How to get over your toxic ex

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Note: The following post takes a heteronormative approach to dating. I identify as pansexual, but I’m heteroromantic and have only dated men, so I can only speak to dating as a straight woman.

 Photo by  Jiwon Baeq

Photo by Jiwon Baeq

We’ve all been there. Crying in bed, tissue box half empty, trash can filled with snot and regrets, wondering how the heck you ever let someone treat you so badly, but still missing him terribly, then getting mad at yourself for missing someone who did nothing but hurt you.

Why is that dating a shitty person seems to be a rite of passage for women? And how do we move on from these toxic relationships?

Growing up, the world feeds us narratives of (heterosexual) romance as a story in which a man conquers a woman. Women are overjoyed to have men in their lives and fall for anyone that comes their way. In nearly all Disney princess movies, the princess falls into the prince’s arms, despite barely knowing him or even having just met him. (Shoutout to Jasmine tho, she a real one!)

Sure, these princes are handsome, seemingly good dudes, but are women really so desperate to be loved that we’ll marry the first guy who asks?

 Photo by  Jiwon Baeq

Photo by Jiwon Baeq

As much as I want to say no, the truth is, when it comes to toxic relationships, that’s exactly what happens. The world tears down women’s self esteem so much that we view ourselves as unworthy. We accept less than we deserve and date almost anyone that comes our way.

We’re born into a world that puts ridiculous pressure on women to be perfect. We grow up thinking that we can never be enough, that we’re unworthy, unloveable. According to the Dove Campaign, 92% of teen girls want to change something about the way they look. DoSomething.org states that “[t]een girls that have a negative view of themselves are 4 times more likely to take part in activities with boys that they've ended up regretting later.”

Sound familiar?

Of course, this is much more complex than just low self esteem. Toxic masculinity and a culture in which women are viewed as lesser than men leads men to think that it’s ok to treat women poorly. Women could easily continue to date the first person that shows interest in them, but if men didn’t treat women terribly, toxic (hetero) relationships wouldn’t exist to begin with.

 Photo by  Jiwon Baeq

Photo by Jiwon Baeq

For me, my toxic relationship involved emotional manipulation. I met him when I was low and lonely. I was so unable to think for myself and so desperate for comfort that I allowed myself to be looped into a relationship with a person I wasn’t even sure I liked. He disappointed me and hurt me often, but he also offered comfort to me at a time when I was lonely and unsure of myself. I clung to that.

I was still a stubborn bitch though, so when he wronged me, I stood up for myself. Each time, he would tell me that I needed to be less emotional, that he didn’t understand why I was upset, that I needed to view things logically. He made it so that I was in the wrong for being upset and simply overreacting. Gaslighting, anyone? At one point, he even told me he had a rule against apologizing to people. (I’m still not sure why I didn’t leave him then.)

Over time, though, he softened and even apologized. I took this as a sign of hope. He would tell me he wanted to work on us and meet in the middle of our different expectations for relationships. I agreed, happy for any effort at all.

 Photo by  Jiwon Baeq

Photo by Jiwon Baeq

Eventually, it ended. I called him out once on his lack of empathy and rather than having a conversation with me, I received a text that essentially said, “I’m done.” I texted and called him frantically, trying to figure out what was going on, before accepting that it was over.

The next morning, he reached out as always in an attempt to get back together. He didn’t even apologize. We hopped on the phone and I gave him all of one and a half sentences before cutting off his bullshit and firmly stating, “No, we’re over. Don’t ever contact me again.” and hanging up the phone. (Felt more like I was dropping the mic, though.)

The getting over him began.

 Photo by  Jiwon Baeq

Photo by Jiwon Baeq

STEP ONE. Take him off all social media and block him. Delete his number and past conversations with him on all platforms. That one song he sent you on Spotify? Delete the thread. Some people call this petty, I call it removing the opportunity for you to stalk him and for him to pop up on your feed and lead you down a black hole. He was a POS and he’s out of your life, anyway, why do you need him on Facebook and Instagram? Unless you’re still tryna be friends, in which case, we need to have a separate conversation, hunni.

STEP TWO. Listen to empowering breakup music. Not the sad kind. I’m taking about the “I’m a bad bitch who doesn’t need you anyone” kind of music. Ezi’s “DaNcing in a RoOm” is the perfect song for this. It’s all about getting over an ex and enjoying yourself. Her lyrics are all about realizing that she doesn’t need her ex and is doing just fine on her own. They’re the perfect words to remind you that you’re hot shit and you don’t need that toxicity in your life.

STEP THREE. Buy clothes and shoes that make you feel good about yourself. Feeling confident about yourself is always the perfect pick me up after a break up. Pick up a new piece of clothing or pair of shoes that you love and feel great in and remind yourself that you’re hot shit! If you’re loving on the chunky sneaker trend like myself, these Madden Girl sneaks from the latest Madden Girl collection fronted by Ezi herself (featured in all my photos for this post) will be your new best friend. I got them in blush, but they also have a bright white that you can’t go wrong with.

STEP FOUR. Reaffirm the decision to breakup, regardless of who ended it. Write out all the reasons the relationship sucked. Maybe even make a list of all the awful things he did to you. When you feel like going back to him, whip this out to remember why that’s a terrible idea. If he broke up with you and you’re feeling bitter, I hate to say it, but you just gotta get over it. Love yourself enough to realize that it really doesn’t matter and you’re better off without him anyway.

 Photo by  Jiwon Baeq

Photo by Jiwon Baeq

STEP FIVE. Write a mantra for yourself and read it several times a day. Keep it with you throughout the day. I used to keep mine on my phone. Here’s some ideas of affirmations for your mantra: “I believe and know in my core that I am worthy and I am enough. I am worthy of love, compassion, support, and happiness. I know that am loveable. I believe that I deserve to be treated kindly and with respect. I will no longer accept the bare minimum in relationships. I will no longer allow people, especially men, to walk all over me. I will stop looking for relationships and focus on myself and my personal growth. I will not get back together with that POS.”

STEP SIX. Choose yourself. Over and over and over again. Take time to focus on yourself. Whether that’s by not dating at all and instead pursuing a new passion project, or perhaps going on a few casual dates here and there to restore your faith in men (I highkey did this for a hot second), continue to put yourself first. The next time you go on a date, don’t focus so much on impressing the other person. Focus on how the other person makes you feel and how s/he treats you. Start putting yourself first and the right person will probably pop up when you least expect it.

I’ve since moved on and am dating someone who makes me the happiest bean alive, but not without some scars, some necessary healing, and some major growth. It takes time and it sucks, but moving on is possible! Have faith in yourself.

Any tips for getting over toxic exes? I’d love to hear them in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to check out Ezi and her new song and the new Madden Girl collection that she’s fronting!