Can you fix a toxic relationship?
To be honest, it depends. It depends on the level of toxicity in your relationship. It depends on you and your partner. It depends on how much you and your partner love each other. How much you want to make it work. There are no shortcuts or magic pills. Love is hard work. Relationships are complicated. And most of the time it takes a lot of care, awareness, commitment, time & effort to maintain a healthy relationship.
So your romantic relationship has turned toxic and you don’t know what to do about it. Great! But the fact that you are here reading this and looking for ways to heal your relationship means there’s still a chance. There’s still hope. You can still try to make things better. In fact, you can make things better than before. Yes, you can. if you want to know how to fix a toxic relationship, then let me tell you there are ways that you can try. But before you get started, there are certain things you need to understand.
Why do relationships turn toxic?
There are a lot of reasons why a relationship can become toxic. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. Our relationships are as unique as we are. Sometimes we attract the wrong person like falling in love with a narcissist, while other times we just fall out of love. You can feel ignored, abandoned or a lack of emotional connection or your partner may become needy and clingy or even controlling and dominating.
Relationships are tricky. We may want to build a closer connection with our partner while they may want to become more independent. There are many differences in opinions that can make a relationship sour and toxic. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you stop loving each other. And that is where hope comes in. Whether you want to grow as a couple by facing difficulties or if you want to call it quits and part ways depends on both the partners. It is up to you to decide if you want to point fingers or hold hands.
However, if your toxic relationship leads to physical, emotional or verbal abuse and psychological manipulation, then it is better to simply walk away and be single. Do not choose to be a victim and live a lie. There is a subtle difference between being in an unhealthy relationship and an abusive one. This is a decision you need to make and it is a very important one. If you have been abused or manipulated, simply walk away. Sometimes it’s better to let something go than to stay and suffer.
Is it a toxic relationship or just a bad phase?
Let’s face it, in the real world there is no ‘happily ever after’. No relationship is without turmoil. Despite what Hollywood romcoms might have you believe, sooner or later you will face challenges in your relationship that will make you wonder what the heck went wrong? But that’s natural. That’s how we grow and build stronger and more intimate bonds. We work through it and help each other become a better person.
We all have a rough patch in our relationships. It makes us question our love, our partner and even ourselves. We feel like we are not being appreciated, wanted or loved. We feel like that it might be coming to an end. That’s when we ask ourselves the most important question: is it worth fighting for? Leaving a bad relationship is as difficult as fixing a meaningful one.
But how do you know if you are having temporary problems or if your relationship has turned toxic? If you are arguing with each other due to external factors like work pressure and stress, then it may simply be a rough patch. But if your arguments are based on differences in values and start believing that treating each other poorly is normal, then you need to stand up and take notice. In a toxic relationship, you feel drained, helpless and suffocated. If you feel disrespected and a lack of communication, then you need to realize that toxicity has creeped in.
Here are some warning signs that you are in a toxic relationship:
- Either you or your partner feel contempt
- One of the partners is obsessed with the other
- Use of mean words and rude behavior leading to verbal abuse
- One of the partners act overly possessive & controlling
- Your partner acts cold and caring at the same time
Whether it is just a rough patch or a toxic relationship, if you and your partner have given up on each other, if you have stopped caring for one another, then no amount tips on how to fix a toxic relationship will help you heal what’s broken. However, if you feel that your partner still loves you, there is a good chance that things might just workout.
Healing a toxic relationship
Once you have identified your relationship as a toxic relationship, you can start taking action to heal it leading to a more loving relationship.
Here are a few ways to start the healing process-
6 steps to fix a toxic relationship
#1 Go no contact
First and foremost, take a break from the relationship. No, I am not asking you to break up. I am simply suggesting you to take a break from each other and avoid contact for 3-4 weeks. Of course, this can be a bit hard if you are married or live together. In this case, you can either minimize contact or live with your parents or bunk up with a friend for a while. You can also go for a solo vacation for a few weeks.
