How to Fix a Toxic Relationship — Is It Possible?

From Fear to Freedom
From Fear to Freedom GUIDE topaz enhance sharpen hiresDOWNLOAD GUIDE

We’ve all encountered toxic relationships in our lives. And for many of us, we’ve also been the toxic person in some of our relationships. But if a relationship is toxic now, does that mean it will remain that way forever?

Can a toxic relationship go back to normal? Can you make a toxic relationship healthy? Are toxic relationships worth fixing?

Usually, when we talk about toxic relationships at Fearless Living, we’re talking about how to manage them and how to move on from them. And for good reason! Toxic relationships are incredibly damaging to your wellbeing—physically, mentally, and emotionally. They keep you from progressing on your fearless journey.

Today, we’re going to look at toxic relationships through another lens. What are the circumstances in which a toxic relationship can be fixed? What can you do on your part to fix the relationship? How do you know when it’s too late? How do you know when it’s time to move on?

Two people holding hands in protective suits and gas masks

Before we go any further though, I want to mention that this may be a tough read for some of you. So many of us, especially women, stick with toxic relationships because we believe it’s up to us to fix them. We believe we are the problem and that if we change and we do better and we make sacrifices, the relationship will fix itself and work out.

But friends, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

It takes two people for a relationship to work. If the other person isn’t willing to put in the effort and work on the relationship, it becomes out of your control. Because that’s what a relationship is, isn’t it? It’s two people coming together with mutual care, understanding, and trust. If the other person tunes out, the relationship is destined to fail. And that’s not your fault.

Say it with me:

It is not my fault.

It is not my fault.

IT IS NOT MY FAULT.

You are only one person out of the two required for a happy, healthy relationship, whether that’s with a romantic partner, a family member, a friend, or a colleague.

This article is by no means suggesting that all toxic relationships can be fixed. Unfortunately, most toxic relationships can’t be fixed. This is especially true of a relationship with someone, no matter their connection to you, who is physically or mentally abusive or crosses your boundaries over and over again.

How to Know If You’re in a Toxic Relationship

Is your relationship toxic? The first step to fixing or moving on from a toxic relationship is realizing you’re in one. It’s possible, and even very likely, that you think it’s just the way relationships are. Sure, you wish it was better, but it is what it is, right?

WRONG!

Being in any toxic relationship is disastrous to your mental health. A toxic partner and their toxic behavior are corrosive to your wellbeing.

Toxic relationships tend to hide in plain sight, but there are toxic patterns you can spot. Take some time alone and think deeply about your relationships. Does any of the following sound familiar?

  • The person’s controlling behavior makes you feel like you can’t make your own decisions.
  • Your partner, friend, or family member puts you down in front of other people.
  • They don’t believe in your dreams.
  • They are violent toward you.
  • You are lied to.
  • Your partner manipulates you into having sex when you don’t want to.
  • They constantly ask to borrow money even when you’ve said no.
  • They never ask you what you want to do, where you want to go, or what you want to eat.
  • You are constantly criticized and can’t seem to do anything right.
  • They are constantly complaining about you, your friends, your family, etc.
  • They body shame you.
  • Your needs are ignored.
  • Your boundaries are regularly crossed.
  • You’re never able to speak your mind.
  • Your partner spies on you.
  • Your partner is unfaithful to you.

Can Toxic Relationships Ever Be Fixed?

Young woman tired of listening her talkative girlfriend

You might be asking yourself, “how do I fix my toxic relationship fast?” Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for toxic relationships. Toxic relationships can be very difficult to fix because a relationship takes two people to work.

You are only able to control yourself. No matter how much you may want to change a relationship, to fix it, to turn it into a functioning one, there’s only so much you can do on your own without the support and willingness of the other person.

That said, there are circumstances in which the other person is willing to make changes. It could be that they just need a little nudge and good faith from you to get started. In certain situations (not abusive relationships), simply giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, reaching out, and being clear about your own needs, as well as theirs, can be enough to pull you off that toxic path.

