21 Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship

21 Signs You're in a Toxic Relationship blog cover

Dating can be a minefield. One minute it can seem like you’ve found the person of your dreams, and the next, you can find yourself in a toxic relationship. And it can be hard to spot the warning signs.

Toxic relationship dynamics can sneak up on us over time. Your partner’s toxic actions may start out as seemingly small, infrequent behaviors. Toxic partners usually ramp up their toxic behaviors gradually because they want to make sure you’re hooked before they start showing their true colors. This also allows for an adjustment period where they often try to normalize the toxicity.

By the time you realize what’s happening, your self-esteem can already be damaged, and you’ll likely be heavily dependent on your partner. You can find yourself seeking validation from your partner when really they are the last person you should be seeking it from.

If you’re in a toxic relationship, you may even neglect your own physical and emotional needs in order to try to make things better or please your significant other, only constantly to find yourself struggling against a never-ending tide that is the toxicity.

21 signs you’re in a toxic relationship

Being in a toxic relationship can have serious consequences for your mental and physical health, which is why it’s important to recognize the warning signs.

1. Your partner always has to be right.

Does your partner always have to be right? If you are never right, and you can’t get your point across during arguments, it indicates that they don’t value your opinion and they always prioritize their own. It also shows that they aren’t open to compromise or trying to understand your point of view. At the end of the day, it’s just not possible to have a healthy relationship without valuing each other’s opinions.

2. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner.

If you constantly feel the need to be careful in what you say and do around your partner, as if one wrong move will set them off, it’s a sign that you are in a toxic relationship. When this happens, it means that you cannot be your genuine self. No one should ever feel scared or unsafe to express themselves honestly in a relationship. This also indicates an underlying pattern of control.

3. You feel unappreciated.

When was the last time your partner made you feel special? If you can’t remember, that’s not a good sign. Being in a toxic relationship can make you feel like nothing you do is ever enough. And unfortunately, this isn’t something that’s going to get better on its own. This is sometimes intentional on your partner’s part, as they may want to keep you constantly attempting to win their approval so that you remain dependent on them.

4. Your partner is controlling.

Does your partner try to dictate how you should look or act? Do they tell you what time you should be home or who you should be spending time with? If so, this is a clear indication of controlling behavior. No one should have their autonomy taken away from them as it stops them from being able to be their authentic self and enjoy life. You should never be made to feel guilty for living your life how you want it, assuming you aren’t negatively impacting other people.

5. You don’t have a regular, open communication dynamic.

Poor communication or avoiding certain topics of conversation makes it far most difficult to ensure that both people are getting their needs met in a relationship, both emotionally and physically. Not being able to express yourself can be incredibly damaging in the long run. In addition, not knowing what your partner is thinking or feeling can be stressful and upsetting. It’s essential that communication is open and honest in any relationship.

6. Your partner is always criticizing you.

When even the smallest things become a reason for criticism, it’s a sign you’re in a toxic relationship. This type of behavior can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem and can make you feel like you are never good enough. It can also make your life miserable on a daily basis. In a healthy relationship, criticism should always be constructive in nature, and it should come from a place of both people wanting to help each other achieve their potential.

7. Your partner is unsupportive.

A healthy relationship involves supporting each other through the good times and the bad. This can be anything from helping each other achieve dreams or simply being there for one another when times get tough. Your goals are important, and having the support of your partner is a key aspect of a healthy relationship.  Supporting each other during life’s ups and downs is one of the best ways to build trust and a sense of security. If your partner doesn’t support you, it’s a red flag.

8. Your partner is physically or emotionally abusive.

Physical or emotional abuse is never acceptable, no matter what the context. It’s also a sure sign that you’re in a toxic relationship. Abuse can be anything from physical violence to manipulation and using words as a weapon. If your partner ever makes you feel unsafe or scared in any way, it’s important to seek help immediately. No one should ever be made to feel unsafe. It’s essential to know your worth and never accept behavior like this from anyone.

9. Your partner is jealous and possessive.

Jealousy is a normal emotion to some extent, but only in small doses and only when it is managed in the right way. It can become problematic when jealousy leads to one partner trying to control the other. For instance, if your partner tries to dictate who you talk to or where you go, these are signs of unhealthy jealousy. It can also be a sign of possessiveness, which is an indication that your partner views you as something they own rather than someone they should treat with respect. This kind of behavior is never healthy, and it’s a sign you’re in a toxic relationship.

10. You don’t feel heard.

Do your conversations with your partner leave you feeling unheard and ignored? This isn’t okay. Communication is key in any healthy relationship, and both parties should feel safe to express themselves without being judged or shut down. In addition, both parties should truly listen to what each other is saying, even if they don’t always agree with each other’s opinions or perspectives. Feeling understood and heard is a fundamental aspect of any relationship. If this isn’t happening, it’s a sign that something is wrong.

11. Your partner pressures you into doing things you don’t want to do.

When your partner pressures you into doing things that make you feel uncomfortable, it’s a sign of a toxic relationship. Everyone should have the freedom to make their own decisions, as long as they don’t cause harm, without feeling pressured by their partner. This kind of behavior is not only controlling, but it’s also disrespectful. It’s important to remember that you should never do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, and if your partner doesn’t respect your wishes, it’s time to leave.

12. Your partner has a serious lack of empathy.

Empathy is a crucial component of any healthy and happy relationship. It’s important to have an understanding that your partner may not always agree with you, but that doesn’t mean they can’t show empathy. A lack of empathy is a sign of toxic behavior, and it’s important to recognize it. If your partner never takes the time to understand how you’re feeling or what you need, it’s a sign that they don’t care about you or your feelings. This is a clear indication that your relationship dynamic is unhealthy.

