Toxic relationships can do enormous harm to persons, inter-personal interactions, and families. That is why it is crucial to understand how to fix a toxic relationship. However, it can be difficult because such relationships rarely exhibit toxic traits from the start.
These relationships frequently begin as enjoyable and exciting, replicating the components of a normal relationship. During the honeymoon period, a couple accumulates a plethora of wonderful memories, which they urgently hold onto when toxicity rears its ugly head.
This, in turn, reduces the scope of attempting to make a toxic relationship less toxic since, rather than confronting the sad reality staring them in the face, persons locked in such relationships cling to the ‘happy’ past as a denial tactic.
To be able to fix a toxic relationship, it is critical to remember that individuals evolve. Their relationships evolve as a result of this transition. For the better at times, for the worse at others. The only way to change toxic behavior is to recognize problematic patterns as they form and actively seek remedies.
What exactly is a toxic relationship?
Everything just kind of works in a healthy relationship. Sure, you may argue on occasion or encounter other roadblocks, but you normally make decisions together, openly discuss any problems that emerge, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Another narrative is about toxic connections. In a toxic relationship, you may feel fatigued or sad after spending time with your partner on a regular basis, indicating that something needs to happen.
Even if you still love your partner, the relationship may no longer be joyful. For some reason, you always seem to irritate each other or can’t seem to stop arguing over trivial matters. You can even dread meeting them instead of looking forward to it as you did previously.
How to Fix a Toxic Relationship
The following are major tips to fix a toxic relationship.
#1. Determine whether you can fix a toxic relationship
Yes, a toxic relationship can be fixed and a couple can heal. However, not all toxicity is the same. It frequently manifests on a broad range with varying degrees of intensity.
While you may sincerely want to fix the harm in your relationship and recover as a couple, it’s crucial to consider whether this is a realistic goal. For example, any relationship in which toxicity leads to abuse or violence is unsalvageable. Such relationships, in reality, are beyond restoration.
Similarly, if one of the partners is unwilling to perform the inner work required to overcome toxicity, there will be no development.
#2. Take a vacation
Distancing yourself from your partner for a period of time is typically the answer to how to mend a toxic relationship. Take a break from the relationship once you’ve determined whether or not you can heal what’s broken in your relationship and see hope for the future.
During this time, strictly adhere to the No Contact Rule. This separation will help you to reconnect with and focus on your personal needs. Furthermore, this time apart can serve as a dividing line between your days of toxicity and the time you resolved to remove poison from the relationship. Giving you the opportunity to restart the relationship.
Of course, if you’re looking for help with a toxic marriage, this gets more difficult. In that circumstance, one of the spouses can make a temporary living arrangement. You can also choose to avoid interaction during this ‘pause.’
#3. Concentrate on yourself
To change toxic behavior, prioritize your needs, expectations, and wants. Follow Joie’s advice and use the old vase method to focus on yourself during this time apart in your relationship.
When you do decide to reconnect, make a concerted effort to stick to these routines for 6 months to a year, or until they become internalized as the “new normal.” This will keep you from reverting to old, unhealthy patterns.
If you want to heal yourself after a toxic relationship or fix one, you must practice putting yourself first. To be able to do this without feeling guilty, you must view it as an act of self-love rather than selfishness.
#4. Understand the ABCDs of harmful behavior
The ABCDs of a toxic relationship are accusations, blame, criticism, and demands. Any or all of these elements can be prevalent in a relationship when one or both partners exhibit toxic characteristics.
To recover from such toxicity and fix the harm in your relationship, you and your partner must both commit to breaking the cycle. Don’t be afraid to call attention to the fact that you or your partner is drifting toward any of these troublesome tendencies.
This becomes much easier if both couples recognize that they are not competing with each other, but rather fighting a bad propensity as a team.
#5. Accept responsibility for reversing toxic behavior.
The saying “it takes two to tango” accurately reflects the spectrum of toxic relationships. Even if the toxicity is caused by one partner’s poor behavior, the other partner is quickly and unknowingly drawn into it.
It begins as a survival mechanism in order to deal with all of the blaming, accusations, unpleasant battles, and emotional manipulation. You’ve become a part of the problem before you realize it.
In order to fix a toxic relationship, you must first examine yourself. Consider your role in aggravating and exacerbating your relationship problems. And accept responsibility in front of your partner.
