Can You Really Improve A Toxic Relationship? Here's How To Have A Healthier Partnership

You might be wondering if anything can be done to save your current relationship. There's no denying that you have love for your partner, but if the relationship has reached a point of bitter toxicity, it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The truth of the matter is that most broken and toxic relationships can be healed and improved.


However, as soon as toxicity turns into abuse in any form, including emotional, sexual, or physical, you must break free of the relationship and begin your journey toward healing. Staying in a toxic relationship that involves abuse of any kind can contribute to the decline of your mental health and safety.

But if your relationship simply feels toxic without forms of abuse present, there are certain things you can do to remedy the situation. When you are both on the same page about making necessary changes, it becomes more realistic — and possible — to finally experience a healthier partnership.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.


Seek out couples counseling

Without any hesitation, the first thing you and your partner should do is find a couples therapist, counselor, or psychologist that you both can trust. Both of you need to be on board for this step to work. Breaking free of toxic patterns often depends on the insight of a neutral third-party person who's professionally trained to solve such serious issues.


If you and your partner keep trying to go at it alone without help from a professional, you'll repeat the same patterns repeatedly. A professional therapist will do their best to break the vicious cycle by opening your eyes to things you both can't see from your perspectives yet. When searching for a therapist you can trust, you and your partner need to vocalize your comfort levels and opinions about whoever you're meeting with.

Just because one person resonates with a therapist, it doesn't mean that's the person you should go with. Both of you need to feel like you're being heard and validated for this step to make a difference. Failing to do so may result in couples counseling not working


Don't shy away from expressing yourself

If you've been walking on eggshells for the majority of your relationship because you're scared to stir the pot, now is the time to start expressing yourself wholeheartedly. It's obvious that your relationship is already on the brink of crumbling if you're educating yourself on ways to heal from toxicity right now. That being said, you don't have anything to lose when it comes to expressing yourself with honesty.


There's a difference between being honest and being brutally honest, though. You don't need to be harsh in your delivery when expressing your thoughts and feelings to your partner. Avoid beating around the bush and sugarcoating things, but make sure you're not intentionally taking digs that will leave your partner feeling judged, degraded, or angrier than before.

Shying away from expressing yourself is only going to put your relationship into a deeper hole because you're letting negative feelings consume you instead of getting them off your chest. However, the longer you allow bad thoughts to fester, the more liable you are to explode and say things you'll regret.

Stop sweeping things under the rug

Now is the time to stop sweeping things under the rug. As much as you might prefer to keep the peace where you can, all skeletons hanging in the closet should be exposed once and for all. This means that whenever there's an elephant in the room with you and your partner, you should address it head-on without pretending things are fine. When you sweep issues under the rug, it only prolongs your problems with each other. 


You're not doing yourself (or your partner) any favors by pretending things are alright with you when they're not. This is something your partner should be aware of also. There might be loads of things they've been sweeping under the rug as a way of avoiding conflict with you, but that's an incredibly unhealthy way to approach your relationship. Although sweeping things under the rug isn't blatantly lying, it's still a way of avoiding the truth.

Try to avoid going to sleep angry at each other

Going to sleep angry at your partner is problematic. Every time you end the day, you and your partner should be on good terms with each other with a mutual understanding of your love. Going to sleep angry means you didn't have the patience to work things out before bedtime arrived. Trying to fall asleep when you're angry is difficult for most people.


On nights when you're fighting with your partner, you probably notice how consumed by insomnia you become, with never-ending thoughts floating around your head during hours when you're supposed to be getting solid rest.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. If you and your partner are prone to explosive arguments filled with tons of heavy rage, going to sleep angry might be exactly what the two of you need to cool off. The morning after, it might be a lot easier to talk things out after you're both not still heated.

Put yourself in each other's shoes often

Putting yourself in your partner's shoes as often as possible is necessary. They should be doing the same in return. Every time you imagine what your partner must be thinking deep inside when they do or say something that bothers you, it helps you gain some perspective on their behavior.


For example, if your partner is always blowing up at you because they don't appreciate you coming home late from work, try to understand where their anger is coming from. It's highly possible they're worried about your well-being whenever you're late because they're paranoid that something dangerous or deadly has happened to you.

