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18 Critical Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

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Even the healthiest of relationships could start to turn bad over time. Use these 18 unhealthy relationship signs to decipher your own love life. By Natalia Avdeeva

unhealthy relationship

A healthy relationship is every couple’s fairytale storyline.

After all, all of us want our love lives to be filled with bliss and happiness.

But other than a lucky few, most couples lose their way along marital or relationship bliss and end up taking the unhealthy path towards bad romance.

[Read: 12 tips to be a happy couple that’s envied by other couples]

It’s quite sad really, because as lovers, your partner and you do try to make the relationship work.

You may try hard to understand each other and communicate with each other.

But unless you truly understand what matters for happy love, your efforts may be as fruitless and random as trying to find something in the dark.

[Read: 25 relationship rules that makes your love successful]

What makes a relationship unhealthy?

A romantic relationship always begins healthy.

It starts off with infatuation, passion and sleepless exciting nights.

Love just feels so perfect, and your partner feels like the soulmate you’ve been yearning for. And if things ever go wrong in love, it’s only because of one simple issue.

The lack of communication and understanding.

It’s that simple really. All your problems in your love life and all the heartbreaks you experience in your lifetime are the effects of just one simple idea, lack of communication between partners. [Read: 50 relationship questions to test your compatibility and communication]

But as simple as the thought of communicating openly may seem, it’s also the hardest thing to do, especially when egos clash or when you assume your lover will judge you for your opinions.

When you can truly understand what you feel inside, when you learn to communicate how you feel with your lover, and both of you play an active part in understanding and supporting each other, your love life will bloom and withstand the test of time effortlessly. [Read: How to start communicating better in your relationship]

But if you fail to communicate with each other, it’s only a matter of time before the healthy love starts to spoil from within.

Living through an unhealthy romance

If you’re already living in an unhealthy relationship, communicating with each other is easier said than done. If you have no idea you’re doing something wrong, or if you can’t give the bad feeling that weighs you down inside a name, can you ever fix it? It’s like trying to find the solution to a problem you don’t know or understand.

The difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship is easy to see though. In a happy relationship, your lover is your pillar of strength and your support, and you feel like a piece of you is missing when they’re away from you.

But if you’re living through an unhealthy relationship, you’d feel drained of energy and devoid of happiness whenever you’re around your lover. In fact, you’d feel happier when you’re away from your lover *with friends or with a secret crush* and you’d realize that you have more happy things to talk about with others than with your own partner. [Read: 25 topics all couples need to talk about in a happy relationship]

The 18 critical signs of an unhealthy relationship

It’s never easy to recollect when the relationship actually started going bad. At times, it may be a simple roll of the eye, or a time when you felt underappreciated or felt that nagging feeling of insecurity. And at other times, it may be something more glaring and obvious like an affair or an argument. [Read: 7 secret and subtle signs your relationship is starting to go bad]

The start of an unhealthy relationship isn’t easy to decipher, but it almost always begins with these 18 signs. If you see any of these unhealthy relationship signs sprouting in your romance, weed them out immediately. Doing so will not only save your relationship, but also bring more love and happiness in your relationship.

Do you see any of these 18 signs in your love life? Communicate about it with your lover, and the happiness will seep right back into your lives stronger and it would last longer!

#1 Dishonesty and secrecy. Do you cover up a lie with half truths even if it’s something as trivial as what you’ve been up to the whole day? Or do you have a secret crush on someone and avoid talking about it with your lover? Whatever it may be, talk about it and you’ll see how much close both of you can get. [Read: How to stop lying to yourself and your lover]

#2 Affairs. Affairs can come in different forms, be it sexual or emotional. But what matters is that it can affect your relationship with your lover. When you invest your partner’s share of love towards someone else, it’s obvious that your partner will feel neglected and hurt. And that may force them to drift away from you, even if you convince yourself that you’re not having an affair. [Read: 18 signs you may be having an emotional affair and not even know it!]

#3 Desires and expectations. Do you have secret expectations from your partner, something you haven’t told them about? Or do you have aspirations that you wish your partner could help you achieve? Expectations in love are good, but only when they are communicated and realistic.

