If you are reading this, you might be wondering, “Am I in a toxic relationship?”
Sometimes when we are emotionally involved, it becomes hard to spot when a relationship is toxic. The closer we are, the harder it becomes to see the big picture and notice signs of an unhealthy relationship.
We have selected the top 10 signs a relationship is toxic and hope by the end of this read; you will have an answer to your question “Is my relationship toxic.”
What is a toxic relationship?
By definition, it is a relationship in which a partner, characterized as toxic, exhibits behavior that is emotionally and, often, physically damaging to another person.
While in a healthy relationship, you feel cared for, respected, safe, and heard in a dysfunctional relationship, these aspects are lacking.
A toxic relationship is one in which there is no shared desire for each other’s happiness, wellbeing, and growth.
Toxic relationship traits include insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, control, and fear for one’s safety.
When you are in a healthy relationship, things seem to work or get worked out. It doesn’t mean that in a healthy relationship, there are no fights, rather they get resolved, and you feel like you are moving forward.
On the other hand, in a toxic relationship, it seems that everything is a reason to start a fight, and you argue over the same or similar things. There are no resolutions to the conflicts, so you feel stuck in a perpetual fight.
Hence, toxic love is one in which self-esteem is damaged and which consistently drains you of energy.
Signs of a toxic relationship
The main question is how to know if a relationship is toxic.
Getting familiar with toxic relationship signs can help you recognize if you’re in one and take steps towards changing your situation.
Unhealthy relationships are characterized by constant worry about the partner and obsessing about them. It is a toxic sign if you, or your partner, are altering your life habits and needs and wants to be with the other person.
When you give up all of this to be with the other person, they become the single most important thing left in your life.
This can lead to one of the signs of a toxic relationship – obsessing about every little detail for fear of losing them.
If you are in a toxic relationship, you notice subtle changes in their texts and can’t stop ruminating what it could mean.
You want to spend every minute with them and obsess about the time when it will happen.
You twist your personality and values to please the other side, making them the center of your universe and the thing you ruminate daily about.
2. Walking on eggshells
After so many fights that drained and exhausted you, all you want is some peace and getting along. This causes you to be mindful of every single move you make.
Should I say this, or ask for that? What will happen if I tell them what happened at work or that I want to spend some time with friends?
You are trying to anticipate what they might think or say to avoid triggering a fight. Hence, you begin to feel like you’re walking on emotional eggshells.
3. Feeling guilty for everything
When you are in a toxic relationship, you feel like you are the guilty one. One of the sure signs of a toxic person is not taking responsibility for their actions and shifting the blame to the people around them.
In this case, on their partner. If you wonder if you are in a toxic relationship, take a look at the distribution of responsibility and guilt in your daily interactions, and you will know.
4. Fighting constantly
Has there been a time when you got along without fights? Was that also the time when your toxic partner was for some reason at peace or happy?
Being with a toxic person is difficult because everything seems to be the motivation to argue or show discontent.
When they feel content, it seems to stop. However, this is such a rare occasion you can hardly remember those times.
5. Manipulating and controlling behaviors
Do you feel you both have the freedom to be who you want to be? Do you feel your partner is making the decisions for you? Maybe they are not trying to control you directly, rather through subtle manipulation.
They might be dominating your actions more or less directly, but you feel pulled or obligated to do as you think they would want.
A toxic partner feels they have the right to tell you whom to spend time with, how to dress, make your hair, what to do for a living, when to go to the doctor or what to have for lunch.
In a healthy relationship, people make some of the decisions together. However, they are still in charge of their own lives and choices related to their identity.
6. Yelling and insulting
Is there frequent lashing out on each other? Do those words inflict pain and suffering? Is there yelling and screaming?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you should consider the other signs of a toxic marriage too.
When words are used to inflict pain, hurt, shame, embarrass, or degrade you, we are talking about one of the signs of a toxic relationship. Whether they are said in anger or calmly, they are disrespectful and make you feel bad.
If you are repeatedly raising your voices and causing harm to each other, you might be in a toxic relationship.
7. Physical injuries
This is one of the sure signs of a toxic relationship. It might be a smaller or bigger injury, but, no doubt about it, any type of physical hurt is one of the signs of a bad relationship.
No amount of apologizing or making you feel like you deserved can’t change the fact that it is not acceptable behavior.
What represents respect for you? How do you know if someone respects you? Does your partner know this and still chooses to do the opposite, although you pleaded with them to change? Are they chronically late? Forgetting important events and information related to you?
