Dear Dr. Romance:

You state in the Yahoo article&#0160 "Signs You Must Move On":  "Women often have a very hard time ending relationships, even if deep down they know they're unhealthy. They fear change, they fear being single or they think they won't find anyone better. So instead, a woman will remind herself of a guy's good qualities and block out the bad."

Do any of your books or blogs cover this topic? I am struggling with dismissing bad behavior and really could use some guidance from one of your books or blog.

Dear Reader:

Good for you for wanting to change your behavior. The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again has a lot of info about not choosing a jerk to begin with. like this:

Once you're bonded with someone, it's very painful to let go.  Since most of us like to avoid our feelings, we don't want to do the grieving that's necessary to let go.  But, when you've had a loss, there are a certain number of  tears you must cry to
let go -- getting on with the crying is the fastest way. Even if the dissolution of the relationship was your idea, you may be clinging to a dream -- in denial.  A bad relationship can become like an addiction – a difficult habit to break, because you are emotionally attached, and the attached part of you wants to keep trying, while the rational part knows you need to let go.

We also have a lot of cultural mythology about "I'll never stop loving you" and that clinging  and martyring to a toxic love means you are truly in love.  Clinging to a toxic love is immature, to begin with.  A relationship is a partnership, and requires work on both lovers' parts in order to succeed.  The initial romance stage isn't supposed to last, the relationship is supposed to grow into a real life partnership, and  that requires paying attention,
learning and growth.  It's not a fairy tale-- it's a real life love story, and well worth the work required.  If you give nothing, you get nothing; but you can’t be the only one giving.  Your partner must be acting in ways that make the relationship better, not worse, also.  Sometimes, a toxic partner doesn't
really want to be with you, but who either doesn't want to 'hurt you' or is still getting benefits (sex without commitment, you do the laundry, you're willing to take the kids more than your share) that he doesn't want to jeopardize. 
Block your ex on the phone, on Facebook, and other social media sites. If you keep looking at his Facebook page, or letting him contact you, you are not grieving and letting yourself heal and move on. 

If you gave it your best shot, and you know it's over, or if it never really got started, don't waste time in resentment and anger. Learn to let go. If you’re dumping a badly behaved cheater/jerk, be careful.  Jerks often throw temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want, so break up from a distance.  I often advise clients who need to break up with an abusive or violent partner or a stalker to break up via e-mail, to be safer. 

If you find you have real reason to doubt this person, and there are real problems, such as lying, severe money problems, a history of alcohol abuse, violence, many past relationship problems, a criminal record, reports of illegal activities, or drug use, do not make excuses, and do not accept promises of change.  Change is difficult,
and will take a lot of time. Mere promises, no matter how well intended, are not sufficient.  Get out of this
relationship before you are any more attached, or any more degraded, than you are now. If your partner decides to get help, let him do it because he or she knows they need it, not to get you back. That’s not a strong enough motive to
keep him committed to change.

To dump a jerk, don’t be kind.  He won’t get it.  Be clear, say “It’s over” in no uncertain terms, ask him not to contact you,  and then cut him off.  Don’t answer phone calls, e-mails, etc.  If you do, you’ll give him cause to think he can badger you into coming back.  If he shows up, don’t let him in.  If you have to call the police to get rid of him, do it.  He’s a spoiled brat, and he needs to know you mean what you say.

Know the signs of emotional blackmail:
1. A demand.  Your date won’t take “no” for an answer, and requests are really demands.
2. Resistance.  When every discussion turns into an argument.
3. Pressure.  Your date pressures you to go along.
4. Threats.  Your date uses threatening or coercing tactics: threatening to end the relationship, tears, rage, badgering.
5. Compliance. If you give in, you’re setting a dangerous precedent.  Your date now knows you can be pressured into giving in to him or her, and this will increase the intensity of what your date is willing to do to pressure you.
6. Repetition.  An obsessive person will go through these previous five steps over and over, wearing you down each time. The easiest thing is to be sure when you say “no”, it means no.

For more information and skills for how to avoid toxic relationships, please read: 

How to Keep Yourself Out of a Violent Relationship 

Setting Boundaries and Saying No 

Romance is Not Necessarily Love 

How to Avoid Loving a Jerk 

Avoiding The Drama Triangle

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Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., "Dr. Romance,", is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with 35+ years experience in counseling individuals and couples and CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for Love Filter - the Relationships Website. She's the author of 13 books in 17 languages, including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage; Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences; and The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again. She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina email newsletter, and the Dr. Romance Blog. She has written for and been interviewed in many national publications, and she has appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live and many other TV and radio shows.