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Toxic Relationship: What It Is, 107 Signs, Causes & Types of Love that Hurt You

It’s not easy to admit that you may be in a toxic relationship, but if you’re here, it means you have a gut feeling that you are. You need to educate yourself about them and then take action.

Toxic Relationship

Toxic relationships are all around us, and there are many different types.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you feel more stressed and tired rather than happy and glowing? You may unknowingly be trapped in a relationship that’s leaving you drained and angry.

Toxic relationships come in many hues. Sometimes, we date toxic people. And at other times, we have friends and even family who are toxic to our lives.

More than just a bad relationship 

Toxic relationships are not just bad relationships. They are terrorizing and lower our self-esteem. Such relationships attack our trust and hope. They control us and manipulate us. 

A toxic relationship is unhealthy, disrespectful, and can oftentimes even be dangerous.

For your safety, you should know the warning signs of a toxic relationship and understand that if you see them, it’s time to leave. [Read: 48 strong warning signs of toxic people and the best ways to deal with them]

Toxic relationships are not easily fixed and sorted out with gifts, talking, or even therapy. In most cases, toxic relationships end with an explosion that affects you for the rest of your life.

To keep from being swallowed up by the masked evil in a toxic relationship, spot the signs of a toxic relationship early, so you can avoid them at all costs.

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is any relationship you have that is detrimental to your happiness, your health, and your life overall. [Read: How toxic love can harm you permanently and how to get away]

When you enter a toxic relationship with a person who’s not an ideal match for you, you may actually end up losing yourself and becoming a person you wouldn’t be too happy to be. They drain the happiness out of your life and push you to do or act in ways that make you unrecognizable to even yourself.[Read: Doubts about your new relationship? Understand the normal and toxic signs]

The bad part about toxic relationships is that you can’t really recognize them at first. A toxic lover may enter your life as this charming, sweet, kind person. But as time goes by, something about them starts to change, and all the romance they once showered you with turns into malice and manipulation. [Read: How does a toxic relationship feel? 16 signs to recognize it and get out]

Of course, you won’t be able to blame them because they’d still appear to be the same person you fell in love with.

So, what’s changed then?

What causes toxic behavior?

Now that you a little bit about toxic relationships, you’re probably wondering what causes people to act like this. We have your answers right here. [Read: How do narcissists control you so subtly? And why you allow them]

1. It’s in their nature

Some people just have some negative personality traits that are inborn. These bad traits include things like narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. But what do these mean, exactly?

Let’s start with narcissism. Narcissism is a condition when people have a grandiose sense of self-importance. They also have fantasies of unlimited power and success and don’t care who they hurt to get it. Their needs are the only thing they think or care about. [Read: Narcissistic relationship – 36 signs, how it feels, patterns, and how to end it]

Machiavellianism is a personality trait that uses cunningness, the ability to manipulate, and a powerful drive to gain power. The term derives from the philosopher Machiavelli, who believed that it is better for monarchs to be widely feared by their kingdom than widely loved… this mindset in a relationship will never spell out anything good.

And finally, psychopathy is a neuropsychiatric disorder in which the person has deficient emotional responses, a lack of empathy, and can’t control their behavior. This usually results in antisocial and criminal behavior.

All three of these together can form what’s called the Dark Triad. [Read: Dark triad personality – what it is and 25 signs and ways to deal with them]

So, these negative personality traits are at least partially genetic, and they are passed on from parent to child. 

2. Environmental factors

While our genes can help determine whether we have toxic behaviors or not, so can someone’s environment. 

For example, if someone was overprotected, pampered, or praised excessively in childhood by their parents, they are more likely to be narcissistic and harbor feelings of entitlement. [Read: Why do people fall for narcissists when they know they shouldn’t?]

On the flip side, some people with toxic traits might have gotten that way because of some trauma in their past, from perhaps a dysfunctional family life or even a history of substance abuse. 

Even someone who hasn’t been able to properly process stress or grief can sometimes start using toxic behaviors toward other people.

3. Mental health problems

Not everyone who exhibits toxic behaviors have mental health conditions. But there are some people who do. [Read: 34 big relationship red flags most people ignore early on]

For instance, personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) can cause toxic behavior.

If someone has sudden bursts of anger, a great need for praise, irritability, or grandiose feelings, this could indicate a mental health condition.

How to know if there’s toxic love in your life

First, you really have to be open to the idea that your relationship may be harmful to you. If you don’t acknowledge that, you’ll never see the problems. [Read: 20 traits and signs of a toxic boyfriend that predict a painful relationship]

Then, you really need to think about how you feel around that person. Are you drained or are you excited and content? Does your temper increase or are you pretty calm and patient? These things, among many others, are major signs that you’re in an unhealthy relationship. [Read: 18 critical signs of an unhealthy relationship]

Think about the way they treat you and if you’re proud to talk about the things they do for you. Do they brag about you and support your goals? Or do they insult you and make you feel worse about yourself? 

You can determine which is toxic and which is healthy.

The types of toxic relationships you could find yourself in

Toxic relationships are created in two circumstances; when you enter a relationship with someone who’s completely incompatible with your way of life, or when you enter a relationship with someone who’s just a really bad person.

There are many kinds of toxic lovers, but they all find their way into one of these types of toxic relationships. [Read: 34 signs of disrespect in a marriage that reveals a toxic and mean partner]

So, if you ever feel like you’re trapped in a bad relationship with one of these types of partners, look for the exit door, because no matter how much you think you can change the relationship for the better, you just can’t. 

Well, unless your lover makes a conscious effort to become a more accommodating person.

