In today’s video, I’m answering a question from Jake.

“When’s the right time to leave a toxic relationship?”

Jake writes..

When do you know it’s time to move on from a toxic relationship?

Zachary Stockill: The first thing I’ll say is, there should be a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of physical violence. So if you’re in a position where you feel physically vulnerable, or if your partner’s being physically abusive, get out as soon as possible.

The second thing is, the moment that you describe your own relationship as toxic is a pretty bad sign.

Thus, in every relationship, especially if you’re with someone long enough, there will be periods of conflict and struggle.

Every couple has issues, even the picture-perfect couples you see on Instagram. And every couple has certain bumps in the road. There will be times when things aren’t going particularly smoothly.

leave a toxic relationship

However, there’s a difference between that and a genuinely toxic relationship where you’re both kind of entrenched in your own positions. Or perhaps, one person is particularly entrenched in their position and patterns of dysfunction.

Furthermore, those relationships, unfortunately, often are not salvageable. When do you leave a toxic relationship?

Therefore, a question you can ask yourself, is, “How long have I felt this way? Have I just been feeling like this for a day? Or maybe a week? Is this just a bit of a rough patch that my partner and I are going through? Or, has this been a pattern?”

If there’s a long-standing pattern of dysfunction of abuse of toxicity, unhappiness and this has been going on for months or weeks or years, it’s a pretty toxic situation.

And it would serve you well, to get yourself out of that situation.

Another question you can ask yourself, is “How committed am I to growth and change?”

I’m not putting all the blame for this toxic relationship at your feet, nor am I going to put it all at your partner’s feet. It takes two people to make up any kind of relationship dynamic. And maybe you feel your partner deserves more of the blame for the toxicity as you describe it in your relationship. Maybe you do. And you can ask this of your partner as well.

You can also reflect on whether or not this is true of your partner. “Are we both really entrenched in our positions when either one of us not willing to change, not willing to be introspective, not willing to look at ourselves in the mirror with a clear head, to be honest with ourselves about what we need to do to change”.

leave a toxic relationship

Are you the only one acknowledging this as a problem? And, are you the only one acknowledging the pattern of toxicity as you describe it in your relationship? Is your partner as committed to growth and change as you are?

And if the answer is no, unfortunately, it’s unlikely that this relationship is the relationship for you.

Therefore, if you’re the kind of person who frankly would watch videos like this, if you’re interested in personal development, growth, change and building an amazing relationship, and your partner is just completely impervious to all of that, just not interested, then it’s going to be a constant conflict between you guys. Because one person will be interested in growth and change moving forward and the other person is not.

Again, there’s an expression that it only takes one person to change a relationship. And that’s true. Any change on the part of one member of that relationship, that’s going to impact the relationship.

But again, I’d come back to this question of how long have you felt this way? How long have you self described the relationship as toxic? And if this has been a pattern over many months, many years, then, unfortunately, it’s likely that you’re in the wrong relationship, and you’d be better served finding someone who is as committed to growth and change as you are.

Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.