When you Leave a Toxic Relationship, Why does it Hurt?

When you Leave a Toxic Relationship, Why does it Hurt? when you leave a toxic relationship

Leaving an abusive relationship is not an easy thing, and once you do it, you expect to feel free from the shackles of your toxic partner and even celebrate your newly-found freedom. But that’s not always the case as reality dawns on you that it’s not smooth sailing as a negative wave of emotions begins to rock your life.

It may seem rather paradoxical that it hurts to let go of the person who’s been mistreating you, but that’s how it is. On top of that, those who have left a toxic relationship often have to encounter constant judgment and criticism from those around them as they bombard them with questions like, “how can you feel bad when the relationship was toxic?

You should be celebrating” or “just move on, stop thinking about them,” or even in the extreme end they may start isolating you as they don’t understand what you’re going through. This ends up doing even more harm than good as the relationship itself made you question your sanity and distorted your sense of reality, which is then reinforced by them because they cannot understand the situation. In this article, we will closely examine why it still hurts even after you bid farewell to your tormentor.

  1. Feeling of Loss/Grief

It may feel wrong to grieve someone who treated you badly, but grieving is a normal process after leaving a toxic relationship. Just like the end of any relationship, we experience the same feelings as when we’ve lost a loved one. It’s more of psychological losses that leaving the relationship has brought about, and some of them include:

  • Loss of a relationship that could have been & future we hoped to build together
  • Loss of time invested in the relationship
  • Loss of their good traits (confidence, ambition)
  • Loss of the ‘opportunity’ for them to change (especially when they make constant promises of changing)

In short, we grieve various aspects of the relationship from what it was, what never happened, what is no more, and what it can never be. What makes this feeling even more painful is that your feelings of loss are not validated by others or even by yourself as it’s not easy to come to terms with the fact that you’re mourning the loss of someone who made your life a living hell.


2. Self-shaming

Another factor that hurts even more is the feeling that you are a mistake. After leaving a toxic relationship, some of the questions that may linger in your mind are, “how could I fall for someone like them,” or “How could I believe their lies,” or “How could I not see that coming.” Because of this, someone ends up feeling really bad about themselves and feels embarrassed to even embrace who they are.

These feelings cut deeper and may even make someone inflict more pain on themselves as they feel that they deserve it. Instead of being gentle and compassionate to themselves, they do the opposite and neglect themselves, which does more harm.


3. Loneliness

One often feels lonely when in a toxic relationship as they feel disconnected from their partner and the world. Being in a toxic relationship is more like a full-time job as you have your toxic partner as the center of your life for most of the time (both negatively & sometimes positively). In the case of a narcissistic relationship, interaction with them can be very intense and occupies a huge amount of your mental energy and focus.

Being in the relationship also isolates you from the things you love and your loved ones. And so, when you leave, there is a gaping hole in your life which amplifies the loneliness. Coupled with the fact that you kept taking care of their needs and ignoring your own needs, you are unaccustomed to having ‘me time,’ and this further leads to a feeling of emptiness. You find yourself having nothing worth focusing on, which is a painful experience.

4. You Feel Used

Toxic relationships are depleting and draining; they use up your finances, emotions, or even your physical well-being. Toxic partners may exploit your every being so as to meet their needs.

They use all the tactics like gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or smear campaigns to get what they want. It’s a place where someone keeps giving and giving without getting anything in return. Once you leave the relationship, you now start realizing that you were used, and this is such a painful thing to come to terms with.

You feel so worthless as you realize that the person you supported only saw you as an oasis for their emotional and financial needs. It’s even hard to think about the sacrifices you made to make them happy. In most cases, a toxic person even leaves someone in debt or with a ruined credit score. After doing all these, they even show no remorse or gratitude, and this hurts even more.

5. You are very low in Confidence

Being in a toxic relationship ruins someone’s sense of self because they’re constantly degraded and made to feel like they have no value at all. They’ve also been told that everything is all their fault, and this has led to a lack of confidence in their own ability.

Hence, when one leaves a toxic relationship, they do not do it with their heads held high, but instead, they feel like they have nothing to offer to the world. They’ve lost their assertiveness and the feeling that their opinions matter. This feeling of worthlessness hurts as it makes someone feel like there’s nothing worth living for in this world.

They feel that anyone can walk over them. Low confidence also leads to general dissatisfaction with life with constant self-criticism or an “I can’t do it” kind of attitude.

6. Watching out for Triggers

Another factor that hurts is the fact that someone has to look over their shoulder all the time as they dread hearing from their toxic partners or getting reminders about them. Toxic relationships are traumatizing, and someone may be easily triggered.

This means that someone will live their lives constantly looking out for triggers and wanting to avoid them. The triggers are all around us and can be certain sounds, couples arguing, smells, or even a certain place.

Living life in this state of being alert for triggers is not a pleasant experience. It may even make someone avoid some people or places simply because they cannot stand it, and this is painful.


Healing is a journey that will take you to the depths of various negative emotions. As time goes by, the emptiness you feel will be filled with everlasting joy and deep human experience. It’s good to know that these feelings are normal and valid; you’re not alone.

Being more compassionate and gentler to yourself is your best bet as you navigate these tides of painful emotions. The emotions may be so overwhelming, and that’s why it’s good to seek the support of a professional who can walk you through this journey of self-discovery.

All in all, it may seem worse than you imagined, but it will get better as you now have the space and time to heal.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns (in less than 2 months) , then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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