Are you feeling emotionally drained and questioning whether your relationship is doing more harm than good?
It’s normal to feel confused and unsure at times, but if you’ve been noticing certain signs that don’t seem right, then it may be time for an honest conversation.
According to experts, here are the signs of a toxic relationship so you can identify them early on and decide what action to take.
Sarah Rollins, LMSW, SEP
Licensed Clinical Social Worker | Owner, Embodied Wellness, PLLC
They are always keeping score
You are cleaning the kitchen, and you forget to sweep under the stove. When your partner comes home, they notice and blow up. Berating you for forgetting such a small thing. They insist that you did it on purpose and call you lazy.
You apologize and quickly try to clean it up, so the fight does not escalate. Whether forgetting to clean one area of the kitchen, saying the wrong thing at the dinner table, or not calling at the right time, it feels like there’s a scoreboard in your relationship.
Everything that you do has a price. Every minor mistake is thrown in your face later. It feels like you can’t make a mistake or be human without it being used against you. You begin to fear standing up for yourself and just want peace, so you stay quiet.
Sometimes we don’t want to admit that our partners are engaging in toxic behaviors and want to see the best in them.
It can be helpful to ask ourselves how we would feel if our best friend or loved one was in our relationship and what advice or suggestions we would give them.
Talk to a trusted confidant
We are usually less judgmental and can be more objective in these scenarios. Talking to a trusted confidant with who you feel safe to share how you are feeling can also be helpful in exploring your options.
Talk to your partner about changing their behavior
Sometimes the answer is leaving the relationship, while other times, you can talk to your partner about changing their behavior.
Regardless, it can be scary to make any change in a relationship, so remembering to be kind and compassionate with yourself is important.
We all have bad moments and days. We all say things that we don’t mean. The difference between this and constant criticism is the intensity, frequency, duration, and intent. Relationships become toxic when criticism is the rule, not the exception.
When criticism is a way to control, shame, manipulate and lower someone’s self-esteem. When there is frequent criticism in a relationship, the person on the receiving end starts to believe that they deserve it and sees nothing wrong with it.
There is a difference between doing something wrong and being a bad person. In a toxic relationship, those who are criticized incessantly believe they are bad because they have done or said something that the other person did not like or disagreed with.
Acknowledge that it is okay to make mistakes
It is healthy and normal to have differing opinions in relationships. If you notice that you are in a relationship where your partner judges or expresses disapproval in a hostile or rude way, the first step is to acknowledge that it is okay to make mistakes and you are not required to be perfect in a relationship.
It is normal to feel bad about yourself when you have been put down for weeks, months, or years and therefore can be hard to stand up for yourself.
It can be helpful to engage in mastery-building activities such as improving a skill you already have, writing, drawing, etc., that builds self-esteem and confidence that makes you feel more capable, competent, and in control.
Walk away if they do not change their behavior
Once you feel better about yourself, it is easier to stand up to someone else and start to say, “it is not okay to speak to me like that,” and walk away if they do not change their behavior.
Create a safety plan
When you are in a toxic relationship, it is not always possible or safe to leave the relationship right away. If this is the case, it is essential to create a safety plan for you and your children (if applicable).
Below are some tips for creating a safety plan:
- Have the 24/7 domestic violence hotline number saved in your phone under a different name: 800-799-7233.
- Practice how you will leave your home safely in the case of an emergency (what doors, windows, etc., will you use to escape?)
- Begin to save cash and open a separate bank account.
- If you have to leave your home, where are places you can go (domestic violence shelter, friend, family, hotel)?
- Teach your children how to call 911.
- Tell certain loved ones or neighbors about the violence in your home so they can call the police if they witness anything suspicious or do not hear from you.
- Develop a code with your children or family so they can call for help if needed.
- Gather important documents (birth certificate, insurance, social security card) and keep records somewhere safe and accessible such as with a family, friend, or at work.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Estes Therapy
Both partners are unable to consider their feelings
A toxic relationship is when one or both partners are unable to consider how their behaviors or reactions impact the other person.
The relationship becomes volatile
Toxic relationships are quick to heat up and become volatile verbally or physically within a few seconds of conflict.
