I have a client I'll call Josie who has had three pregnancy scares in the last year. My initial advice was fairly simple, "Start using birth control, yo!" I'd helped Josie get out of a long-term, toxic relationship so she thought that if she quit taking birth control pills she'd be less likely to have casual sex and end up in another inappropriate relationship based solely on hormones and headed nowhere fast. But sex is a sticky-wicket for we mere mortals and the temptation proved to be too much three times in the last year and because she hadn't intended to have sex, birth control was forgotten in the heat of the moment.

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship: First, Remember ...

Addiction to a person is no different than addiction to a substance.All of the same symptoms can appear:
  • Descent into a shame-spiral about the addiction.
  • An inability to control your own behavior often participating in self-destructive, compulsive and furtive activities.
  • The loss of positive relationships with other family and friends.
  • Poor performance at school or work. And the list goes on.
Beating your addiction to the Asshat isn’t just mind over matter, but the first and most essential step toward recovery does come from your mind; which is admitting to yourself (and then to another person and/or supportive group) that you have a problem.

I was about to shake things up in my twelve-year marriage.

The idea was planted during season one, episode 15 of Modern Family when Clive Bixby's international playboy set out to seduce the mysterious Juliana, who bears a striking resemblance to Clive's altar ego, Phil Dunphy's wife, Claire. (By God, that was an unwieldy sentence!) My marriage was in flux as I'd recently developed an unhealthy obsession with Gavin DeGraw, a singer/pianist no one seems to've heard of. So I decided it was time to Take Action in order not to commit adultery in my heart. Something had to give. So on a Thursday night that chilly winter eve, Henry came home from taking our daughters to soccer practice and found our babysitter waiting for him with a note from me.

He had no idea this was going to happen.

The note told him to dress for-a-first-date (no orthopedic tennis shoes or white socks), to meet me in the bar at the Avalon Hotel at 8 p.m. sharp. I wrote that we would not know one another and could not be who we truly are. Also he should be cocky and entitled. And if he arrived before me he was to order me a Grey Goose martini straight up with two olives. Because that sounded like a drink Mrs. Robinson would have while smoking thin cigarettes. Unfortunately I arrived first and had to order my own martini. A harbinger of doom re: our tête-à-tête. The minutes driveled by. He was late. Did he get my note? Did the babysitter open it, read it and quit? Maybe he just wasn't coming?  I'd floated this idea by Henry over the years and his response had been, at best, lackluster. This just wasn't his thing. As I sat waiting I began to feel like an aged hooker with no John. I was wearing these items: married sex life Earlier they'd seemed hot, now they seemed a bit pathetic. Wait. Was that...? ...Henry had arrived! He strode through the lounge not looking at me once but going straight to the bar to order a beer. A red beer. Henry doesn't drink. He can't drink. Alcohol gives him blinding migraines. Could it be my reserved, buttoned-up husband was going for it?

How to Leave a Toxic Relationship!

You know you're doing it, aren't you? Giving the Asshat credit for doing the absolute minimum required to keep a relationship trudging along? What do I mean by Asshat? This:
  • They don't call when they say they will.
  • They don't show up when expected.
  • They brood at social gatherings with friends and family.
  • You're fairly certain they're cheating on you in office cubicles, toilet stalls and perhaps even in your own bed.
These are all the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. There are some people for whom the dyed-in-Charmin Asshat holds no charm. These emotionally healthy people kick Asshats to the curb once they've disappointed them for the very first time. Then there are the rest of us. We will suffer Asshats gladly for weeks, months, nay years at a time. I was an Asshat-magnet for approximately ten years. Asshats could sniff out my needy co-dependence from 100 miles away as the crow flies. And one of the things that kept me trapped in my Asshatalicious relationship FOR FIVE YEARS was my ability to take the Asshat's bread crumbs and whip them into a rustic loaf, because I absolutely wanted to make a case for staying in the relationship. For example: