No relationship is perfect. It’s normal to have fights and misunderstandings. Relationships can be challenging; that’s why you must continuously work on them. However, there comes the point where they exceed a certain level of stress and become toxic. Toxic relationships can negatively impact every aspect of your life: your work, your friendships, your health, and most importantly, your mental wellbeing.
Several studies show how staying in a toxic relationship can be bad for your health. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you shouldn’t underestimate the stress you’re in. Toxic relationships can sometimes be hard to identify. Some behaviors clearly cross a line.
Any kind of abuse, be it physical, emotional, verbal, or financial can be easy to spot. However, other signs are subtler—but can be just as problematic. This is why you must recognize the signs early on so that you can know what to do. Some relationships are worth saving and are still salvageable. Others are just downright so toxic; there is no antidote.
What is a Toxic Relationship?
But we fully move on to the warning signs of a toxic relationship, let’s have a brief refresher of what it’s all about. A toxic relationship is a relationship wherein you’re with someone that damages your self-esteem and drains energy.
This is very much the opposite of a healthy relationship, wherein two people involved in it provide respect, mutual caring, and compassion to each other. You feel secure in this type of relationship, unlike a toxic one, where you feel like walking on eggshells all the time.
Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship
Here are some of the warning signs to help you recognize a toxic relationship. Keep in mind that these are just some of the signs and should not be seen as exclusive. Also, most of the scenarios and examples we’re sharing are from romantic relationships/marriages, but toxic relationships can also occur in parent-child interactions and friendships.
1Your partner isn’t as supportive as they should be.
One of the clear warning signs of a toxic relationship is there’s a lack of support from them. You see, you’re supposed to be a team. Your partner should be there to support and cheer you up on the most difficult moments.
So when you feel like you’re the only one that’s putting the effort in the relationship, and feel like your partner’s withdrawn all the time, then there’s a chance that you’re in a toxic relationship.
Here are some of the specific signs:
- They don’t show any interest in your goals.
- They seem to back away when things get difficult.
- Your partner doesn’t offer support and encouragement at all.
- They always talk over you.
- Your partner doesn’t do anything when you’re in a distraught state.
2Your partner takes control of everything.
Sometimes, it’s “cute” when your partner can be so possessive with you. Like when he sees somebody hitting on you and making you uncomfortable, so he’s there to tell the guy to back off. However, when your partner wants you to break off friendships and even contact with your family, that’s a clear red flag.
Isolating you from your friends and family is an attempt to control and manipulate your support system. That ensures you will have no escape and means of getting other people to help you in case something worse happens. That’s just wrong and very toxic, honey.
Here are other specific signs regarding controlling behavior:
- They monitor your whereabouts.
- Your partner demands access to all of your social media platforms.
- If you’re married, they have full control over finances.
- They treat you like a kid– controlling what you wear, what to eat, etc.
- They demand orders as if you’re their maid.
- You can’t say no to their demands.
- They threaten to hurt you or themselves if they don’t get what they want.
- They criticize you constantly.
3Everything seems like a competition.
Your partner has a “relationship scorecard” where you use past wrongdoings to try to establish current righteousness. It develops over time as one of you or both of you try to keep track of each other’s faults and mistakes to be able to use them at a later time when you need them in a fight.
Not only are you deflecting the current issue, but you’re using past guilt and bitterness to try and “win” the argument. You both use the past to manipulate your partner into feeling wrong in the present. That’s a sign of a toxic relationship.
Now aside from keeping a relationship scorecard, here are other specific signs regarding this point:
- They can’t genuinely be happy with your success.
- They don’t like the fact that you’re earning more, and would blatantly tell you that all the time.
- Your partner wants you to quit that awesome job.
- They dismiss your complaints, saying that they’ve had it worse.
- They always criticize your decisions in life.
- Your fights always feel like a sport. No compromises at all.
- You try to make each other jealous.
- Your partner always throws out ultimatums.
4There’s a lack of communication throughout the relationship.
Another clear warning sign that you’re in a toxic relationship is that you or your partner refuses to communicate or cooperate. Partners need to talk about a lot of important things in relationships. Obviously, your relationship should just not revolve around what’s for dinner or what to watch on Netflix.
If your partner flat-out refuses to talk about important relationship topics, like if you’re getting married or when you’ll buy a home, you may be in a toxic relationship. When you’re not able to talk about things central to the relationship, it causes insecurities and dysfunction. If you or your partner refuses to fix problems, you may be in a toxic relationship.
Here are other specific signs regarding toxic communication:
- Conversations never go deeper than surface level.
- They dismiss and trivialize your feelings.
- Passive-aggressive behavior. They hide their anger instead of addressing the conflict head-on.
- Silent treatment. You ask the person “what’s wrong?” and then they say “nothing.” But there’s really something in that “nothing.” They may also end up walking out during a conversation.
