A successful relationship should be emotionally fulfilling and bring happiness to your life. But, if it is not, you must look for the signs of toxic relationship.
A relationship becomes toxic when it makes you unhappy, and everything you do feels like a burden. Sometimes, couples may be ignorant of a toxic relationship that they are in. In addition, the occasional love moments that the couple may have, make such relationships difficult to identify.
A toxic relationship can drain you emotionally, and thus, you must interpret the signs and take the necessary steps. Continue reading this post to understand the manifestations of a toxic relationship and what you can do about it.
What Is A Toxic Relationship?
Before we dive into the signs of a toxic relationship, let’s first try to understand what a toxic relationship is. The term ‘toxic relationship’ was coined by Lillian Glass, a California-based communication and psychology expert in her 1995 book Toxic People. She defines a toxic relationship as, “Any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.” (1).
Signs Of A Toxic Relationship
At one moment, you think your partner loves you more than anything, but the next moment, you feel you just assumed the love that was never there. You sometimes regret getting into this relationship, as it seems difficult to keep up with your partner. If you can relate to this, read on as we help you identify the signs of a toxic relationship.
1. Lack of trust
Your every move is questioned, and your opinions do not matter. Such things stem due to a lack of mutual trust. When your partner doesn’t trust you, they will get down to micromanaging everything. This might leave you suffocated and exhausted. Trust is the foundation for any healthy relationship, and if that is lacking in your relationship, it will turn toxic.
2. Communication issues
In a healthy relationship, both partners treat each other with mutual respect and kindness and communicate. But, if your conversations are filled with sarcasm, snide comments, and insults, it could be a sign of a toxic relationship. Although all couples have fights, they do not lose respect and love for each other. However, couples in a toxic relationship fight so fiercely that they end up without talking to each other for days.
3. Lack of support
In a toxic relationship, you will feel there is no support from your partner both emotionally and physically. Whenever you bring up something that is causing you pain, they brush it off as nothing. Sometimes, they also use phrases such as “It’s all in your mind.” “You are just overreacting.” or “You need to change.”
When in a relationship, one partner’s win is another partner’s joy, and there should not be any jealousy between them. However, in a toxic relationship, you might find your partner often demeaning your achievements.
When you decided to get into a relationship with your partner, you might have thought it through. In a toxic relationship, the lack of trust and support may make you regret that decision. No matter how much you try, you cannot help but think, “I wish I had never said yes.” If you can’t stop regretting your choices, it could be because you are in a toxic relationship.
Respecting each other is a sure-shot sign of a healthy relationship. However, in a toxic relationship, you will find your partner questioning and disrespecting you and your life choices.
A toxic relationship takes a toll on your mental health. It makes you feel you need to put in all your energy to make it work. If you are constantly stressed and lost in thought about your relationship, you might be in a toxic relationship.
When in a relationship, you should be able to share anything and everything with each other. If either of you finds excuses and lies to hide your whereabouts from each other, you lack trust, which is a sign of a toxic relationship.
This should not exist in a relationship, but if you are dealing with a toxic relationship, all the negative feelings may pile up and cause hatred towards each other. If you both yell or do things to hurt the other person, you need to reevaluate your relationship.
10. Lack of self-care
In a toxic relationship, partners often tend to neglect themselves, which can lead to a loss of their sense of identity. This behavior can be draining, causing them to withdraw from their hobbies, ignore their health, and even forget to laugh.
It is ok to feel sad occasionally, but if you constantly feel sad and depressed, and your partner only seems to be adding up to your misery, it is a sign of a toxic relationship.
12. Personality alteration
It is sensible to let go of certain negative traits for the sake of the relationship. However, if the relationship forces you to let go of your beliefs, change your opinions, and change everything about you to keep your partner happy, the relationship is toxic.
The constant blaming and demeaning behavior of your partner may leave you feeling useless and unworthy. In a toxic relationship, your partner will constantly disapprove of what you do and make you feel you aren’t doing enough.
If your relationship suffocates you and makes you want to leave everything and run away, it is a sign of a toxic relationship. You will no longer look forward to the future but constantly think about how you are stuck in life.