Encourage them to follow suit.
#6. Resist the desire to assign blame when dealing with a toxic relationship
Don’t blame your partner for your actions, and don’t accept blame for theirs. Because blame-shifting has been a part of your relationship dynamics for so long, the desire to absolve yourself of all responsibility by blaming your partner for yours – or vice versa – can be strong.
Even if you are attempting to accept responsibility for your actions, you may find yourself subtly telling your partner how they have provoked these troublesome habits. If you want to make meaningful progress in reversing toxic behavior patterns, you must avoid this at all costs.
#7. Make use of the ‘I’ language
Using the ‘I’ language instead of ‘you’ is one of the simplest methods to make a relationship less toxic. Assume your partner has done something to irritate you. Instead of saying, ‘you constantly do this…,’ try, ‘I feel uneasy when you do…’
This will allow you to express your problems and thoughts without hurting your partner’s feelings. You can increase your chances of provoking a more favorable response from them by doing so.
#8. Make yourself seen and heard
One of the distinguishing characteristics of a toxic relationship is that the spouse on the receiving end walks on eggshells in order to avoid provoking the other. In the long run, this inclination to bottle up your feelings, push matters under the rug, and generally make oneself invisible in the relationship can lead to resentment.
Furthermore, your partner may be unaware that their activities are causing you to feel this way. So, in order to permanently remove toxicity from the relationship, you must begin exerting yourself. Inform your partner if they say or do something that offends you or is hurtful.
Of course, there will be no accusations or blame. Consider whether doing so makes you feel uneasy or scared. If this is the case, you may have some unsolved issues that require the assistance of a professional, such as a therapist or counselor.
#9. Do not bring up past issues.
When it comes to exerting yourself, now is the time to turn over a new leaf. Do not bring up unresolved concerns from the past. It will increase your difficulties with your partner rather than help make your relationship less toxic.
If you are unable to let go of some past concerns or believe that it is not possible to make a fresh start without addressing them, working with a skilled professional is the best way to proceed.
We are often ill-equipped to handle and sort through pent-up emotions, making their resolution nearly difficult on our own.
#10. Begin regaining your relational space
In a toxic relationship, one spouse is sometimes reduced to the role of “doormat.” One partner’s needs, desires, and expectations begin to dominate the relationship. In order to accommodate them, the other becomes increasingly invisible.
Breaking this cycle is a critical piece of the ‘how to mend a toxic relationship’ puzzle. This endeavor, as Joie points out, will be met with opposition from the partner who has grown accustomed to having their way.
But you must persevere until you achieve success. Don’t reduce your efforts to save your partner’s feelings of pain and misery. You will simply enable their unhealthy tendencies by doing so.
#11. Show kindness to one another
The poison of one half will inevitably rub off on the other. Even if you are the one who feels unseen, unheard, and diminished, you may have acquired certain harmful behaviors in order to cope.
If, on the other hand, the toxicity is the result of dysfunctional relationship dynamics, both partners develop some unhealthy behaviors as a defense strategy. Compassion is the best method to counteract these and fix a toxic relationship.
Rather than hurling accusations and blame at each other, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand where they’re coming from. Perhaps they are anxious because of employment, financial troubles, or issues with other family members.
While none of this should be used as an excuse for misbehaving children, by understanding their triggers, you will be better ready to give them some leeway when necessary.
#12. Concentrate on love
A toxic relationship is so full of deception and emotional drama that the most important aspect of a romantic relationship, love, takes a back place. When striving to remove toxicity from a relationship, direct your focus toward love.
Instead of focusing on your troubles, focus on all the reasons you adore your mate. These reasons may not occur to you immediately. You may even wonder why you’re together or attempting to fix a toxic relationship.
In such cases, writing down your reasons for loving your partner in a diary or notebook will assist. When doing so, make certain that the reasons are contemporary and not relics from the past.
#13. Commit to an open and honest communication
Toxins thrive in environments with poor communication and barriers. When you are unable to express how you feel to each other, no matter how big or minor the issue, a cycle of toxic behavior begins.
It may not feel like it right now. But, if you think about it, you’ll see that it’s the tiny things that built up and snowballed into seemingly irreconcilable disputes.
That is why, in order to change toxic behavior, you must commit to open and honest communication habits. However, dialogue in partnerships should not be confused with questioning.