The relationship is influenced by the 3 A’s
Toxic relationships are often influenced by the 3 A’s — Affairs, Addiction, and Abuse. These become competent attachments that will always win over you and the relationship.
These will cause all kinds of chaos and damage to the security of the relationship, including:
- Disregarding your needs over their own wants
- Risk-taking behaviors
- Dangerous behaviors
You don’t act like yourself
When you are in a toxic relationship, you will find yourself reacting in ways that are your typical responses. You may be shocked that you are yelling when you aren’t an angry person.
What to do if you are in a toxic relationship:
Acknowledge the toxicity
First thing first, acknowledge the severity of the issue. We sometimes dismiss our feelings in hopes things will change, but it doesn’t get better.
Take a deep breath, label the relationship toxic, and let that sink in for a bit. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. It simply means your relationship has taken a turn for the worse.
Use your support system
It is common to hide the chaos from friends and family, but it only keeps you isolated. Instead, talk to your friends and/or family about your situation. This will help defuse some distress. Seek counseling either as a couple or individually to help you through it.
Seek out treatment programs
If you or your partner struggle with addiction (substance, alcohol, porn, sex, shopping, etc.), the addiction must be handled first before the relationship can improve. Seek treatment programs and support groups for both parties, and focus on recovery.
Stop all affairs or inappropriate relationships
This must stop immediately if there are any signs of an affair or inappropriate relationship.
Plan for change
You need to have an appropriate time frame of how long you will continue to be in the toxicity and how long it will be for the change to happen.
Be prepared that it won’t stop overnight if you and your partner are taking active steps to stop the toxicity. However, you need to have a plan. Three months is a reasonable time frame.
Leave the relationship
If the toxicity is not stopping and/or is unsafe physically/emotionally/sexually/financially, then you need to leave. Staying isn’t an option.
Certified Life Coach, Recovery from Toxic Relationships
A toxic relationship is one that, over time, negatively impacts your mental, emotional, and physical health. These relationships are usually hard to spot, especially if you’re fully immersed in the roller coaster of these relationships.
However, there are red flags that characterize an abusive partner, and it’s essential to recognize the signs and take steps to protect yourself sooner rather than later.
Signs of a toxic relationship:
Your self-esteem will take a nosedive
Due to your toxic partner constantly criticizing and blaming you for everything that goes wrong, you will eventually feel that you’re not good enough and don’t even deserve the relationship.
You’re walking on eggshells
An abusive partner likes to get their own way and will attempt to control you through bursts of anger and manipulation. You will ultimately be walking on eggshells, fearing the next outburst of anger.
You’re blamed for everything that goes wrong
In a toxic relationship, the victim, yes, you, will be blamed for everything that goes wrong, including your partner’s bad behavior or decisions. Irrespective of how hard you try to be perfect in every sense, they will always transfer the blame onto you.
Jealousy and possessiveness
Is your partner controlling your access to friends and family and always pointing out their negative influence on you? A toxic partner will be very jealous of you and how you spend your time. This, unfortunately, leaves you isolated and easier to control and manipulate.
Lack of trust
For many reasons, toxic relationships lack trust. The foundation is not solid, mainly due to the deception and manipulation of your toxic partner.
This form of abuse is found in almost all toxic relationships. Don’t give up your independence and your own financial autonomy. Physical or emotional abuse is another clear sign of a toxic relationship.
This could include:
- Isolating you from your friends and family
- Threatening you
What is the way forward from here?
Reach out for help
If you think you’re in a toxic relationship, it’s important to reach out for help. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your situation.
From my personal experience, I would always recommend that people leave a toxic relationship or at least plan and prepare to leave at some point.
Toxic people never change, no matter how many promises they make. These relationships have a detrimental effect on your mindset and your health. The price you ultimately pay is not worth it. No one deserves to be in a toxic relationship.