15. Always giving
An ideal relationship is one where you give as well as receive. It not only teaches you new things, but also gives you a fresh perspective on life. In a toxic relationship, you will only be giving and trying to make your partner happy—all at the cost of your happiness.
16. Lost relationships
A toxic relationship can be so overwhelming that you tend to ignore your friends and family in keeping up with it. If you have stopped spending time with your friends and family to avoid conflict, then that is a sign of a toxic relationship.
17. Hope for a miracle
Working out a toxic relationship does not happen overnight, and if you lack the proper guidance and support, you might be filling a pot with a hole. This will leave you hopeless and tiresome. So, you give up working towards mending the relationship and keep praying for a miracle to set things right.
18. Concerned near and dear ones
Your close circle knows you best. They can sense any disturbance in you. If your family or close friends notice any signs of disturbance in you or enquire about your relationship, it could be a subtle sign that you are in a toxic relationship.
19. Separate lives
While it does not mean you cannot have a life out of the relationship, if you or your partner is designing a world out of the relationship and wishes to be away from each other, it is not a good sign.
20. Lack of appreciation
It could be a successful attempt at baking an upside-down cake or a promotion at work, every win is a win. When in a relationship, your heart naturally longs for appreciation from your partner. However, there is no mutual appreciation in a toxic relationship, and your partner may also criticize your achievements.
Pierre Baguette, a research engineer and a passionate chef, recounts how his ex-girlfriend underappreciated his handmade gift for the 6-month anniversary. He shares, “I remember vividly how I celebrated our 6-month anniversary. Even before the anniversary, she (ex-girlfriend) made me feel guilty that I didn’t think celebrating our 6 months was necessary. I wanted to prepare a special gift for the occasion to compensate for my ignorance. I had handmade miniature origami earrings. I was proud of my creation. My ex didn’t feel the same way. I handed her my gift with anticipation. She looked down at the earrings, at me, then back to the earrings again, and started crying. She wiped away tears as best she could, explaining how mediocre my gift was. After the failed event, I suggested spending New Year’s Eve together, just the two of us, to compensate for my mediocre gift. She was delighted with my proposal and hoped the next event would be perfect. Spoiler! It wasn’t. And I had to compensate again to feel adequate for her, again and again (i).”
When in a relationship, you tend to have peace of mind and many dreams about the future. But, when you are in a toxic relationship, you are never sure about your partner. You don’t know where the relationship is heading and where you stand with your partner. Such uncertainty will leave you worried about the future.
There is no mutual trust in a toxic relationship, and one partner tries to control the other. If you feel your partner is running your life for you and is calling all the shots, you are dealing with a toxic relationship.
A toxic person will always want things their way. They wouldn’t want to compromise anyhow. You will often find yourself adjusting to their schedules and needs and ignoring your own well-being and happiness.
24. No emotional connection
In a healthy relationship, both partners share more than their lives. They share each other’s aspirations, dreams, and embarrassing secrets and share an intimate emotional connection between them. But, in a toxic relationship, there is no such emotional bonding.
One prominent sign of a toxic relationship is manipulation. If you often find yourself debating between what you see and what your partner is showing you, you are being manipulated. You may also often hear phrases such as ‘I didn’t mean to hurt you,’ and ‘Stop overreacting.’
A healthy relationship is a safe place where you can be yourself without any filters or restrictions. However, in a toxic relationship, you cannot be yourself as you constantly work to be someone your partner likes. You also tend to filter information to avoid upsetting them.
27. Lack of empathy
If you are upset or hurt, a toxic partner may not empathize or be there for you because they just do not see things from your perspective. If you find yourself begging for empathy and kindness from your partner, then that is a sign of a toxic relationship.
A toxic partner exerts intimidation to demand more than what they bring into the relationship. They expect you to be the perfect partner doing everything for them while they sit back and relax. They do not reciprocate and act like they are entitled to your love and attention.
