Letting Go > Healing Broken Hearts > How to Break Your Addiction to a Toxic Relationship

How to Break Your Addiction to a Toxic Relationship

The book Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love explains why romantic relationships are addictive. Here, you’ll learn how to break your addiction to a toxic relationship. The first and most important step is to understand how love affects your brain chemistry.

“When you fall in love, it sets your limbic system ablaze,” writes Dr Lisa Marie Bobby in Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex. “You go through a process that essentially addicts you to another person on a primal level, in parts of your brain that are much deeper and older than your neocortex. This isn’t your fault and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you. This is what you were built to do. But its’ why you feel so powerless to control the feelings you have for your ex.”

Breaking your addiction to a toxic relationship is crucial to moving forward with your life. And, your willpower alone won’t heal your broken heart — or rewire your brain so you fall “out of love”! You need to understand what’s happening in your brain and body. Then, you’ll find it much easier to cope with the feeling that you’re addicted to your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband.

My favorite ebook is When You Miss Him Like Crazy. Read it, and you’ll learn not only why it’s hard to break an addiction to a toxic relationship – and how to heal. And, you’ll see yourself in those stories. If you’re struggling to break your addiction to a toxic ex, you’ll find support and understanding here. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

3 Tips for Breaking Your Addiction to a Toxic Ex

“Love is a biologically rooted experience that exists beyond the influence of consciousness and outside of the direct control of your neocortex,” writes Bobby in Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex. “It is not verbal. The commands love issues from the irrational, primitive, and dark nooks and crannies of your brain can possess you entirely, without your permission or intention. Love has a life of its own. Love is a drive.”

1. Be aware of the power of addiction

Love is a powerful “drug” that affects your brain in deep, primal ways. You literally feel addicted to someone you love — especially if you can’t be with him. And, you know how difficult it is to break an addiction to anything (smoking, drinking, shopping, gambling, eating) — why would breaking an addiction to an ex love relationship be any different?

How to Break Your Addiction to a Toxic RelationshipThink of all the support that is needed to break an addiction to eating, gambling, or drugs. Support groups, counseling, in-patient programs, certain types of food (eg, Nicorette gum to help people quit smoking), and even prescription medications are used to break addictions. That’s because addiction is powerful. It’s important to realize that falling in love, breaking up, and healing your broken heart — toxic relationship or not — is similar to breaking an addiction to any type of substance.

It’s painful and difficult to break your addiction to a toxic relationship because that person has literally changed your brain chemistry. Getting through a breakup when you’re still in love is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.

But wait, there’s good news! Just because you feel addicted to your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband right now doesn’t mean you’ll always feel this way. Take heart, have hope! Maybe even dig into your faith and belief in God. That’s the love that conquers all.

2. Learn how love affects your brain

“Because love is so vital to every aspect of our reproductive success, we have love-inducing machinery hard-wired into our brains,” writes Bobby in Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex. “In fact there are old, deep, and specific structures and neural systems in our brains that are built for this very purpose, ready and waiting to flare into action…and when the light of romantic love begins to glow, it is very difficult to turn off.”

Understanding what’s happening in your brain chemistry after a breakup — even if you don’t feel addicted to a toxic love relationship — will help you heal. When you get a glimpse of the underlying biological processes, you’ll see that your feelings are a symptom. You feel addicted to your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband because your hormones are adjusting to the withdrawal of that person. You’re struggling to break your addiction because you wanted more than a relationship: you wanted security, comfort, and long-term love.

Even if you’re not recovering from a toxic breakup or relationship, you’re still grieving a very painful experience. Learning how love is addictive — how it affects your brain chemistry and wiring — will help you move on. You’ll feel more in control and empowered. You’ll understand what’s happening in your body, which will reassure that you’re normal. And that this, too, will pass.

3. Learn how to stop being consumed by love

This third tip on how to break your addiction to a toxic love relationship isn’t in Bobby’s book. It’s from my research and experience with healing your heart without relationship closure.

I’ve learned that when we pin all our hopes and dreams on one thing: a person, relationship, possession, job or child, we’ll be destroyed. That person or thing can’t hold up under the weight of all our hopes and dreams! We can’t make one person, relationship, or thing the center of our lives. They’ll fail us in some way — even if they’re a good person, even if they love us and would never do anything to hurt us. They simply can’t be everything to us.