13. Your partner is aggressive.

Do arguments always end up in screaming matches? Do you feel scared for your own safety around them? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, it’s a sign that you’re in a toxic relationship. It’s normal for couples to disagree and argue from time to time, but if your partner is aggressive or hostile, it’s a sign of toxic behavior. Aggression can be physical or verbal and should never be tolerated. If this is happening to you, you should seek help immediately because it can be dangerous.

14. Your partner doesn’t give you any space.

Having some personal time to yourself is important for your self-care and mental health. If your partner constantly needs to be around you or won’t give you the space you need, it’s a red flag. Everyone needs their own space and time to pursue their hobbies or interests, and if your partner isn’t allowing you to do that, it’s a cause for concern. This often comes from a place of them wanting to control how you spend your time.

15. Your partner doesn’t celebrate your achievements.

A healthy and supportive partner should always be excited to celebrate your successes, no matter how small or big. If your partner doesn’t seem interested in or happy about your accomplishments, it’s a sign that something is wrong. Not only does it show a lack of empathy, but it also shows that they don’t care about your happiness. This kind of behavior is never okay, and it’s a clear sign you are in a toxic relationship. In a healthy relationship, both people are truly happy for each other and celebrate each other’s wins in life.

16. Your partner belittles you.

Belittling someone is never okay, and it’s a sign of toxic behavior. If your partner makes you feel like you’re not good enough for them or that your opinions and feelings don’t matter, it’s a sign of emotional abuse. It can be hard to recognize this kind of behavior because it can be subtle, but it’s important to pay attention to the words and actions of your partner. Belittling someone can slowly eat away at their self-esteem.

17. Your partner always blames you.

If your partner is always making you feel like it’s your fault when something goes wrong, it’s a sign of toxic behavior. Blaming someone for something that isn’t their fault is a form of emotional manipulation, and it’s not okay. It’s a way of making themselves seem superior, and it stems from insecurity. No matter how much your partner tries to blame you, it’s important to remember that the only one responsible for their actions is them.

18. Your partner isolates you.

If your partner tries to isolate you away from friends and family, it’s a major cause for concern. Isolating someone from their loved ones is a sign of controlling behavior, and it should never be accepted. It can be dangerous because people then aren’t able to gain perspective on the relationship, which can make it even harder to leave. Isolating people from their loved ones is also calculated and manipulative, as it’s a way of making someone dependent on them.

19. Your partner lies to you.

Lying is never okay and is a sign of a toxic relationship. If your partner lies to you about big or small things, it’s a sign of disrespect and can make you question their other behaviors. Lying is also a form of emotional manipulation because it’s a way for your partner to control the situation and get what they want. You need both people to be honest and open in a relationship; if your partner isn’t truthful, it’s a red flag.

20. Your partner withholds affection or attention.

If your partner intentionally withholds affection or attention, it’s a sign that you are in a toxic relationship. This kind of behavior is designed to make you feel like you need to do what they want in order to get the affection or attention you crave. It can also be an attempt to control how you spend your time, as they may refuse to give you attention until you agree to do something for them. This type of behavior is never acceptable, and it’s a sign of manipulation.

21. Your partner gaslights you.

If your partner engages in gaslighting, it’s a sign of a toxic relationship. Gaslighting is when someone deliberately manipulates you into doubting yourself, your decisions, and even your sanity. It’s a form of emotional abuse, and it can be very difficult to recognize because it often starts out subtle and gradually builds over time. If you’ve noticed your partner constantly questioning or minimizing your feelings, it’s a sign that you are in a toxic relationship. You can read our complete guide to gaslighting for more information on this topic.

What to do if you’re in a toxic relationship

If you’re in a toxic relationship, it can be tough to know what to do. Not only is it a difficult situation, but also, when your self-esteem is low, it can make it hard to trust yourself in making decisions. Here are some tips for how to manage a toxic relationship.

1. Respond, don’t react.

One of the most important points to remember when dealing with a toxic partner is not to get drawn in. Try to be as objective as possible. This means staying calm and not becoming defensive. You don’t have to bottle up your feelings, but be mindful of how you will respond.

2. Show compassion but don’t take responsibility.

You can show empathy and guide them in the right direction, but then take a step back. They have to be willing to do the work themselves, and you shouldn’t feel responsible for ‘fixing’ them. 

3. Set boundaries.

Toxic people try to control and manipulate their partners, and in order to prevent this, it’s essential to set boundaries and stick to them. This might mean saying no to things you don’t want to do or placing limits on how much time you spend together.

4. Take care of yourself.

Dealing with a toxic partner is emotionally draining. This means that it’s even more important to take time to look after yourself and focus on your own well-being. Find ways to relax and reduce stress, such as exercise or meditation.

5. Talk things through with people you trust.

It can be helpful to talk about the situation with people you trust, such as friends and family. They may be able to provide support, advice, and clarity. It can sometimes be challenging to see things clearly when you’re caught up in a toxic relationship. In some situations, it can be a good idea to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor.

Know that it’s possible to move on from a toxic relationship with the right actions and support.

Final thoughts on toxic relationships

No one deserves to stay in a toxic relationship – it can be emotionally draining, damaging to your self-esteem, and even dangerous. If you think you may be in a toxic relationship or would like help navigating the situation, remember that you are not alone. There is help available, so don’t wait any longer – get the support you need.

The most important thing is to trust yourself and listen to your instincts. You’re worth more than a toxic relationship and deserve to be in an environment of love and respect. With the right help and support, it’s possible to move past a toxic relationship and start a new path to happiness. So don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Finally, remember that relationships should bring joy to our lives – not take away from our sense of self-worth or happiness. Don’t settle for anything less than what truly makes you happy.

If you found this blog post helpful, you might also want to read 15 Ways to Show Respect in a Relationship.

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