Toxic relationships occur more often than we’d like to admit. We’ve all experienced some form of a toxic relationship in our lifetimes, but the amount of toxicity varies from experience to experience, from person to person. Although these relationships can be difficult, it’s important to note that they teach us what a healthy, balanced relationship actually looks like.
What can make a toxic relationship so difficult is the realization that it is in fact toxic.
Toxic relationships aren’t confined to couples who don’t truly love each other; some of the most toxic relationships stem from two people who feel an intense attraction. Codependent relationships wouldn’t be codependent unless two people felt like they couldn’t live without the other, but that doesn’t make their behavior healthy.
There are two paths you can take when you realize the relationship you have is toxic. One path leads to a breakup, and the subsequent search for a more balanced relationship with a different partner. The other path involves exercises and strategies to end toxicity, and ultimately grow with your current partner.
If you feel the relationship you have with someone is worth working for, here are three powerful exercises you can practice to turn your toxic relationship into a healthy one.
1. Communicate and Be Open
This seems like an obvious strategy, yet it’s an issue that exists in most toxic relationships. Communication is the key to any relationship, and it’s essential if you want to work through problems that could be the cause of a painful breakup.
The key to communication is listening and understanding; don’t just wait for your turn to speak. This shouldn’t look like an argument or a fight, but the quite the opposite. Understanding that both yours and your partners views are valid will help you see where each of you are coming from. Communication takes practice, but it will help to eliminate toxicity between you and your partner.
2. Take Responsibility
It takes two people to create a toxic relationship. Just like you can’t wait for your turn to speak when practicing healthy communication, you can’t just place all the blame on your partner when things go wrong. Although it can be natural to place the blame on somebody else when you’re upset, that doesn’t make it right.
Think about your own actions during a fight instead of your partner’s. Chances are, you both said things you shouldn’t have, and you both responded to those things in an unhealthy, defensive way. If you want to have a healthy relationship, you need to take responsibility for the role you’ve played, and so does your partner.
3. Examine the Past
Whether we want to admit it or not, our past relationships play a role in the present. We learn from the past and take those lessons with us the rest of our lives. However, we need to be introspective and examine the past in order to learn the right lessons the right way.
Taking a look at our past relationships will help us realize what motivates us to act a certain way in the present. When you combine this examination with healthy communication, you can learn more about your partner in a few seconds than you ever could simply guessing or assuming their reasoning behind a specific action.
If you care about your partner, communicate that you care, take responsibility for your role in creating toxicity, and examine the past in order to control the present. You may just turn a toxic relationship into a healthy relationship, and in the process, become closer to the one you love.