If the two of you are always fighting about who has control over the TV on a Friday night, think about where their frustration is coming from. It's possible they never had the chance to choose which TV shows they were allowed to watch in their childhood. Now as an adult, independently choosing TV shows could be a hugely important factor to them. Being more empathetic towards your partner and putting yourself in their shoes may remedy a lot of the minor issues.


Both people should never threaten a breakup or divorce

If your partner is threatening to break up with you all the time — or you're the person doing the threatening — that's a telltale sign your relationship is toxic. As soon as you start threatening breakups and divorces, you turn those things into very realistic possibilities. In most cases, the person who threatens to break up or divorce more often is the one who's trying to dangle power over the other. The happiest and healthiest couples never bring up breakups or divorces, no matter how difficult a disagreement gets. You and your partner may already be past the point when it comes to making threats like these if you've done it to each other often. 


Even so, it's never too late to make a change. Come together to create a mutual agreement that breakup and divorce threats are no longer allowed to be part of your conversations. You might not agree about something, but that doesn't mean it's signaling doom for the future of your romance. Anytime you catch yourself getting ready to threaten a split in the midst of anger, bite your tongue without continuing. If you do accidentally let the threat of a split slip out, backtrack at that exact moment by apologizing and saying you didn't mean it.

Forgive and forget mistakes of the past

If you agree to forgive and forget the mistakes of the past, you need to stand on that. With forgiveness, you must go out of your way to forget any transgressions your partner made. You can't just claim to forgive and forget something if you're going to continually bring it up in the future. The same rule applies to your partner if they're always dragging you through the mud for things they supposedly forgave you about back in the day. When true forgiveness takes place, the specific mistake isn't brought up again for any reason. 


It doesn't matter if you're trying to make a point about something and you want to use the example of your partner's mistake to drive your point home. Every time you bring up something you were supposed to forgive and forget a long time ago, it reminds your partner that they're still in the metaphorical doghouse. On both ends, feeling like you're never truly forgiven for past mistakes you've made will leave you feeling hopeless about the future. People who feel like they're never actually forgiven eventually realize that it's easier to start over with someone new who isn't holding anything over their head.

Put ultimatums to an end

There's nothing lighthearted or fun about giving your partner an ultimatum. Ultimatums are "all or nothing" agreements that don't need any room for negotiation. An example of an ultimatum would be threatening to end the relationship if your partner doesn't propose to you.


If your partner has placed an ultimatum on you, then you already know just how serious it really is. It's high time to put ultimatums to an end since all they do is box you and your partner into things that one or both people won't be happy about. When you place an ultimatum on someone, you become somewhat of a dictator in their life.

If they don't propose to you on their own, you shouldn't force them into it. Instead, it's best to cut things off and move on with someone who's actually on the same page with you about marriage. Another example of an ultimatum would be your partner threatening to end the relationship because they don't want you hanging out with your friends. You're allowed to have a social life, and no one should have power over you to dictate something like that. Ultimatums are never about making compromises, which is why they're never a good idea.


Remove trigger words from both your vocabularies

Depending on how long you and your partner have been together, the two of you probably already know what each other's trigger words are. If you want your relationship to last for the long haul, it's time to remove all of those trigger words from both of your vocabularies.


This means that if you know your partner hates being called a certain name because it makes them feel inferior or emasculated, you must make the conscious decision to stop calling them those names in the heat of the moment when you're angry. If your partner knows you don't like being judged for things relating to your job title, weight, level of education, or anything else, they must make the conscious decision to no longer point those things out whenever they're upset with you.

Using trigger words only worsens dramatic situations by making the people involved angrier than they were before. When you truly love someone and want your relationship to work, you willingly give up the power of using hot-button trigger words. If those words are said in the heat of the moment, know that there are healthy ways to react when your emotions have been triggered — and it's up to you, and you alone, to handle your emotions in the healthiest way possible in those instances. 


Create occasional healthy distance if necessary

Creating a healthy distance from your partner is beyond essential, especially if the two of you are always butting heads and getting into constant arguments. Sometimes, having some time apart is better so you and your partner can start missing each other a bit. This is especially important for couples who live together. When you wake up and go to sleep in the same home as your partner every day, you feel like you don't have anywhere to escape from them. 


