When starting a new relationship, no matter if it’s a romantic one or not, we rarely pay attention to the possibility of its downfall. We often think about how cheerful, affectionate and healthy it’s going to be but not consider the negativity it might bring to us.
Unfortunately, the possibility that your relationship might turn toxic, if it isn’t already one, is much higher than you can imagine. No, I’m not telling you to focus on the negative aspects of every relationship that you’re going to have in the future. I’m simply telling you to not completely overrule its possibility either.
According to a survey, 84% of women and 75% of men report having a toxic friend at some point. At the same time, every 1 in 3 young people (in the US) will be in an abusive or toxic relationship in their life. Now those are some disturbing stats.
Let’s focus specifically on the word toxic, instead of the relationship part for a moment. What exactly comes to your mind when you think about toxic substances? Poisonous, Hazardous and dangerous things? Something that is potentially deadly, yea?
Now, associate all those dangerous things with a person or relationship and there you have it. A toxic relationship. Which is as dangerous as those toxic things. A relationship that can hurt you mentally, emotionally and even physically to an extent where it gets hard for you to rise above it.
What should you do if you are somehow trapped in such a toxic relationship?More of how will you know if your relationship is toxic or not?
Well, like I keep mentioning in every other article related to toxic relationships, The first step in the process of eliminating or fixing a toxic relationship is recognising the signs of a toxic relationship.
I have already written three articles to provide you with in-depth knowledge on various major, minor and even those signs that most people confuse for healthy behaviour. This article is the 4th one in my toxic relationship series and here we are going to focus on how a toxic relationship can be saved, fixed, mended or cured (whatever you want to call it).
If you are not sure whether your relationship is a toxic one or not, then be sure to go through my previous articles to make up a clear mind.
- 7 Signs of toxic relationship : Are you in one?
- 8 Signs You Might Be in a Toxic Relationship
- 8 Toxic Relationship Signs That Are Unnoticeable
Can a toxic relationship really be fixed?
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Before going into long depths, I want to adhere to the above question. There are a lot of people who believe that toxic relationships are doomed to end but this isn’t the reality of every toxic relationship.
A short answer to the above question— yes, it is possible to save or fix a toxic relationship. Difficult? Very. Impossible? Not really.
The long answer being, it takes a lot of hard work, commitment, self-introspection, open communication, honesty and sometimes even professional help (individual or couples therapy, depending on the situation and the type of toxicity of your relationship). In simple words, Loads and loads of effort.
The other factor that plays an important role to save a relationship apart from the group efforts of a couple is the level of toxicity in the relationship.
Yes, toxic relationships can be fixed but there comes a level of toxicity which becomes too much to overcome or overturn. The best option in such situations is to simply get out of such relationships and move on for the sake of your sanity as well as safety.
Important note: When I speak about the toxic relationship in this article, please know that I’m not talking about abusive relationships. If your relationship includes violence, physical or emotional abuse, it crosses the line of toxicity to a crime.
The best thing you can do in such a situation is to call your local domestic violence helpline and try your best to get out of this relationship as soon as possible.
Here are the 17 steps that you can follow to subdue the toxicity of your relationship and possibly heal it.
1. Identify the problematic areas of your relationship.
Identifying the problem is the first step of solving it. Like I have mentioned in one of my previous articles, toxicity like any other disease needs a proper diagnosis after which you’ll know the extent of toxicity in your relationship, the major areas that are affected and in some cases even the cause of such behaviour.
It’s impossible to change a thing that you don’t even recognise. Sit back and evaluate your relationship with a clear mind, write down the things that you find are problematic in your daily or weekly schedule and then talk about those things with your partner.
Point to note: You will have to stop giving excuses and accept that your relationship is facing problems or is toxic (if it is). The faster you identify and eventually acknowledge the problem, the better will be the chances of saving your relationship.
2. Take a break, you need some rest from your toxic relationship.
No matter If you were already aware of the toxic behaviour in your relationship or if you’ve just identified them, you’re most probably exhausted.
Toxic relationships tend to have such an effect on us. It drains us mentally, emotionally and physically as well. Hence, you won’t be able to think clearly in such a situation. The best thing to do in this case is to cut the toxicity off for some time, take a break and have some rest.
When your mind is calm enough, decide whether it is possible to mend your relationship or if it’s too late to do so, whether you want to fix it or let go. Once you have decided the above things, come back and give it your all.
3. Take responsibility for your actions.
Usually, it is not the behaviour of a single person that turns a relationship toxic. There’s a good chance that your own behaviour hasn’t been healthy either.