And there are also toxic relationships that are toxic because of you and your actions. Have you ever stopped to think about that? Maybe you are actually the toxic person in your relationship, but you’re not aware of it.

I’m not sitting here trying to pick on you or point fingers. Because I’ve been there, too! 🙋‍♀️ In my past, I’ve been guilty of being the toxic person in many of my relationships. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now that I understand myself better and truly know what it means to be in a toxic relationship, I definitely contributed my share of toxicity.

Remember, it always takes at least two people to have a relationship. It takes two to tango. You are always responsible for your side of it.

How to Fix a Toxic Relationship

Speak Up and Have Tough Conversations 

It’s possible that the other person may not realize what they’re doing is wrong or that they’re being toxic. While I know it’s challenging, healthy communication and being open is the first step. Speak up and have those tough conversations. It’s very possible the other person could be willing to improve and mend the relationship.

Be honest with yourself, too—are you open to continuing the relationship if they are able to make changes?

Be Clear About Your Needs and Boundaries

It could be that your needs aren’t being met and your boundaries are being crossed because you haven’t been clear about what they are. This is common for a lot of us, so don’t feel bad.

My sweet friends, we are taught from a young age to put the needs of others before ourselves. We’re told it’s us who have to sacrifice and learn to do without. So, you may not even be aware of your own needs and boundaries. You feel angry and resentful because you’re not fulfilled, but you may not know why.

The first step is to identify your needs. What do you need in order to feel happy, appreciated, and comfortable? What things in life are the most important to you?

Your needs might include trust, space, belonging, harmony, etc. If you’re having trouble figuring out what your needs are, think about the things that absolutely get on your nerves. There’s a good chance your needs aren’t being met in these situations.

When it comes to boundaries, how do you prefer people to communicate and interact with you? Are you uncomfortable if people stand too close to you or touch the small of your back when they want to get around you? Are you uncomfortable with a family member asking you questions about your personal life?

Once you determine your needs and boundaries, write them down for yourself, along with the consequences that come when someone crosses a boundary. Then, communicate your needs and boundaries to the other person in the relationship. This is also a good time to ask them what their needs and boundaries are.

People cannot read your mind. Losing your temper and shouting about your needs only to apologize and walk back your statement later is no help to anyone—least of all your beautiful and fearless self! If you lose your temper, the conversation could be dismissed. “Oh, she’s having another one of her tantrums.” 🙄

Stay calm, and be clear. I’m not saying it will be easy. In fact, I’m saying it will be hard—but I also KNOW in my heart you have the strength to do it. Yes, you may start to shake. You may feel like vomiting. This is your fear trying to take over and keep you in your box. Do not let it. Take a deep breath, and stay the course.

Find a Form of Forgiveness 

If you’re going to stay in that relationship, you can’t hold grudges. If you continue to hold their past behavior and actions against them, they won’t have the space to grow. If you always see them in a negative light, it won’t matter if they’re making improvements because you’re still living in the past.

Here’s the other thing: Forgiveness isn’t about them.

Forgiveness is all about you.

Holding on to the past will keep you stewing in anger and resentment, and that bitterness will erode your emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Of course you’re angry. I get that! But holding on to your pain keeps you trapped. Find a way to forgive so that you can set yourself free.

I have SO MUCH to say about forgiveness—way too much to fit into this single article. But when you’re done here, I invite you to read my article on How to Forgive Even When It Feels Impossible. Forgiveness transformed my life, and I know it can do the same for you.

Are You Adding Toxicity to the Relationship? 

Now I’ve spoken a lot about how to deal with someone who is toxic toward you, but it takes two to tango. Are you part of the problem?

Own the fact that you are the other half of the relationship. Take a deep look at yourself and your actions, and how you treat people. As important as boundaries are for yourself, they’re just as important for the other person. What are their boundaries? Are you crossing their boundaries? Are you neglecting their needs?

