Volatile Relationships: The Complete Guide

I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t necessarily know what a healthy relationship is. They are so fixated on merely being in a relationship with someone that they don’t know when volatile relationships begin.

These relationships don’t necessarily have to be a boyfriend or girlfriend. They can be a boss that belittles you when they are stressed or even a constantly criticizing mother-in-law. Volatile relationships come in all shapes and sizes.

I hope to shed some light on what volatile relationships are, signs of a volatile relationship, how to handle volatile relationships, and how to recover after being in a volatile relationship.

Volatile Relationships - Pinterest Pin

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are used and you can read my full disclosure here.

What are Volatile Relationships?

Volatile from Latin volatilis “fleeting, transitory” always gives the sense of sudden, radical change. Think of it as the opposite of stable.

A person who is volatile loses his or her temper suddenly and violently. A volatile political situation could erupt into civil war. When the stock market is volatile, it fluctuates greatly. And in scientific language, a volatile oil evaporates quickly.

A great way to describe volatile relationships is the 90-10 rule. 90% of the time things are great. You’re both happy and communicate well and enjoy spending time together. Generally, you feel positively about your relationship, but the 10% is lurking in the background waiting for its opportunity to come in and ruin everything.

5 Signs of Volatile Relationships

Not many people know the signs of volatile relationships until it’s too late. Don’t be part of the majority and get yourself out of the volatile relationship before it is too late.

1. The smallest thing will trigger a big argument. Something that seemingly comes out of nowhere, but they get emotionally explosive quickly.

2. When things are going rough, one or both of you may say things you don’t mean, but they are hard to take back.

3. You experience days or even weeks of minimal communication or not talking at all. You avoid each other, not knowing how to find your way back to the person you know and love.

4. You feel isolated, lonely, and disconnected. The person you love feels unfamiliar, distant, and a stranger.

5. You think the worst and fall into hopelessness about ever working it out.

The good news is that the 90% can win. Recognizing the signs and establishing new, positive behaviors will help the relationship from going down a volatile rabbit hole.

Volatile Relationships - man and woman sitting on park bench
Claire's Clearance

How to Handle Volatile Relationships

If you were able to catch the signs of volatile relationships, you’re on the right track. It can be difficult to figure out how to handle volatile relationships, but not when you have these 5 steps.

1. Accept that you are in a difficult situation, dealing with a very difficult relationship

What works is to accept that your relationship with them is super hard, and also that you are trying to make it less hard. This does not mean that you are resigned to a life of misery, or that the situation will never get better. It simply means that you are accepting the reality of a difficult relationship and that allows us to soften. This softening will open the door to your own compassion and wisdom.

2. The other person will probably tell you that you are the cause of all their bad feelings.

Understand that this is just not true. You are not responsible for their emotions. You never have been, and you never will be. Don’t take responsibility for their suffering; if you do, they will never have the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves.

3. Tell the truth

When you lie, you become complicit in the creation and maintenance of their reality, which is poisonous to you. Lying is very stressful for human beings. Lie detectors do not detect lies, but they detect the subconscious stress and fear that lying causes. Lying will not make the relationship less toxic.

Instead, just tell the truth. Be sure to tell them your truth and not your judgment, or what you imagine to be true for other people. It takes courage to tell the truth, because often it makes people angry. No matter what you do, they will probably be mad at you anyway. So why not just tell the truth? They almost certainly won’t like the new, truth-telling you —and that will make them likely to avoid you in the future. This might be a good thing.

Volatile Relationships - Tell the Truth

4. If you feel angry or afraid, bring your attention to your breath and do not speak (or write) to the person until you feel calm

It’s normal to want to defend yourself, but remember that anger and anxiety weaken you. Trust that working on yourself is the only effective thing you can do right now. If you need to excuse yourself, go ahead and step out. Even if it is embarrassing or it leaves people hanging.

5. Have mercy

You probably won’t be able to get rid of your negative thoughts about them, and you won’t be able to change them, but you can make an effort to be a loving person.

Forgiveness takes this kindness to a whole new level. I used to think that I couldn’t really forgive someone who’d hurt me until they asked for forgiveness.

I’ve learned that to heal ourselves we must forgive whether or not we’re asked for forgiveness, and whether or not the person is still hurting us. When we do, we feel happier and more peaceful.

Forgiveness is an ongoing practice, not a one-time deal.

When we find ways to show mercy to even the person who has cost us sleep and love and even our well-being, something miraculous happens.

We experience a great spiritual moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp. When we show radical kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance we start to show ourselves those things. We realize that we can love and forgive and accept even the most terrible aspects of our own being, even it if is only for a moment. We start to show ourselves the truth, and this makes us feel free.