Psychologist | Certified Life & Career Coach | Chief Operating Officer, Best Personality Tests
Toxic relationships can take many forms, but the result is usually the same: hurt, disappointment, anger, and a lack of trust. It often starts with subtle signs that can easily overlook or even ignored. Identifying these warning signs and addressing them in time can help you avoid future pain and heartache.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship:
Lack of respect
Lack of respect for you as an individual is one of the most common red flags in any relationship. It may manifest as criticism or dismissal regarding your feelings, needs, and choices.
The other party might try to manipulate you into doing things their way by using guilt or intimidation tactics. If this becomes a pattern in your relationship, it’s time to reevaluate and take action.
Toxic relationships often include unhealthy communication patterns such as excessive arguing, name-calling, and sarcasm. If this is a regular part of your interactions, it’s a sign that something needs to change.
Both parties should feel supported and appreciated in healthy relationships. But if you’re constantly feeling like you’re not getting enough attention or care from the other person, it could be because they’re more focused on themselves than the relationship.
Related: Why Are People Selfish?
Cheating is one of the most common signs of a toxic relationship. If your partner is having an affair, it’s a sign that they don’t respect or value you.
They have controlling behavior
When one person tries to control the other in ways such as dictating whom they can see and what they can do, it’s a sign of toxicity. This type of behavior often leads to resentment and frustration for both parties.
What to do:
Acknowledge the problem
The first step in dealing with a toxic relationship is acknowledging the problem. When we ignore red flags and pretend everything is fine, it only allows the toxicity to fester and get worse over time.
Address the issues
Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, it’s time to address it. It is done through communication. Talk openly and honestly with your partner about how their behavior makes you feel and what changes need to be made for the relationship to improve.
Setting boundaries is integral to any relationship. In a toxic relationship, boundaries are essential for restoring balance and respect. Make sure to communicate these boundaries clearly and consistently.
Seek professional help
If the problem persists even after you’ve addressed it with your partner, it may be time to seek professional help. A certified coach or therapist can help you work through the issues and create a healthier relationship.
Aura De Los Santos
Clinical Psychologist & Educational Psychologist, HealthCanal
They compare you with their previous partners
At any opportunity, they will compare you with their old partners, making them understand that the previous ones were better than you.
They make fun of the way you see yourself and how you think
If you comment on a subject, they make fun of you, saying that you don’t know what you’re talking about or that you just say nonsense things. Makes fun of how you look, makes offensive comments about your dress and weight and compares you to other people.
They manipulate you
Try to exert control over you, take advantage of your vulnerability or any situation to take advantage. They make you feel bad, belittle you, don’t take you seriously, and even make hurtful comments.
They don’t like you spending time with family or friends
Always criticize the people you’re going out with and try not to make excuses.
Invades your privacy constantly
They think you are unfaithful, so they check your cell phone, email, text messages, etc.
They force you to do things. If there is something you don’t want to do, they force you to do it. There are cases where physical abuse is present in toxic relationships.
What to do if you are in a toxic relationship? Some of the actions you can take if you are in a toxic relationship are:
Get away from that person
You do not deserve to be in a relationship where you are humiliated and mistreated, where they do not respect you and make fun of you. Get away from that person, and don’t stay in a place where they don’t treat you well.
Work on yourself
Learn to know yourself more, and work on your self-concept and self-esteem. Analyze the reasons that led you to be in a toxic relationship and learn to gain control over your life.
Go to therapy
A therapist can help you get out of a toxic relationship if you can’t get on your own. It will guide you in your healing process to increase and have healthy self-esteem.
John F. Tholen, PhD
Cognitive Psychologist | Author, “Focused Positivity: The Path to Success and Peace of Mind“
A relationship becomes toxic when either or both participants begin sustaining an emotional injury from the actions of the other, and no action is taken to correct the injurious behavior.
Once a relationship has become toxic, both participants probably sustain an emotional injury, although the damage to one may be more subtle than the other.
Signs that a relationship may be toxic:
Violence or betrayal are clear signs of a seriously damaged relationship. Less obvious transgressions that are sometimes overlooked also suggest that a relationship has become toxic, such as:
Accidental insults or inconvenience
Even seemingly minor signs of disrespect (e.g., being late, “forgetting” to include the other partner in mutual business, failing to follow through on a promise, failing to honor reasonable requests, etc.) can indicate a relationship has entered the realm of toxicity.