Have you made a man or relationship the center of your life?

Don’t put that pressure on him, because nobody can bear the burden of being your “everything.” It’s not humanly possible for him to be everything to you, and it’s not fair to expect that from any person, relationship, or thing. This isn’t even about struggling to break an addiction to a toxic relationship. It’s about being a whole, healthy, smart woman whose life isn’t just about a relationship.

Your comments are welcome below! Are you consumed by a breakup, or struggling with addictive thoughts about a toxic relationship? Are you devastated by your ex-boyfriend or ex-husband’s betrayal or departure? Writing about your feelings and experience may help you move forward in your life.

How to Break Your Addiction to a Toxic RelationshipRead Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex to learn more about the addictive effect of love after a breakup. Dr Lisa Marie Bobby does an excellent job of explaining the biological process of a brain in love. This insight will help you heal after breaking up with someone you love — even if it wasn’t a toxic relationship.

You’ll also find How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets and Practical Tips for Healing Your Heart After a Breakup helpful. I collected different types of tips for moving on, to help women of all ages and life stages heal after a breakup.

May you find hope and healing for your broken heart. May you listen to the still small voice of God, who is calling you to look upwards and outwards to Him. He is waiting — and He has the answers and peace you’re searching for. Jesus is the only truth that will set your heart free, the only source of love and joy that will lift your spirits.

Take time to hear God’s voice. Spend quiet time alone, searching your soul and listening for the Roar of Something Greater. You’ll find Jesus there, and you’ll never be the same.


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955 thoughts on “How to Break Your Addiction to a Toxic Relationship”

  1. Thank you for sharing your devotional prayer, Lois – it’s beautiful! And, it’s a wonderful way to close off the comments on this post.

    As I mentioned a few days ago, this page is loading slower because of all the comments. I’ll turn off the comments here; feel free to come over to
    How to Protect Yourself From Being Used in a Relationship
    to continue your conversations.


  2. This is my devotional prayer for the day:

    Dear God,
    Thank you for your great love and blessing over our lives. Thank you that your favor has no end, but it lasts for our entire lifetime. Forgive us for sometimes forgetting that you are intimately acquainted with all of our ways, that you know what concerns us, and you cover us as with a shield. We ask that we would walk in your blessing and goodness today. That your face would shine on us. That you would open the right doors for our lives and for our loved ones, that you would close the wrong doors and protect us from those we need to walk away from. Establish the work of our hands and bring to fulfillment all that you have given us to do in these days. We pray that you would make our way purposeful and our footsteps firm out of your goodness and love. Give us a heart of wisdom to hear your voice, and make us strong by your huge favor and grace.
    In Jesus’ Name,

  3. Well, here I am at day 2…hoping it is better than yesterday. The bright side, I made it through yesterday and will again today, and tomorrow and the next day. That’s just it…I will do it!

  4. Hello everyone, I was in the middle of my sons performance (he is an artist too) yesterday and I saw my exMM trying to call me. I saw his number. I thought I had blocked him? I checked and yes he was blocked but I saw his number come up on my screen anyhow. I braced. Hours later he got though by using another number. We talked for awhile. He wanted to tell me he is going to be “doing something” “soon” about his marriage. That he can not take it anymore and he has to “do something”. “Soon.” He is very unhappy, but there were no concretes. No time tables. And little to no info about the nature of the problem (but usually it is that she does not want “him.” She is not into sex much. (Supposedly). I listened. And he never mentioned “us” once. It was like we had no history together.
    What came out of my mouth was involuntary. I said, “Take your time!” “Don’t rush in an important decision like this one!” I do not where these words came from but they were self protective. Arguing is maybe what he was looking for but I am beyond arguments. I did not want to encourage him in this plan fact. Which is why I said “take your time”. But I did not know I was strong enough to do this. Until I said these words. Then I knew I am healing! Honestly I wondered why he had called me to say this. For pity? Or to test me? Certainly not because he had no plans for “us.”

    No matter. I got off the phone and tried practicing my mantra. It sort of worked. I tried to lose myself in TV and that sort of worked too. Then I tried to sleep. That was not so easy but I did get in a few hours.

