Being in a toxic relationship can be unhealthy and harmful. If you suspect that your relationship with someone you’re dating is toxic—maybe friends and family have warned you or you are experiencing patterns of fights and gaslighting—you might consider how to proceed.
Read on to find out how to leave a toxic relationship, how to recognize one, and—depending on your situation—how to fix a toxic relationship.
What do I need to know?
- How to know if I’m in a toxic relationship?
- How to leave a toxic relationship
- How to fix a toxic relationship?
- Reasons people find themselves in toxic relationships
- How to leave a toxic relationship and how to fix a toxic relationship FAQs
- How to leave a toxic relationship and how to fix a toxic relationship: our final thoughts
How to know if I’m in a toxic relationship?
If you suspect that you are in a toxic relationship, you might consider either leaving the relationship or trying to fix it. Here are some of the signs that can help you identify a toxic relationship.
While it can be normal to experience periods of conflict in a relationship, in healthy relationships, people are able to communicate during or after a conflict and resolve it.
Constant fighting can be a sign of a toxic relationship. If these conflicts continue to escalate, rather than improve, chances are you might be in a toxic relationship.
Stress and anxiety
Even in difficult periods, it is still possible to have a sense of peace and hope for change. If your relationship has constant stress and anxiety and you have more confusion than you do peace then it is toxic.
A couple that stagnates or goes around in circles is a couple that lacks the fundamentals to make that relationship healthy and fulfilling.
If you are fearing for your safety and well-being because of the person you are with, then your relationship is toxic, and reaching out for help can be a good idea.
Abuse of any kind
Abusive behaviour should never be tolerated or justified and is a clear sign of toxic behaviour. Whether it is verbal, emotional, physical, mental, or sexual abuse it should be addressed immediately.
More subtle signs of abuse include gaslighting, controlling behaviour, or shaming.
How to leave a toxic relationship
In most cases, toxic relationships should not be continued. If you are in a toxic relationship and wish to end it, here are some steps you can take.
Try to form a plan for leaving: think about how and when you want to cut ties, and if you’re living with a toxic partner try to make sure you have a safe space to stay and some funds for after you leave. Focus on how you can rebuild your life afterwards.
Find support from friends and family, or seek professional help during and after the process, even if you think you do not need it. Having a supportive community means you can have someone to check in on you or give you advice, which can help with leaving, as well as with healing.
Whether this is a no contact rule, blocking your toxic ex-partner’s number or social media accounts, or having a mediator, setting strong boundaries can be important for protecting yourself and healing.
Focus on healing
Breakups can be difficult, even when you know it was the right thing to do, and especially when dealing with the emotional residue of a toxic relationship. Allow yourself to grieve the toxic relationship, but try to balance out that pain by focusing on healing and moving forward.
Set yourself some new goals, build up your self-worth, and take time for yourself.
How to fix a toxic relationship?
Depending on the relationship’s toxicity level, some can be healed and saved. In order to decide if you want to try and fix a toxic relationship rather than learn how to leave a toxic relationship, you might want to consider whether the relationship can likely be fixed, and how you can do so.
Toxic relationships that can be fixed
It might be possible to heal a toxic relationship if
- your partner is actively willing and trying to improve: they are consistent with the effort needed in order to change the toxic behaviour and dynamics, and you see real change.
- you can access professional help: you and your partner are able to see a trained professional either separately or together.
- there is no abuse: if you are being abused in any capacity it might be better to end the relationship and seek help immediately.
Advice on how to fix a toxic relationship
If you’ve determined that you want to attempt fixing your toxic relationship, the key to the process is breaking the toxic cycle. Here are some ways you can try to do so.
Seek professional help
When trying to fix a toxic relationship, seeking professional help can be beneficial. Although having supportive family and friends is important, a trained professional can help set a strategy in place, give guidance, and keep both partners accountable and honest in the process.
For instance, a couples therapist can help you identify toxic behaviours and patterns.
Healthy communication that is effective can be important in helping you fix your relationship. This means being patient during conversations—knowing how to give and receive constructive criticism without getting defensive— to avoid fighting. If it’s challenging to keep conversations calm on your own, a therapist or counsellor can help mediate.
Without boundaries, you might not be able to sustain a healthy standard of accountability and progress. Setting boundaries can help you communicate in a healthy way, express your expectations, and present consequences to certain behaviours.
Give it time
Toxic relationships will take patience and forgiveness. You cannot repair a toxic relationship overnight; this process takes patience and forgiveness. There might be relapses and moments that make you question your progress.
If you feel like giving up on the relationship, try to understand if it’s because of overwhelming emotions or a real need. Keep in mind that even if you initially wanted to fix the relationship, you can always change your mind in the process if it’s the better decision for you.
Ever heard of love addiction? It can also cause a relationship to be toxic. Read on to find out more about what it is.
Reasons people find themselves in toxic relationships
When you’ve ended or repaired your toxic relationship, it might be time to reflect and start healing. During the reflection process, you might be wondering why you found yourself in a toxic relationship. Keep in mind that being in a toxic relationship is not your fault, and focus on how you can learn from the experience.
