Being in a toxic relationship can feel a lot like an emotional prison. All you want to do is feel happy and at peace with your life but you can’t because someone you trusted and a relationship you once loved has turned into a nightmare.
You’re probably wondering what to do in a bad relationship.
The ideal solution on what to do in a bad relationship dictates seeking out counseling and mediation. It requires hard work, communication and a change of bad habits. If all else fails, you should leave the relationship.
Some of those options may not be accessible to you.
Which is unfortunate because that leaves you with very little room to save this relationship.
I’m an advocate for working through a tough time. We live in a period when people quit too soon and wonder why they can’t find those relationships that last a long time.
There is no long term relationship without a willingness to weather a storm every so often.
But in the same breath, there’s a difference between relational problems that creep up in everyone’s life and a toxic, unhealthy and bad relationship.
The former is not a reason to walk away. The latter, however, is a dangerous space to live in.
What is a bad relationship?
To understand what it feels like to be in a bad relationship, we must discuss the characteristics of a good one.
A good and healthy relationship is the coming together of two happy individuals who find peace, comfort, passion, trust and excitement with each other.
It is the decision two people make to share a journey without confining each other.
And yet, a bad relationship often sabotages any or all of those good characteristics.
A bad relationship takes alot from you. It robs you of happiness and peace of mind.
Rather than provide you with a safe environment to explore yourself and grow as an individual, it diminishes you and keeps you captive.
If you find yourself in a relationship like this, one that is devoid of happiness with a partner who is unwilling to make any changes to facilitate an improvement in the relationship, you need to move on as soon as humanly possible.
However, if the cause of your relationship declining is external in nature and your partner is willing to work through this rough time, then you should explore the following options.
1. Find common ground
Are there things you both still enjoy about each other or enjoy doing together?
This is important because at this juncture, what you need is a shift in focus.
Rather than be consumed by what has gone wrong, it could be incredibly beneficial to spend some time focusing on what could go right.
Coming to a mutual agreement often requires both parties to be willing and open to suggestions.
Once you can find common ground, it makes it much easier to deal with what has gone wrong without playing the blame game.
The last thing you want to do is start blaming each other. This will only largen the rift between you two.
It is far healthier to deal with differences as a team. But you should only do this after establishing some synchronicity.
For example, imagine both of you agree that it would be great if you could start communicating better. That’s a goal you can work towards.
It’s a solution that will actively facilitate solutions to other problems.
2. Identify the things that make you unhappy
At this point, it’s a good idea to tackle the relationship problems head on. Again, I have to emphasize not blaming each other.
Rather than structuring your conversation in terms of You or I, word your issues by focusing on Us or We.
This emphasizes teamwork and prevents either of you from closing up or getting defensive.
Be very specific though.
Don’t waste your time zoning in on small and inconsequential problems. Those usually disappear after you focus on fixing the bigger issues at hand like poor communication.
Make a list of these problems and immediately start focusing on how you Both can contribute to fixing them.
3. Come to a compromise
At the end of the day, nothing works unless you have two willing partners willing to compromise.
It’s a give and get situation, especially when trying to resolve a problem that is serious and ongoing.
I want to be as realistic as possible.
You may not get everything that you personally want. But, that’s okay. The whole point of a relationship is being able to compromise just a bit on what you want to satisfy the needs of the relationship.
The idea is to get what you want but maybe not to the extremity or extent that you expect.
Which is okay.
You can’t be selfish and expect to compromise in a relationship. That’s not how it works.
Find the middle ground.
Work with your partner and come to an agreement that makes both of you feel comfortable or content.
4. Set new rules and boundaries for the relationship
Here’s where things get interesting and fair.
Extreme freedom is not possible. There has to be some rules and boundaries to maintain peace and harmony.
Even within the scope of a romantic relationship.
Boundaries ensure that neither partner infringes on the other partner wrongfully.
What I emphasize during this phase is setting rules and boundaries that encourage respect.
If you set the terms for a respectful relationship, rarely will you ever find yourself in suffering or extremely unhappy in a relationship.
Fights become healthy disagreements when respect is involved and maintained at all times.
So with that being said, rather than set rules and boundaries that are restrictive, let them focus on respect.
5. Give each other some space to process things
Sometimes a relationship can fall apart simply because partners fail to respect their partners privacy and need for space.
You see, it is during our time alone when we process, accept and make peace with things that bother us.
Me time is incredibly important.
You cannot dispense with it altogether. That is a recipe for disaster.
It doesn’t matter how much you love each other, not giving your partner space leads to anger, irritation, and disagreements.
After a string of bad fights or disagreements, take some time to work through it away from each other.
That doesn’t necessitate moving out or anything major. Even if it’s just for a day or two, just spend some time cooling off.
6. Do what feels right in your gut
You can compromise on any number of things but when it comes to happiness and self preservation, don’t compromise on that.
I think most people can tell when their partner is looking out for them or not.
If you suspect that you’re in a relationship with someone who is selfish, don’t compromise what you need and deserve.
Because if you don’t look out for yourself, then who will? Certainly not a selfish and self absorbed partner.
7. Don’t tolerate abuse of any kind
On the topic of compromise, I think it is imperative that you have a zero-tolerance policy for abuse in a relationship.
It is virtually impossible to entrust your heart to someone who abuses you physically, emotionally or psychologically.
Irrespective of what the reasoning may be, abuse is a deal breaker.
You only get once chance at life. Is it really worth it to sacrifice years or decades of your life to someone who breaks you down?
You get what you negotiate for in life.
The terms of negotiation are simple – abuse me and you lose me.
Live life by that philosophy and you’ll avoid many toxic, bad, abusive and unhealthy relationships.
This is the last and final option at your disposal.
When you feel like you’ve exhausted every means necessary to save the relationship, there’s no reason to beat a dead horse any more, even if you still have feelings.
You can’t fix what isn’t broken.
If a relationship is bad or unhealthy at it’s core, then it isn’t broken, it’s just the way things are.
Changing the relationship may require changing the individual or yourself. What’s the point of doing that if it steals your identity?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for self development.
But there’s a fine line between changing to get better and losing your identity.
Leaving an unhealthy or bad relationship sign isn’t quitting, especially when you’ve tried everything you can.
Don’t beat yourself up over the outcome. What’s important is how you showed up in the relationship and the way you handled things.