Dysfunctional relationships are hard and impact every aspect of your life. You could end it, but can you learn how to fix a toxic relationship?
As someone who was in a toxic relationship for nearly six years, I can tell you it sucks. Sometimes you don’t even know how toxic the relationship is. Let alone even knowing it is worth knowing how to fix a toxic relationship. That is the issue with toxic relationships, they are so dysfunctional you don’t even realize it until it is beyond help.
But, are toxic relationships a lost cause? Can a toxic relationship be salvaged? Can you turn a toxic relationship into a thriving one?
Is your toxic relationship beyond help?
I am sorry to say that not all toxic relationships can be mended nor should they be. Sometimes toxic relationships are just that, toxic. But, how do you know if your relationship can be saved?
Well, look at the last year of your relationship. Have there been more bad moments than good? Are you angry, sad, or fighting more than you’re happy? Do your friends and family worry for you? Is there trust between you and your partner?[Read: The signs a toxic relationship will go from bad to worse]
Answering these questions is vital to figuring out how to fix a toxic relationship or if it is even worth it to try.
If the trust is gone or you’re regularly being manipulated by your partner, it can be nearly impossible to fix. Trust is the backbone of any functioning relationship. It can be built back up over time, but only if you are both willing to put the effort in.
Once a relationship has become toxic and is used to that state, breaking out of it is hard work. If both you and your partner discuss making changes in your relationship and you are not on the same page, it may be time to call it quits. [Read: 20 signs to recognize the end of your relationship and move on]
And please do not feel like a failure. Relationships take two willing people to work out. If your relationship cannot be saved, it is not due to anything you are lacking. It does not reflect on your willingness to work hard. Some relationships are simply not meant to be.
I was in a toxic relationship for far too long because I wouldn’t let myself end things. If I had broken away from that dysfunction sooner, I may have had a lot fewer trust issues in other relationships. Toxic relationships are not just toxic in the moment but can affect you forever.
Sometimes they need to end in order for you to heal. [Read: 13 ways toxic love can harm you permanently]
How to fix a toxic relationship
If your toxic relationship was brought on by a traumatic event or cheating, there are ways to fix it. You and your partner can come back from the bad parts and renew your relationship in a healthy way.
But learning how to fix a toxic relationship can bear fruition only if you are both willing to put in the time and effort to make it work. A toxic relationship is not one bad fight or a disagreement. Toxic relationships are manipulative, they lack respect and equality, and they can take over your life, so escaping one with your partner is not easy.
#1 Talk about it. Focus on how you feel, not what they did. Share how they made you feel. Talking about it is always the first step of any conflict, whether small or large. In order to fix a toxic relationship, you both should be willing to open up and communicate honestly.
Before anything can actually get fixed, you need to both share how you’re feeling. Talk about how you’ve been feeling, your concerns, how you want things to be. [Read: 14 steps to better love and communication in a relationship]
#2 Be patient. Always remember that a toxic relationship will not get better overnight. Once you bring it up to your partner and start a conversation, it can feel as if a weight has lifted because you have a stepping stone, but be patient.
Fixing your toxic relationships will not happen overnight or even within weeks. You will both need to make compromises and dig deep to turn your relationship around.
#3 Let go of blame. Toxic relationships tend to lean on the blame game. We blame the other person for their toxic behavior but forget to look at ourselves. Or we let our relationship dictate how we feel about ourselves.
Positively moving forward means you’re both willing to let go of blame, victimhood, and anger. You cannot have constructive conversations if you aren’t willing to open your mind and view this situation from all perspectives. [Read: The right way to fight fair in a relationship]
#4 Go to couples therapy. The best thing way to fix a toxic relationship is to bring in outside counsel. Going to couples therapy can sound intense or overwhelming. It can be hard to admit that you can’t fix things yourself, but there is no shame in therapy.
Going to a professional for guidance proves your willingness to work on your relationship. A therapist can help you identify your core problems and give you exercises and methods to overcome your issues and truly come out stronger.
#5 Consider where the toxicity began. Whether in therapy or not, analyzing when your relationship turned toxic is vital. Most relationships are not toxic from the first date. They turn bad after a fight, an event, or even due to jealousy or manipulation.
By reflecting on yourselves and the timeline of your relationship, you can work backward to when things went wrong in order to remedy that and move forward. [Read: 15 signs of a toxic relationship that’ll go from bad to worse]
#6 Get on the same page. If you and your partner cannot agree on what you must do in order to fix your toxic relationship, it won’t work. If you are not willing to put in equal effort, the relationship will not be salvageable.
You both should want the same things for your future. If you want independence and trust, but your partner wants you to depend on them and check up on you, it will never work. You have to both be willing to compromise and meet in the middle.
#7 Hold each other accountable. As you move forward, you both must be able to hold each other accountable for your actions. You cannot appreciate them going to therapy and overlook their continuous toxic behavior.
When you notice a pattern returning or continuing, calmly point it out so you can learn from those mistakes. It can feel odd at first, but by communicating when something feels wrong, you will both be able to rectify your behaviors. [Read: 13 ways toxic love can harm you permanently]
#8 Take time apart. Yes, some couples need time apart to come to terms with their relationship. Whether you need to stay with a friend for a few days or not speak at all for weeks, that time away from the toxicity can let you look at the relationship with a new perspective.
Some couples may not even need this much distance. But, you do need to make sure you are both living separate lives. You need to take time for yourself, your family and friends, and your job and hobbies.
Toxic relationships can be caused by co-dependence, but appreciating yourself as an individual away from your partner can help you to come together in a healthier way. [Read: How taking a break in a relationship works]
#9 Reevaluate. After some time working on things with a therapist or together, reevaluate how you are both feeling. Are things progressing and both communicating more solidly? Are you happier? This is the time to consider continuing fixing the relationship or parting ways.
You can learn how to fix a toxic relationship, but it requires a lot of hard work and desire to self reflect and communicate with your partner.