How Do You Solve Toxic Relationships?

From love to loss, toxic relationships can happen to any of us. But how do you solve and recognise them? We're here to help.

Recently we hear a lot about toxic relationships. Couples, breaking up because of feelings of toxicity in their relationship.

By definition, toxic relationships are characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, and control.  

While a healthy relationship contributes to self-esteem and makes you feel ‘alive’ a toxic one is characterized by the feeling of fear and the feeling of walking on eggshells.  

Even though people may have felt toxicity in their relationship, this term was used 26 years ago. For the first time, ‘toxic relationship’ was used by American psychotherapist, Dr. Lilian Glass. 

She used this term in her 1995 book, Toxic People. In her book, she describes toxic relationships as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness”.

“Every Relationship Can Become Toxic”

The author of two books Joy from Fear and Date Smart, Dr.Carla Manly, in one interview for Youth Time Magazine, explains that besides fear, couples in a toxic relationship can experience a wide range of emotions.  

“The shifts and surges of emotions in toxic relationships are one of the dynamics that can make such relationships have an addictive quality.”  

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Warning Signs: Any relationship can turn toxic without work

The familiar feeling of toxicity makes people unaware of what they are experiencing. This, according to Dr.Manly, happens due to the slow degradation of a relationship over time.  

“While an abrupt shift into toxic behavior would be highly apparent, the gradual downward trends so common in toxic relationships are less obvious.  As well, many people who find themselves in toxic relationships grew up in toxic households; as such the negative dynamics feel extremely familiar and even disconcertingly comfortable.”  


What Are The Signs?

According to her, signs of a toxic relationship include ongoing conflict or any form of abuse – emotional, verbal, spiritual, sexual, financial, or physical.  

“An absence of kindness, attention, compassion and loving behavior can also be a sign of a toxic relationship.”  

Dr. Manly explains that every relationship is at risk to become a toxic one. 

“Any relationship – no matter how healthy it was at the inception – can become toxic over time. When a relationship is new and in the limerence stages, surges of passion-inducing neuro-chemicals coupled with a tendency to be on ‘best behavior’ can create a healthy aura.”

The time a couple spends with each – other is crucial to know if one of the partners will manifest or not toxic behaviors. 

“Yet, the more partners spend time with each other, the more true, natural behaviors will manifest. In some cases, the authentic behavior remains loving, and in other situations, behaviors turn toxic. In addition, even long-term relationships that were once loving can turn toxic if partners don’t stay attentive and attuned to each other.”  

When a couple is facing toxicity according to Dr. Manly, that requires psychotherapy, and if two partners are both committed to change, things can work out.  

“In the end, toxic relationship dynamics need to be addressed on multiple levels, from healing old wounds, improving communication skills, and implementing positive dynamics.”


How To Tell

As Dr.Manly explained toxic feelings sometimes seem very familiar therefore a lot of people may not be aware of their situation.

The most common signs of a toxic relationship include: the feeling of unhappiness, your relationship doesn’t bring you joy, you envy other people’s relationship and you justify his/her behavior.

Sometimes because of the love you feel for your partner, you may not notice if you are in a toxic relationship or not – but if you are wondering then you probably are.

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