We talk about toxic relationships today a lot more than we used to. A toxic relationship is one that is simply bad for us. Though we might derive some pleasure from it, ultimately it will do us more harm than good.
When we can, we should always try to leave toxic relationships behind and clear up room in our lives for people who enhance our happiness.
Being in a toxic relationship can come down to being with someone who’s toxic in their own right. A lot of the time, though, it’s not a case of one person ruining the whole relationship with their poison; it’s the combination of people who bring out the worst in each other that creates the toxic environment.
And while some toxic relationships are easy to spot, even for those who are in them, some are well-disguised. It’s common to not even realize you’re in one of these relationships until someone points it out to you. That’s especially the case if it didn’t start out toxic and instead has slowly rotted beneath your nose.
There are a number of clear signs that suggest what you and your partner have might be bad for both of you. Do you recognize any of them?
The one thing a healthy relationship must always have in abundance is support.
That’s one of the reasons people seek out a significant other in the first place—you want to have someone who has your back when you need it.
If you find that you can’t trust your partner to be there for you in hard times, and you certainly don’t serve as their rock the times they need you, there’s a good chance your relationship may be turning toxic.
A hallmark sign of two people in love is telling each other all their news before they tell anybody else. Whether they’ve got something good or bad to share, a healthy couple is interested in what’s going on in the other’s lives, and fill each other in accordingly. It could be a sign that your relationship is on the decline if you share your news with other people instead of them, especially if they were once the person you ran to first.
As long as you’re a human, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s true that sometimes one person is at fault a lot more than the other in the context of a relationship, but nobody is totally perfect.
A sign that the relationship has started to turn toxic is if it’s only one person who takes the blame for all the things that go wrong.
The responsibility should be shared between you. Obviously, you are responsible for your own actions, but nobody is right all the time.
Pretending to be someone else just to make your partner happy is not sustainable and is not good for your sense of self-worth or self-esteem. Instead, you should be able to be yourself, flaws and all, and your partner should love you for it. If they don’t, you’re not with the best person for you. Having to be someone else just to keep things civil between you makes for a very toxic environment rather than a happy and healthy relationship.
In relationships that are working, communication reigns supreme. Seriously, it can’t work without this kind of interaction between you.
You should be able to talk to each other about anything, and you should talk often.
When things start to slow down in that area, you could have a problem on your hands. A lack of communication leads to a whole other range of issues and is a sign that the relationship is no longer a happy and safe space for either of you.
Though it’s important to communicate, it’s not enough to just talk. The content of your conversations can also tell a lot about the state of your relationship. Couples on the right track talk about everything, from how their days went to ideas about the future to problems that are nagging at them. So it could be a sign that things are turning toxic if the only things you talk about are superficial and you haven’t had a real conversation in months.
Resentment can cause a lot of cracks in a relationship and is one of the biggest factors that lead to wedges between people who were once deeply in love.
Two people in a relationship will undoubtedly annoy each other and upset each other on their journey, sure.
But they’re better off acknowledging those issues and moving on rather than quietly holding it against their partner. A relationship that’s brimming with silent resentment is toxic for both the person with the grudge and the object of their anger.
One of the best parts about being in a relationship with someone you love is having a partner who will be by your side as you go through life. Not just when you are going through a rough time, but in your day-to-day living. A good partner cares about the little things that are important to you and remembers small details. On the other hand, a toxic relationship has none of that. Instead, your partner will forget about the things that matter to you, leaving you feeling rejected.
No relationship is completely free of fights. And if it is, it could be because neither of you cares enough to bring up the things that are bugging you. That said, it shouldn’t feel like a constant battle.
You shouldn’t be walking around with your armor on all the time, anticipating an attack or getting ready to pick a fight.
It’s a sign that the relationship is no longer serving either of you if you’re fighting all the time and your fights are getting longer and more painful.
Sometimes it’s hard to be honest and open with your partner, but you should be able to talk about anything and everything in a healthy partnership. That means both of you let the other person air out concerns or points of contention without criticism or judgment. The thing is, toxic relationships often involve on partner completely shutting down the other when it’s something they’d rather not hear. If you and your partner have trouble letting each other get things off your chest, you might need to reexamine things.
Trust is super important in a relationship.
If you can’t trust the person you’re committing yourself to, what’s the point?
By trust, we mean that you should be able to rely on them to keep your secrets, to follow through with their promises, be there when they say they’re going to be there, and to have your back when you need to lean on them. It’s a sign that things are toxic if the trust was once there, and now it’s gone.
In the early days, a couple might lead quite separate lives and only see each other occasionally. But as the relationship gets stronger and you start to envision a future together, your lives should naturally fuse together. You don’t have to live in each other’s pockets, but you should get to a point where you know each other’s friends and family, understand each other’s work, or start to coordinate your schedules. If you’re leading totally separate lives, it could be a sign of weakness in the relationship.