- Your partner uses aggressive speech during fights. There’s a lot of yelling. They dominate the conversation. They use insults.
5You feel like walking on eggshells all the time.
You feel like everything you do upsets or annoys your partner. As such, you’re always walking on eggshells around them. You’re very uncomfortable and tiptoeing in your own relationship. That’s a problem!
When you can’t even act naturally because you’re afraid your partner will just get angry, then that’s very unhealthy. There’s something that your partner is not communicating with you. Until they become honest with why they’re really frustrated, nothing you do will seem to be enough.
Here are other warning signs related to this point:
- You’re always afraid of your partner.
- There’s a need to correct your thoughts before you speak.
- You feel like you always have to dumb yourself to make your partner feel smart and good about themselves.
- They take your privacy away.
- They would blackmail you, saying that your secrets will be exposed if you don’t follow their demands.
6There’s a lack of self-care on your end.
Relationships can change you. It’s inevitable. Maybe you were uncaring about your appearance, then you had your partner, and you started to be a bit conscious. Or sometimes, it’s vice-versa. You were so conscious about your looks, and then you meet someone who loves you for you, and now, it doesn’t matter what you look like so long as your partner accepts you.
When you’re in a healthy relationship, changes like these can occur. But the more important thing is that, even if you both change, you should be going in the same direction.
If your relationship changes you, it should only make you a better version of yourself. A great relationship inspires you to achieve more and to be more. If you feel like you’re losing yourself or you don’t know who you are anymore, it’s not healthy for you, dear.
Here are some of the specific signs related to this point:
- You skip or neglect your basic needs and living in “autopilot” mode.
- You’ve lost touch with your other loved ones.
- You’ve surrendered yourself to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
- You’re always stressed and unhappy with the relationship.
- There’s no motivation to do the things you love.
- You don’t have the confidence to try new things.
- There may be some significant changes in the body– you may lose or gain weight, have paler skin, etc.
7Your partner never takes responsibility for their actions.
Another clear sign of a toxic relationship is your partner never takes responsibility for the pain they’ve caused you. There’s no apologizing. There are no heart-to-heart talks. They either blame you for it, or they just deny that it even happened in the first place.
If you constantly feel like there’s something off but when you try to talk to your partner about it you get shut down or being blamed for it, you may be in a toxic relationship.
Here are other specific signs regarding this point:
- They guilt-trip you. They may end up using their “demons” as to why they hurt you.
- Your partner denies the abuse aka gaslighting you.
- They blame you for everything.
- Your partner accuses you of abuse. They will say that you’re the one with issues and that they’re just trying their “best” to be a good partner for you.
- They will say that you’re overreacting on everything.
8They show you “grand gestures” to cover up their issues.
Being in a toxic relationship isn’t all about pain and suffering. There are a few “happy” moments in the relationship. However, don’t think of these moments as genuine expressions of affection.
Most of the time, toxic partners use this to manipulate you into staying in the relationship. They want you to think that the relationship is going on the right track.
Here are some of the specific signs regarding this point:
- They “love bomb” you for a few days. They will bombard you with compliments, cuddle you nonstop, treat you to a nice dinner– all of the romantic stuff.
- You will be “flaunted” all over social media, making everyone believe that you have a wonderful relationship.
How to Deal With a Toxic Relationship
Other resources may tell you that a toxic relationship can still be fixed. You may also think that this toxic person is going through something, and you just want to wait for things to get better.
However, if this relationship is bringing you nothing but misery, the best thing to do is to leave. Keep in mind that love and loyalty don’t always exist together. Don’t fully destruct yourself just to be with this person.
Also, take note that people can’t just remove their toxic behaviors in a snap of a finger. It may take years for your toxic partner to fully change. So when they tell you that things will get better, that they will become the person that you would love through thick-and-thin, they’re most likely just saying that so that you would stay.
Once you’ve left this toxic individual, you might experience additional abuse from this person. They might blame you for everything. They might end up telling your friends that you’re the toxic one. Yes, things can be that messy during a breakup of a toxic person.
During this period, keep in mind that it’s not your fault. We also suggest seeking therapy to help you move on from this traumatic experience.
We know you’re not supposed to be happy 24/7 even if you’re in a relationship. It’s unrealistic to believe that just because you have someone, that person will complete you and make you happy always. A relationship has ups and downs. So it’s normal to sometimes feel sad and upset with what you have. However, the line is drawn when no matter what you do, you just don’t feel happy anymore.
As a whole, your partner should make you happier. They should make you feel supported and capable of doing whatever the hell it is you want to do. They should be able to give you stability. A feeling that no matter what happens, they will always be there for you. But when there’s no such feeling like that, and you’re just constantly unhappy, there’s no reason to hold on. It’s time to call it quits.