Fear of missing out on love, being lonely, or being abandoned can cause people to enter a relationship that is negative, just so they can have someone by their side. When we permit fear to control our actions and attachments it manifests as toxic relationships and behaviours.
Remember that our fears are as powerful as we allow them to be, and being aware of your fears can help you control and overcome them.
Need for validation
Entering a relationship and loving someone out of lack—a need for validation or love that you hope would help you love yourself—can result in toxic relationships in which you might be taken advantage of.
Ultimately, fears and lacks and your subconscious responses to them can stem from childhood experiences. How you experienced relationships and love from a young age might influence how your brain perceives and seeks attachments.
For example, if you’ve never felt loved or accepted you may lack boundaries with others to try to earn love and avoid rejection. If you had parents who had a broken marriage, you may find that you tend to try and fix broken people.
How to leave a toxic relationship and how to fix a toxic relationship FAQs
Can you fix a very toxic relationship?
You can fix a toxic relationship if both partners are willing to participate in the process and if it’s the healthy choice for you. While some very toxic relationships have successfully been turned around, it is not always the case, and setting unrealistic expectations can cause more pain. If you want to repair your toxic relationship, seeking professional help can be a good idea.
Can a toxic person change?
Yes, it is possible for people to change. However, waiting for a toxic partner to change whilst sacrificing your own happiness may be unhealthy. The toxic person needs to want to change as well, and show their intentions by reflecting on their actions and consistently working towards bettering themselves.
Is fixing a toxic relationship worth it?
If a relationship can be saved for the right reasons, it may be worth giving it a try. However, this depends on what the toxic traits are and what both people are doing to try and fix the toxic relationship and make their (non-toxic) partner feel valued again.
Do toxic relationships ever last?
Toxic relationships can last for as long as you let them last. You can have the power to continue or end them, and you can choose what is the healthiest choice for you in the relationship.
How to leave a toxic relationship and how to fix a toxic relationship: our final thoughts
While learning how to fix a toxic relationship can be difficult, it is possible—especially when seeking professional help. However, sometimes the healthy choice may be to leave that relationship behind, and although figuring out how to leave a toxic relationship requires some planning and strength, it can be done in a healthy way with the right support system.
Whether you choose to end a toxic relationship or try to fix it, keep in mind that finding yourself in a toxic relationship is not your fault.
- Best for: Adult dating without a wait
- Free membership: Free registration, limited
- Users: 9 million
- Get started free of charge
- Meet your match
- 50s and over only
- No fees to create a profile
- Thousands of people joining daily
- Proven track record of successful matchmaking
- Start chatting to like-minded people today
- Trusted online dating service
- Best for passionate encounters
- Many search options to find a perfect match
- Privacy guaranteed
- An easy and private messaging interface
- Easy and convenient interface
- Many success stories
- Plenty of attractive members for you to have fun with
- Set up your basic profile for free
- Meet people compatible with you
- For serious relationships
- Trusted site with fantastic reviews
- A picture with your profile isn't mandatory and you can send messages anonymously to other members
- Meet like-minded people
- You won't get bored
- 100% secure
- Free registration
- Free account creation
- Educated, attractive singles
- Meet people with similar wants and needs
- Many new love seekers joining daily
- Create a free account
- Meet people you can connect with
- Well-designed app with seamless interface
- It costs nothing to get started
- Match with people with similar interests
- Find genuine connection and chemistry
- Best for: Available Mature Singles
- Free membership: Free registration, limited
- Users: 35 000
- A dating site that allows you to meet beautiful asian, european and latino singles
- Real-time communication with efficient tools
- Professional dating services
- Immediate and quick response from the online singles
- Real profiles
- Large database of verified & attractive Asian and European singles
- Efficient communication tools for real relationships
- Top-level safety and professional support
- Where you could find love and romance without boundaries
- Our instant messaging service brings you closer together than ever before.
- Best for: Meeting your someone in your local area
- Free membership: Free registration, limited
- Users: 250.000
- Meet open-minded people
- Flexible payment plans for added features
- Free registration
- Join up for free
- Meet a special person near you
- Trusted by thousands of Australians
Renee contributes advice to some of the largest online publications in the world including The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Your Tango, Elite Daily and more. Shehas been a dating and relationship advisor for eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, Happn, We Date and RSVP.com and continues to fuse the gap between technology and finding love. And her teachings have been written in educational textbooks that are distributed throughout the whole of North America.
Her Youtube channel has over 94k subscribers and her work has been translated into several languages including German , Spanish and Russian.
Renee is often called to present as a relationship expert for Channel 7, Channel 10, SBS, talk shows, podcasts and commercial radio globally.
Her involvement with the ABC TV show Ex-Files saw her work alongside psychologists to provide dating strategies for each contestant. Her methods are based on providing a strong foundation of self-love and sustainable solutions. Renee has curated several online programmes for women and continues to speak globally at events around the world, making love education accessible for all.