When we discover that our partner has invented a cover story to avoid upsetting us, it can become difficult to trust, and the relationship is appropriately weakened.
When our partner seems to view every issue as mainly about them, it may signal self-centeredness that precludes the reasonable “give and take” required for any healthy relationship.
The opposite — showing too little concern about their own feelings and wishes or an excessive desire to please — can also be a sign that a partner lacks sufficient self-esteem to participate in a healthy relationship reasonably.
Denial of self-defeating behavior
When one partner engages in a pattern of self-defeating behavior (e.g., excessive alcohol use, use of illegal substances, gambling beyond their means, overspending, etc.), there is often a temptation to “rescue” them.
Unfortunately, giving in to that urge often causes us to feel “the villain” if we stop rescuing and to feel “the victim” if we don’t.
Why do we often overlook these signs and stay in a toxic relationship?
Our desire for a primary loving relationship can be so powerful that we may be reluctant to leave even when it causes us great pain.
And once we have committed ourselves to a relationship partner, we may feel obligated to take our partner’s side of any conflict, even those created by their own unreasonable actions.
It can be easiest to overlook minor offenses, especially when our partner provides what may seem reasonable justifications. Unreasonable action can often be justified but deserves to be addressed assertively.
No matter how we may become involved in a toxic relationship, we stay because of dysfunctional thinking.
Although it seems that our emotions and motivations result directly from the life events and circumstances we encounter, they are instead reactions to our self-talk — the internal monologue that streams through our waking consciousness, interpreting whatever we experience.
Which thoughts automatically come into our minds is determined by a complex interaction between our inherited traits and our early life experience — neither of which is under our control.
When that interplay has left us excessively self-critical, our spontaneous thoughts are often dysfunctional — causing excessive self-criticism and self-doubt.
When such thoughts are allowed to occupy the focus of our attention, they infuse our self-talk, our self-assertion becomes inhibited, and our peace of mind is disrupted — even though these ideas are almost always incomplete, unreasonable, or completely wrong.
When we connect with a toxic relationship partner, our self-talk features dysfunctional thoughts such as “I don’t deserve better” or “A healthier person wouldn’t want me.”
Remaining in a relationship in which we have become the “victim” of someone who has changed drives our self-esteem downward, with the result that we may begin to doubt that we would ever be wanted as a partner by anyone else.
This type of dysfunctional thinking can prevent us from recognizing that we:
- Deserve better.
- Cannot “fix” our partners or prevent their unhealthy choices.
- Are enabling our partner’s irresponsible behavior by staying in the relationship.
- Would be better off without that partner.
Accomplish self-help programs
Several self-help programs are designed to assist those of us who find ourselves in toxic relationships, including Al-Anon and Codependents Anonymous.
In general, however, “recovery” involves:
- Recognizing our own needs and desires.
- Refusing to continue enabling our partner’s unhealthy behavior.
- Setting clear boundaries between each person’s roles and responsibilities.
- Managing the underlying low self-esteem.
Functional thoughts to enhance self-esteem
The best way to respond to doubts about our relationship is to employ the closest thing we have to a “superpower,” our ability at any moment to shift the focus of our attention to a more functional thought and ideas.
- Everyone, including me, deserves to be treated with decency and respect.
- Like all humans, I have hidden strengths, untapped potential, and the ability to grow and change in profound ways.
- No one is less deserving than others because they were born into a dysfunctional home or disadvantaged circumstances.
- There’s no shame in being treated badly by life; that’s entirely a matter of unfortunate heredity and experience.
- Life is hard, and mistakes are inevitable. I deserve credit for whatever sincere attempts I make to improve my future.
- Success or failure is less important than “sincere, positive effort,” as only the latter is under my control.
- My best efforts will sometimes turn out poorly because life is unpredictable, and I’m only human.
Best ways to cut off contact
Once the decision has been made to end a relationship, it is critical that we avoid sending a “mixed signal.”
Both people will benefit most from a consistent message that the relationship is over and that in the future, the life of each will not involve the other.
