of your life where you feel they are needed.”

You will need these clear rules, not only to prevent you from getting sucked back into your toxic relationship but also as you create more positive and healthy connections in the future.

Helpful boundaries as you move on can include:

  • Establishing a no-contact rule with your ex
  • Refusing to allow them back into your life in any way, shape or form
  • Unfollowing them (or blocking them) on social media

4) They proactively take care of themselves

At times in our lives when we are feeling most vulnerable, self-care becomes even more vital.

It’s about turning inward and discovering what you need in order to heal. It’s about giving yourself the TLC to nurture yourself at a fragile time.

This can take many forms but it is bound to involve covering the basics which will provide you strength.

Our mental health suffers when we aren’t eating properly, sleeping properly, or getting exercise.

These things may not seem significant, but they make such a difference to your mood and well-being.

Other things such as mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises can really help you to feel more grounded and calm at a time of instability.

They are scientifically proven stress busters that will support you.

But it’s important not to forget fun. Now is the time to start to inject as much joy back into your life.

It’s just important to make sure it comes from the right sources though, as we’ll see next.

5) They rediscover themselves

Part of feeling hope and excitement for life outside a toxic relationship involves getting back in touch with some of the things you may have lost.

Engaging in your hobbies and interests can help to make you feel like yourself again.

Identity is important. It helps us to feel like the autonomous people that we are.

All too often, when you’re caught up in a toxic connection, you lose sight of that. You may have abandoned certain things that once felt important as you prioritized your relationship instead.

So it’s time to rediscover what makes you who you are. Go out and do things you enjoy.

But here’s a warning:

Mentally strong people are aware that at unsettled times like this, it’s easy to go off the rails.

It may feel tempting to indulge in escapism. That may be hiding in partying, excessive drinking, or other reckless behaviors.

But these won’t build you up in the same way. Eventually the high ends and you come back down to earth with a thud.

Look to the activities that nurture you instead and help to grow your sense of independence and self-esteem.

6) They lean on others for strength 

Don’t be fooled. Mentally tough people don’t go it alone.

They are wise enough to know that there is strength in numbers.

When life is challenging, leaning on others is how we can bounce back quicker.

It’s not a burden you have to carry alone.

It can be very healing to surround yourself with positive people who love you and want the best for you. 

  • Spend time with loved ones
  • Don’t isolate yourself
  • Speak to friends and family about how you are feeling
  • Seek out therapy if you want to talk to a professional or feel like you are struggling

7) They cultivate a positive mindset to embrace an optimistic outlook for the future


It’s a powerful thing.

When it’s lost, life can feel very empty and scary.

That’s why it is your biggest ally in carving out your future.

It’s okay if you’ve lost sight of it. You can find it again. Examining your mindset is the way to do that.

A positive mindset is the secret weapon of all mentally tough people.

Their optimism for the future and their deep belief in growth provides them with much-needed resilience and motivation.

Rather than focus on the bad, a positive mindset goes actively looking for the good things in life.

Things like a gratitude practice, positive self-talk, reframing negative thoughts, and engaging in plenty of self-compassion can help you do that.

8) Rather than try to forget, they use negative experiences as an opportunity for growth

Here’s the thing:

Life is a classroom.

The experiences we have may not always be pleasant, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable.

If we don’t learn lessons, whatever we went through was all for nothing.

After negative events in our lives, it can be incredibly empowering when we consciously decide to use them as an opportunity.

It’s like taking back control and saying:

“I won’t let this beat me, I’m going to use it as fuel for growth”.

After you begin to heal, there may be things to come from your experience that need a closer look.

Journaling for self-inquiry can be a good way to dig deeper.

Perhaps your toxic relationship has shone a light on issues around co-dependence or low self-esteem. Or maybe you just want to ask some questions about how you ended up there in the first place.

Importantly, this is not about blame, guilt or shame. As we’ll see next, that does no good whatsoever.

It’s about using everything that life throws at us as a chance to become even stronger and more self-aware.

9) They don’t drag themselves down with regret and recriminations

When you’ve devoted time, energy, and love to a toxic relationship it’s understandable if you feel some resentment.

Waiting around for an apology or some sort of realization from your ex is a waste of time.

Closure is a myth. Moving on is a personal choice.

The reality is that yet another conversation with your former partner doesn’t resolve anything.

You are keeping yourself captive if you insist on certain conditions being met before you allow yourself to move on.

Mentally strong people realize that moving on is 100% an internal process. It doesn’t rely on recognition or resolution from the other person.

Emotions like shame, guilt, or regret act as an insidious poison that will eat away at you. 

10) They embrace the art of forgiveness

Here’s what a lot of people get wrong about forgiveness:

It’s not a weakness. It doesn’t turn you into a sucker who will put up with anything. It’s most certainly not about letting people back into your life again.

Quite the opposite.

It is a healing tonic that allows you to put down the burden of the negative emotions you may have been carrying around.

It doesn’t even involve anyone else. It is an internal letting go. It can help to recognize your pain but find meaning in your suffering.

One of my favorite quotes about it is:

“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”

Of course, this is a process that takes time and patience. But mentally tough people recognize that it’s about acceptance so that you can finally move on.

You can still learn lessons without having to carry around the pain and suffering.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

9 unusual signs someone is secretly attracted to you

10 things to stop doing now to be ahead of everyone else in 10 years