How to Fix a Toxic Relationship post image

How to Fix a Toxic Relationship


… (Previous page – How to Fix a Toxic Relationship) clearly speaking to him about addressing the toxic dynamic directly, you have clearly given him the opportunity to choose how he’d like to proceed.

He might choose not to change, in which case you might choose to end the relationship (or drastically limit your exposure to him if completely leaving is not possible).

He might fight you hard at first, but without your negative reaction to his habitual communication to you, he might begin to change when he realizes you really will leave if things don’t change.

Or… he might be surprisingly understanding and receptive to what you tell him and be willing to work with you on improving the relationship together. That’s the best case scenario, and remember, you really are in this together.

If you do decide to stay in the relationship and he is willing to consciously work on how he communicates with you, make sure you remember that you’re on the same side and you’re right there with him (not standing back waiting, judging, and watching with your arms crossed).

I mention this because too often I see articles about toxic relationships putting the blame 100% on the other person, which doesn’t serve you since it’s always important to be conscious of your what you’re putting out there as well. It serves you to always have this awareness.

Relationships happen in real time, moment to moment. They are not “things”, like a rock or a car or a bed. They are an ongoing, living, breathing dance with another person and you choose to dance with them every single day you have this relationship with them.

Always remember that you choose them every day… and you have the power to stop choosing your current relationship dynamic if it no longer works in your life.

Good luck in your relationship, I wish you the very best.

Hope it helps,
eric charles

23 comments… add one

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Sarah

This is very helpful thank you. As I am trying to understand it I am wondering what do you do if you did something that hurt someones feelings. I know I am not responsible, and it was not my intention to be hurtful. Should I just apologize and explain I may have influenced them but their feelings are their own responsibility? I am trying to out how to not feel like a mean person while also not taking on the responsibility of others emotions.

Reply August 13, 2019, 4:24 am

Jason

I think.. That you were drinking wine while you wrote this, and the end of the glass was on the last paragraph because of the grammar! Hahaha I kid. Nice article, I wish it were more gender neutral. Just start saying “it” instead of “him” and we have a fix.

Reply May 4, 2017, 10:05 am

Dee

Thankyou so much you have explored and considered and written so eloquently on all areas of this most difficult subject. Thankyou for sharing your thoughts and knowledge in such depth. After being involved in an off and on toxic relationship for 8 or 9 years I now feel empowered to move on and leave it behind. I know it takes two to tango I have tried to improve the situation. I’m now walking away with clarity , we can only be responsible for own thoughts, feelings and emotions so right. Tired of feeling rubbish and chasing a relationship that will never be , onwards and upwards to healthy relationships . I feel indebted to you having read this article . Thankyou, wish you peace and happiness. Dee

Reply March 23, 2017, 7:54 am

Shawn

Well said! Thank u for taking the time to help Women cope with toxic relationships.

Reply February 27, 2017, 10:44 am

Yama

Darn! I had a wonderful comment here singing your praises, then got “recover webpage” and poof . . . So I will keep it brief. Spectacular! This is the most empowering and honest article I have ever read on this topic. It teaches real life tools to take back one’s own power, regardless of what any other person is doing, feeling, saying. So refreshingly different from the usual “he’s a lout; you’re a victim” that does absolutely nothing to help the situation. Bravo, bravo, a million thanks!

Reply October 21, 2016, 10:42 pm

Eric Charles

I’m really glad you liked it, Yama. Thanks for the compliment.

Reply October 23, 2016, 5:29 pm

Yama

Brilliant! This is one of the most empowering and truly helpful relationship and (let’s face it) life skills articles I have ever read. After reading this and the original article, I did not feel the usual sense of dread and doom that always rises after reading word after word of how I have been victimized and that other person is a hopeless lout. No, instead this encourages and teaches the reader to take back their rightful power and be their true self, regardless of what anyone else is doing. Bravo, bravo – a million thanks!

Reply October 21, 2016, 10:34 pm

Thokozile

Hi Charles, thank you very much, you are Godsend. I’ve just come out of a toxic relationship. Both my ex and I were responsible for the toxicity. I’m trying to improve MYSELF for the next relationship in the future, whether with him or a different person. Once again, thank you, your content/ advice is what i “live by” daily. It makes a whole lot of sense, it’s specific and real. Most of what you right seems like it was designed just for my situation. Once again, I truly thank you.