‘Why can’t you be like my friend’s wife?’ If you often find your partner comparing you with others and not respecting your uniqueness, that is a clear sign of a toxic relationship. A toxic partner will never try to know your worth as they will be busy calculating how well you can become the person they envision
30. Clash of priorities
A relationship works only when both partners prioritize it and pledge to put the relationship above everything else. But, in a toxic relationship, one partner might prioritize their wants and needs over the relationship. For example, going on a fishing trip with friends might seem a better idea to them than attending your friend’s wedding.
31. Blame game
If you find your partner blaming others for their mistakes, or if they feel they are always perfect, chances are they might be toxic. A healthy relationship is one where both partners are not afraid to admit their mistakes and apologize.
32. Excuses for bad behavior
In most unhealthy relationships, one partner will be hurt, but they cannot express it as it might lead to a conflict. So, the person ends up making excuses for their bad behavior. This is one of the toxic traits that might affect you the most, as you wouldn’t understand how to deal with your partner who refuses to acknowledge their behavior.
“Toxic is when they can’t let you go, but can’t treat you right either.”
If your partner constantly hurts your self-esteem and makes fun of you in front of their friends, then they may be toxic. When you protest and draw a line, they immediately apologize and temporarily set things right, but that would be short-lived too.
34. Silent treatment
Another negative trait of a toxic relationship is isolation, often through the use of silent treatment or stonewalling. A toxic partner will not listen to you when you try to explain something that bothers you. They might even walk out, act unresponsive, and stop talking to you.
Each partner has specific needs in a relationship; it could be a true connection, affection, love, or appreciation. In a toxic relationship, your needs will be mocked or ignored, and your attempts at communicating your feelings will end up in conflicts, leaving you empty and rejected.
36. Keeping score
To err is human, to forgive divine. However, both the partners in a toxic relationship keep scores of how many blunders the other person has made. Instead of assisting one another in correcting their conduct, they tend to resort to criticism and blame.
37. Unending conflicts
Every relationship has its share of issues, but the fights never seem to stop in a toxic relationship. Both the partners feel they are right and fixate on their opinions. As none of them are ready to budge, the fight leads to an argument. The constant fights diminish the little love between them, and all that is left is hatred and bitterness.
38. Lots of lies
The many suppressed negative feelings and the lack of trust make the partners in a toxic relationship resort to telling lies. This makes each other suspicious of the other person’s every move. If you find yourself struggling with feelings of insecurity and become more jealous and doubtful, it’s highly likely that you’re in a toxic relationship.
39. My way or the highway
In a healthy relationship, both the partners are equal, and they discuss and weigh the pros and cons when making a big decision. But, in a toxic relationship, one partner takes over and makes decisions for both. They wouldn’t bother to discuss or hear out their partner’s feelings and opinions.
How To Fix A Toxic Relationship
Being in a toxic relationship can be draining and exhausting. You may feel trapped and see no way to resolve the fights. But, all toxic relationships need not end bitterly because some can be revived and saved. Here are a few ways you can attempt to make your relationship healthy.
- Have an open discussion. You might have had such discussions often, but now, attempt it in front of a trusted friend or a therapist. If both of you agree to make changes and commit to your word, then things might turn around.
- Stop blaming and start accepting. A quick way to resolve conflicts in a toxic relationship is by accepting your mistakes and not blaming each other.
- Stop bringing up the past. Often, you will be tempted to bring up the past and seek an explanation. Stop bringing up the past and focus on the problem at hand.
- Practice compassion. Another way to stop the toxicity is by understanding your partner and looking at things from their perspective.
There is no sure-shot way to reverse the toxicity, as each relationship is unique. However, the determination to make the relationship work and the love you have for each other can make your relationship healthy.
Toxic Vs Abusive Relationships
Abuse in a relationship is a toxic trait, but all toxic relationships are not necessarily abusive. Though the two may not be clearly differentiated, toxicity in a relationship starts when partners lose control over certain situations. At the same time, abuse is initiated when one partner tries to take control. So, abuse is perpetrated by one partner with an inherent hunger for power, while one or both partners may show toxic traits.
Toxicity may sometimes stem unknowingly, but if the behavior is repetitive and with a clear intention of harming the other, it may be considered an abusive relationship. Abuse may be physical, psychological, or emotional and follows a cyclical pattern where the abuser commits the act, apologizes or blames the abused, behaves normally for a certain time, and repeats the same.
