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24 Sad Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship that Ruin Love Forever

We all want to avoid an unhealthy relationship, so it’s crucial to spot the red flags. Keep reading to find out the signs of an unhealthy relationship.

signs of an 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. Have you been asking yourself what the signs of an unhealthy relationship are? Sometimes, these signs aren’t always as evident as you think.

More importantly, even if we see the signs, we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we’re not just in the wrong relationship, but we’re in an unhealthy one as well.

This doesn’t automatically mean your relationship is over, but it will take a lot of effort and communication to turn things around.

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

What makes a relationship unhealthy?

A romantic relationship always begins healthy. It starts off with infatuation, passion, and exciting sleepless 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 a straightforward issue — the lack of communication and understanding.

A relationship becomes unhealthy over time because you both fail to see things from each others’ perspective.

No relationship will be exactly perfect, but you can learn to be healthy if you communicate with one another. It’s that simple really. [Read: 50 relationship questions to test your compatibility and communication]

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. But as simple as it is, effective communication is easier said than done in a relationship.

We don’t always have the perfect listening skills and emotional maturity to effectively communicate with our partners, which is what makes it so hard. [Read: How to start communicating better in your relationship]

Living through an unhealthy romance

The difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship is easy to see through. In a happy relationship, your lover is your pillar of strength and support, and you feel like a part 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. An unhealthy relationship will naturally bring out the worst in you, which is why you often feel stuck when you’re in one.

This is just one of the many signs of an unhealthy relationship you should be able to spot.

[Read: 25 topics all couples need to talk about in a happy relationship]

Should you tolerate an unhealthy relationship?

The answer to this is both yes and no. Tolerating an unhealthy relationship isn’t exactly good for your sanity, so when the bad outweighs the good, the best option is really to walk away. Again, this is why it’s crucial to spot the signs of an unhealthy relationship as quickly as you can.

The longer the unhealthy relationship is, the harder it gets to walk away from it. However, if you find that your relationship can still be fixed and it isn’t unhealthy in a toxic way or detrimental to your sanity, you might still be able to turn things around.

You can try to sit down with your partner and realize you’re both stuck in an unhealthy relationship. You can decide for yourselves what you’ll do about your relationship and whether your issues can still be salvaged by talking things through. [Read: 30 relationship rules that make your love successful]

The 24 biggest and most 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 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 to your relationship.

When you see these unhealthy signs, communicate about it with your lover, and the happiness will seep right back into your lives stronger than ever, and it would last longer too!

[Read: 15 signs of a healthy relationship that keep couples happy & in love]

1. Dishonesty and secrecy

Provided that you can’t be a hundred percent honest all the time with your partner, you shouldn’t be hiding the important issues from them either. Dishonesty and secrecy are non-negotiables in a healthy relationship.

So the minute one of you starts hiding important things from the other, this is one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. Whatever it may be, talk about it, and you’ll see how 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.

It also means the person who had or is having the affair clearly knows there’s something wrong with the structure of your relationship. So if there’s an affair, it’s one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. [Read: 24 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.

If you continue to have high and unrealistic expectations from your partner and worse, if you feel entitled to get them, that’s no longer healthy. Realize that your partner is human, and expecting your partner to fulfill your dreams for you is flawed and honestly, unfair to them as well. [Read: 20 healthy expectations in a relationship that define a good love life]

4. Lack of respect

The moment there’s a lack of respect or worse, no respect at all, your relationship will inevitably be unhealthy. 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.

Also, you need to respect one another’s opinions and thoughts because otherwise, it’s never going to work. Respect, along with trust, is the core foundation of any healthy relationship. [Read: The 10 signs of a really good and healthy relationship]

5. Sex is the driving force

Ah, yes. Sex. It’s an essential factor in a relationship, but you should never use this to distract yourselves from a fight or from discussing any important issues. 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 fixing everything, be it spending an evening together, making up after a fight, or even displaying affection, that’s just unhealthy. Sex might work as an adequate distraction, but it’ll eventually lead to both of you realizing sex isn’t the solution to everything.

6. Unhealthy jealousy

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 into 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.

In a healthy relationship, there should be unconditional support from both ends. If you’re always trying to rise above them because you envy them, that’s one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. [Read: How to stop feeling jealous of your partner]

7. Insecurity

Insecurities are expected at the start of a new relationship where both partners are still learning about each other, their exes, and their cute friends and crushes. But in an unhealthy romance, insecurity prevails all the time, even when the relationship flies past the infatuation stage.

If one of you is constantly insecure, no matter how much you reassure one another, this is unhealthy. Eventually, that insecurity will be projected in other forms such as ego, jealousy, or anger. [Read: The 9 stages of love 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 significant role to play, 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 often fail so they can feel like the more “powerful” partner in the relationship.

So if you often feel like you have to compete with your partner to prove your value or authority in the relationship, this is clearly one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. There is no room for competition in a thriving relationship, ever.

9. Testing games

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!”

It’s as if you’re setting them to fail, just to prove some kind of point. Why? Again, be supportive, remember? [Read: Why do girls play games and test guys in the early stages of dating?]

10. Lack of emotional intimacy

Emotional intimacy is very vital in a relationship, sometimes even more so than physical intimacy. Without it, you never feel understood, acknowledged, and especially loved in a relationship.

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. This is why they say that your soulmate is also your best friend and life partner, all wrapped up in one person.

