Steps to Fix a Toxic Relationship

No relationship is free from trouble 100 percent of the time, but there is a big difference between the normal ups and downs of a close relationship to one that makes you feel unhappy, insecure and exhausted all the time. A toxic relationship can take many forms, including a toxic friendship, a toxic marriage and a toxic parent-child relationship. If you can't handle the toxicity any longer but want to keep the other person in your life, it will take time, effort and energy from both parties to create a healthy relationship.

A toxic relationship can destructive. (Image: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Step 1

Identify the toxic relationship. Sit down with a pen and paper and write down how the relationship makes you feel. In "Take Time for Your Life,” life coach Cheryl Richardson recommends considering certain points as part of the process. Perhaps your partner is critical or judgmental of you, does not make you feel accepted, or takes everything from you without giving anything in return. You may feel completely drained of energy when he is around. You may feel that he is not committed to your relationship. If you do not feel good about yourself when you are with him, you are in a toxic relationship.

Step 2

Tell yourself that you deserve better. Believing that you are entitled to respect and love from others is an important step in fixing a toxic relationship, says psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. If your low self-esteem is the reason you put up with an unhealthy relationship, seek the help you need to change your thought process. Consult a life coach or therapist if you feel you need help to do this.

Step 3

Arrange to meet with the person in a quiet, comfortable place where you won't be disturbed. Say you want to save your relationship, but in order to do that you must tell her how you feel. Tell her how you feel when she acts a certain way. Be specific. For example, say to her, "When you criticize me it makes me feel worthless." Follow this with a request for change, such as, "Are you willing to stop criticizing me?"

Step 4

Consider seeking professional help to mend the toxic relationship if it feels like too big a task to tackle on your own. It is possible to return to a healthy relationship if that's what it once was, says the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Be aware that therapy can take a lot of time, energy and patience. Find a qualified, experienced professional in your local area on, or ask family or friends to recommend one.


Distance yourself from the other person if your request for change is ignored. This may be difficult, particularly if the person is a spouse or a close family member. If you don't separate yourself from him, however, you are at risk of the serious long-term effects of stress and emotional conflict, warns Carter.


If you are in an abusive relationship, avoid any kind of confrontation that puts you in danger. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for advice and support.

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