How To Get Out Of A Toxic Relationship
Despite trying everything, if things do not seem to improve, it is best to talk to a trusted friend or a family member and move out of the relationship. It may not be wise to continue in a relationship that makes your life a living hell.
Whether you decide to leave the relationship or mend it, it is important to surround yourself with positivity. Remember, once you start loving yourself, you can love others. Practice self-love by doing things that make you happy. It could be spending time with the people you love, treating yourself to your favorite meal, or picking up a new hobby. Dealing with a toxic relationship is extremely stressful, so it is important to replace the negative vibes with positive ones.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How to stop going back to a toxic relationship?
It is important to identify toxic behaviors and set clear boundaries with the partner if you wish to stop going back to the toxic relationship. You may seek support from friends, family, or a therapist. Focus on self-care and building self-esteem. Remind yourself of the relationship’s negative consequences and prioritize your emotional health. It may be difficult, but leaving a toxic relationship is important for your health, happiness, and overall well-being.
2. When should you give up on a toxic relationship?
Giving up on a toxic relationship is recommended when it consistently causes emotional, physical, or mental harm. If the relationship affects your self-esteem, well-being, and overall quality of life, it’s important to reevaluate whether it’s worth continuing. Communication and efforts to improve the relationship should be made, but if they are not successful and the toxic behavior continues, it may be necessary to end the relationship for your well-being.
3. What is the difference between a healthy and a toxic relationship?
Trust and open communication are the cornerstones of a good relationship, but toxic relationships foster negativity and manipulation. While toxicity promotes control and emotional suffocation, a healthy relationship sees both partners supporting and elevating one another.
4. What are the long-term consequences of a toxic relationship?
Toxic relationships can cause profound emotional and psychological harm. They may lead to low self-esteem and self-doubt. The emotional scars from an unhealthy relationship can linger long after the relationship ends and impact future relationships and overall well-being. Lastly, they can create deep-seated trust issues that may require significant time and healing.
5. What kind of support is available for those in toxic relationships?
The most critical support available for those in a toxic relationship includes family and friends who offer support and emotional stability. In addition, professional insight and healing are provided by counseling and therapy. Besides, there are other resources and safety plans provided by organizations and hotlines to help those in toxic relationships.
6. How can I learn to trust again after being in a toxic relationship?
Learning to trust again after a toxic relationship takes time and self-care. Rebuilding trust begins with the healing of scars and the establishment of boundaries. Counseling or support groups can offer direction and comfort. Trust can be re-established through time, introspection, and open conversations.
7. How can I heal emotionally after being in a toxic relationship?
Emotional healing is a process that takes time. You can start by acknowledging and validating the range of emotions you may be experiencing, such as anger, sadness, despair, confusion, or betrayal. Also, reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist who can provide a safe and supportive space to express your pain and feelings. Most importantly, be kind and compassionate to yourself during the entire process.
Toxicity in a relationship negatively affects not just the people involved but also their loved ones who are concerned about them. The signs of a toxic relationship are quite evident, and if you are in one, putting up with it cannot be justifiable. However, things can be mended if managed early. So be aware of the signs and talk to each other or a professional to work out your issues. Remember to prioritize your self-respect and move on if things do not work out. You can always start afresh with the support of your loved ones.
Infographic: How To Identify Toxicity In A Relationship?
While the sign of being in a toxic relationship can be as obvious as physical abuse, many times, the subtle acts and other factors, like the normalcy of certain behaviors, can easily lead someone to overlook the signs. Check out the infographic below to learn about subtle signs of a toxic relationship.
- A toxic relationship can be emotionally and mentally draining for both partners.
- Lack of communication, jealousy, and trust are a few signs of a toxic relationship.
- Practicing compassion and having open communication with your partner might help you fix the relationship.
Uncover the signs of toxic relationships in this video. Learn to identify the warning signs, protect your well-being, and find a healthier future.
Personal Experience: Source
1. Lillian Glass; Toxic People