Reply September 18, 2016, 3:08 am

Derek

This is so bias towards women it’s not even legible, men can be emotional connected and experience the same things women can. I’m a man seeking advice from the Internet due to the fact that I care enough to reach out to sources that are unorthodox. So I don’t agree with this article being swayed into the emphasis of women only experiencing this. Great help

Reply July 10, 2016, 6:12 am

Eric Charles

Hey Derek, thanks for the message.

Since this site started in 2009, I noticed that people have been increasingly sensitive to the idea that an article might be bias towards one side or another.

Hopefully you’ll stick around long enough for me to give you my point of view on this… if you do, I think you’ll see that I’m not bias towards men or women with my write-ups – I just want to help. I would agree that most of the content I’ve seen on the internet is bias and often panders to a gender (either men or women, depending on the site).

So first off, this site is for a woman’s audience. So while I do make an effort to point out that certain points aren’t specific to men or women, I do assume it’s probably a woman reading it since 99% of the time it is…

In case it wasn’t clear in the article (or other times I’ve written about toxic relationships), yes men can have toxic relationships and be abused too. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a 50/50 split…

Honestly though, if you read the site there’s a lot of women that will comment that I have a bias *against* women, not for… because “women can experience XYZ, too, you know”.

I’m still trying to figure out to navigate the waters of being accthe used of being biased when I write something…

It’s like being called any kind of -ist… chauvanist, racist, sexist, etc. — even if you know in your heart that you are not, how do you prove that to people in a comment response?

I have my whole body of work on this site, so I guess one option would be for me to say, “Read my articles on the site and see if you still think that after you read more.” I don’t know that it would work, but unlike people who accuse me in comments, my entire writing history is available for your perusal.

I’m responding to your comment mainly because I want to find the path that takes the discussion to a constructive place… I realize that when people are writing that they think something is sexist, they are hurting about something on some level… I already know that I’m not sexist… I would much rather have a discussion about what’s really bothering the person and hopefully help them get out of pain in their situation.

If you want to share what you’re looking for, write back and tell me what’s going on.

Reply July 10, 2016, 1:22 pm

Sarah

I thought it was particularly unbiased honestly.

Reply August 13, 2019, 4:26 am

Elle

Three months into the best relationship of my life! We both feel the other is the One. I have been introduce up his entire circle and am part of his world. I have a you g child from a previous relationship. He has just told me we need to have a serious talk – he goes on to tell me he’s struggling with problems in our relationship …because of my daughter :( he thought he would be ok with it but he’s not. Hunks she’s great the best you could wish for. But he doesn’t know if he can be the person he should be in the relationship because she’s not his. We are both in our 40’s. he wants a child of his own.
Further to this bomb shell out of the blue (I literally just met his dad) he was concerned as he hadn’t met any if my family and friends. He asked was there something he should know. I just wanted things to flow naturally and the opportunity had arisen.
Things are tense now. He still wants me around but is not close.
Is this just a wobble he’s having? Have I made him feel like I’m hiding things? I love him and want this to resolve itself…

Reply April 24, 2016, 1:27 pm

Lupe

I recently decided to take action and break up my 3.5 year relationship. we have had our problems but there a few I could not get passes and have come to resent him for it. My heart tells me I miss him and hate him at the same time. I keep feeling as if I did the right thing for myself, but he says I’m selfish. My reason for leaving was mainly the toxic parts of our relationship he would be angry half the time and if he wasn’t something I said, did, or didn’t do would make him angry. He wanted me to open up more but over time every time I did he would get mad. I basically shut down all emotions and began resenting him for things he said when he was angry, for smoking weed, for having an addiction to cocaine, putting me down. He cheated on me and closer to this end I began cheating too. When times were good they were great. Many times aside from our problems we were great friends, loved each other very much, and had amazing times. I am having trouble deciding if breaking up is the right thing to do he wants to work on it, but I feel like I gave it all I had.