1. Controlling relationships

Does your partner want to have a say in everything you do? Or do they like to know everything you’re doing, even if it means aggressively interrupting you to find out what you’re doing right that instant? [Read: 23 subtle signs that reveal a controlling partner]

If you’re in a relationship where your partner behaves like the approver and everything you do has to pass through their scrutiny whether you want their approval or not, you’re definitely in the middle of a toxic romance.

2. Jealous partners

Is your partner overly jealous when it comes to you spending time with your friends? Or do they constantly feel like you’re sharing certain sexual chemistry with someone even if you have a happy laugh while chatting over the phone? 

A bit of jealousy can be cute. But when it affects your life negatively or restricts you from your independence, it’s definitely not good for you. [Read: How to make your jealous partner not-so-jealous and feel more loved]

3. Bitchy lovers

Does your lover constantly come to you to nag about their bad days or whine about their problems until you feel like crawling under the couch or running away from them? 

Partners who find happiness only while complaining about their life can turn you into a negative person too. [Read: What is an energy vampire? 19 signs to spot them in your life ASAP]

4. A negative-thinking partner

A negative-thinking partner is one of the worst of the lot. Does your partner think life is extremely unfair to them? Or do they only see the negative side of everything in their life? 

These kinds of partners will suck the happiness out of your life even before you realize it. [Read: Is your negative thinking ruining your life? 20 signs and tips to cope]

5. Puts you down all the time

This is the “I told you so” kind of partner. Instead of helping you out, they always look for a way to make you feel like a dumb, spoilt child. 

Perhaps they have issues in life they feel powerless over, or maybe they just love feeling powerful by putting you down all the time.

6. Cheating partner

Have you caught your partner cheating on you once? And then again? Some partners just can’t stay committed to one relationship, and there’s nothing you can do about it. [Read: 17 signs of disrespect in a relationship that reveal a lack of love]

If a partner doesn’t respect you or think you’re important enough, they’re bound to cheat on you constantly. And if they’ve already proved that their cheating is repeat behavior, they’re never going to stop.

7. Lying lover

Some lovers just can’t help but lie all the time. You may know they’re lying, but you can’t prove it, can you? 

When you’re in a toxic relationship like this, you’d end up feeling more insecure and frustrated, and may even feel paranoid about the whole relationship, while your partner laughs and lies away all the time. [Read: 15 ways a pathological liar hurts and confuses you with their lies]

8. Abusive partner

An abusive partner doesn’t always have to abuse you physically. At times, even verbal abuse can have the same impact. 

If your partner raises a hand at you or threatens you with abuse for any reason, don’t put up with it. The longer you stay in a toxic relationship like that, the more dominant your partner will feel over you.

9. The blaming lover

Are you in a relationship with someone who constantly takes their frustrations out on you or blames you for their mistakes? [Read: Top 20 reasons for divorce that most couples overlook]

You may think they’re acting childish, but your partner may genuinely think it’s your fault and may even get increasingly frustrated with you. 

The next time you get blamed for something you haven’t done, stand your ground. Or you’ll end up in a messy relationship where both of you hate each other.

10. An extremely insecure partner

When you’re in a relationship with someone and are forced to spend most of your day away from them, a little bit of insecurity is inevitable, especially if you’re meeting good-looking members of the opposite sex all the time. [Read: Why am I so insecure? 29 reasons and ways to feel secure from within]

But if your partner is extremely insecure and constantly needs tons of reassurance and proof of love from you, perhaps it’s time to ask if there is anything more you can do to show your love, or if they’re too insecure to be in a relationship right now. 

Or you’ll end up getting frustrated with your partner all the time for never trusting you.

11. A demanding partner

Demanding partners expect the best from you, yet they never return the favor. They constantly try to boss around you or tell you how lucky their friends are for having such understanding partners. [Read: Why narcissists ignore you, your texts, and do the selfish things they do]

Being in a relationship like this will make you feel helpless and depressed because no matter what you do, you’ll never be good enough.

12. Over-the-top perfectionists

Perfectionists are great people to be in a relationship with. But if you’re dating someone who’s obsessive about the way they want things in their life, it’ll always leave you frustrated. 

And obsessive people with a perfectionist streak in them will always find faults with you. Can you really live with someone like that? [Read: 15 posh signs you’re dating a high-maintenance woman most men can’t handle]

13. Narcissistic partners

Narcissistic partners are shallow and extreme users. Your partner may be in a relationship with you, but they still treat you like an accessory. 

They feel embarrassed when you haven’t dressed your best when you step out together, and the whole world revolves around them, no matter what you do or say. 

Unless you like being treated like a toy, this relationship will definitely not help with your self-esteem. [Read: 20 signs of a narcissistic relationship that’ll destroy you slowly]

14. The competitive lover

Everything is a competition for these types of lovers. They may say they love you and they may even care about you. But they will never allow you to beat them at anything, be it a game or when it comes to earning more money. 

They’re sore losers and always want to be pampered. And most of all, they love seeing you fall in life so they can magnanimously help you back on your feet. [Read: 21 secret signs of a bad relationship that signal a bad future ahead]

15. The manipulative partner

Does your partner constantly play with words or try to trick you into believing something by manipulating you? 

If you’re dating someone who tries to lie or manipulate you into getting things done their way all the time, perhaps it’s time you let them know you’re not that dumb to fall for such childish tricks. [Read: 15 signs of manipulation in a relationship you should never ignore]

16. The taker

Do you feel like you give and give and give, but you get nothing in return from your partner? If so, then you are probably with a taker. 

A taker has no problem having you do everything for them, from all the cooking, cleaning, child care, paying bills, and more. There are no feelings of guilt on their part. Instead, they have a sense of entitlement and enjoy using you.

17. The over-dependent partner

The over-dependent partner is just what it sounds like. They depend on you for everything and are just as helpless as a child. In fact, they would be lost without you, but it’s sucking the life out of you. [Read: How to stop being needy – why people get clingy and 32 ways to fix it]

They might depend on you to make decisions for them and teach them things. And while that’s not a bad thing in and of itself, when it’s a constant in the relationship, you feel like you might as well be dating a kid and not an adult. 