Are you being a critic to your friends or family members? Just because their dreams aren’t the same as yours doesn’t mean they’re wrong. How much of your relationship do you spend complaining? Do you lie to your partner? Do you put them down in private or in public?

Put in the work to ensure you’re not the toxic one in the relationship.

Moving On When a Relationship Is Too Toxic

Butterfly in woman's hands letting go

The truth is, there is no quick fix for toxic relationships.

Fixing unhealthy relationships will take time and effort—effort that absolutely must come from both parties.

Far too often, the other person is unwilling to put in the effort it takes, which leaves you with determining whether or not you need to move on from the relationship. If a relationship is toxic and there’s no room left to improve it, it’s likely time to move on. Of course, that takes effort, too, and it’s difficult in a different way.

Learn more from my companion guide: How to Move on From a Toxic Relationship (And How to Recognize One). I break down the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and share what you can do to get yourself out of the unhealthy ones.

A toxic relationship may be one of the things in your life keeping you from making progress on your dreams. Until you break free, there will always be something holding you back and pulling you back toward everything you fear most.

Fearless Living is a community of like-minded people who are passionate about building healthy relationships that are free from fear and toxicity. My 10-week Fearless Living Training Program is based on decades of learning how to crack the secret code to fear. With the Fearless Living program and Fearless You, you’ll learn how to break ingrained behavior patterns, be clear about your needs, set clear boundaries, and so much more.

For more guides, resources, Fearbuster Exercises™, and inspiring stories, follow the Fearless Living blog. I’m always adding something new, and it’s a great place to learn more about Fearless Living and understand our process for tackling fear. Start living the life your soul intended™ today!

From Fear to Freedom
From Fear to Freedom GUIDE topaz enhance sharpen hiresDOWNLOAD GUIDE

We’ve all encountered toxic relationships in our lives. And for many of us, we’ve also been the toxic person in some of our relationships. But if a relationship is toxic now, does that mean it will remain that way forever?

Can a toxic relationship go back to normal? Can you make a toxic relationship healthy? Are toxic relationships worth fixing?

Usually, when we talk about toxic relationships at Fearless Living, we’re talking about how to manage them and how to move on from them. And for good reason! Toxic relationships are incredibly damaging to your wellbeing—physically, mentally, and emotionally. They keep you from progressing on your fearless journey.

Today, we’re going to look at toxic relationships through another lens. What are the circumstances in which a toxic relationship can be fixed? What can you do on your part to fix the relationship? How do you know when it’s too late? How do you know when it’s time to move on?

Two people holding hands in protective suits and gas masks

Before we go any further though, I want to mention that this may be a tough read for some of you. So many of us, especially women, stick with toxic relationships because we believe it’s up to us to fix them. We believe we are the problem and that if we change and we do better and we make sacrifices, the relationship will fix itself and work out.

But friends, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

It takes two people for a relationship to work. If the other person isn’t willing to put in the effort and work on the relationship, it becomes out of your control. Because that’s what a relationship is, isn’t it? It’s two people coming together with mutual care, understanding, and trust. If the other person tunes out, the relationship is destined to fail. And that’s not your fault.

Say it with me:

It is not my fault.

It is not my fault.

IT IS NOT MY FAULT.

You are only one person out of the two required for a happy, healthy relationship, whether that’s with a romantic partner, a family member, a friend, or a colleague.

This article is by no means suggesting that all toxic relationships can be fixed. Unfortunately, most toxic relationships can’t be fixed. This is especially true of a relationship with someone, no matter their connection to you, who is physically or mentally abusive or crosses your boundaries over and over again.

How to Know If You’re in a Toxic Relationship

Is your relationship toxic? The first step to fixing or moving on from a toxic relationship is realizing you’re in one. It’s possible, and even very likely, that you think it’s just the way relationships are. Sure, you wish it was better, but it is what it is, right?