Reply February 22, 2016, 8:27 am

sb

I was my ex for 12 years. I loved him more than anything and we definitely had our ups and downs and went back and forth where we did some awful things to one another and dated other people for small amounts of time but I truly did love him. When we finally put everything in our past behind us and decided to move forward with each other I was extremely. We had been together for 5 years with no break ups, no drama filled ups and downs. I was ready to settle down and start out lives together, I thought he was too when he proposed but as soon as he proposed it was like something changed in him. He stopped wanting to spend time together, he would only call me at night when he was done spending time with his friends after work (which then I would always go over there and spend the night). He didn’t really want to talk about the wedding plans or house hunting and every time I set up an appointment he didn’t show up at the last minute. I kept trying to talk to him about how I was feeling and just asked him to be more present in our lives together but it seemed the more I said something to him the more he pushed away. At one point he would block my phone number for days at time because I would tell him I was upset about his actions and he would wait for me to cool off before talking to me again, and when he did he would just act like nothing happened. I started to really think about our lives together and if we would be happy if we got married. I told him that things really needed to change before we could commit to marriage and instead of him making more of an effort things took a turn for the worst.
He left me downtown when we were out with friends and blocked my number because I wouldn’t sleep with him. Then he left me at my sisters wedding because he got so drunk before dinner and I asked him to lay off for just an hour or so. Then he wouldn’t stay with me or even talk to me really when I was watching my sisters dog for two weeks (he said it was too far him to drive for work but we worked at the same place). I started to pull away from him just like he was doing with me. I told him that I couldn’t believe the way he was acting and if he didn’t love me or didn’t want to marry me he shouldn’t have proposed and if he was having second thoughts he could and should have said something to me. He didn’t seem to think he was in the wrong and that because I was annoying him it was okay for him to treat me that way. I started to get involved with sports and met new people who made me feel special again. I started to flirt with one man and at first it was harmless. He made me feel important again when my fiance was not. I still loved my fiance and wanted to make it work but it felt like no matter what I did it wasn’t enough. I made a terrible mistake by flirting with someone outside of my relationship and I regret it everyday but I still loved my fiance and wanted it to work. I asked him to go to couples counseling and he said no, that if we needed that than we shouldn’t be together even though he told his friends that he didn’t want to break up but he didn’t want to get married. I stayed going back and forth thinking we were going to work it out even though we called off the wedding but then he told me he met someone else and that he doesn’t feel the same about me and that since I cheated on him he could never imagine marrying me. I am still crushed but even more than being crushed by hearing those words was him telling everyone that I cheated on him multiple times while we were engaged (which flirting is considered cheating but nothing physical happened and it was with one person and I stopped to try and work it out with him). That he would have married me if I didn’t do that and not taking any responsibilities for his actions prior to mine. He re-proposed to me just so he could get the ring back (I paid half for it) and then told me three days later he met someone and I needed to stop stalking him. He then sued me and hasn’t spoken to me since.

It is devastating to have tried so hard for so long to be with someone who never really seemed to care. I miss him everyday but I have to wonder that if I didn’t make a mistake that if we could have worked it out and been happy with one another.. if eventually he would have came around and treated me right or if it was the right thing.

Reply November 17, 2015, 12:54 pm

Eric Charles

Hey Laura – as luck would have it, I just finished a guest article for another website that very clearly answers your question here (at the deepest level). Message me on Facebook and I’ll send it to you (even though it hasn’t been published yet).

Reply November 3, 2015, 4:55 pm

gabriela filoušová

Hi Eric,
please send me the article as promised to Laura…I have been through something very similar…thanks gabi

Reply January 15, 2016, 3:29 pm

cathy

I am a female (37 years old).i am currently in a relationship with a 37 male who works m-f lives with his parents .we live 10 minutes away from each  (no obligations other than himself) The longest relationship he has been in has only been 6 months.   He never calls but he suggests we have a night were we talk on the phone and I always call cause if it was our night to call and he did not hear from me he still would not call and it is late at night and he is always sleepy because he suggests it be at 9pm,  I always ask if it can be early but always says he has something to do, I do all the texting if I did not text we would not talk to each other until we see each other the next scheduled night.  He has our nights scheduled Thursday night, Saturday night and all day Sunday, as time has gone by I have wanted to see him more but he gets mad when I want to see him more,  he claims that he feels like I don’t think he does enough for me, and I never say anything like that because he gets defensive.  But he does get upset if you ask him to stay over on a night that we normally don’t see each other.  One incident I was going away for the weekend with my mom and sister and I asked my him if I could see him on when I got back, I wanted to see him on Tuesday night and he wanted to wait until the following Thursday night and he finally agreed to seeing me on Wednesday night but it was like pulling teeth to get him to agree to it.  I just thought he would have missed me but he definitely did not mind waiting until our scheduled night.  He did finally say he would try to stay an extra night once a month but it’s is when he can do it,  it’s all when it’s good for him,  on his terms.   When it comes to affection he lacks it big time!  I love to be affectionate, but he does not hold my hand if I want to hold his hand I have to grab it and one time we were out walking I held his arm and he said that I was wrinkling his shirt.   And in private I have iniate cuddles,  he will only on his terms but basically it is me who always wants to cuddle he is very very closed off emotionally. I ask all the questions about feelings and if we go to the movies we don’t hold hand or even watching TV, I get sometimes you don’t have to cuddle buy I love to cuddle or hold hands or have some kind of contact, it’s a must! I will admit I am not perfect at all I give him his space but I mean I thought a boyfriend would want to see there girlfriend a little more than he does, he has never said “I miss you or I love you”.  I think he has commitment issues, I have asked him twice if he would like to move in with me he always says relax,  breathe we are young but we are young but not like we are 30yrs old.   All these issues have been brought up in conversation more than once in the time we have been together currently we are together. If you could give me insight on him and I know you can’t anylaze him.   Thank you for your help.