18. The overreactor/deflector 

Maybe your partner is overly dramatic or has a temper. If all the “little things” bother them, then they constantly overreact. It’s like you have to walk on eggshells around them all the time.

Have you ever been upset with something your partner said or did and when you went to confront them, they turned the table on you? Then suddenly, you found yourself being the one begging for forgiveness? [Read: How to recognize emotionally unstable people for less drama in life]

If so, that’s deflection.

Why does toxic behavior continue?

You might think that other people would have called out this person’s toxic behavior and they would stop acting this way. Well, that’s not always the case.

Believe it or not, many times this behavior continues because the person actually gets rewarded for it. [Read: Manipulative behavior – why it is toxic and signs you shouldn’t ignore]

For example, if a person is cruel, self-centered, and manipulative, they might still gain a lot of professional success and become very wealthy. These things are the “rewards” for toxic behavior.

As strange as it sounds, sometimes people with these toxic traits do get positive reinforcement, and so that just convinces them to continue the bad behaviors into their romantic relationships as well.

Hang on, why do people stay in toxic relationships?

You might be reading this and wondering why on earth anyone would stay in a relationship that makes them unhappy. Well, it’s far more common than you might think. [Read: What is a toxic relationship? 16 signs to recognize it and get out]

The reason? Manipulation. Without knowing the signs of a toxic relationship, you’re blind to what’s going on. 

Manipulation doesn’t have to be obvious, it can be very subtle. In most cases, it flies under the radar and the person being manipulated doesn’t even realize what’s going on. That’s when it’s most dangerous. [Read: Psychological manipulation – 16 different tactics real manipulators use to hook you]

People also tend to stay in toxic relationships because they’re in love and by the time they see their partner’s true colors, their self-esteem has been dragged down so low that they don’t feel able to leave. 

You see, toxic relationships never start out that way. It’s all hearts and roses, and everything is wonderful.

That’s what keeps people in place. They look back on those times and think that if it was okay then, it can be okay again. [Read: 15 biggest signs of an unhealthy relationship you should never, ever tolerate]

We all try to overlook negative points and hope for the best. That sometimes means we put on our blinkers, ignore the signs of a toxic relationship, and try to look past flaws. 

The issue? Toxic behavior isn’t a flaw, it’s a choice. That means your partner is choosing to be negative and toxic towards you. That’s not right, is it? [Read: 20 signs of a narcissistic relationship that’ll destroy you slowly]

The subtle signs of a toxic relationship that’s breaking you from within

As we’ve already said, a toxic partner will always start off loving and kind. But over time, very slowly, they let that gentleman’s facade slip. They don’t go from loving one day and narcissistic the next; they gently ease you into seeing their true colors so that you become acclimated to their toxic behavior and don’t see it until it’s too late.

But, if we can learn how to spot the signs of a toxic partner without allowing our love to cloud our judgment, we can escape with our dignity intact. [Read: The traits of toxic people that can hurt and emotionally damage you forever]

No matter how much you love your partner, keep your eyes open for the signs. If not, you run the risk of losing yourself. And once you get there, returning to your normal self isn’t easy. 

If you’re not sure what is a toxic relationship or what it looks like, well, here are the signs to help you figure it out. [Read: Am I manipulative? 20 ways you manipulate everyone in your life]

1. Passive aggressive behavior 

We’re all guilty of being passive-aggressive at times. It’s not easy talking openly about your feelings and emotions. But if passive-aggression is their middle name, it’s time to take a second look at your relationship. 

Not talking about your feelings is a sign of immaturity, and can lead down a dangerous road. [Read: How to deal with passive-aggressive behavior calmly and with class]

2. Regular bouts of jealousy

A little bit of jealousy isn’t necessarily bad. Unfortunately, the line is very thin, and social media tells us excessive jealousy is a positive trait. 

If you can’t leave the house without them becoming jealous, or if they’re searching your phone for an incriminating text or picture, that’s clearly toxic, not cute!

3. They’re all about the blame game

You might be all too familiar with the blame game. If your partner never takes responsibility for their actions and blames everything on you, that’s toxicity at its best. [Read: 20 clues to know if someone has emotional maturity]

Nobody is perfect, so don’t ever believe that everything is your fault and they’re free of all blame, all the time.

4. They’re great at avoidance 

You basically tolerate each other’s presence, which is pretty messed up considering you’re in a relationship. What will happen if you get married? You won’t spend time with your spouse? 

Avoidance is the first sign that the relationship has run its course and it’s firmly in the toxic category. [Read: The clearest signs he’s avoiding you and has something on his mind]

5. You just don’t feel like yourself

You can’t make the jokes you’d normally make or watch TV without feeling like you’re doing something wrong. But you’re not doing anything wrong; you’re being yourself. 

If your partner doesn’t appreciate who you are, they’ll try to change you. And that is what’s happening if you regularly feel this way. [Read: How to be yourself – The steps to un-fake your life and love being you]

6. Arguments are a constant thing

It’s normal for couples to have disagreements. Don’t think because you argue once in a blue moon that you’re in a toxic relationship. 

But there’s a difference between arguing and communicating, and straight-up yelling without any resolution. If they’re just yelling at you, or you seem to fight all the time, it’s not going to go anywhere. [Read: 23 dos and don’ts you need to remember in a relationship argument]

7. There are negative vibes floating in the air 

People underestimate the power of energy. Every animal on this earth is made up of energy. If you’re constantly feeling uncomfortable or anxious around your partner, there’s a reason why. 

You’re reacting to the energy they’re giving out. Negative energy emotionally drains you and breaks you down.

