How Can You Help Someone Who Is In a Toxic Relationship?

There is no feeling that is as emptying as losing yourself. And being in a toxic relationship can do that to you.

Partnership or companionship is an essential element of our adulthood. When done right, relationships can foster to be the most beautiful experience of our lives. But if your partner isn’t what he/she seems to be at first, then things can go south quickly. It can be draining to be with someone who doesn’t value and respect you. If you have a friend or someone in the family who is going through this, we can imagine how disheartening it would be for you to watch them break every day. It might make you feel helpless but you don’t have to feel that way.

If you’re looking for ways on how to help someone in a toxic relationship, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we will discuss the various types of unhealthy relationship dynamics and how you can help your friend or a family member to get out of a toxic relationship and start over.

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is a result of behavior by one partner that causes emotional, physical, or psychological damage to the other partner.

  • Negative remarks on physical attributes of the other person
  • Unfazed behavior when the other partner is emotionally strained
  • Passive-aggressive behavior
  • Playing the victim when it is their fault
  • Narcissistic and possessive behavior
  • Wants to control you and threatens to leave the other partner does not do as they say.
  • Verbal, physical, sexual, or financial abuse

What are the 5 signs of an unhealthy relationship?

Controlling behavior

In an unhealthy relationship, the abuser will try to dictate the victim. The abuser will keep a check on everything that belongs to the victim. The abuser will even control the way the victim dresses, who they talk to, where they go, who they spend time with, and control over finances.

Extreme jealousy

Jealousy and insecurity are two of the most common signs of a toxic relationship. Although the abuser might justify it as their ‘way of loving’ or them just being ‘protective’ for the victim. The abuser may refuse to let the victim speak to anyone because they fear that the victim may meet somebody else.

Abusive nature

Be it physical abuse, emotional abuse, or sexual abuse- any type of abuse counts as signs of an unhealthy relationship. Physical violence can include any sort of physical force that threatens to hurt the victim. Emotional abuse includes bullying, verbal abuse, gaslighting, etc.

Unrealistic expectations

The abuser expects their partner to be perfect. They expect their partner to meet all their needs at all times. The abuser has a preconceived notion of their ‘ideal’ partner and they try to impose that on the victim. When the victim fails to meet their expectations, the abuser may turn violent or threaten to leave the victim.

Forced sex

The abuser might force their partner to indulge in acts they’re not comfortable with. The abuser may even force the victim to have sex even when they’re sick or don’t feel like indulging. Or the abuser may even not ask for the victim’s consent before indulging in sexual activities.

What to say to a friend who is in a toxic relationship?

We understand the dilemma that you might face when you hear that your friend is stuck in a toxic relationship. You need to be extremely mindful about the things you say to them during such a time. Here are a few ways in which you can handle this situation


Don’t start bombarding them with advice and what they should do. Rather, just listen. Sometimes all your friend might need is someone who would listen to them which will help them vent their feelings. You can share your experiences with them and make them understand the ways in which they can cope with the situation. But make sure to not make the entire conversation about you, rather just let things unfold naturally and be there to listen to their problems whenever they need you.

Don’t pounce on the subject

Bring it up gently. Don’t make sure that you’re not being too direct with them. If you have a hunch that your friend is in a toxic relationship, you need to be really subtle about confronting them. If you are upfront about it, they might share it with their partner, and their partner might gaslight them to think against you. If you feel like something is bothering them, then just assure them that you’re there for them no matter what they’re going through.

Share your own experiences

By sharing your own past relationship experiences, you’ll make your friend even more comfortable about sharing their own story with you. Talk about how you ignored the red flags in your relationship and hope they lead to something worse. Tell them about the things you yourself misunderstood as ‘love’ whereas they were unacceptable traits of your partner. Sharing your own experiences will also help them to feel as if they’re not being judged for being in a toxic relationship. Remember, the more comfortable your friend is, the more open they’ll be about the abuse.

Cheer them up

Help your friend build their self-image. Make them realize their true worth and that they deserve to be treated better. Try to build them up instead of making them feel guilty for being in a toxic relationship. Whenever you see them sulking about it, you can remind them how awesome they are!

Don’t criticize

Don’t accuse them of anything. Try to understand where they’re coming from and give them time to respond and help her figure out things for themselves. Make sure that you don’t come across as someone who is being judgmental or not considerate enough about what they’re going through.

How do you help someone in a manipulative relationship?

You can begin by being extremely compassionate towards them. Don’t be judgemental about their issues and focus on what they’re saying without interrupting them with your inputs. Listen to them carefully and let them lead the conversation. Ask questions that only express concern so that you don’t come across as if you’re prying.

How does a relationship become toxic?

A relationship that lacks empathy is a toxic relationship. Whether either of the partners is too demanding or either of the partners is not considerate enough for the other person in the relationship- this gives ignition to a toxic relationship. In a toxic relationship, one of the partners will not feel any empathy or emotions towards their partner.

If you know someone who is in a toxic relationship and it is beyond you to help them. Make sure you advise them to go for professional help. Help your friend to cope with their unhealthy relationship. At Modern Counseling we have relationship counselors that can help your loved one to start over and leave old scars behind.

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