Lovehoney’s Guide to Staying Toxic Free

by Lucy

on Mar 27, 2023

Relationship experts share top tips on how to dodge red flags and keep your ex firmly in the past.

If you’re familiar with words such as lovebombing, ghosting, breadcrumbing or negging, congratulations! You’re officially up to date with some of the most toxic dating trends. While yes they may sound made-up, all of these phrases describe real behaviours that have transformed the dating world - and not in a good way.

We’re constantly seeing new creative vocabulary to describe the various highs and lows of modern dating, with “fleabagging” already taking our love lives by storm this year. But with so many toxic trends popping up left, right and centre, how can we ensure we’re getting a positive dating experience?

After discovering that almost 50% of those over 18 have experienced ghosting and lovebombing, we teamed up with dating and relationship experts Callisto Adams (Ph.D.) and Rachel Wright (MA, LMFT) to share tips and tricks on how to make your toxic ex old news, and fend off any toxic behaviours that may head your way.

Four tips for keeping your ex in your past, rather than your future

While some people may say that remaining friends with your ex is the ultimate sign of maturity, we’re not all destined to be Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, or Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. So if you’re looking to make sure your ex stays exactly that, certified dating and relationship expert Callisto Adams has shared four tips for how you can walk away from a relationship with your head held high and your heart intact.

Take time to heal

Try not to make any decisions when your judgement is clouded by emotion: “Manage your anger and sadness by going out on long walks, writing about it, exercising, or talking/venting to your therapist about it.

Throw out your rose-tinted glasses

“Catch yourself when you put your ex on a pedestal and when you only think of the good times. After the break-up, we tend to focus more on the good times and we over-romanticise them to the point where we want them back. When you catch yourself doing that, think of the reason you broke up and understand that this can be very beneficial to you and your growth.”

Surround yourself with people who love you

“Hang out with people who care about you. They’re a good reminder of how you’re treated by people who love you and who care about your well-being.”

Be your own best friend

“Treat yourself as well as possible. Team up with yourself to handle this, to go through this, and to heal. Instead of judging yourself for your decisions in the past, be there for yourself knowing that you did what you thought was best at the time. Now it’s time to heal.”

Friends with your ex: yay or nay?

Psychotherapist Rachel Wright specialises in relationships, mental health and sex. She says: “I recommend taking 60 days after your break-up and not talking to or seeing each other. Then, after you've gone through the grief and processed the shift in your relationship, you can decide with a much clearer head what you actually want - and your ex-partner can do the same.”

And if you are sure you don’t want this person in your life anymore, let them know. Don't keep them around just to ghost them or play with their feelings - that’s the kind of toxic behaviour we’re waving goodbye to in 2023.

Four tips to make sure you’re avoiding toxic relationships

Putting yourself out there and looking for love (or pleasure) can be a daunting task, made even scarier by knowing that there are so many red flags you need to be on the lookout for. So, whether you’re hitting the dating apps or hoping for a more romantic meet-cute situation, here are some steps you can take to ward off toxic energy…

Keep your standards high

We’re talking sky high. You deserve only the best, after all.

Set boundaries

‘Guardrailing’ is set to be a popular dating trend in 2023, and it’s all about establishing boundaries. According to popular dating app Bumble’s dating survey, 63% of daters are being more clear about their boundaries, and we love to see it!

Communicate openly

Communicate, communicate, communicate. We can’t emphasise this one enough!

Be upfront about what you want. It’s equally important to discuss your needs and desires in any relationship, whether it’s a short-term fling or long-time boo.

Put yourself first

This might be the most important reminder of all. Dating can be draining at times, and you may end up losing yourself in the process. This year, take time to reconnect with your own needs and what makes you feel good - whether it be treating yourself to a toy you haven’t tried before, like a butt plug or rabbit vibrator, or simply scheduling some more self-care time.

Whatever it looks like, make sure your own pleasure is the ultimate priority!


Expert commentary provided by certified dating and relationship expert Callisto Adams PhD, and psychotherapist Rachel Wright MA, LFT, who specialises in relationships, mental health and sex.


Written by Lucy. Lovehoney Editorial Team
If you think that an exciting sex life starts and ends with Missionary then Lucy, who has worked at Lovehoney for over a decade, is here to enlighten you with her ever-popular ‘Position of the Week’ blogs.
Lucy also loves making the world of sex and sex toys easy to learn about, and you'll often find her with her head in a book researching her latest A to Z guide

Originally published on Mar 27, 2023. Updated on Mar 27, 2023