Although we may be especially emotionally vulnerable when a relationship is ending, attempting to provide or seek comfort from the other person is likely to create confusion, heighten angry feelings, and lead to greater emotional pain.
Fanny Tristan, LCSW-R
Trauma Therapist & Owner, Restority Space
Lack of trust
Trust is not a black-and-white concept. There are many degrees to which we offer trust to one another. In a toxic relationship, a lack of trust can stunt the relationship’s growth and instead grow insecurity.
This often appears as someone who always wants to know your whereabouts or is very concerned with your appearance and what others may think. They may not trust you to do tasks on your own or withhold helpful information.
If you have not given someone a reason not to trust your actions or they struggle to accept your mistake and forgive, a lack of trust will create an ongoing crack in the foundation of your relationship.
Withholding information that affects your well being
As adults, we all have the ability to make autonomous decisions for ourselves and live our lives as authentically as we can. This can be challenged by a common way many people express love: protection.
Like trust, a partner or friend needs to hold you in positive self-regard and let you experience all the positive and negative life experiences. It is not love to shelter someone from hard things.
Another example of this can be about control. You may have a partner who does not want to share the information you need because the experience may not involve them, or you’ll do something you don’t agree with.
Love and partnership are so desired they can feel like an addiction. You want to be around them all the time because your endorphins are on overdrive.
Though over time, the endorphins level out, and you remain an independent person with different needs and wants. One person cannot fulfill every need, nor should we expect that of anyone. We all know it takes a village, and special people in your life are essential to your growth.
But depending on their presence or opinions alone can restrict you from practicing your own sense of judgment and confidence.
Struggle with sharing power
Like codependency, an imbalanced power dynamic can stunt the growth of the individual.
If you have a partner or friend who struggles to let go of control or gets enraged at the idea of giving up even a minimal amount of control to you, you may be dealing with an imbalance of power that often drives unhealthy relationships.
This may be not delegating help, trusting you to do tasks, or monitoring bills and major decisions you want to be a part of.
Michelle Segismundo-Reeves, LMHC, NCC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Vitae Life Counseling, PLLC
Lack of emotional regulation
There are many signs of a toxic relationship. Signs include a lack of emotional regulation when angry, frustrated, or disappointed during a conflict. Being disrespectful and utilizing inappropriate words in communicating does emotional harm.
Another sign is refusing to communicate, not responding, or shutting down. This creates more tension and division in a relationship.
Ghosting by not answering phone calls or texts consistently with no genuine reasons is also toxic causing emotional distress, doubts, and confusion.
In addition to manipulation, blaming, lacking personal responsibility, dishonesty, being critical, jealousy, controlling, and complaining are often toxic signs of a relationship.
Talking negatively about the relationship
Talking negatively about a relationship or person to others, including gossiping, is toxic. Shaming privately or publicly as well does a lot of harm.
Furthermore, making assumptions about the person and/or relationship without communicating your assumption for clarification on an ongoing basis is also toxic.
Placing your emotional status of the relationship on social media
Other signs of toxicity include using social media to communicate publicly instead of privately by placing your emotional status of the relationship on the platform.
Using relationships for personal gain or personal benefits is toxic as there is no honesty or genuine care.
Furthermore, the use of drugs, overuse of alcohol, or other habits, such as gambling, also plays into part in toxic relationships. These often lead to addiction, in addition to codependency within relationships.
Identify the toxicity
In dealing with a toxic relationship, it is crucial to identify the toxicity, understand the impact of toxic relationships on your emotional well-being and response, and establish boundaries.
Create a distance
Boundaries are necessary for your emotional health and well-being. These can be set verbally and, at times, create a distance if there is ongoing toxicity. It may also take complete disconnection from the person and situation in order to be healthy emotionally.
Emily Simonian, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Head of Clinical Learning, Thriveworks
Your partner doesn’t acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, or opinions
Toxic relationships often involve one partner consistently denying the other partner personal freedom and expression, which can look like ignoring or shutting down your thoughts, feelings, or opinions.