    Today things got even weirder. I ran into him on the street face to face. He seemed to want to avoid me completely. There was no spark whatsoever in this man’s eyes and he looked beaten down and depressed. Kind of slumped over. The “nobody home” look. And I realized something new: I do not feel much of ANYTHING towards him in this moment! Pity? Just a droplet not my rain forest. I feel no spark no attraction to this vacant person and I felt nothing back from him either. Narcs are known for their ice cold anger. They get so angry they become icy. Maybe that’s it. He is in a silent rage? I thought he would have looked at me a little warmly as we had just discussed such a major life topic last might but NOPE. WTF?? Then it hit me.

    He is also having a hard time with this break up. And he has no idea how to handle his emotions. But he is also still trying to play me, using underhanded methods. The thought came into my mind that I was supposed to invite him over (in his mind) since after all, he had tracked me down (that took effort) and told me he was “leaving”? I was maybe supposed to fall into his emotionally controlling trap once more (in his mind)? Anyhow I didn’t.

    So either he is angry at her or me or both. Probably both. But I am thankfully not married to him. I can walk away. He can not control me unless I let him. And I am done giving him the emotional power I used to give him. A giant weight lifted from my body thinking about how disingenuous his behavior would be if true (and it sure looks true today at least). No? A giant weight of relief knowing I did the right thing by leaving him. That this man would do me no good in my life only harm. I am kind of sad to say and to realize the truth about him. But more strongly I feel more like I dodged a major bullet than anything else. I escaped a Narc! I protected ME! And he know this at last: that I respect ME!
    BTW Felk I saw where you asked if I was perhaps ready to date now? At this moment I can only say Hell No! Getting out of this affair is all I can manage right now. One day at a time.
    Hugs Lara xxx000

  5. MM replied to my email and thanked me for sending it. He said he would honor my request for space and agreed that space was probably for the best. I did not respond and do not plan it. It is really hard.

    1. Whew, the work day is over and have to say it was difficult especially after he replied to the email. In his message, he said thought about responding a few times but did not. I do not know what to think; why did he even respond…he never has in the past. I did not want him to respond only to leave me alone. It’s like he wanted a response from me whether it was thank you, or whatever. I really do not and honestly tired of trying to figure him out. He was to be the moodiest man that has ever walked the face of this earth. I get aggravated because all of the signs are on the wall. It is not just me that sees he is a phony…but yet, I find myself addicted to him. I just keep re-reading posts and reminding myself it is only part of the vicious cycle. Even if tomorrow, he would change his mind…it is only a matter of time and right back to where I am now…so why keep torturing myself. Why let him treat me so poorly? I am good person and have been very understanding about our situation. I was content being on the side and not asking anything…not gifts, hotel rooms, dinners…nothing just for him to be with me is all that I asked and he could not even do that. I questioned his mood several weeks ago, it’s wrong to keep stringing me along so he had time to figure out he wanted to end things again. He knew because I felt it which is it was questioned. I cannot and will not allow him to hurt me anymore…it’s just easier said than done especially when you work together. My heart is broken, my feelings are hurt but most of all I am mad that he says he did not know I had deep feelings for him. I went through our emails and chats over the past year. He knew because I repeatedly have told him so…why distort the truth. Is it to make himself feel better by making me feel like I am crazy for thinking we had something different. I do not get it. I have asked and prayed to God all day and will keep asking for his strength. Thanks for listening. I really need your support.

      1. Lois, I am so sorry you are in pain. But his saying he did now know you had deep feelings for him sound like utter BS and adding to your pain. Unless he is having side effect of his brain tumor? and treatments perhaps? I can not understand why he would use this type of heartless behavior in a break up situation when he has to know he is deliberately riling you. Or is that the whole point? He enjoys riling you? It keeps your connection going? No matter.

        It is crazy-making stuff for sure and is called gas-lighting when your version of the past is questioned like this. “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity”. But I DO understand your reaction to him saying this and I DO understand your saying “It is not just me that sees he is a phony…but yet, I find myself addicted to him.” Welcome to my world where I know a man is a clear red flag but my addiction to him has kept me going back so many times. You will kick this if you put your mind to it. You can and will do it! In the meantime are you saying that he thought you were writing him a “thank you”? If yes I am LMAO. He is beginning to sound like my narc to me. Or else, brain tumor behavior? Or severe moodiness to the point of some type of depression? Do not blame yourself and just try to move on. Use my slogan and repeat all day long to yourself: Make the choice to let go of negative thoughts and KEEP repeating it! This is like a mantra and it helps! Hugs Lara xoxo

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