All of the listed behaviors are signs of an unhealthy relationship.
If you find yourself making up stuff or coming up with lies about your whereabouts, you might be in a toxic relationship.
Perhaps you are doing it to prevent fights or to avoid spending time with them, any which case; it is an important signal to consider.
Dishonesty is one of the signs of a toxic relationship that can manifest itself in the behavior of your partner too. Dishonesty can take many forms.
Perhaps you are noticing gaps or misalignments in their stories, or finding out from people close to you things they tried to hide. Be mindful of the red flags, and don’t discount them.
10. Lack of self-care
One of the signs of a toxic relationship is how you feel and how you treat yourself as a result of it.
Have you noticed withdrawing from your hobbies and activities you enjoy, caring less about your appearance, and neglecting your mental and physical health?
In a toxic relationship, you might let go of your usual self-care habits and feel a drop in your self-confidence.
How to spot toxic people
Spotting a toxic person is not always easy. The more sophisticated they are, the harder it is to spot them.
We need to mind the subtle red flags and how we feel in their presence. Recognizing the signs on time can help protect your boundaries.
What clues to look out for to check if a person is toxic? There are several signs to be mindful of:
You are unable to chime in the conversation. Whatever you say, they seem to turn around to share something about them. Also, they never ask anything about you unless it is a way to drive the conversation to something that interests them.
There is no room for the difference in opinion. Around these people, you will feel that you can’t disagree with them. If you try, they won’t stop until they convince you otherwise. There is only one way to look at things, and that is their way.
There isn’t a solution you can offer that they don’t have a problem with. You know the type, the” yes, but.” They are pessimistic, negative, and dismiss their responsibility for their own life. By the end of the conversation, if you try to offer any type of solution, you will feel drained as they will make sure you fail to show them the light at the end of the tunnel.
There is always drama and an urgent problem to solve. No matter what the life situation is, these people have a dramatic situation happening. There seems to always be something to resolve. They seem to be the ones that “life happens to,” rather than active doers in it.
Nothing’s good enough or worth investing in. You will spot these people by constant judgment, criticism, and devalue anything you put in front of them. They don’t want to work on anything themselves, but they are more than happy to shed disapproval on anyone else’s efforts.
Other people’s ideas are never good enough. This type of toxic person thinks they are the smartest, wisest person there is. That is why they don’t take into account other’s ideas and opinions, making people around them feel disrespected and miniature.
Master of lies and deceit. You might not be able to spot them right away unless they tell a major lie. However, your tingling sense might turn on, so stay tuned to it. Whether they are lying about small or big things, it is impossible to trust them.
There are other signs to consider too. You can check out the video to become more familiar with them.
What to do if you’re in a toxic relationship
Hopefully, by this point in the article, you have answered your initial question.
How many of the signs of a toxic relationship have you checked off the list? If any of the red flags sound familiar, it is time to consider the next steps.
First and most important, if you are in any type of physical danger, make sure you feel safe first.
Involve the authorities and people you can trust to help you out of the situation. Once safe, you can think about the next steps to take.
Being with a toxic person eventually is going to get to you. Your mental and physical health is going to be in jeopardy.
The sooner you get out, the less damage your self-image will take. Surround yourself with support and/or therapy and start developing an exit strategy.
Trying to change a toxic person is futile work. They need to want to change, and even then, it is a lengthy process.
If you are up for the ride, evaluate their willingness to change, and start looking for ways to support yourself through the process.
Consider marriage courses that can help you recognize unhealthy behaviors, resolve conflict more effectively, and communicate better.
This could help you fight less and have more energy to invest in the relationship. Therapy is always recommended, both individual and couple. The more you invest, the more return of investment you can have.
Mind the red flags
There are many signs of a toxic relationship.
When in one, you will notice regular fights without actionable solutions, feeling guilty and blamed for everything, lying, or giving up on things to avoid more fights, feeling manipulated, or controlled.
Some of the easiest signs of a toxic relationship to spot are yelling and physical hurt. However, you can leave before it gets to that point.
No one starts off the relationship with the major toxic signs. That is why it is important to be mindful of the subtle cues that happen over time.
Take a note of them to be able to reflect later. Otherwise, you will shift the blame to the circumstances, yourself, or miscommunication.
Remember, you can’t wish the toxic out of a person. They are who they are, and you have a choice to stay or go.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you do so conscientiously. If you stay, check if they are willing to work on their issues.
The passing of time solely changes no one; it is the work we put in that does. If you decide to go, make sure you protect yourself and be safe before you make any other steps towards progress.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.