Your partner “censors” your personal decisions
If they constantly make disapproving comments about your choices, no matter how big or small, whether it’s about the music you listen to when you’re together or your career, this could be a subtle sign that they may struggle with control and could try to control you in other facets of your life.
Your partner is unable to take accountability
If your partner is unable to take accountability for their negative behaviors and/or instead blames you for any problems that may arise, this is a sign that they lack an appropriate level of objectivity that keeps relationships from becoming one-sided.
Related: Why Is Accountability Important?
Love bombing is an overwhelming amount of praise, admiration, or loving actions from another used for manipulation or control. The key word is overwhelming — when someone is love bombing, their displays of affection are often excessive, constant, and intense.
It occurs as part of what is called “the cycle of abuse,” where the “love bomber” tries to develop a false sense of connection and trust early into a relationship in an effort to control emotional abuse later.
If the person with toxic behaviors is willing to take accountability and make changes.
Accountability is the first step because people who don’t accept their role in relationships are inadvertently (or sometimes very frankly) saying that they don’t see themselves contributing to the problem.
Therefore, they will not be open to doing anything differently within the relationship.
Toxic relationships cause immense stress and affect our mental, emotional, and physical health. Sometimes the emotional abuse is so slight you pretend it’s not happening. You’ve been conditioned to accept their bad behavior as normal. To be clear, it’s not normal.
They have no respect for your boundaries
You should talk to someone if you suffer from any of the following signs. It’s important for you to speak with someone, don’t keep it inside. People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder have no respect for your boundaries. They just don’t care.
What are 5 of the most painful signs you’ve suffered emotional abuse from your relationship?
- They make you feel guilty for asking to be treated better. Whoa.
- They are never accountable for their actions. They cannot apologize. Ever.
- They manipulate you to apologize for things you haven’t done.
- They don’t keep their promises. They make all kinds of promises to make themselves look better about their finances, helping you, etc. But they have no intention of following through.
- They invalidate your feelings. They minimize and discount your feelings. Please don’t stay in this type of relationship.
Learn to identify the red flags easily
The best thing about people who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder is that they are incredibly consistent in their behaviors and tactics. This makes them easy for us to identify and avoid in the future. Healthy relationships do exist.
I held out that hope for so long. I desperately wanted my father to realize the damage he was doing. Of course, I wanted him to take responsibility for his words and actions, but that was a pipedream. He would never.
I didn’t want to be the one to leave the relationship. It took me a long time to finally say enough. You see, he had walked out of my life more than I remember. This wasn’t how a father was supposed to act toward his only child.
Talk to someone, don’t keep it inside
If you’ve been the victim of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, you cling to the hope they’ll change their ways one day. This, however, will never happen.
Narcissists aren’t capable of change. Protect yourself and your mental health. Talk to someone.
Life Coach, Sincerely Essie
No relationship is without a few bumps in the road, but if yours has taken a turn for the worse. You often feel like you’re in a warzone where your other half undermines you and wants the upper hand. Your relationship may have turned toxic.
You can’t stand them
You don’t look forward to seeing them, and spending time with the other person fills you with dread and anxiety. If this is the case, talk to your partner or decide to move on.
You can’t say no
It’s hard to say no and challenging to set boundaries due to potential repercussions from the other person. It’s time to voice your concerns and be assured that your limitations are respected.
You feel isolated
You often find yourself alone during tough times and feel like you’re carrying the entire weight of the relationship, which impacts your well-being. Make your partner aware that you need to tackle problems together; otherwise, it may be time to move on.
You’re being gaslighted
It isn’t easy to differentiate between fact and fiction with the other person, and you’re often left second-guessing their true intentions. You are often gaslighted and made to feel insecure about yourself. If you feel this way, it may be time to pack your bags and get out of that toxic environment.
Related: How to Respond to Gaslighting
Consult with a psychologist or psychotherapist
It may be helpful to consult with a psychologist or psychotherapist to help assess your situation and to suggest ways to best address the issues in your relationship.
Refusing to hear each other’s points of view
A toxic relationship is one in which disrespect is frequently shown by behaviors, words, or attitudes:
- Refusing to hear each other’s points of view.
- Attacking demeaning language.