Reply October 20, 2015, 7:55 am

janet

I wasn’t sure where to post this question but read your series on “The Inner World of Men” and enjoyed it but you never answered the question as to why you feel you are “ultimately unlovable and unworthy of love and commitment.”

Reply October 13, 2015, 1:22 pm

z

Hi Not expecting you to have an answer as this has confused many people.  Here goes:-

I was in a relationship with an amazing man for two and a half years.  We became best friends before crossing over the friendship barrier. We are both of different religions and we chatted often about our differences in respect of this.   We knew that if ever we got closer and of we wanted to make things official he would need to convert.  He was happy to do so…. when we were dating things were  amazing.  We counted the days until we saw each other…which were only on the weekends.  We travelled lots and experienced a whole lot together until our last trip. We went to the US and it was on this trip i became extremely insecure…and I also suspected thathe was unhappy….there were moments when he began texting people from home…and he did that often which I couldnt understand as I was here with him…why did he have to text other girls from home.  Soon after our trip home he sent me a text message to say that he couldnt be with me any longer.  I agreed that he should go…but a day after that I called him to say that we could find a way to make it work if he was willing. .of which I didnt get an answer.  I asked a psychologist to chat to him as I couldnt and all she said was that he said that we were too different.  After that I have had to live with the no knowledge of what had happened as we never fought…disagreed… or had argurments…ever.  During and at the end of the relationship.    With the lack of information I have had to rebuild my self esteem, repair my shattered heart, and make peace with the unknown.  I have read your emails for the past two weeks and I finally realise my errors.   I circled my life and availability around him.  He was my be all and end all to all males. He was rarely at fault and I complimented him and built up his self esteem plenty…to a degree where he left me..  So having said all of this please tell me what did I do wrong that ended this relationship as I am finding it impossible to move on and its been two and a halt years since the break up.  Please note the last time we spoke was when we were still in a relationship. I have blocked him and mutual friends off facebook.  I do know that he is in another relationship presently.   Im just lost and need to find my feet again…and my heart.

Reply October 1, 2015, 9:36 am

Rebeca

Thank you so much. I’ve been reading this kind of article for so long, and I finally found something clear enough to make sense to my messy insecure mind. After months of a magical relationship, me and my SO started being more and more frustrated with each other over things we used to tolerate at the beginning and arguing too much and so he asked to take a break so both of us could figure out how to work things out by breathing and focusing on ourselves. I’ve read another 2 articles here too, and together they gave me the real perspective of how to really go through all of this and stop suffering like someone has died. I’m really going to consider all that you said so that I can be more confident when we meet again and I can really show him what’s important to me and what I want and don’t let myself be dominated by him or anyone else. It’s not gonna be easy, and I still have a lot of thinking to do before I’m ready to face this and face him the way it should be done so it works, but reading this was very very helpful already. Thanks, once again.

Reply August 27, 2015, 12:06 am

Grace

Thank you! For a coincidence that article was terribly helpful right now

Reply August 23, 2015, 2:57 pm

Eric Charles

Awesome, I’m really glad to hear that. Hope you read both part #1 and this part (which is part #2). Good luck with everything.

Reply August 24, 2015, 2:08 pm

C

Not sure how to submit a question to you on here, but it’s worth a shot. Do you think you guys can write an article about how to get a relationship back into swing after taking space. Not a break up or break, just after some heated time pulling back. But now I’m ready to pull back together? PS there are young kids from other relationships involved so spontaneous or overnight things… Not so much.

Reply September 26, 2015, 5:15 am

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