The notion is that you should be able to express yourself freely, without fear, trepidation, or hesitation.
#14. Do not avoid difficult conversations
There are no quick fixes for a bad relationship. It is a lengthy process fraught with unpleasant processes. One of them is the necessity to have hard conversations with your partner that you may have been avoiding for far too long.
Assume your toxic inclinations stem from an act of betrayal. Even if you opted to remain together, you have not really reconciled with your partner. Perhaps you didn’t discuss it sufficiently. Or they were unable to forgive them for their transgression. Perhaps you didn’t give yourself enough time to examine your emotions before deciding whether to stay or leave.
Now that you’re attempting to make amends, you must reopen those old wounds in order to allow yourself to heal. Again, seeking the assistance of a relationship counselor or therapist is the recommended course of action.
#15. Regain your trust in yourself
A toxic relationship frequently employs emotional manipulation techniques such as gaslighting to cause the other to doubt their own judgment. This is simply a ruse to shift the balance of power in their favor.
Whether you’re trying to mend yourself after a toxic relationship or the relationship itself, consider whether you’ve grown suspicious of your own thoughts and feelings. If this is the case, you must work hard to regain your trust in yourself.
Your reality, experience, and sentiments are not debatable. You will help disrupt your partner’s gaslighting behaviors if you learn to stand your ground. That is advancement.
#16. Express criticism in a constructive manner
Just because you want to make a relationship less toxic doesn’t mean you and your partner have to always agree on everything. If you disagree with what the other person has said or done but do not express your feelings, you are fostering toxic behavior.
The goal is to be able to express opposing views or criticism in a healthy, constructive manner. One of the most dependable techniques for this is the sandwich method, in which you begin with praise or a positive statement, then follow it with criticism, and then conclude with another positive comment.
#17. Establish appropriate relationship limits.
To remove toxicity from a relationship, both partners must commit to establishing healthy boundaries. This permits you to see yourself as various individuals rather than as a single entity.
Personal space, independence, and autonomy are frequently suffocated in toxic partnerships. Setting limits allows you to recover your personal space and your identity.
A sense of independence, whether emotional or functional, can be a liberating part of your life, freeing you from toxic patterns of over-dependence and co-dependence.
#18. Pay attention to other connections in your life
When people are trapped in toxic relationships, their universe frequently shrinks down to just them. Either one or both spouses tend to lose connection with others in their inner circle owing to insecurities, envy, or fear. Relationships outside of a romantic partnership, such as family, friends, and coworkers, are gradually fading.
This sense of solitude may cause you to feel increasingly imprisoned in your relationship. To become less toxic as a relationship, you must rediscover these past ties and concentrate on reinforcing them.
Make time to interact with your friends, spend time with your family, and attend company activities without your spouse. These connections make you feel contented and happy.
You will be able to offer your relationship your all when you return to your mate recharged.
#19. Don’t let disagreements fester
Even if you are attempting to remove toxicity from the connection, confrontations, disagreements, and differences of opinion are unavoidable. As in any other connection.
However, you must not allow them to slide for fear of undoing the progress you’ve achieved thus far. Remember that the toxicity you’re dealing with is the result of all the minor battles you didn’t have.
#20. Accept the changes as they come.
It is simple to make short-term changes. However, unless you make a conscious effort to internalize that change, the chance of reverting to old habits and patterns is always present.
To successfully correct toxic behavior, you must not only replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones but also maintain them over time.
It is not simple to fix a toxic relationship, but it is also not impossible. Achieving long-term transformation is a highly achievable aim as long as both parties are prepared to identify the problem and work together to find a solution.
How to Fix a Toxic Relationship FAQs
Is a toxic relationship worth fixing?
The primary aspect that determines if a toxic relationship is worth preserving is whether both partners are willing to change their habits. There is very little chance that a relationship will mend if just one spouse is involved in building healthy patterns.
Can toxic relationships recover?
Allow yourself compassion if the toxic relationship continues to impact your thoughts and reactions. Allowing yourself the time and space to recover instead of being impatient with yourself supports the toxic voice.
When to call it quits in a relationship?
If there is no longer any active investment in your relationship, it could be an indication that one or both of you has already taken the decision to end it. Interviewing divorce lawyers or real estate agents to “keep your options open” most likely indicates that you don’t want your options open.