Can Toxic Relationships Be Healed?

We all need relationships that lift us up, support us and help us feel better about ourselves. 

But sometimes the relationship turns out to be toxic, and these kinds of relationships can lead to an unbalanced life that can cause us to feel stuck or sad, even depressed.

If you’ve ever wondered if toxic relationships could actually be healed, this post is for you.

Let’s face it: All relationships are difficult, but in the end, you should be happy in one. Do you sometimes wonder, what does your partner think, when he/she acts the way that they did?

Maybe, he/she is just misunderstood, maybe that was just a bad day, or is it that some toxicity has come into your relationship?

If you want to know how to heal toxic relationships and break free from the chains of negativity, this is the article for you.

Read time: approximately 10 minutes

Can Toxic Relationships Be Healed?

Is your relationship toxic?

Sometimes your relationship finds itself into a rough patch or, maybe even a crisis, but that does not mean it is toxic, so the first thing you should find out – is it truly toxic or just a phase?

Start by asking a few questions to yourself:

  • Do I feel bad in this relationship? And if I do – have I felt like this since the beginning, or is it something recent?
  • Do I feel that my partner is purposely trying to make me feel bad (or, I am the one doing that)?
  • Can I communicate to my partner and tell him/her how I am feeling?

If by answering these questions you think that it might just be a rough patch – good, you can start fixing it! We also have some advice for getting over a rough patch here.

But, if you think the relationship is truly toxic and it is not just a phase, then read on and hopefully you will find some advice that you can use in your situation.

Understand the roots of your toxic relationship

The ability to recognize what is causing the toxicity in the relationship and then to take action to heal it. This step is really essential, because if you won’t know what is causing the damage, you won’t know how to fix it.

By trying to find the problem, be sure to have an open mind, because quite often the actual problem is something we tried to avoid seeing in the first place. Sometimes, the problem is even ourselves, and that is especially difficult to admit.

And don’t rush this part. Unless it is a really obvious thing, you won’t find the underlying problem in a single day. Usually, it takes a lot of thinking, and communication with our partner until we find and admit the problem to ourselves.

Is my relationship toxic?

What are expressions of a toxic behavior?

In case of a toxic relationship, the expressions can be many, but the principle stays more or less the same – the behavior or one or both partners make the other feel unappreciated, unloved and insignificant.

It can be expressed as disrespect, distrust, lack of communication or aggressive communication etc. And more importantly – toxic behavior can be done knowingly or unknowingly.

In the case that the toxic behavior is done on purpose – well, basically this is the worst-case scenario and the best way forward is at least strongly consider breaking up.

But if you think that one of you is acting toxic just because you don’t know better – then start with a serious conversation, and try to communicate your feelings.

This may or may not make things better, but at least you will have tried, and that is what matters.

What happens in a toxic relationship?

In general, there are two types of toxic relationships: ones that are built on lies, deceit, and manipulation (i.e., toxic on purpose) and those that are built on a foundation of love and friendship, but with a bad communication (toxic not on purpose).

When we are in a healthy relationship, we feel comfortable enough with that we can share our innermost thoughts and feelings, we are able to express more of ourselves and become a better person because we are being authentic with the other person.

Basically we’re not living in fear and keeping what we truly believe to ourselves.

On the flip side, when people are in relationships that are based on deception, lies, deceit, and manipulation, they are unable to give themselves fully.

They feel like they have to keep up a façade because it makes them feel safe. They don’t feel they can be honest with themselves or with others, and this makes them feel less than a whole.

When we feel like we can’t be open and honest with others about our true feelings, we shut down our own hearts and minds and live in a kind of frozen state of being, which then can manifest in all sort of unpleasant forms, like depression, anxiety, fear. 

Toxic relationship why it happens

So, can (or should) a toxic relationship be healed?

In general, yes, it can be healed, especially if it is toxic not on purpose, but should it be healed – it depends on your feelings – do you feel that your relationship should and can be healed? Only you can answer this.

If you wish to heal it, we think if you’re trying to heal a toxic relationship, you need to be careful not to only focus on the bad things that have happened. You need to look at the good things too. 

By focusing on the negative, you may miss the opportunity to find something to build on. That’s why it’s so important to focus on the positive and share the best parts of your life and your relationship with the person you want to heal.

Rise above emotional manipulation and mind games

Whether you are in a healthy or unhealthy relationship, when one person starts to manipulate, emotionally abuse or control the other, there’s an important lesson here. 