#4 Lack of respect. In a happy relationship, both partners need to respect each other. They make promises to each other and keep them, and they avoid speaking ill of each other’s shortcomings just to feel better about themselves. [Read: The 10 signs of a really good and healthy relationship]

#5 Sex is the driving force. Are you and your partner together only because both of you are smitten by each other sexually? Is glorious passion between the sheets the only reason why both of you are together? If sex is the answer to everything, be it spending an evening together, making up after a fight or even to display affection, that’s just unhealthy.

A romantic relationship needs two things to be successful, communication and sexual attraction. By avoiding communication, you’re only setting yourselves up for misery and misunderstandings in love.

#6 Unhealthy jealousy. Are you jealous of your partner? Sometimes, there may be a few things about your partner that you envy, like their high paying job or the number of friends they have. Envy isn’t always bad, but if it turns to jealousy and you secretly plot ways to isolate your partner from their friends or ask them to find a new job, it’s a sign of unhealthy jealousy in love. [Read: How to stop feeling jealous of your partner]

#7 Insecurity. Does your partner’s closeness to an attractive friend threaten you? Insecurities are common at the start of a new relationship where both partners are still learning about each other, their exes and their cute friends. But in an unhealthy romance, insecurity prevails all the time, even when the relationship flies past the infatuation stage. [Read: The 9 stages all couples experience in a relationship]

#8 Competition. When you feel powerless or small in a relationship, and feel like you don’t have a big role to play in the relationship, your love life could turn into a power struggle to prove you’re the boss. In unhealthy relationships, a partner secretly wishes and hopes that their lover will fail often so they can feel like the more powerful one in the relationship.

#9 Testing times. One of the most common signs of unhealthy relationships is the testing games these couples play. Every now and then they intentionally ask their partner to do something, knowing full well that they’d forget all about it or make a mistake, just to catch their partner at a weak moment and say “I knew you’d forget!” or “I told you so!”

#10 Lack of emotional intimacy. It’s never wrong to have many close friends or have secret crushes in life. It happens to all of us. But for love to succeed, your partner has to be your closest friend, and you need to feel comfortable discussing anything at all, be it money issues, sexual fantasies, or even kinky games in bed. [Read: Top 50 kinky sex ideas to try as a couple]

Emotional intimacy takes time to grow, but if one of you stops building the intimacy because of the fear of awkwardness, there will always be hidden secrets that’ll prevent both of you from getting closer.

#11 Missing sex life. Do you believe that true love is all you need for a successful relationship or a marriage? Then you’d definitely be wrong. Unless one of you can’t perform or have to withhold sex for medical reasons, both of you need to pay a lot of attention to looking good and enjoying sex. A sizzling sexual chemistry plays a much bigger part in romance than you may assume! [Read: 13 untold sex secrets that can change your life!]

#12 Comparisons. We’re all individuals and we’re not all perfect. Of course, there may be a few things you want to change about your partner. But that gives you no excuse to compare them to others, be it your romantic ex, your rich friend or your playful crush. Comparisons always cause insecurities and damage a relationship.

#13 You love being in love. But you aren’t in love. Do you ever feel that? Are you staying in the relationship only because you like knowing you’re loved or because you’re scared of losing your lover to someone else?

Sometimes, the only reason you may still be in a relationship is because you’re afraid of what you may have to experience if you break up. But you need to know that staying in a relationship in the fear of losing your lover more than out of love for them will never give you happiness. [Read: 12 signs you’re walking on eggshells in your love life]

#14 Expectations and demands from families. If you’re in a long term relationship or a marriage, you would have experienced several instances of this already. Does your family or your partner’s family interfere with your life as a couple more often than necessary, either by making constant requests or trying to involve themselves with your decision making? This may be bearable today, but someday, it will take a toll on your relationship and turn it into an unhealthy one. Interfering families always do.

#15 Controlling streak. A controlling person is just not cut out for a happy relationship, unless they make the effort to change. A relationship is about balance and understanding between two lovers. And it isn’t about being dominated by one partner. If one partner takes most of the decisions or always does things their way, it’s a sure sign of a bad and unhealthy relationship. [Read: The right way to handle controlling behavior in a relationship]

#16 Give and take. Every now and then, relationships need compromises and sacrifices from both partners to function harmoniously. In a healthy relationship, the compromises are balanced and both partners are happy to accommodate each other’s demands. But in an unhealthy relationship, it’s always just one partner who bends over backwards while the other partner just wants things done their way.