In reality, though, there are plenty of things you can do to create a healthy distance both of you will benefit from. Offering to take on more responsibilities at work, beefing up your social calendar with friends, and signing up for different recreational classes in your local area are just a few ideas. Encourage your partner to connect with their loved ones, pursue their hobbies, and focus on their own interests as much as possible. When both of you are happy doing the high-vibrational things you individually care about, it makes it easier to come back together with love.

Own up when you're wrong and be comfortable apologizing

It's important to let your pride go when it comes to owning up to your mistakes. Pride and ego can be very powerful in anyone's psyche, but that doesn't mean they should consume you or rule your life choices. When you're wrong, you are wrong. But failure is good — you just have to learn from it. And doing so involves getting comfortable with apologizing and admitting that you didn't do something you're completely proud of. Plenty of people are uncomfortable with the idea of admitting their faults because they don't want to be seen as bad people. 


Ironically, this exact action is what turns good people into bad people! Being unable to admit when you're wrong and apologize for whatever you did turns you into someone who doesn't know how to maintain healthy relationships filled with solid communication. Being unable to do this very simple and basic thing is a red flag and a sign of emotional immaturity. If your partner has been hurt by something you've done, understand that you need to own up and apologize without making excuses and redirecting blame.

Believe deep down that change is possible

One of the key factors in saving a toxic relationship is believing deep down that change is actually possible. If you've already concluded that your relationship is only going to get worse, it's probably never going to get better. If you already have a deep-seated belief that your relationship is doomed, then it's probably already doomed. Instead, start shifting your thoughts in a positive direction. Believe that change is possible.


Believe that you and your partner will be capable of embarking on a healthy romantic journey sometime soon. Remember that there's always a light at the end of every tunnel. While significant changes in your relationship may not happen overnight, they will happen eventually, as long as you and your partner are both putting in the work and making an effort. Anyone who's open to the idea of change is capable of changing. No one is forced to be stuck in their ways until death. As long as you're alive and your heart is beating, you're capable of evolving and growing.

Work on healing yourself individually

Working on your inner healing is the most crucial piece of the puzzle. When you start healing yourself individually, you become a healthier-minded version of yourself to interact with others. When you're unhealed and dealing with inner turmoil and trauma, it's difficult for you to present yourself in the most gentle, peaceful, and loving way to others who you care about. 


For this reason, entering your healing era and working on your own healing journey is crucial if you want to save your relationship. It takes two to tango in toxic relationships, meaning your personal issues may contribute to whatever is going wrong. The more you work on yourself from the inside out, the easier it becomes for you to speak your mind, showcase emotional maturity, and remain in a high-vibrational state. 

Remember that it's not a knock against you if you need to work on healing yourself. There's no use in being in denial about inner healing that you have to do, either. Nearly every single adult-aged human on this planet has been through emotional ups and downs throughout the course of their existence. That being said, just about everyone can benefit from the process of an individual healing journey.


Encourage your partner through their individual healing journey

Your partner might not see eye to eye with you about the importance of embarking on an individual healing journey. Make it clear to them that it's important for them to work on healing themselves to become healthy-minded enough for a long-lasting relationship without toxicity. If they reveal that they have no idea where to start with their own individual healing journey, give them some suggestions of where they can start making small changes that will eventually lead to bigger changes. Mindfulness practices, including meditation, prayer, journaling, and EFT tapping, are helpful to people trying to improve their lives. 


Although the two of you might be attending couples therapy together, it might behoove both of you to attend individual counseling as well, where you can each truly speak your minds without the other person present. Lastly, a healing journey includes eliminating anything (or anyone) that could be contributing to lifestyle toxicity. This includes inappropriate friends, low-vibrational music and entertainment, and negative bad habits. Some bad habits that should be dismissed immediately include smoking, drinking, gorging on fast food, emotional spending, and abusing social media usage.

Make a mutual commitment to fight for the relationship

Your relationship will survive if you and your partner are willing to make a mutual commitment to fight for each other — no matter what happens. This means that no matter how tough things get, the two of you will try to work things out. When you make a mutual commitment to fight for your relationship, the looming idea of a potential breakup or divorce is squashed for good.


When there isn't a commitment like this set in place, it leaves you feeling unstable and shaky about what's coming around the corner with your partner. After making a commitment to fight for your relationship, you'll notice how much easier it is to relax with a sense of trust and security backing you up. Even though you might hit occasional bumps in the road, you two will always be there for each other to work things out.