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How to unhook from your toxic ex

Laurel House is a Dating Coach, Flirting Expert, and MTV’s MADE “It Girl” Coach. She just completed her 5th book- "Screwing The Rules: The No Games Guide to Love."

Are you still hooked with a toxic ex? I know how it feels because I have been there too. No one is immune to the addiction that is love. Even me: a dating coach.

Thankfully I was able to free his hooks from my heart, and mine from his, and now I help my clients get over their exes too. Have you felt what I felt?

I could actually imagine hundreds of hooks in my heart, each with a line at the end pulling in different directions. And at the end of every line was him. He was like a fisherman or a puppeteer, controlling me with even just the slightest word over text, tone in his voice on the phone or simply his presence that seemed to linger in everything and almost everyone. I wanted to move on. I craved to be in a healthy loving relationship. But more than that, I wanted to move into a healthy and loving relationship with him. He was my ex. I ended it because it was toxic. But as badly as I knew I needed to unhook him from my heart, I wasn't ready to feel the ache of the emptiness without him. Even if what I had of him was lethal.

Toxic relationships can be completely debilitating. More than a s****y relationship, they can derail your career, force a wedge between your friendships and completely destroy your self worth (what you deserve), sense of self (who you are), and self sufficiency (your ability to take care of yourself). You may have convinced yourself (possibly with his brainwashing help) that it's really not that bad. But let me ask you: Why do you often feel so awful, alone, insecure, scared, worthless, stupid or small? Healthy relationships don’t make you feel that way.

But you know this, because you ended it with your now-ex. You got yourself out of that toxic relationship because you knew it wasn't serving you. In fact, it was hurting you. Your wings felt clipped. Your ego was non-existent. You were almost a different person when you were with him, as if you had two personalities, the strong, fun one who your friends and family saw, and the half person who your guy cut you down to. Or did you lose yourself completely?

Stop obsessing

And now you are alone and missing the comfort of him. It's so easy to forget about the bad "moments" isn't it? You romanticize the relationship, allowing your mind to wander into the moments, which are truly moments, when you were great. But let's be honest, bad or good, you miss him. So you text a photo of something that reminds you of him. Or you write down the lyrics to a song about heartbreak and email it to him. You stalk him on social media and the feelings come washing over you like a tidal wave. You can't stop obsessing. Sure, he told you that you were worthless, but he also told you that he never loved anyone like he loved you, and you believe him. You believe both of what he said in a sick and twisted way. You find comfort in "f*** you, I hate you" texts. You remember at the beginning when he didn't treat you this way and you know that if you are well behaved and you don't p*** him off, he'll go back to being that guy... so you go back to him. And soon you fall into a new cycle: the breakup, get back together cycle. You stay until you can't stand it anymore, so you leave. But then you unbearably miss him so you go back.

Get off the roller coaster

Let me tell you right now, things won’t change. You are addicted. Just like a drug, addictions are often with unhealthy things that give you massive highs and destructive lows. It's the roller coaster that fuels you. You mistake that intense passion for intense love. But you're wrong. You are spiraling in a cycle that you won't be able to pull out of. You have to be the one to make the decision to step out of it and move on. It's a decision you have to make. And it's not an easy one. But if you want to find true and real love, you have no other choice. Once you make the decision, you have to take the steps to follow through. That means removing yourself from the triggers that tempt you to go back.

Once you made the decision, reset, rebuild and find love in yourself first, then you will find someone better and more amazing for you. The harder you slam a ball into the ground, the higher it bounces back up. A divorce, a breakup, losing a job or just feeling seriously down can ground you, rough you up a bit, leave calluses on your feet and grit under your fingernails. But more than that, it leaves you wiser and stronger next time. Life is about experiencing opposites, isn't it?

Photo credit: Design Pics/Getty Images

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