“If you find yourself in an abusive situation, take action before the abuse escalates,” says Patti Breitman and Connie Hatch, authors of How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty.

“This is a big first step in healing your relationship, and you don’t have to be left feeling alone, confused, or afraid.”

Assess the damage done

Once you know the problem and what it is that you need to learn about your partner, then the next step is to assess the damage that has already been done.

How long have you been dealing with this person? What does it look like when they are interacting with you? Have they ever done anything like this before? What was the outcome of that interaction? Do they exhibit any similar patterns of behavior with other people?

It's important to realize that both you and your partner may be having a hard time right now. However, don't panic. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but it will be worthwhile.

You can try to see if you can learn anything from the situation that your partner is in. It will help you to know what it is that you need to do to deal with your relationship. You can talk to your partner and try to understand what they are feeling

As you get to know your partner better, you will be able to determine the real reasons why they are behaving the way that they are.

Fix an unhealthy relationship

Build a strong foundation for healing

Your relationship is like a building. As all houses, it needs a strong foundation, otherwise it will collapse. If the foundation is not strong, you either rebuild it or move elsewhere.

When your foundation is crumbling, ideally you should have a talk with your partner and explain how you feel about your relationship.

If your partner agrees that there are problems in your relationship, then you should both make an effort to work on them. 

But if you decided to that this is the end for your relationship and you want to break up, then know what you might expect. 

In the worst-case scenario, when your partner is not only toxic, but controlling and maybe even abusive, it is necessary to prepare yourself that breaking up might be more difficult than it should be, as these persons tend not to let go easily, so be sure you have family or friends, where to go to.

Explore healthier ways to have uncomfortable conversations

We’ve all had uncomfortable conversations at some point in our lives, especially when someone we care about does something that annoys us.

What do we do instead of expressing how we really feel? We either lie, or we try to keep our emotions inside.

When we try to be polite and avoid an argument, we’re not really being honest with ourselves, but rather, we’re avoiding the truth and pretending to be somebody else.

But we can change that by talking to ourselves honestly in the present tense—so we’re able to express the truth of how we really feel. We also learn about ourselves in these conversations. We become better listeners, more understanding of other people's motivations, and more thoughtful in how we communicate.

And if we keep the conversation positive, we may even find a solution to the problem we were trying to avoid.

If you wish to have meaningful conversation with your partner and learn more about him/her, but don’t know where to start, we can recommend playing the Life Conversations game – it is a collection of 100 questions about life, relationships, difficult questions and other meaningful themes.

Heal a toxic relationship

Create a solid support network

Toxic relationships are tough to deal with, but it’s important to recognize that the people we surround ourselves with are reflections of us. 

If you don’t want to be surrounded by people who bring you down, then you’re going to have to make some changes. 

Start building positive relationships with people and groups of people that help you succeed. Seek out positive relationships where there is mutual respect, admiration, and compassion, and you will see how your life will improve.

Recognize when you’ve had enough and let go

As the saying goes “it is better to have a painful end, then to have endless pain”. 

When you begin to take action, it’s important to try, but remember that you’re not always going to succeed. And it is OK.

When you’re in a negative relationship, you’ll often feel anxious and depressed. So, try to remain optimistic, but not overly optimistic, so you let yourself to be blind to the reality. It’s not helpful to over analyze or second guess your decisions.

If it doesn’t work out, try something else or change your approach.

So, of course, it is best to try fix things, but in the end don’t stay in a situation that’s unhealthy for you because you’re afraid of failure or being alone.

Overcome toxic relationship

Conclusion and Silver lining

This article is not among the most positive ones, but it is OK, because sometimes we have to look at ourselves in an unpleasant light, so we can address the problems, and then do something about it.

Maybe, you are in a toxic relationship that needs to be ended as soon as possible, but maybe your relationship is fine, you just have some doubts that are normal for most relationships.

But in any case, if you read this article, most likely there is something that bothers you, and the only way to know for sure, is to at least think about it. In the end you will be happier.

As always, feel free to read other relationship tips and look around our store to find some thoughtful and sexy gifts for couples.

We would love to hear from you!

Have you ever been in a toxic relationship before? 

What were your thoughts on it and how did you deal with it? Do you have any tips that you would like to share about how you dealt with it?

We’d also love to know if you think that people can overcome toxic relationships. Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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