You probably have been adding to the toxicity directly or indirectly. Directly would be by means of Toxic behaviour and indirectly would be by means of giving excuses for your partner, encouraging toxic behaviour, having a relationship scorecard, giving up your identity etc.
The acceptance of your part in turning the relationship toxic and taking responsibility for it will help a lot in the healing process of your relationship. Both the partners have to be present and have a conversation (no matter how difficult it is) about their part of adding to the toxicity.
4. Stop playing the blame game to save your relationship from toxicity.
You can only move forward towards a healthy relationship when the centre of your communication shifts from blaming each other to understanding each other.
Acceptance is the key here. You have to accept your own faults as well as your partner’s faults to move past the bitterness. Instead of blaming your partner for the downfall of the relationship, try to understand their motive behind why they did or encouraged this toxic behaviour.
The more you try to talk to each other, the more comfortable you’ll get to discuss these harsh truths and eventually the easier it would be for you to decide in which direction the future of this relationship should go.
5. Let the past rest.
This is one of the most important points to keep in mind if you’re trying to mend your relationship.
To walk towards a better future, you must let the bitter past rest. A wound can’t heal if you keep scraping it regularly, just like that a relationship can’t heal if you keep bringing the negativity of the past into your future.
You must not link your present with your past. You will have to resist the temptation of relating the mistakes, behaviour and even memories, of your past with the future.
Sure, the process of fixing a relationship requires talking about your past and figuring out what and where exactly you went wrong? But once you have done it, you’ll have to drop the baggage of the past from your shoulders to move freely towards a healthy future.
6. Understand the triggers of toxicity.
Do I even need to add more? Okay, okay here it is— you have to leave your comfort zone even if it’s very peaceful to stay there. The above saying not only applies to relationships but almost every aspect of our life in general. But as we are talking about Toxic Relationships, we are going to focus on them at the time.
When we talk about toxic relationships, it’s rarely the relationship itself but the action and reaction of two partners that make it toxic. Therefore, to eliminate the toxicity you will have to focus on the root of the action.
You have to closely understand the triggers that make your partner or even you go all nuts on each other and eventually work on not reducing those triggers but trying to reduce the extent of effect these triggers have on you and your partner.
7. Set boundaries to turn a toxic relationship into a healthy one.
Some major signs of Toxic Relationships include lack of privacy, Possessiveness, all give and no take, lack of identity and not to forget the controlling behaviour. What is the contributing factor for these signs? Not setting up the boundaries from the very beginning.
Yes, humans are social beings but we also need to have our personal space in order to have some mental peace. Now, do I even have to put in words the importance of mental peace for your health and eventually your relationship?
Obviously you can’t go back in time and set up those boundaries in your relationship but fortunately, you can still fix things with a little bit of effort and a need for change. What you can and should do now is change your mindset from making your partner the centre of your world to seeing them as who they are — your partner.
You should make your mental health, your identity, your privacy, your needs and your personal space a priority and set up healthy boundaries accordingly.
8. Have a little compassion towards your partner.
A little compassion will help you in crossing the bridge of toxicity and walk towards a healthy relationship.
Whenever you feel the need to blame your partner for the problems you are facing in your relationship or your daily life, halt your steps.Take three deep breaths and count till three inside your mind.
There’s a good chance that your mind is free of anger by this time, now take some steps back and think about the situation that you are facing. Ask yourself the question: is it my partner’s fault? If the answer is yes, well communication is the key to resolve this problem not the blame game.
And if the answer is no. Ask yourself another question — What would have been the outcome if you had walked to your partner and blamed him/her for something they’re not even aware of? Quite simple — More conflict, increased negativity and a great push towards toxicity.
Compassion is the building block of a healthy relationship. If you’re in a toxic relationship, obviously your relationship lacks it and unfortunately, it’s not possible to add compassion in one’s self overnight. But following the above process might help you to slowly add and eventually increase compassion in your relationship.
If you are facing difficulties, you must understand that your partner in one or another way is going through something similar. Hence, the problems you are facing should not be an excuse for your toxic behaviour.
If you keep adding burden on your partner’s already heavy baggage of problems, they will collapse at one point or another.
9. Understanding your partner is necessary to fix a Toxic Relationship.
This point is more like an addition to the above one so, I’ll keep it short and simple. Compassion and understanding are the two faces of the same coin, hence they are directly proportional to each other. Even if you get one of them right, the other one will automatically improve.