8. You only make them happy, it’s never about your happiness 

When you’re with your partner, they don’t care about your happiness. Instead, you spend most of your time trying to please them. [Read: 16 signs and reasons why you’re always taken for granted by others]

You eat what they want, and do what they want; you’re basically their personal slave. They don’t ask you how your day was or what you’d like to do.

9. You can’t grow as a person 

When someone grows in a relationship, that’s a positive thing. You want your partner to grow and develop, and you want to do the same. 

If you want more, but your partner likes things the way they are, well, that’s not good. They’re holding you back from achieving your life goals because they don’t want to develop. [Read: Feeling stuck in life? How to change direction and live your dream]

It’s normal to be a little apprehensive about change occasionally, but if they dig their heels in and refuse to evolve, that’s a problem. 

10. You don’t feel like fighting for the relationship 

When two people love each other, they’ll go above and beyond to make things work. They will fight as hard as they can for the relationship. 

But with you, you stopped caring a long time ago and so did your partner. You feel like there’s no point – the relationship isn’t going anywhere. [Read: 20 signs your relationship is already over and come to an end]

11. Be honest, you’re just not happy

When was the last time you laughed with your partner? When was the last time you felt really happy by their side? 

You’ll know when you’re in a toxic relationship because you won’t be happy anymore. Something inside of you is telling you to move on for a reason.

12. The drama never ends

But really, it never ends. Every day there’s something wrong in their life, and they usually blame you for it, even if you did nothing wrong! [Read: Why some people go looking for drama all the time]

They live for the drama because it distracts them from their own failures.

13. You can never do anything right

At least in their eyes. Everything you do comes with criticism and loads of it. 

At the end of the day, you feel like a complete failure and unworthy of their love. But that’s not true. They’re not worthy of your love and affection since they don’t appreciate it. [Read: Lessons to deal with judgmental people]

14. You feel like the worst version of you

When you’re with someone you love, they usually bring out the best in you. And that’s when you know you’re with the right person. 

But if you’re becoming someone you don’t recognize, you need to think hard about your relationship. Is this really someone you want to be with? [Read: 34 tips to fall in love with yourself and be a better you]

15. Your friends and family don’t like them

We know you don’t want people to dislike someone you chose to be with, but sometimes, your friends and family are right. 

If they tell you that you’ve changed and your partner is toxic, listen to them. Your friends and family love you and want the best for you. [Read: 24 sad signs you’re in an unhealthy relationship that will ruin love forever]

16. They’re stuck in the past

Instead of thinking about their future with you, they constantly remind you about the past. 

“The good times I had,” runs out of their mouth often, and it makes you wonder if they’re enjoying the relationship now. But they’re not; they’re stuck in the past. [Read: How to get out of a toxic relationship with your dignity intact]

17. You avoid saying how you feel 

You have an opinion, but you’re scared to speak your mind. Maybe your partner becomes aggressive when you don’t share the same opinion as them or ignore what you have to say. 

You simply stop saying what’s on your mind to avoid conflict. [Read: Double standards in a relationship and why they’re toxic AF]

18. You can’t remember the last time you felt content 

When you’re around your partner, you should feel content. But with this person, you feel bad. You wake up feeling empty, and you go to bed feeling unloved. There’s nothing positive this person is giving you. And this is toxic for you.

19. There’s a lack of investment in the relationship 

We’re not talking about financial investment. People can be in healthy relationships without spending a lot of money on each other, for example. What we’re talking about is an emotional investment. 

Your partner doesn’t emotionally invest in the relationship. They don’t try to spend time with you, they don’t confide in you; they show very little effort toward the relationship. [Read: 15 types of toxic relationships to watch out for]

20. You feel like everything is a trap 

When you’re talking to your partner, you feel like you have to watch everything you say. If every question they ask you is like you’re being tested, and you need to say the right answer, this is one of the clearest signs you’re in a toxic relationship. 

If you’re unable to relax around your partner and be honest with them, this is a huge problem.

21. Problems are never resolved

If there’s a fight, you are unable to sit down and talk about each other’s feelings. [Read: 20 relationship problems that push a couple apart or bring them closer]

Instead of actually solving it, your partner covers the situation up with a drastic change of mood and tries to buy you something nice or take you somewhere.

That’s not them being kind, it’s a sign that they’re a toxic partner. 

22. The relationship sits on your shoulders

In healthy relationships, the couple works together and gives equally to the relationship. But for your relationship, it all rests on your shoulders. [Read: The hidden signs of a one-sided relationship we all choose to ignore]

You need to give everything into it, while your partner sits back and chills. More importantly, it feels like whatever you do is not enough – and that’s because it will never be enough.

23. You catch them in many lies 

You’ve caught your partner in so many lies that you’re just feeling frustrated. When will this all end?

The first lie, so long as it wasn’t covering a hugely important truth, you could forgive. But when it becomes clear that all they do is lie to you, it breaks your trust. [Read: The biggest signs of a pathological liar and how to spot one]

Once the trust is broken, it takes a very long time and a lot of effort from your partner to restore it. And that’s just not happening. Basically, it’s nothing short of a toxic relationship.

24. You’ve forgotten how to say “no”

You can never say no. And in healthy relationships, ‘no’ is an important word. Compromise is always needed in a relationship; you can’t always do what your partner wants. 

But in this relationship, ‘no’ is seen as a negative word and an attack against your partner. [Read: Emotional dependency – Are you showing the signs of being overly dependent on one person?]

25. There’s no emotional responsibility 

The reason why you never resolve any conflict is because there’s no emotional responsibility on their end. 

They’re unable to accept responsibility for their actions and are looking for ways to point the finger at you. This is highly toxic as everything is and will always be your fault.