This makes everything worth it. All of the tears, all of the arguments, all of the pain.

I went through a time when my dad and I weren’t seeing eye to eye on things. There were lots of times when we would lash out and say some truly hurtful things to one another. It got so bad that we didn’t talk for some time. Once I decided to open up and forgive him was when I truly felt at peace and our relationship now is amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

two women in a man in Christmas t-shirts
My dad, myself, and my dad’s wife

How to recover after being in a Volatile Relationship

Going through a breakup is always difficult, no matter the circumstances. It doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship either.

Friend breakups can sometimes be the same or worse than a romantic relationship. If you’re having a tough time with a friend breakup make sure to check out my 4 steps to recovery and 10 songs that you need to add to your breakup playlist here.

Going through a volatile relationship break up can feel even worse than any of those relationship breakups. It is important to remember that you have support and it’s especially important to remember that a breakup is temporary.

Remember these 8 tips when you go through a volatile relationship breakup:

1. It’s okay to be sad.

Allow yourself to cry, eat that pint of ice cream and watch sad movies. Cry to your family and friends. Don’t think that it is better to hide your feelings and appear strong. It is healthy to release those feelings of pain so you can move on.

2. Don’t doubt what you did.

Stand firm in your decision to move on. You made the right call because you want to be in a healthy relationship

3. Stay out of contact.

You might be tempted to call or text them, just to check in. Resist the temptation and try being alone for a while. It’s better to be single rather than being back in a volatile relationship!

4. Get creative.

It might seem scary to try something new. Don’t let the doubts that were put in your head from that volatile relationship sink into your day-to-day life.

Try joining a club, starting a project, cooking a great meal, learning a musical instrument or a second language. Do whatever you think will help distract you from the breakup and get out and enjoy life again.

Maybe get a Cricut Maker and starting a crafting business. Cricut Maker® Machine, Champagne

5. Go back in time.

Get back to your roots and try your hand at some of the hobbies you had that may have stopped because of the relationship.

6. Spend time with others.

Sometimes, volatile relationships cause people to unintentionally sever ties with loved ones. If you haven’t spent as much time with your friends as you’d like, set up a date to hang out.

The same goes for your family. Reconnecting with the people in your life that you love will remind you that you are not alone, and will establish new routines.

Don’t let your family be your volatile relationship either. If you or someone you know is struggling with a difficult family member, please read this article where I share my 6 ways to deal with difficult family members.

7. Focus on the present.

It can be very easy to dwell on the past, rather than thinking about today and the future. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen, and concentrate on what’s happening now. Are you enjoying yourself? What makes you happy? Just because one relationship ends doesn’t mean you can never discover a new passion or reclaim your life.

8. Love yourself.

What happened has happened. Don’t think you can go back and stop yourself from ever coming in contact with that person, nor can you go back and try to change them.

It is possible to move on from this. You are worthy of real love and happiness! The more you focus on self-love, the easier it will be to find someone who you can love again — and who will love you in return, in a healthy, symbiotic relationship.

Take yourself on a date because you are more than enough. If you are stuck on ideas on what to do check out these 10 Self Care Date Day ideas.

You are the most important you there will ever be and you deserve to be here. Don’t let someone else steal your joy. Be the creator of your own joy.

Have you been in a volatile relationship or know someone that has, what tips would you add? Let me know in the comments!

(13) Comments

  1. Extracts of Alex says:

    Great advice, I think honesty is best in relationships and time to get to know someone. If going through a breakup, time is a healer.

  2. This is so good to talk about. We need to talk about this and let others know they’re not alone! Thank you for sharing!

    1. I totally agree! It is such an important issue that most everyone deals with at least once in their life

  3. John and Julie Gottman saved mine…

    1. That’s great! Thanks for reading and commenting! 💜

  4. Ashlee says:

    I always say the past is in the past there is nothing you can do about it, that’s why God made us walk forward to look at our future!! Very good post! ❤️❤️

    1. Yes! That is very well put! Thanks for reading and commenting! 💜

  5. Batmom85 says:

    Great post! These tips are so necessary! I think a lot of people stay in toxic relationships out of fear of loneliness. This was a great post and so many tips to help some one cope. Love your work girl.

    1. Yes, I think so too. Thanks for reading 💜

  6. Great post enjoyed reading ! It’s hard for people in bad situations to sometimes recognize it so the information provided will let them know something has to change ❤️

    1. That’s what I’m hoping for. I want more people to be aware of these signs so they can get the help they need. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. It’s so important to discuss these topics. So many people out there struggle with isolated situations and they don’t know where to turn. What a great and informative post for people that may experiencing this.

    1. Yes! That my hope with this post is to inform those that may be going through it that it’s okay to walk away and do better for yourself. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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