If you have compassion for your partner, you’ll soon start to understand them well. To facilitate this understanding in your relationship you will not only have to listen keenly to your partner but understand their point of view as well.
Easier said than done. But to truly understand your partner you will have to look at their problems, views or thoughts through not your but their perspective. Try putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and then process their side of the conversation.
If they’re facilitating the toxic behaviour in your relationship, try to understand where exactly are they coming from. Is it childhood trauma left unsolved? Is it due to the piled up emotions? Is it stress? Etc. Try to understand the root and you’ll get the reasoning behind the cause.
10. Open communication is the key to eliminating toxicity.
I honestly shouldn’t even be writing this point here but if you are on this article, you’re probably not doing this right.
Open Communication is everything that you should aspire for in a relationship. Healthy communication is equal to healthy relationships. You should be able to sit down with your partner and be able to discuss matters and each other’s problematic behaviour (if any), without getting all worked up.
Open communication is the type of communication where you both can understand each other’s point of view, opinions, conflicting thoughts calmly and find a middle ground.
Can communication be improved in a Toxic Relationship?
Not only is it possible to improve the communication gap in a relationship but it is also possible to change a toxic communication pattern into a healthy one.
Yes, it won’t happen overnight and will require patience more than anything. I mean, if you want to cure anything on a long term basis you will have to forget the words instant fix. It will take time but like any behavioural pattern, it is not impossible to overwrite this in a more healthy way.
How can communication be improved?
Efforts, patience and time. But wait, you must have already understood these three steps are necessary by now, right? To elaborate, on this front.
- In order to have open communication, you have to be a great listener before a speaker.
- If you want to discuss something important, then never forget to set aside a specific hour for it.
- Relax and calm your mind down to prepare yourself for the important conversations
- If you find it hard to remember your points and arguments during a discussion, try to write them down beforehand.
- What is it that you feel is going wrong in your relationship? What behaviour of your partner do you find intolerable? What is it that you exactly want from your relationship? Write everything that troubles your mind and let your partner know about it.
- Give your utmost attention to your partner and the conversation. If you’re having an important discussion, make sure you stay focused on the conflict at hand, and not stray far away from it.
Make sure that you find the solution or at least a middle ground for not only your problems but your partner’s problem too. If not today then maybe the next day but don’t ignore them. Pilling up these emotions will only cause your relationship to become more toxic over time.
11. Reignite the initial spark in your relationship.
Remember the excitement, the high energies and the ecstasies that you felt in each other’s company. Where is it now? Lost obviously.
Do you know Sometimes relationships also turn Toxic due to the lost initial spark? As common as it is to lose these sparks once the honeymoon stage of a relationship is over, it is extremely important to preserve them to keep a relationship healthy and working.
Fortunately for us, reigniting the Spark is no quantum physics. How?
Well, we have to simply bring back the behaviour that we were following unconsciously in the initial stage of your relationship but now have to put a conscious effort into doing so. What exactly do you have to do? Anything that ignites the feelings of love, affection and attraction.
- Give out those timely free hugs to your partner.
- Don’t forget to smile at each other.
- Prolonged eye contact increases attraction. Don’t believe me? It’s researched.
- Give mindful gifts. They don’t have to be heavy in the pocket at all.
- Don’t forget the small act of kindness. They’re very important to keep your relationship healthy.
- Spend quality time together. Forget about the problems, the stress, the outside world. Just you and your partner.
- Do some creative activities together, they sure are fun.
Make it a note to yourself to indulge in a few of these activities daily if not all, until it becomes a habit to do so.
12. Avoid unnecessary competition.
A competitive mindset is rooted deep into the minds of people growing up in today’s time. Now don’t get me wrong. It is great to have such a mindset in other aspects of life, but relationships? No.
You will have to understand that a relationship never was and never will be a competition between two people. Your partner is called your partner and not a competitor for a reason.
This unhealthy competition is often the prodigy of your insecurities as a person towards your self-worth and your success. If you feel threatened due to your partner’s success, it is an indication you are not happy with your own.
This competition, jealousy and insecurities are what turns a relationship toxic. If you want to keep this toxicity at bay, stop comparing your achievements with your partner.
You will have to resolve your internal conflict before trying to resolve your relationship. Once you’ve developed a harmonious relationship with yourself, you’ll easily be able to do so with your partner as well.
Learn to be genuinely happy with your partner’s achievements. Try your best to encourage their efforts and support them, not bring them down.
13. Connect with your inner self to heal yourself from a Toxic Relationship.
As I have mentioned in the above point. Sometimes we must resolve our inner conflict before even trying to pick up on an external one.