26. There’s a scorecard

Oh god, the relationship scorecard. In a relationship, a partner keeping score can be exhausting. [Read: How to fight fair in a relationship and feel closer]

When you argue, they continuously bring up things from the past and pile everything against you. 

Your partner should not do this. Bringing up the past constantly will only build resentment.

27. You have no privacy 

Everyone needs some amount of privacy. Your partner doesn’t need to know every conversation you have with your friends and what you talked about. [Read: 52 reasons why women stay in abusive relationships and how to get out]

They also don’t need to know every time you step out of the house. But your toxic partner checks all your receipts, goes through your phone, and makes sure they know exactly where you are. 

28. You’re left out of big decisions 

This is one of the major signs of a toxic relationship. When making a big decision, couples usually sit down and talk about it together. 

But your partner doesn’t consult you. They make decisions without your knowledge and never ask for your opinion or thoughts. [Read: Indecisiveness – When your inability to decide is a decision too]

They don’t see you as someone equal or someone they respect.

29. Controlling behavior

If you look at someone of the opposite sex or talk to someone you know on the street, your partner lashes out in anger and tries to control your behavior. 

The control can come in many forms like going through your phone, prohibiting you from seeing that person, etc. [Read: The worrying signs of control in a relationship that many people miss]

While this control is happening, they use the excuse of being jealous and loving you. It’s simply controlling and means you’re in a toxic relationship.

30. There’s abuse

If there’s ever any abuse happening in any way, it’s a toxic relationship. There’s no way around it. It wasn’t just “a bad day” or something “you deserved.” There’s no excuse for abusive behavior. 

We know you love this person, and it’s hard to accept that you’re being abused by someone who loves you. [Read: Are you overlooking these signs of emotional abuse in your relationship?]

But if this is happening, it’s abuse, and you should get out of this highly toxic relationship.

31. You feel tired all the time 

Having a new puppy or a newborn should leave you feeling exhausted, but being in a relationship shouldn’t. A happy and healthy relationship should not leave you feeling drained emotionally or physically.

If being with your partner leaves you feeling tired rather than energized, it is a sign of a toxic relationship. [Read: 20 ways to spot selfish people and stop them from hurting you]

32. You feel ashamed 

Toxic relationships control your actions. You will find yourself doing things you never thought you would do in a million years. Those things can really make you feel bad about yourself.

You may become so ashamed of your actions that your self-esteem takes a major hit. You’ll no longer view yourself as strong because you let this relationship take over your actions. 

33. If you’re honest with yourself, you don’t trust them

If you do not trust your partner, it is nearly impossible to come back from that, and vice versa. Sure, some people are just jealous or have trust issues but that can be worked on in the right circumstances. [Read: 23 early signs of a possessive man and the best ways to fix it ASAP]

But, in the wrong circumstance, trust issues and jealousy can turn toxic extremely fast. 

If your partner feels they can decide what you wear, who you see, where you go, or who you talk to that is not sweet, protective, or caring, it is toxic and controlling.

34. You’re not honest with your friends

This is a major sign of a toxic relationship. You might go from raving to your friends about your relationship to complaining and then staying quiet or even lying. [Read: Gray rock method – what it is, 23 secrets, and how to use it on a narcissist]

You know what they will say to you, and you don’t want to hear it. So, instead, you stay quiet and pretend everything is fine. Don’t be fooled, however, as your friends know you better than you think. 

35. They manipulate you 

This is a hard sign to spot because it is in and of itself controlling you without you knowing. When manipulated, you rarely spot it because the person manipulating you is so good at it.

If you look back at your actions and wonder why you did that or how you did it, you are being manipulated. [Read: 15 signs of manipulation in a relationship you should never ignore]

Look at some of the things that have happened in your relationship. What would you say if a friend told you that happened in their relationship? That’s a good question to ponder.

36. You feel you need to cancel other plans for them 

Sure, if your partner needs a ride to the hospital, cancel girl’s night, but apart from that, you should not feel like you need to put your partner first. You should never feel guilty for making plans with friends, family, or alone.

When your relationship is destroying or altering your other friendships, something is wrong. [Read: Controlling wife – 26 signs and effects of a bossy wife and ways to handle her]

37. You’re always waiting 

A healthy relationship has mutual respect and balance. You should both be giving and receiving. You should make time for each other. But does your partner only make time for you when it is convenient for them?

If you feel like you are always waiting for them to call, text, or see you, things are unbalanced. 

This is made worse when they expect you to drop everything at their command. This is not a relationship, it is romantic slavery. [Read: The consequences of making someone a priority when you’re only an option to them]

38. You feel scared

In relationships, we all fear it ending. And that is normal. But it is entirely toxic if you are scared of your partner’s reactions to you being late, burning dinner, telling a friend about your relationship, or anything.

You should never feel afraid of your partner for any reason. Sure, we all get nervous, but fear and nerves are not the same. 

You should feel safe in a healthy relationship. If you do not feel safe with your partner mentally, emotionally, or physically, get out now. [Read: Narcissistic sociopath – how they think, 31 signs, and ways to deal with them]

39. There is no respect

A relationship will never work without respect. Respect is having regard for each other’s feelings, thoughts, and humanity. Without respect, we become inhumane and toxic to each other.

If your relationship goes beyond the average argument and into territory that is even remotely disrespectful, it is not a relationship you want to be in. 

There is no excuse for your partner disrespecting you. Even during the worst of fights, respect should always have a place. [Read: 16 ways to find your respect in your relationship]

40. You are both angry

A major sign of a toxic relationship is constant fighting. Occasional anger is normal for relationships, but constant anger leads to rage, unhappiness, and regret.

Anger should not be the main contributor to your relationship. If it is, it is toxic for your health, both mentally and physically.