WRONG!

Being in any toxic relationship is disastrous to your mental health. A toxic partner and their toxic behavior are corrosive to your wellbeing.

Toxic relationships tend to hide in plain sight, but there are toxic patterns you can spot. Take some time alone and think deeply about your relationships. Does any of the following sound familiar?

  • The person’s controlling behavior makes you feel like you can’t make your own decisions.
  • Your partner, friend, or family member puts you down in front of other people.
  • They don’t believe in your dreams.
  • They are violent toward you.
  • You are lied to.
  • Your partner manipulates you into having sex when you don’t want to.
  • They constantly ask to borrow money even when you’ve said no.
  • They never ask you what you want to do, where you want to go, or what you want to eat.
  • You are constantly criticized and can’t seem to do anything right.
  • They are constantly complaining about you, your friends, your family, etc.
  • They body shame you.
  • Your needs are ignored.
  • Your boundaries are regularly crossed.
  • You’re never able to speak your mind.
  • Your partner spies on you.
  • Your partner is unfaithful to you.

Can Toxic Relationships Ever Be Fixed?

Young woman tired of listening her talkative girlfriend

You might be asking yourself, “how do I fix my toxic relationship fast?” Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for toxic relationships. Toxic relationships can be very difficult to fix because a relationship takes two people to work.

You are only able to control yourself. No matter how much you may want to change a relationship, to fix it, to turn it into a functioning one, there’s only so much you can do on your own without the support and willingness of the other person.

That said, there are circumstances in which the other person is willing to make changes. It could be that they just need a little nudge and good faith from you to get started. In certain situations (not abusive relationships), simply giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, reaching out, and being clear about your own needs, as well as theirs, can be enough to pull you off that toxic path.

And there are also toxic relationships that are toxic because of you and your actions. Have you ever stopped to think about that? Maybe you are actually the toxic person in your relationship, but you’re not aware of it.

I’m not sitting here trying to pick on you or point fingers. Because I’ve been there, too! 🙋‍♀️ In my past, I’ve been guilty of being the toxic person in many of my relationships. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now that I understand myself better and truly know what it means to be in a toxic relationship, I definitely contributed my share of toxicity.

Remember, it always takes at least two people to have a relationship. It takes two to tango. You are always responsible for your side of it.

How to Fix a Toxic Relationship

Speak Up and Have Tough Conversations 

It’s possible that the other person may not realize what they’re doing is wrong or that they’re being toxic. While I know it’s challenging, healthy communication and being open is the first step. Speak up and have those tough conversations. It’s very possible the other person could be willing to improve and mend the relationship.

Be honest with yourself, too—are you open to continuing the relationship if they are able to make changes?

Be Clear About Your Needs and Boundaries

It could be that your needs aren’t being met and your boundaries are being crossed because you haven’t been clear about what they are. This is common for a lot of us, so don’t feel bad.

My sweet friends, we are taught from a young age to put the needs of others before ourselves. We’re told it’s us who have to sacrifice and learn to do without. So, you may not even be aware of your own needs and boundaries. You feel angry and resentful because you’re not fulfilled, but you may not know why.

The first step is to identify your needs. What do you need in order to feel happy, appreciated, and comfortable? What things in life are the most important to you?

Your needs might include trust, space, belonging, harmony, etc. If you’re having trouble figuring out what your needs are, think about the things that absolutely get on your nerves. There’s a good chance your needs aren’t being met in these situations.

When it comes to boundaries, how do you prefer people to communicate and interact with you? Are you uncomfortable if people stand too close to you or touch the small of your back when they want to get around you? Are you uncomfortable with a family member asking you questions about your personal life?

Once you determine your needs and boundaries, write them down for yourself, along with the consequences that come when someone crosses a boundary. Then, communicate your needs and boundaries to the other person in the relationship. This is also a good time to ask them what their needs and boundaries are.