- Not giving attention to each other’s needs.
- Feeling resentful when asked to meet the other’s need for attention.
- An imbalance of responsibility (meaning one person carries more of the load for maintaining the relationship than the other person carries).
- Expressing anger by physical or emotional abuse.
All of these are symptomatic of a toxic relationship. A relationship with any of these characteristics would benefit from seeing a coach or taking a class that teaches better, more respectful ways of communicating and managing conflict.
Spend some time working on yourself
If you are willing to learn, but your partner isn’t, then you have two choices:
- Stay in a relationship that is unhealthy for both partners.
- Leave with the intention of spending some time working on yourself so that, in the future, you attract a healthier person to build a vital, loving relationship.
Co-Founder and CEO, Infinite Recovery
Minimizing or denying feelings
When your partner denies how you feel, it is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Whether they are invalidating your feelings or telling you that you are overreacting, it is crucial to identify this behavior as invalidating and take steps to protect your emotional well-being.
Talk about it and express how you feel
If you feel like your partner is minimizing or denying your feelings, it is essential to talk about it and express how you feel. Make sure your partner is willing to listen to you and take responsibility for hurtful words or actions. If they are not, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.
Lack of empathy
Empathy is an essential part of any healthy relationship. If your partner is unable to put themselves in your shoes and understand how you feel, then it may be a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
Talk about it and let them know how their behavior affects you
Without empathy, it can be hard to build trust and intimacy. If you feel like your partner lacks empathy, it is essential to talk about it and let them know how their behavior affects you. If they are not willing to change, then it may be best to move on.
Controlling behavior is a major red flag in relationships. Whether it is controlling what you do or who you talk to, it is a sign of an unhealthy relationship and should be addressed immediately.
Set boundaries and communicate how their behavior makes you feel
If your partner is exhibiting controlling behaviors, it is important to set boundaries and communicate how their behavior makes you feel. If they are unwilling to change their ways, then it may be time to move on from the relationship.
Senior Editor, Tandem
Many people may have heard of the term “toxic relationship,” and, due to one word being “relationship,” their mind jumps to think that it only refers to relationships of the romantic kind.
In reality, toxic relationships can occur between partners — but they can also happen between friends, siblings, parents, or between any two people in any type of relationship.
Regardless of the relationship type, here are some signs of a toxic relationship:
They display jealousy or envy
Instead of being happy for you when something good happens or you receive something nice, they focus on themselves. “Why didn’t I get that?” or “I deserve that, too,” are statements you might hear them say.
They might even exhibit resentment towards you or the person who adorned you with any niceties.
Related: How to Deal With Jealous People
They are never happy for you
The more you think about your relationship, the more you realize that the other person is never happy for you. They don’t congratulate you on anything, and they never commend you. Instead, they belittle you or your accomplishments to make themselves feel better.
They threaten or display violence
It could be toxic if you witness someone making threats or displaying violence. If you are threatened or feel in danger, remove yourself immediately. Though it’s common for all of us to get mad on occasion and even say things we don’t mean, it’s another thing when it happens regularly.
They make you resort to being dishonest
You might not want to see them, or you might not want to tell them all the details of your life, mainly because you believe you know how they will react. If you lie to avoid telling them the truth, it could be because, deep down, you know they are toxic.
They make you uncomfortable
When every step you take is done with extreme caution, almost as if you are walking on eggshells, think about why you are doing this.
Are you avoiding conflict? Do you not want to discuss any problems? Avoidance can indicate that you know something isn’t quite right.
Now that you know some of the signs, what can you do?
You need to have an open and honest talk with the other person. Depending on their level of toxicity, they might be able to make some changes to their behavior.
If you have concerns about your safety or how they might react, have the conversation in a public area or invite an intermediary. Not your best friend who might make them feel attacked, but instead a 3rd party who will remain open-minded and only interject if the situation gets heated.
Your relationship didn’t get to where it was quickly, and it won’t get better overnight, either. Remind yourself that changes will be gradual and they can take time. Be patient but reasonable and give the other person the time they need to change for the better.