We often get so immersed in our relationship that we actually forget to take care of what’s inside. In other words our internal matters. This is one of the main causes of toxicity in various relationships. A person must have a healthy balance of emotions in order to invest in other things (a relationship or your partner).
If something is bothering you from the inside, you won’t be able to resolve the conflict that is taking place on the surface. You’ll only add up the negativity and Toxicity in such a situation.
Your inner stability will have a huge role in determining how stable you are in a relationship. Until and unless there’s a healthy connection between your body and mind, you won’t be able to fully connect with a second person.
If you feel like your emotions are usually all over the place or you always are the partner who causes the conflict in your relationship, give a thought about doing meditation or yoga.
A person who has inner peace and harmony always contributes positivity and happiness to the relationship. Hence, learning towards inner healing might be the key to healing your relationship as well.
14. Don’t let go of other relationships.
Yes, your partner is very important to you and it is obvious that you want to remain close to them but being around your family and friends is as important as being around your partner for the health of your relationship.
Staying away from the people you grew up with, especially the ones who have been in your life for far too long than your partner is never a good choice. Not only does it affect your mental well-being but it also affects your relationship adversely and pushes it towards toxicity.
There is always a person or more (apart from your partner) that you consider a blessing, maybe it’s your father, mother, siblings, friends anyone but because we get so immersed in our relationship, we tend to forget about their importance in our lives.
Don’t let go of these people for the sake of your mental health if not anything else.
Appreciate them. Spend quality time with them. Don’t get so immersed in your negativities that you forget others that bring that ray of sunshine in your life.
Your partner can’t be your everything. Humans are social beings who need people around them to thrive and live a healthy life. Hence cherish the other relations that you have in life.
15. Join Support groups to meet like-minded people.
This step is for those people who don’t have anyone else to connect with. Like I have mentioned in the above point, you need to socialize with people who are not your partner.
Now there are a few problems that arise in the above point — not everyone has a person that they’re very close to in life or you might be feeling uncomfortable with sharing your problems with friends or family or you simply will be more comfortable with talking about your issue with someone who is going through something similar, someone who can relate to you.
The all in one solution for this hurdle would be a support group.
There are many such groups out there, either in-person groups or online ones whatever you find more comforting. You’ll find like-minded people in such groups, people who can easily connect with you. It is easier to talk to someone who can relate to you, hence this group might be a good alternative for you.
16. Professional help is important, to heal a Toxic Relationship.
The best thing you can do to speed up this healing process is to receive professional help. It can be in the form of therapy (individual and couple included), counsellors and coaches.
Fixing a toxic relationship is never easy but with the right guidance, a toxic couple can find the way towards a healthier future. Keep your therapist updated on your improvement or problems, don’t lie to them about your feelings, desires, wants and visit them regularly to receive the utmost benefits.
The fast you acknowledge the problem the better will be your chances of getting help and saving your relationship.
Remember asking for help is the bravest thing that you can do. All that matters, in the end, is for you to be in healthy, thriving and positive relationships.
I’m not saying you certainly need a therapist to get over a toxic relationship but giving one a small visit doesn’t sound so bad either, especially when you can do so from the ease of your home
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17. Time is the essence of saving a toxic relationship.
Time is the essence of this healing process. Nothing great in this world happens overnight, you know that I know that, we all know that. So why do we expect the benefits of this difficult process to come to us at rocket speed?
Your relationship didn’t turn toxic overnight and in the same way, it’s not going to turn healthy overnight either. You can’t adopt all the above steps in your behaviour today and expect them to become your habit tomorrow.
No. It will take you months and sometimes even years to reach where you aspire to reach. You will have to put in your efforts, be patient, consistent and leave everything else for the time to heal.
To conclude this article I would say, toxic relationships are very demanding for human beings. They demand our mental health, our energy, our emotional stability and sometimes affect our physical health as well. Therefore, it becomes necessary for us to deal with them as soon as possible.
The only two options that are left on our part to deal with these relationships are :
Get out of this relationship as soon as possible and break all contact with your partner (if he’s the cause of the toxicity). An option that is the right thing to do in most cases if not all.
Accept that your relationship is toxic. Take necessary steps to mend it and walk towards a better as well as healthier future together. Keyword: together.
If you are reading this article, you’re most probably considering the second opinion. Yes, it will take a lot of effort, no it won’t happen overnight but if you believe in your relationship, you will definitely come out of that bitter stance one day.
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Thank you for sticking with me till the very end.