41. You avoid them when you need them the most 

Relationships are there for love and support. But if you cannot go to your partner in your time of need, then why be in a relationship? [Read: How to help someone up when they’re feeling down]

If you know that you’re not going to get the support you should get, that’s one of the major signs of a toxic relationship from the get-go.

42. You enjoy your time away from them 

Being single can be the best time of your life. You learn so much about yourself and enjoy freedom like nothing else. But as great as being single is, being in a healthy relationship should counterbalance all of that. If you often enjoy the time you spend alone and think about when you were single, that’s a pretty big red flag. 

You’re reminiscing on your single days because you’re just so unhappy in this toxic relationship. And no toxic relationship is ever worth it for any reason. No guilt, lack of confidence, or fear of loneliness is worth staying with someone that makes you so unhappy. [Read: Signs of emotional abuse you shouldn’t overlook]

43. You feel you need to change 

This may seem minor compared to the other signs of a toxic relationship, but it can eat away at you until you’ve entirely lost yourself.

A relationship should allow you to be comfortable with who you are. If you are afraid your partner won’t like you for you or will judge you for being you, that is not healthy. 

That is entirely toxic and can lead to a lot of issues that can seep into the rest of your life. [Read: Why you should run if you see these red flags early in a relationship]

44. You’re irritated around them 

If you walk into a room and are pretty much immediately annoyed simply because they’re there, it’s a bad sign. 

Your energy becomes toxic and harmful just by being around them. That’s a huge sign you need to get out of this relationship.

45. They insult you 

Obviously, insults are bad. They make you upset and bring down your self-esteem significantly. [Read: 16 signs it’s time to move on and end the relationship]

They’re even worse coming from someone who claims to care about you. If they put you down all the time, it’s one of the signs of a toxic relationship and it’s time to leave.

46. They make you feel stupid

This is a really, really bad sign that you’re in a toxic relationship. Condescending comments and remarks should never be tolerated. 

Learning how to know if your relationship is toxic is being able to take a step back and ask how you’d react if they made that comment to your friend. [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]

If it’s bad, then you know it’s time to call it quits.

47. They poke fun at your hobbies and interests

These things mean a lot to you. They’re everything to you, really. If your partner doesn’t think they’re important and actually makes fun of you for them, it’s time to bounce. They’re not good for you.

48. They don’t support your goals 

What’s the point of being with someone who never wants to see you succeed? If they’re not cheering you on and supporting your goals, it’s a toxic relationship. [Read: Signs your partner is truly supportive of your goals]

They may not try to actively stop you from achieving them, but not supporting you can be just as harmful.

49. You don’t spend intimate time together 

In other words, you never go on dates or enjoy each other’s company. Most likely, you sit on opposite ends of the couch while you scroll on your phone or watch a movie. 

That’s not quality time. The reason for this is probably because you know you’ll end up fighting if you spend too much time together. [Read: Spend quality time together and other tips to fix a broken relationship]

50. You always accuse each other of things

Another way to learn how to know if your relationship is toxic is if you play the blame game. Pointing fingers at each other for every little issue in your relationship won’t help anyone. 

You need to sit down and talk it out. If you can’t effectively communicate, your relationship won’t get far.

51. You feel the need to avoid them at times 

This should never happen. You should never, ever feel like you want to avoid your partner. They should make your life better. [Read: How to ignore people and avoid getting into a conversation with them]

You should want to be around them all the time. If you don’t, then it’s probably because they make you feel mad and negative.

52. You don’t do nice things for each other 

You both always need to be showing each other how much you care. 

When you stop doing this, resentment starts to build. This toxic emotion can turn even the healthiest of relationships into something horrible and unhealthy. [Read: 25 ways to make your lover feel appreciated and cared for]

53. You don’t know why you’re together 

If you question why you’re even with someone, then you probably shouldn’t be. Having a relationship so toxic that you can’t even see why you like the other person isn’t healthy for either of you. 

Get out now before things get so bad you can’t fix them for yourself.

How toxic love can permanently or severely damage your psyche

You might think it’s not a big deal if your partner picks on you from time to time. And while certain teasing is cute and fun, other comments could end up hurting you a lot more than you think. [Read: 21 secret signs that reveal a bad relationship]

Here are some ways toxic love can derail your mental health in long-lasting or even permanent ways:

1. You’ll have chronic anxiety, stress, and doubt

When you’re in a toxic relationship, anxiety, stress, and doubt run amuck. You’re constantly overthinking your own behavior and that of your partner. 

You never want to upset them and make them angry, so you’re worried about what you’re doing all the time. [Read: What it feels like to experience anxiety in a relationship]

This can have lasting effects and you could end up living with that anxiety long after you’ve ditched that toxic person.

2. You’ll have negative self-worth

In a toxic relationship, insecurity is increased immensely, and so your self-worth plummets. Your partner is continuously making you feel as though you’re not enough.

When you’re repeatedly put in that mindset, your brain will start to think it’s true. And the worst part is that it’s easier to become insecure than it is to build up that confidence again. In other words, the effects last a very long time. [Read: Low self-worth – 5 steps to see yourself in a better light]

3. You may harbor trust issues

Not being able to trust people is a major issue. If you can’t trust others, you won’t be able to form solid friendships or even other relationships. 

And since toxic love creates huge issues with trust, it’s just one of the lasting effects of such a negative relationship. [Read: How to get over trust issues]

4. You can become depressed

Depending on how severe your toxic relationship is, you can become depressed. Many unhealthy relationships separate you from your friends and the things you enjoy in life.

You’ll also have bigger issues with trust and insecurity and those things can easily cause you to become depressed. And depression is no joke. It’s a serious matter that can impact nearly every aspect of your life.