Even if the relationship seems perfect today, it may be so only because the giving partner may be timid or may not have voiced their unjust treatment yet. But once the imbalance in compromises comes out in the open, it’ll leave both partners bitter and angry because neither can understand the other. [Read: The top 20 reasons for divorce that most couples overlook]

#17 Incompatibility. Incompatible relationships are the worst of unhealthy relationships. The love may have blossomed perfectly, but with limited communication and understanding of each other, both partners may have strayed away from each other over time. It’s not too late to come closer though, all you need to do is start from the beginning again. And this time, you need to communicate! [Read: 60 get-to-know-you questions to restart your romance]

#18 Silent treatment. It’s inevitable to have differences between lovers now and then. But what matters most is how you deal with it. What do you do when an argument arises? Do both of you take a strong stand and stick to your own views? Or does one of you give the other person the silent treatment until they learn a lesson? [Read: How to perfect the silent treatment in a relationship]

The silent treatment, though effective, is one of the most dangerous ways of trying to fix a problem. And it’ll only lead to secrets, insecurities and frustrations. Use the silent treatment if you must, but only if you know the right way to use them.

[Read: 23 must-know relationship advice for women and 23 foolproof relationship advice for men]

So how healthy is your relationship? Do you see any of these signs of an unhealthy relationship in your own romance? Almost always, ignoring any of these 18 signs will only do more harm than good to your love life.


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Have your say!
  • Tonya
    January 5, 2014 | Permalink |

    So confused! In a relationship for 14 yrs. Married for 10 yrs. Feel so alone & unwanted until he “needs” a sexual release. We’re even sleeping in different rooms. I used to tell him that his addictions to alcohol & porn would make me “not care one day”….@ this point I really dont care. I dont want anything bad to happen to him but at the same time I dont feel like I would be so upset if it did.

  • david
    June 10, 2014 | Permalink |

    you forget space from each other for breathing room. every so often, even when married- the mere fact that your name is ___ ___ and her/his name is ___ ___ should be a reminder that you are TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE.
    You have to come to terms that you 2 do not like the exact same things.
    you have to come to terms with the fact that you/yourpartner HAS to step back in order to LEAP forward.
    Too much attention can lead to smothering and will predestine your relationship to implode from the inside out.
    What is the cause of this implosion?

    Example A- you guys are first dating. man puts off doing dishes because he’s busy or whatever the fuck reason. girl sees it but it doesn’t bother her.
    Example B- you guys have been living together. man puts off doing dishes because he’s busy but because he’s now integrated with your life on an everyday basis, you feel as if he has committed a sin.
    You begin to take things more personally if you don’t give each other space.

    That begs the question, how much is enough space? You want to love him/her but you don’t want him/her to think you are neglecting her or not showing her love, right?

    The amount of space you should be giving your partner is……..


    SOLELY based on what he/she says is enough. No games, no bullshit.
    Fuck what lovepanky says. Fuck what Cosmo says. If your boy/girlfriend says she needs space, you ask to specify what kind of space and leave it at that.

    That, my friend, is the beauty of relationships. Communication with your partner- not what YOU think your partner needs but you LISTENING to what your partner says s/he needs.

  • amanda
    November 14, 2014 | Permalink |

    Omg the silent treatment is definitely on my list, we can’t even go 7 days without fighting… he always thinks he’s right and that I am to blame for everything. He wants sex everyday and if he doesn’t get it, he thinks I dont love him. I have come back to him 4 times, and I’m starting to feel like a fool… oh, and the biggest thing is that he asked me to marry him just like how he asked his ex …Dont know what to do…

  • Andrea
    December 6, 2014 | Permalink |

    We had an arranged marriage.Before marriage,during our engagement. he seemed to be very caring,a good natured person with a very good personality.After marriage only I could see his true colours coming out. He is very abusive.He fights and beats, tries to control me in everything I do.I couldn’t understand at first that I’m in a bad relationship.After a year of our marriage, we had a kid.I thought he’ll improve. ……..but my life ……..it’s going all topsy turvy…………Dont know what to do…???????

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