Going no contact will give you and your partner some time off from each other and allow you to spend more time with yourself. This is not a strategy or a scheme to make your partner value you more. It is simply the quintessential way to reset your relationship. You can use this time to reflect on your relationship, think about when things started going downhill and how much you are at fault for turning the relationship toxic. It will also make you and your partner miss each other and realize how much value you hold in each other’s lives. No contact will remove the toxic influence and bring the focus back on love and affection. Ever heard of the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder”?
#2 Focus on love
During your no contact period, take time out to think about your relationship. But instead of focusing on the problems, try to remind yourself why you fell in love with your partner and how much you love them. Take out a notebook and note down all the reasons why you love boyfriend or girlfriend. Ask yourself why are you searching the internet for how to fix a toxic relationship. The answer is simple, you still love them. Shift your focus to the good feelings and how much they mean to you.
#3 Accept that you are at fault too
Understand, identify and accept your mistakes that has led your relationship into toxic territory. Whatever has turned things sour, both you and your partner are equally at fault. By accepting your own faults you will be able to fix at least half the issues. Fixing yourself is easier than fixing your partner’s problems. Right? So start by identifying your part in all this drama and heal yourself to make things better.
By taking responsibility for your own reactions and feelings and letting go of your expectations from your partner, you will open yourself up to understanding your partner better and what exactly needs to be fixed in your relationship.
#4 Stop trying to be a savior
Stop taking responsibility for your partner’s feelings. That doesn’t mean you will insult and avoid them and not expect them to react. What I mean is you shouldn’t take the blame for your partner’s emotions and reactions even when it is not your fault. We all tend to have expectations from a relationship. And there will be several instances where our expectations will not be met by our partners for whatever reasons. Having said that, as long as you are committed and faithful, it is not your responsibility to meet every expectation your boyfriend or girlfriend might have from you.
So if they feel hurt or unloved because their expectations were unmet, then repeat to yourself that it’s not your fault. Feeling guilty or taking blame will not make things better in the long run. Sooner or later, these feelings will come out and make things worse. Stop being a savior. It’s not your job to save the relationship.
#5 Talk it out
I simply cannot overemphasize the importance of communication in a healthy relationship. Engage in deep, meaningful conversations with your partner. Talk about things that matter to you, talk about things that have hurt you, appreciate what you like about them, talk about life, talk about love, emotions, passions and everything that’s on your mind.
Effective communication can give your relationship the restart you need right now. You might feel vulnerable by talking about your deepest emotions and thoughts, but in the end, it will all be worth it. Talk to your partner even when things feel uncomfortable. It will allow you to understand your relationship better and know exactly where you stand. Talk about the difficult things and let your partner know how much you love them
#6 Be patient
It has taken several months, if not years, to turn your loving relationship into an unhealthy, toxic relationship. So it will take time to reverse the process. If you expect that you will talk with your partner one fine day and suddenly things will get better, then you need to wake up right now. It takes time to change bad habits. And it will take time to reverse your toxic relationship and make things better.
So be patient, be understanding and be open. Both you and your partner will need to put in a lot of effort. But things will get better. Trust the process. Have faith in your love. There is a reason why you two got together in the first place. So avoid all the negativity and make things easier for your partner to come back to the person they fell in love with.
From toxic to romantic
It’s possible. There is a chance that you can fix a toxic relationship and experience the love you once felt in your relationship. But not all relationships can be healed. As I said before, sometimes it’s better just to walk away.
When you try to heal your relationship and if it still doesn’t work out, at least you will know in your heart that you gave it everything you could. You will mature into a better person in the process. You will be better prepared to develop and nurture a healthy, loving and lasting relationship the next time.
I sincerely hope things better for you and get the love you deserve. Stay strong.
A version of this post was previously published on themindsjournal.com and is republished here with permission from the author.
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