So if there’s a lack of emotional intimacy, it’s one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. 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. [Read: Top 50 kinky sex ideas to try as a couple]

11. Missing sex life

While too much sex is one of the unhealthy signs on this list, it’s not great to not have sex at all, either. Unless one of you can’t perform or have to withhold sex for medical reasons, or you’re both asexual, both of you need to pay a lot of attention to looking good and enjoying sex with each other.

Sizzling sexual chemistry plays a much more significant part in romance than you may assume! It might sound cliché, but it really does keep the spark and desire alive in your relationship. [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, rich friend, or playful crush.

Comparisons always cause insecurities and damage a relationship. How would you feel if they compared you to someone else? We’re pretty sure it’s going to suck. [Read: 5 easy ways to stop comparing your new guy to your ex]

13. You love being in love

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 that you’re afraid of what you may have to experience if you break up.

So many people stay in an unhealthy relationship for this exact reason, but you’ll go insane the longer you stay with them. Look, love is not and never should be an obligation – not to you or anyone. So if you feel like you’re forced to stay, it’s one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship you should assess in your relationship. [Read: 12 signs you’re walking on eggshells in your love life]

14. Expectations and demands from families

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. It might be cute for either of your families to get involved, but a relationship should only comprise two people. If not, it’s one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship you should be wary of.

15. Controlling streak

A controlling person is just not cut out for a happy relationship unless they make an effort to change. A relationship is about balance and understanding between two lovers. And it isn’t about being dominated by one partner.

When one of you has a dominating or controlling personality, and it’s evident throughout the relationship, it’s one of the signs that what you have is unhealthy. If one partner makes most of the decisions or always does things their way, that’s your cue. [Read: The right way to handle controlling behavior in a relationship]

16. Give and take

Compromise is non-negotiable in a relationship. You know your relationship isn’t healthy by the lack of compromise and when one person persists in doing things their way and only their way. 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 backward while the other partner just wants things done their way. Most often, the person who compromises and adjusts the most tends to hold a lot of hidden resentment in their heart.

To resolve this, you need to communicate with one another and discuss how you’re going to meet one another halfway. [Read: 16 reasons why you’re always taken for granted in your relationship]

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.

This is one of the most heartbreaking signs of an unhealthy relationship, especially when you realize it a little too late. When you’re incompatible, there’s usually nothing you can do but accept it. [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”?

This kind of passive-aggressiveness is precisely what breaks communication in relationships. It’s the opposite of what healthy and effective communication is. [Read: How to use the silent treatment in a relationship the right way]

19. Manipulation

Manipulation is never a good sign of any relationship. When there’s manipulation, it’s one of the signs of an unhealthy relationship. In a healthy relationship, there shouldn’t be any manipulation to earn things in your favor.

The moment one of you manipulates the other to clearly get what they want, there’s nothing healthy about this. If you respect one another, you should also respect that you’ll have different wishes, desires, and opinions from time to time. [Read: 15 signs of manipulation in a relationship you should never ignore]

20. Guilting

Guilt is the one emotion many people love using when controlling or manipulating you. So if you’re looking for signs of an unhealthy relationship, this is one of them. If you tend to guilt them to get what you want or your partner does this to you, this isn’t healthy in any way.

Guilt, as strong of an emotion as it is, should never be used against you. A healthy relationship should be about mutual support and understanding, nothing less. [Read: Guilt tripping in a relationship – What it is & how to respond to it]

21. Miscommunication

Couples often fight because of miscommunication, but when it happens all the time, that isn’t healthy either. Especially when one of you fears confrontation, you’re never going to be able to fix your problems and issues through proper communication.

In a healthy relationship, there is proper communication between two people. In an unhealthy one, you both avoid talking about difficult things with one another. [Read: 10 ways to be a better listener in your relationship]

22. Resentment

Resentment isn’t healthy to hold on to in a relationship. When there’s resentment, there’s bound to be anger as well. This is why it’s so essential to talk about problems in a relationship so that neither of you harbors feelings against the other.

When there’s resentment, your relationship will eventually fall apart, one way or another. In love, there should be no room for bitterness. If you have a problem with your partner, talk it out. [Read: Are you happy? Spotting the signs of resentment in a relationship]

23. Disrespect

Respect is the core foundation for all working relationships. So if there is any sign of disrespect, your relationship is bound to be unhealthy. This means there’s bound to be aspects such as not being your equal, disrespecting your boundaries and opinions, and manipulating you.

Respect is everything in a relationship, especially in a healthy one. When the respect is gone, so will the foundation of your love. [Read: 17 signs of disrespect in a relationship that reveal a lack of love]

24. Unhappiness

Relationships can’t be perfect and happy all the time. However, when you’re primarily unhappy in your relationship, that’s not healthy either.

This means that the bad outweighs the good so much that the relationship will eventually leave a sour taste in your mouth.

[Read: Not happy in a relationship? How to choose the right path for you]

So, what are the signs of an unhealthy relationship?

It’s not always easy to spot the signs of an unhealthy relationship but once you do, you can no longer deny you’re in one. You have to face the facts and decide if you’re going to attempt to turn things around or walk away.

There are instances where the relationship is still fixable but when it’s not, you need to come to terms with it and accept it.

[Read: 29 must-know relationship advice for women and 22 foolproof relationship advice for men]

Almost always, ignoring any of these signs of an unhealthy relationship will only do more harm than good to your love life. So confront these signs and work through them, especially when you resonate with most of these in your relationship.

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Natalia Avdeeva
Natalia Avdeeva sometimes feels like she’s an 80-year-old woman trapped in a 29-year-old body. She loves buying makeup and ends up not wearing them most of th...
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