A Relationship Expert's Best Tips For Leaving A Toxic Partnership

Leaving a toxic relationship is never as simple or easy as it may seem to outsiders. Particularly for those who feel that their relationship is part of their identity, or necessary for their happiness, the decision to walk away takes a lot of bravery.


In the case of abusive relationships, those patterns of behavior tend to run in cycles, so it can be extremely difficult to resist the charm that the abuser puts on when they're trying to win their victim over. But in any case, you'll need a supportive network of people to turn to and safe place to go — resources that not everyone has access to. Women, in particular, are more likely to be financially dependent on their toxic partner, and thus more likely to feel like they have no choice but to stay.

But despite the challenges, leaving a toxic relationship is possible. We spoke exclusively with relationship expert Tina Fey, founder of the popular dating and relationships blog Love Connection and author of the book "Breaking the Attachment," about how to navigate the process of leaving and getting back on your feet.


If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Create an exit plan

In an exclusive interview with Glam, Tina Fey revealed that the first step in leaving is creating an exit plan. "Develop a well-thought-out exit strategy that prioritizes your safety and well-being," she advises. "Leaving a toxic relationship requires careful planning."


Fey recommends thinking about every detail in advance, from where you'll go once you leave your relationship to how you'll get your belongings there. It's also important to make sure you understand what your legal rights are, which becomes especially important when there are children in the picture.

If the relationship is physically abusive, you may have to also plan the best time to actually leave, such as when your partner is out of town or at work. Don't leave it until then to prepare; have everything ready to go as soon as the right moment comes. Fey explains that this preparation will "minimize stress and help you stay focused on your goal."

Assess your support system

Leaving a toxic relationship may be necessary for your well-being, but the process is usually emotionally draining. It can also put your physical safety in danger if the toxic behavior escalates. Tina Fey emphasizes the importance of having a support network of "trustworthy individuals" in place "who can provide emotional support and practical assistance during this challenging time."


If possible, tell the people in your support network about your plans before you actually put them in motion. "Reach out to them and let them know about your decision to leave the toxic relationship," Fey shares exclusively with Glam. "Having a strong support system will help you stay motivated and provide a safety net as you navigate the process."

Some perpetrators of abuse may try to isolate their victims precisely so they don't have a support network to turn to. This is why it's so important to stay connected with your close friends and family even after you get into a relationship, and to be wary of romantic partners who seem determined to turn you against the people already in your life.

Document incidents

As you plan to leave a toxic loved one, you're probably looking forward to the moment where you can put the past behind you and forget the relationship ever happened. Difficult as it may be, it's important to make a note of all the toxic, dangerous, or abusive behaviors that your partner shows so you have evidence should you need to provide it in a legal or official setting.


"Keep a record of any incidents of abuse, manipulation, or threatening behavior," Tina Fey tells Glam exclusively. "Maintain a journal where you document specific incidents, dates, and any evidence you may have, such as text messages or voicemails."

Fey points out that there are organizations available "that specialize in assisting survivors of toxic relationships," so it can be helpful to identify those closest to you as you make your exit plan. You may also want to seek legal advice if you are married to a toxic partner, have financial connections with them in any way (such as sharing a house or lease), or have children with them. Similarly, legal and domestic violence services may be able to help you secure physical protection through intervention orders, crisis payments, or relocation assistance.


Focus on healing

Once you have left a toxic relationship and guaranteed your physical safety, you can begin to focus on your emotional healing. In her interview with Glam, Tina Fey explains that professional services may be of use during this part of the process, too. "After leaving a toxic relationship, prioritize your healing journey. Seek therapy or counseling to process your emotions and regain your self-esteem."


The relationship expert also tells us exclusively that it's important to explore "self-discovery and personal growth," as these crucial elements of your well-being may have been neglected during the stress of your toxic relationship. "Remember, healing takes time, but with patience and self-compassion, you will emerge stronger and ready to embrace a healthier future," Fey says.

Though it's understandable that you'll want to get on with your life as quickly as possible after leaving a toxic relationship, there's no time limit you should impose on yourself. Healing looks different for everyone.

Communicate your boundaries clearly

The reality of many ended relationships is that the ex-partners will have to engage with each other after the breakup, either to co-parent children, deal with finances, or tend to other commitments made during happier times. So it's crucial to communicate your boundaries, and as Tina Fey explains, emphasize "the need for respect and healthy interaction."


This may require a conversation where you clearly outline the toxic actions that you won't be tolerating moving forward. "Explain the specific behaviors that are no longer acceptable and the consequences for crossing those boundaries," Fey shares with Glam exclusively. "Firmly standing by your boundaries will send a strong message that you will not tolerate toxic behavior."

If you decide that your relationship is salvageable — and your physical or emotional well-being is not in immediate danger — then be sure to communicate these boundaries and expectations in the same way, highlighting the consequences of those boundaries being broken. Fey confirms that this will "establish accountability and demonstrate your commitment to your own well-being."