11 Possible Ways To Heal A Toxic Relationship And Reverse It Into A Healthy One
Resist your urges to control your partner
When you are in a relationship that lacks trust and true intimacy it is very easy to develop a controlling behaviour towards your partner. Because of the fear involved you might have the irresistible desire to ask a lot of questions about the whereabouts or your partner, or his/her friends, you might even want to influence important decisions your partner is about to make, or in general you would try very hard to make him/her behave and think in a way that you desire.
When you feel these urges to control the best thing to do is to resist them and ask yourself-what am I afraid of in this situation?
Nobody has control over your emotions
They can’t create them, they can’t feel them, they can’t address them, they can’t resolve them, they can’t choose to let them go and they can’t choose to be in touch with your inner sense of OK-ness.
They can’t do these things for you, and therefore, it is impossible to expect anyone to be truly responsible for your emotions, reactions and actions.
You are the only one with the experience of your emotions and you are the only one who can have control over your emotions.
Avoid trying to “fix” the other person
It’s tempting to want to fix the other person, especially if you care about them. However, you can’t change another person’s thoughts or behaviors, and trying will only make the situation worse. Instead, focus on yourself.
- Trying to change the other person will frustrate both you and them.
- Learning to control your reactions to the other person and to support your own emotions will have a bigger impact toward fixing your relationship.
Cleanse your mind, body, and spirit of toxicity
Engage in some type of movement or spiritual activity for cleansing and renewal after you have left the toxic environment/relationship. Follow through with cutting contact with the toxic person. Examples of activities include yoga, tai chi, aerobic exercise, meditation, journaling, detoxification, talk therapy, or religious practices within a supportive faith community.
You are now on your way to moving toward true independence, freedom, and love of self. Take your time as you exhale . . . and learn to breathe again.
Establish ground rules
This one is definitely tough, especially if the relationship is one you've been in for a long time. Essentially, this boils down to establishing what isn't working and what the stakes are. So for example, if your partner has a bad habit of calling or texting you repeatedly and you feel it's disruptive to your life or disrespectful of your time or other commitments, you might consider setting ground rules with them as far as the phone goes.
For instance, you could tell them, "When I'm at work, remember I can't check my personal phone often. Unless it's an emergency, please don't call or text me more than twice before I get back to you." (Or whatever window of time is reasonable for you).
Make time for yourself
Making time for yourself is another big one. Even if you love spending time with someone in a healthy relationship, it's still important to have space and time to yourself. When the relationship has toxic qualities, making sure you have some alone time can help you organize your thoughts and reflect on what's happening around you. Even when things are going well, or you think progress is being made, it's important not to get 100 percent wrapped up in the relationship.
Remember, to function well as part of a couple, you need to function well as an individual, and part of that is making sure you get enough time to relax with yourself. If your partner, friend, or so forth struggles with being clingy or codependent, this is important for them as well: You both need your own hobbies and time to unwind, and learning that distance makes the heart grow fonder certainly isn't a bad thing.
You are responsible for your emotions and reactions
I know, he did something jerky, or said something mean, or forgot something. No matter what he did, you are responsible for your own emotions and reactions. (Don’t worry this rule runs both ways.) Often arguments in a toxic relationship spiral downward as both people get wrapped up in reacting with their emotions first.
Yes someone said something to kick the fight off, but when we react by flinging it right back at them instead of focusing on the issue that started it all, arguments often turn into a tit for tat of hurtful comments and angry accusations.
It takes time and effort to learn to not react with emotion, but when you choose not to escalate the situation, the chance for a healthy conversation increases.
You are not responsible for your partner's emotions and reactions
I am not saying you are in the clear to hurl every insult in the book and then say, “Hey, if you’re hurt or mad that’s on you.” What I am saying is that sometimes we apologize just to end the fight. Sometimes we blame ourselves even when deep down we know were really trying to just be open and honest.
When you are staying calm and being open and honest, that doesn’t mean that the things you say or do might not anger or hurt the man you love. If he reacts with toxic spew, not only should you not react with toxicity back, but you shouldn’t feel blame yourself. We are all responsible for our own behavior; he can’t make you do anything and you can’t make him either.
Don’t engage in mind games
Toxic relationships often involve mind games, and it’s hard to break that habit. You may think that mind games are the only way to get your needs met, but they actually make things worse. It’s better to be honest with your partner about what you want. Here are toxic mind games that you should avoid:
- Keeping score of chores, sacrifices, unmet needs, etc.
- Being passive-aggressive by dropping hints instead of openly communicating your needs.
- Telling your partner that everything is okay, even though it’s not.
Have the hard conversation
So you have sat back and thought about things, now it is time to have the hard conversation, to talk calmly, openly, and honestly with the man you love.
Let him know all the things you have taken stock of. Let him know that even though the relationship has turned toxic that you want to fix it, together. This isn’t about listing off all the things he does wrong, this is about the two of you really talking about what has gone wrong in the relationship you are both a part of.
This will likely be the first time you really have to work to change old habits of descending into negativity. But, if you want to fix things, this is the moment when you need to be your calmest, kindest, and most honest. He can’t begin to work on his part of things if he doesn’t know what that part is.
Remind yourself how much you love him, and why
Sit down, alone, with a notebook and take stock of your relationship. Write down all the reasons you love your significant other. Often as our relationships turn toxic drama, hurt, and anger become the things we focus on.
So remind yourself why you are there, what makes him the man you fell in love with. Focusing on the good can help put things into perspective, and wash away some of the not so good feelings that likely have become both you and your man’s focus.
Not every toxic relationship can be repaired, not every one should be. Following these steps will help you to not fall into these habits again. And even if your relationship fails, if you follow these steps you will know you did do everything you could, and you will be more prepared to have a mature, healthy relationship the next time around. It is important to note that there is a fine line between toxic and abuse, and if your relationship has crossed that line, the best thing to do is to get out, you can think it all over from a safe distance, of very far away.