If you concentrate on what is behind you, you won’t see the wonderful things in front of you. Instead of dwelling on the past, try to use past situations as learning experiences to help you move into the future. Utilize the power of positive thinking and believe that things can only get better.
For some people, talking to their friends and family might be just the support they need. Others might have been so heavily impacted by toxic behaviors that their friends and family aren’t enough.
If you fall into the latter category, it’s not too late to get professional help. Talk to a counselor or therapist who can help you understand your situation.
If you are in any type of toxic relationship, realizing that you are in a toxic relationship is the first step in fixing the problem. Now that you have identified your situation, you can take steps to improve it. It will take time and patience, but it will be worth it in the end.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to save a toxic relationship?
It’s possible to salvage a toxic relationship, but it takes commitment, effort, and a willingness to work on the underlying issues. Here are some things to consider if you want to try to save your relationship:
• Both partners must be willing to take responsibility for their actions and change.
• Communication is key, and both partners need to be able to express their feelings and needs in a healthy way.
• Seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in relationships.
• Be patient and committed to the process, and don’t expect immediate results.
• If the relationship has progressed too far or you don’t feel safe, it may be best to end it and focus on your own healing and growth.
How can I prevent myself from getting into a toxic relationship in the first place?
Here are some tips to prevent a toxic relationship:
• Trust your instincts and pay attention to red flags early on.
• Take time to get to know someone before things get serious.
• Communicate your boundaries and expectations.
• Find a partner who shares your values and treats you with respect.
• Don’t ignore warning signs or excuses for problem behavior.
• Focus on building strong self-confidence and self-esteem so you don’t easily tolerate toxic behavior from your partner.
What if my partner is trying to change but I’m still unhappy in the relationship?
If your partner is really trying to change something about the relationship, it’s important to be honest with them about how you feel. If you’re still unhappy in the relationship, it may be necessary for your own well-being to end the relationship.
Can a toxic relationship cause long-term damage?
Yes, a toxic relationship can cause long-term damage to your mental and emotional health and even your physical health. Here are some ways a toxic relationship can affect you:
It can erode your self-esteem and self-confidence
It can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems
It can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, and insomnia
It can affect your relationships with friends and family
It can make it harder for you to trust others and build healthy relationships in the future
It can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame
How can I help a friend who is in a toxic relationship?
If you suspect a friend is in a toxic relationship, there are a few ways you can help:
• Listen without judgment, and let them know you’re there for them.
Validate their feelings and experiences and acknowledge that the situation isn’t their fault.
• Share information about the signs of a toxic relationship and offer to help them find resources and support.
• Avoid blaming or criticizing your partner, as this can make them feel defensive and push you away.
• Encourage them to prioritize their safety and well-being, and let them know they have options and choices.
• Respect their decisions and boundaries, even if you don’t agree with them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is one in which the behavior of one or both partners consistently harms the other. This harm can come in many forms, such as emotional, physical, or psychological abuse.
It’s important to recognize the signs of a toxic relationship so you can take action to address the issue and seek help if needed.
If you feel you’re in a toxic relationship, seeking support from friends, family, or a professional counselor is important.
Can I ever forgive my partner for their toxic behavior?
Forgiving a partner for their toxic behavior is a personal decision that only you can make. Forgiveness can be a powerful tool for healing, but it’s important to remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing or condoning your partner’s behavior.
It simply means that you choose to let go of the resentment and anger toward your partner. Forgiveness is a process, and it may take some time for you to process your emotions and come to a place of forgiveness.
It’s important that you prioritize your own well-being and safety in this process and seek the support of a professional counselor or therapist if needed.
How can I rebuild my confidence after leaving a toxic relationship?
Leaving a toxic relationship can be a difficult and emotional process, but it can also be an opportunity to rebuild your confidence and rediscover your self-worth.
Focus on self-care activities that are good for you, such as exercising, meditating, or spending time with friends and family. It can also be helpful to set small goals and celebrate what you’ve accomplished.
Surround yourself with positive people who support and encourage you, and remind yourself of your worth and value as a person.
Consider seeking professional counselor or therapist support to help you manage the healing process and move forward.
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