People cannot read your mind. Losing your temper and shouting about your needs only to apologize and walk back your statement later is no help to anyone—least of all your beautiful and fearless self! If you lose your temper, the conversation could be dismissed. “Oh, she’s having another one of her tantrums.” 🙄

Stay calm, and be clear. I’m not saying it will be easy. In fact, I’m saying it will be hard—but I also KNOW in my heart you have the strength to do it. Yes, you may start to shake. You may feel like vomiting. This is your fear trying to take over and keep you in your box. Do not let it. Take a deep breath, and stay the course.

Find a Form of Forgiveness 

If you’re going to stay in that relationship, you can’t hold grudges. If you continue to hold their past behavior and actions against them, they won’t have the space to grow. If you always see them in a negative light, it won’t matter if they’re making improvements because you’re still living in the past.

Here’s the other thing: Forgiveness isn’t about them.

Forgiveness is all about you.

Holding on to the past will keep you stewing in anger and resentment, and that bitterness will erode your emotional, mental, and spiritual health. Of course you’re angry. I get that! But holding on to your pain keeps you trapped. Find a way to forgive so that you can set yourself free.

I have SO MUCH to say about forgiveness—way too much to fit into this single article. But when you’re done here, I invite you to read my article on How to Forgive Even When It Feels Impossible. Forgiveness transformed my life, and I know it can do the same for you.

Are You Adding Toxicity to the Relationship? 

Now I’ve spoken a lot about how to deal with someone who is toxic toward you, but it takes two to tango. Are you part of the problem?

Own the fact that you are the other half of the relationship. Take a deep look at yourself and your actions, and how you treat people. As important as boundaries are for yourself, they’re just as important for the other person. What are their boundaries? Are you crossing their boundaries? Are you neglecting their needs?

Are you being a critic to your friends or family members? Just because their dreams aren’t the same as yours doesn’t mean they’re wrong. How much of your relationship do you spend complaining? Do you lie to your partner? Do you put them down in private or in public?

Put in the work to ensure you’re not the toxic one in the relationship.

Moving On When a Relationship Is Too Toxic

Butterfly in woman's hands letting go

The truth is, there is no quick fix for toxic relationships.

Fixing unhealthy relationships will take time and effort—effort that absolutely must come from both parties.

Far too often, the other person is unwilling to put in the effort it takes, which leaves you with determining whether or not you need to move on from the relationship. If a relationship is toxic and there’s no room left to improve it, it’s likely time to move on. Of course, that takes effort, too, and it’s difficult in a different way.

Learn more from my companion guide: How to Move on From a Toxic Relationship (And How to Recognize One). I break down the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and share what you can do to get yourself out of the unhealthy ones.

A toxic relationship may be one of the things in your life keeping you from making progress on your dreams. Until you break free, there will always be something holding you back and pulling you back toward everything you fear most.

Fearless Living is a community of like-minded people who are passionate about building healthy relationships that are free from fear and toxicity. My 10-week Fearless Living Training Program is based on decades of learning how to crack the secret code to fear. With the Fearless Living program and Fearless You, you’ll learn how to break ingrained behavior patterns, be clear about your needs, set clear boundaries, and so much more.

For more guides, resources, Fearbuster Exercises™, and inspiring stories, follow the Fearless Living blog. I’m always adding something new, and it’s a great place to learn more about Fearless Living and understand our process for tackling fear. Start living the life your soul intended™ today!

You May Also Like

5 Myths About Self-Forgiveness

In this post, I continue to dissect self-forgiveness, focusing on common myths that prevent people from truly being able to forgive themselves.

Read Post

How to Find Self-Love on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is for everyone. I share tips for making the most of Valentine’s Day, no matter your relationship status.

Read Post

How to Be a Better Partner in 7 Steps

Could your relationship use a tune-up? Let’s dig into what makes a good life partner and how you can become a better partner to improve your relationship.

Read Post
1 2 3 28
magnifier