5. Your job can suffer

If you’re depressed and struggling with life in your relationship, that’s almost guaranteed to bleed over into your work life, too. [Read: Love or career – how to choose and make sure you’re not left feeling bitter]

That means your career can suffer greatly and you may not be able to advance or have the job you truly desire, all of which can impact your future in major ways.

6. Your health can decline

Because you can fall into depression and have anxiety, your health can suffer. 

You’re more likely to get sick and have to take off work because your immune system can be compromised with excessive anxiety and depression. [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]

7. Separation from family and friends

Your friends and family have probably already made their distaste for your relationship known. If that’s the case and you didn’t see the problem before, you probably grew apart from them.

This is very common with toxic love. Your other relationships can sometimes be permanently damaged because of your inability to see clearly in the relationship you’re in.

8. Future romantic relationships could be jeopardized

If you don’t think your current relationship could ever impact your future ones, think again. Toxic love can be a major problem in your love life down the road. [Read: How your first love can affect your future relationships]

Allowing someone to continuously make you feel awful will make it more difficult to trust others and form deeper connections later in life.

9. You can become overly negative

When you’re in such an unhealthy relationship, negativity will become your new norm. And that alone will cause major problems in your friendships, your work life, and your general outlook on life.

10. You may end up feeling as though you don’t deserve love 

This might be the worst impact toxic love can have on you long-term. When people are in unhealthy relationships, they’re often made to feel as though their partner loving them is some special thing. [Read: A real-life example of accepting the love you think you deserve]

Their significant other can manipulate them into thinking their love is rare and they won’t get that love from anyone else. 

This can make a person feel like they don’t deserve love and, as a consequence, stop pursuing love in all forms.

11. Name-calling and put-downs

It is never healthy to criticize, put down, insult, or engage in name-calling. All of these things create a toxic environment. This can happen from both people or just one. [Read: Am I in an abusive relationship? 66 signs, effects, and ways to get out]

All of these things will just chip away at people’s self-esteem. It’s nothing but negative energy, and it drains someone of all their joy and happiness. It also can cause permanent damage to someone’s emotional state.

12. Financial restrictions

Toxic relationships are also abusive. Abuse comes in many forms, such as mental, emotional, and physical. And part of emotional and mental abuse is restricting someone’s finances.

This can come in the form of not letting someone work so they don’t have their own money to just controlling their money if they do. [Read: How to talk about money with your partner without fighting about it]

The victim might be given some sort of tiny “allowance” to make them feel like they have “access” to money, but they really don’t.

13. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person causes someone else to question their own sanity, memories, or perception of reality. This leaves victims feeling confused, anxious, and feeling like they can’t trust themselves.

For example, someone might say, “What are you talking about? That never happened.” [Read: Gaslighting – What it is, how it works and 22 signs to spot it ASAP]

Or they might deny personal responsibility and pretend that they forgot what happened, saying they didn’t do it or blaming someone else.

14. Threats of self-harm

Not surprisingly, most people who are in toxic relationships are not happy. How could they be in that sort of environment? Because of that, some people might have thoughts of self-harm or even suicide.

So, when this happens, the person might resort to threatening self-harm to their partner.

They do this for a variety of reasons, some of which are personal to them as an individual. But it is definitely because their psyche is damaged. [Read: Emotional abuse -what it is and 39 signs this relationship is breaking you]

15. Physical violence

When many people think of toxic relationships, they think of abuse. And this is most certainly true. While not all toxic relationships involve physical violence, many of them do.

When this happens, the abuser has a damaged psyche, or else they wouldn’t be resorting to physical violence. And of course, the effect it has on the victim is damaging to them as well – even more so.

Is it possible to fix a toxic relationship?

After reading this feature, you might have concluded that you are, indeed, in a toxic relationship. Now that you know, what should you do? [Read: Happily ever after – How to find yours and keep it]

First, how you approach it depends on how long you have been in the relationship. If you’re newly dating this person, then it’s advisable to end it immediately. The longer you stay in it, the more it will continue.

If you are married or living together and have been together for a long time, then it will be more difficult to get out of the relationship. 

You also need to determine whether or not you think it can be fixed or not. Even if you want to fix it, maybe your partner doesn’t want to – or doesn’t even admit that their behavior is toxic. [Read: 20 honest signs it’s time to give up on a relationship and stop trying to fix it]

If you’re ready to face the fact that you’re in an unhealthy relationship and you want to try to fix it – or to get out before things get too bad – here are some things you can do:

1. Acceptance of responsibility

As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” In other words, relationships are a two-way street. The dynamic that develops between two people is the result of both of their actions.

With that said, this does not mean that you are to blame for the toxicity in your relationship – unless you are. [Read: 20 secrets to stop being selfish and ways to stop hurting and using others]

Sometimes people aren’t very self-aware and therefore don’t know how their actions affect other people. 

2. Willingness to invest

You can’t fix anything if you don’t put in the commitment and effort, and relationships are no different. So, not only do you need to be 100% willing to invest the time, your partner needs to be too.

You see, relationships can’t be one-sided. Both people need to put in equal amounts of work. [Read: Committed relationship – 59 signs and ways to show you commitment in love]

And that also includes changing your behaviors and attitudes. It’s not easy to do, but if you want it badly enough, it can be done.

3. Shift from blaming to understanding

Blaming is a big part of toxic relationships. Usually, one or both people don’t want to look deep inside themselves and take personal responsibility for their actions.

It’s bad enough if one person in the relationship does this. But if it’s both, that’s even worse. [Read: How to show empathy and learn to understand someone else’s feelings]

So, instead of blaming each other, you need to try to have some empathy so you can understand them. Try to see situations from their point of view, not just your own. Once you have empathy in a relationship, things will greatly improve.