It’s perfectly normal to have friends outside of your relationship, and we definitely don’t recommend ditching everyone who was once important to you just because you think you’ve found your soulmate.
But you should want to spend time with your partner, and there shouldn’t be anyone else you’d rather be with.
If there is, it’s not fair for you or them. That could mean that your heart is no longer in it, and you’re not in the right relationship for you.
Just because your lives are becoming more entwined as you grow closer together, it doesn’t mean that you have to forget about caring for yourself. In fact, it’s a very clear sign that the relationship isn’t the best thing for you if it forces you to stop looking after your own needs. This could be because it takes up so much of your time or because you’re with someone who doesn’t care about your wellbeing and demands you to sacrifice it.
You deserve to be in a relationship with someone you care deeply about and someone you actually want to be with for the foreseeable future.
Without a spark pulling you together, you might just have friendship in the guise of a relationship, which would leave you feeling unsatisfied and unhappy.
Don’t confuse dry patches or leaving the honeymoon stage as the end of your relationship, though! The spark changes as time goes on, but it should always be there between you.
A little healthy rivalry between a couple is normal, and it’s not unusual for two people in love to feel the need to compete with each other from time to time. But there’s healthy competition, and then there’s the kind that leaves you feeling totally drained and like you’re being challenged by an enemy rather than a lover. It could be a sign that your relationship is turning toxic if you’re obsessed with being better than your partner rather than genuinely wanting the best for them.
We all have different emotional needs, but a couple should be on the same page about what those needs are, especially as their relationship blossoms.
Having your emotions played with, intentionally or unintentionally, is never fun.
You don’t deserve that from someone who is supposed to be your partner, and they don’t deserve it from you. There’s a chance that the environment is becoming toxic if either of you is playing games with the other’s feelings, or ignoring them altogether.
Relationships take work and pose challenges. But if you’re spending most of your time in a state of negativity after seeing your partner, you might have to ask yourself whether being with them is really the best thing for you. A lot of things in this life drain you and make you want to crawl into bed and never come out, but your relationship should not be one of them. Sometimes it may feel like that, but it shouldn’t be constant.
A little jealousy between two people who love each other is inevitable, and even a good sign. It shows that you actually care about each other and don’t want to lose each other.
There is, however, a big difference between healthy jealousy and toxic possessiveness.
Jealousy should not be the force driving the relationship. Neither of you should be so domineering and territorial that it affects the other person’s quality of life and prohibits them from living how they want to live.
A relationship is kind of like a house in that, after a while, it will require some maintenance. You can’t just commit to it and then forget about it—it takes work to keep it livable. Your relationship will require some effort every now and then to keep things strong between you, and it’s not a good sign if neither of you cares enough to work on it and improve the situation. If you can’t get motivated, it suggests fixing the relationship isn’t important to you.
Nobody is worth putting yourself in danger over, no matter how great they may seem.
It’s a definite sign that the relationship has started turning toxic if you fear for your safety because of the person you’re with.
There might be a threat coming from them directly, or perhaps from their lifestyle, or the people they surround themselves with. Whatever the case, you know it’s a toxic environment if you actually feel afraid around them, and have a valid reason to feel that way.
Deep down, your intuition will be able to tell whether your relationship is good for you or not. If it’s not, you’ll have a feeling that something is wrong. And if you try to ignore that voice, you’ll find yourself making excuses for your partner over and over again. You’ll excuse the photo you saw of them and their ex, or the way they constantly put you down. But the nagging feeling won’t go away until you acknowledge that the relationship is no longer serving you.
There’s a difference between constructive criticism and flat-out blaming, shaming, and attacking.
When the relationship becomes toxic, two people pick at each other relentlessly, and it’s not for the other person’s benefit.
The criticism isn’t constructive and definitely isn’t sought out in a toxic relationship—it’s delivered in a harsh way and is intended to make the other person feel bad and to establish power over them. It’s time to rethink things when you feel overcome by negativity like this.
Manipulation has no place in an honest, healthy, and happy relationship. Even though it’s tempting sometimes, two people who love each other will rise above that and sort out their issues rather than resorting to manipulating each other. Being controlled like that can do a lot of damage to your (or your partner’s) self-esteem and happiness. So it’s a clear sign of a toxic relationship if you realize that your partner is manipulating you in some way, or if you’re manipulating them.
Ultimately, it comes down to happiness. Your relationship can tick a lot of boxes on paper and appear to be perfect in the eyes of your family and friends, but if you’re not happy, there’s not much point to any of it.
A relationship that always makes you unhappy, for whatever reason, should be left behind.
A toxic relationship doesn’t always look like the way it’s portrayed on television—sometimes it involves two decent people who just can’t make each other happy anymore.