4. Hold space for your partner to change

You might not believe that it’s possible for your partner to change, but that’s not necessarily true. Yes, it’s very rare for someone to change their personality and whole persona, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

So, you need to have faith and hope that change can happen. But that also means that you might have to change yourself, too. [Read: Should I give up on him? 25 signs he won’t change or be a good fit]

5. Don’t dwell on the past

If both of you really, truly want to fix a toxic relationship, then you need to leave the past in the past. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t look back and learn from your mistakes, however.

Instead, you should look at what you can do better, but don’t dwell on what you did wrong – or what your partner did wrong.

You can’t change the past, so don’t live there. Just look to making the necessary, positive improvements today and in the future. [Read: How to let go of a relationship that’s bad for you]

6. Openness to outside help

You may not be getting along with your friends and family, but they’ll always be willing to help you get away from something awful for you.

And if you still have a healthy relationship with all of them, that’s even better.

Talk to them and let them know how you’re feeling. They can offer you solutions and just be there to help you get through this really difficult time. [Read: Tumultuous relationship – 20 signs you’re in one and the best ways to fix it]

7. Talk to your partner

If you don’t feel safe doing this by yourself, have someone in your support system go with you. Tell them you can’t be with someone who’s so bad for you and then leave. Don’t allow them to try and get you to stay.

If the relationship is bad enough to be affecting your life in such a negative manner, you can’t even work things out. You need to just step away from the relationship and end things for good.

8. Talk to a therapist

If you were in a negative relationship for too long, you may have some of the lasting effects we discussed. [Read: Relationship therapy – 25 clues to know if it’ll help your romance]

 You might not be able to work through things by yourself and that’s perfectly okay. Seek professional help in the form of a therapist or psychologist so you can start healing.

Why is it hard to leave a toxic relationship?

If you’re not in a toxic relationship, you might wonder why people stay. You are probably thinking, “who in the world would put up with this behavior?” Well, a lot of people would – and do.

There are many reasons people find it difficult to leave a toxic relationship, and here are the top three. [Read: How to break up with a narcissist and fly out of their gilded cage]

1. Low self-esteem

Someone who has high self-esteem and loves themselves would never put up with a toxic relationship. 

But people who have low self-esteem do. They might think that they deserve the abuse or that no one else would want them.

2. Fear of being alone

Believe it or not, there are many people in the world who fear being single and alone. In fact, they fear it so much that they would rather stay in a toxic relationship than be free of the abuse. [Read: How to be happy alone and 20 reasons relationships are overrated]

So, the fear of being alone is greater than the fear of their partner.

3. Financial dependency

If someone is married or living with the person they are in a toxic relationship with, then their finances are intertwined. 

It’s not easy to live alone and support yourself unless you have a well-paying job. So, many choose to stay because their partner helps financially support them. [Read: Dependent personality disorder – what it is and how to read the signs]

How to get over a toxic relationship

If you were in a toxic relationship but were brave enough to end it, then you can get over it and move on. It’s not always easy, but it can be done. Here are some things you can do:

1. Reflect on the relationship

In order to put toxic relationships behind you for good, you need to do an “autopsy” or analysis of the relationship you just left. What went wrong? When did it go wrong?

What behaviors were toxic? Who was more toxic, your partner, you, or both? What should have been done differently? These are all important questions to ask. [Read: How to get over a bad breakup and start feeling really good again]

2. Reflect on yourself

Not only should you reflect on the past relationship, but you should also take a long, hard look at yourself too.

If you engaged in toxic behavior yourself, why do you act that way? What is it within yourself that made you think it was acceptable?

If only your partner was the toxic one, then why did you allow them to treat you poorly? Why didn’t you love and respect yourself enough to stop them the first time they did anything wrong?

You need to know these answers so that it doesn’t happen again. [Read: How to let go of a relationship – 17 things you need to do to walk away unhurt]

3. Reassess your deal-breakers

One of the reasons that you found yourself in a toxic relationship is likely because you probably didn’t do a lot of soul-searching trying to figure out what you will and won’t put up with.

So, you need to figure out what are your deal-breakers from now on. You should write down a list of must-haves along with the deal-breakers so that you know what you look for next time. That way, you won’t waste your time again.

4. Take a break from relationships for awhile

In order to move on from a toxic relationship, you really shouldn’t jump right into another one. It’s a good idea to take a break from dating and relationships for a while. [Read: How to take a break from dating and imagine a better future]

Right now, you need to work on yourself. You need to start loving yourself enough so that you don’t put up with toxic behavior from people anymore. 

Get to know yourself on a deep level. This is something that most people don’t do. But it’s not only possible but necessary in order to have happy, healthy, loving relationships in the future.

5. Meet new people

While you’re taking time off from dating and relationships, try going out and meeting new people. You need to meet people who know how to be kind and loving to you. And that includes new friends. [Read: How to meet new people – 16 exciting ways to find a new crowd]

Try joining Meetup groups or taking some classes to learn new skills. You probably need to discover a whole new crowd of positive people to hang out with.

6. Seek professional help 

It’s difficult for a lot of people to do self-reflection on their own. So, if you have a hard time answering the questions we posed above, then you might want to see a therapist who can help you work through them with you.

If you can’t afford a professional or are uncomfortable talking to a stranger, you can always ask your friends and family to help you too. They know you well, and they can also help you work through this and move on. [Read: 25 honest, self-reflection questions to recognize the real YOU inside]

7. Do things differently next time

Once you have taken the appropriate steps and time to reflect on yourself and what you want out of a relationship, then you can start dating again.

However, you can’t repeat your past mistakes if you want to have a healthier relationship. You have to take what you learned about yourself and your toxic relationship and do things differently with the next person. 

Be on the lookout for the red flags early on.

[Read: How to recognize and end toxic relationships]

After reading the signs, what do you think? Are you in a toxic relationship? If you feel that you are in one, it’s time for you to make a change.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...