If you're looking for signs of a toxic relationship, you probably suspect you have some unhealthy patterns in your relationship. Or you may want to ensure that your relationship stays healthy.
By recognizing the signs of a toxic relationship, you can avoid a lot of the problems that people run into in relationships.
Let's face it, almost every single person will have a bad relationship at some point in their life. We learn from the bad ones - so that we can come to a good one and make it even better.
- You might find yourself arguing with your boyfriend over and over and over again.
- You might find yourself caught in a cycle of breaking up and coming back to him over and over again...
This may not be a toxic relationship, but it's something you should be watching for.
Which brings us to the first and most important question:
What is a toxic relationship?
The simplest definition of a toxic relationship is this:
A toxic relationship is where your feelings of self-worth and belief in your value is damaged.
Any relationship that makes you feel less about yourself should be considered toxic.
However, if you already have self esteem issues, self-worth issues, or problems to begin with, it may not be the relationship that's at fault.
It's probably also better if you avoid romantic relationships if you are trying to work on yourself or make up for some feeling of inadequacy. There are millions of people out there right now with genuine emotional issues that should not be in a relationship.
However, we all feel entitled to a relationship with someone. And there's no reason why you can't have love in your life.
But you also have to attend to the personal issues or you will constantly be seeking help.
The truth is that your relationship might be toxic because of a few factors:
- He might be toxic - someone who just isn't ready or capable to have a healthy relationship
- You might have a bit of toxic going on in your life
- The dynamic between you and him might be toxic - you might be okay people on your own, but you're just a bad combination together
- Your timing might be off - and your fighting against the impossible is creating a toxic situation
Another important distinction is the difference between a toxic relationship and an abusive relationship.
A toxic relationship affects your self-esteem and adversely affects your emotional health and well-being.
An abusive relationship is much worse. It not only affects your self-esteem, it can result in physical injury. And it can also create severe emotional health issues. It's not uncommon for someone who is being emotionally abused to be suicidal, depressed, and very unstable. Sometimes it's even hard to go to work or function in the world.
Signs of a Toxic Relationship
Keep in mind that these signs are warnings for BOTH you and him in the relationship. Sometimes we don’t notice when our boundaries have been pushed or erased.
Yes, you could be just as guilty as he is of these signs. Sometimes we get pulled into really unhealthy situations. Notice this and take steps to fix it immediately.
You might act out of panic or fear without even noticing it.
So be on the lookout for these signs in yourself, too.
Sign #1: You don't have a say
Ultimately in any mature relationship you should have the right to participate. Meaning that it's not the 1800 s. Women should be participating in the relationship just as much as the man is.
But if you find your relationship is not honoring your participation, meaning that big decisions are made but you aren't a part of them, that's an issue.
He should value your opinions and ideas every bit as much as his own. Especially when it comes to big decisions.
Sign #2: Nothing Is Private
If your boyfriend tends to go through your correspondence, your phone, your private stuff, this shows a really unhealthy boundary. It also might show some possessiveness and overly jealous behavior.
It's extremely toxic if you can't have your privacy within your relationship. Remember that this is something that you define for yourself.
You set the terms of your own level of comfort within a relationship. If you're struggling to accommodate all of his needs and bending over backwards to meet them, you're going to give up your boundaries and it's going to turn unhealthy really quick.
Sign #3: Lies lies lies…!
Let's be real - when your relationship has dishonesty and lying at the core of it, it is definitely a toxic relationship.
Honesty is essential for healthy relationships, that should come as no surprise. You have to be able to communicate without deception. If your relationship is based on the lying, it can only end up one way: Toxic.
Sign #4: A lack of mutual support
Something that a healthy relationship should have is a balance of nurturing. Neither person should have the monopoly on having to provide nurturing for the other person.
If you find that his life and his problems always take a front seat, you also may be dealing with a narcissist. At the very least, the relationship will go in a toxic direction.
Sign #5: None of your problems gets resolved
One of the key indicators of a toxic relationship is when you keep coming back to the same problems over and over again.
If you don't feel like you resolve anything, that shows that you are both probably sweeping a lot of your issues under the rug. You may give them lip service, and talk a little bit, but there's no significant change.
You have to be able to work to a resolution for your bigger issues.
Especially if you don't see your needs getting met. Or if you can't meet his needs.
This is usually the battleground where our problems show up. Unmet needs.
Sign #6: Passive aggressive, indirect communication
You may have heard about passive aggressive behavior in relationships.
It goes something like this:
You do something he doesn't like. Instead of bringing this up in a healthy way, he says something like this: “Fine. Whatever.”
And then he proceeds to give you the silent treatment. you might even asked him “What's wrong?” To which he replies: “Nothing. I’m not mad.” When he clearly is.
(You may have even done this a few times yourself, right?)
No one has the monopoly on this behavior.
When someone acts like this, they're just expressing their anger indirectly. And then shutting down so that no repair can be made in the relationship. It's basically a strategy of control.
If you noticed that the reality of your relationship is often denied like this, the relationship can rapidly spiral out of control.
This is a huge sign of a toxic relationship. Watch for it, and then be prepared to push for authentic communication to get past it.
If he doesn't open up or lower his defenses, so that you can discuss it, you should consider leaving the relationship. Because it won't get better.
Sign #7: Physical or verbal abuse
There's no two ways about it - if you are verbally or physically abused, it's toxic.
It's a deal breaker.
Get out of the relationship right now. There is no fixing it or saving it.
It's probably even worse if you see this and still resist leaving. That shows you're probably addicted to the abuse or actively feeding the unhealthy process.
Sign #8: You never really seemed to be on the same side
One of the essential qualities of a good relationship is that you're both on the same team. If you get married and have children, you absolutely need to be fighting for the same cause and supporting each other.
If you find that you are constantly on the opposite side of the fence from each other, whether that's opinions, arguments, siding with families or friends, you should immediately look at it.
This kind of adversarial relationship doesn't stand much of a chance. I've seen some people who stayed together for decades in this kind of relationship. Usually one of them dies from some kind of disease caused by this kind of constant fighting, bickering, and unhappiness.
Sign #9: You're both keeping the score - too much
Look, being in a relationship means that you essentially have to be on the same team. You not only have to fight for what you want together, you have to choose to do this everyday.
If you find that you are both keeping a hidden “score” with each other, it's a sure sign of toxicity.
For example, you know exactly how many fights you won.
- Or you know exactly how many times he's called you that name you don't like.
- Or he keeps a running score…
Whatever the cause may be, you have to let that go. Because it's showing that you're more interested in being right than being in love. And that's a dangerous place to be in a relationship.
Sign #10: You're the one making all the concessions
If you discover that you are the one putting in all the work, and making all the compromises, there's a good sign you've been put in a very bad position in your relationship.
Here we are again, back again with fighting on the same team. It's SO important!
If you're really in this relationship together, you both have to make sacrifices. You both have to put the work in.
And if you find yourself arguing to stay in the relationship because you figure eventually 'it has to pay off, face up to it.' Well, he never has to pay off. And it never has to get better.
If you find yourself over-committing to relationships, that's something you should work on for yourself. Especially if you get into relationships where this pattern is repeated over and over again.
Sign #11: He's not showing up
One of the easiest signs of a toxic relationship is when a man isn't giving to the relationship as much as you are.
He's got to show up just as much as you do.
Normally this isn't a toxic situation. It's simply a red flag that you got a guy who doesn't get it when it comes to relationships.
But if you let this continue, it becomes a habit. It becomes the atmosphere of your relationship.
And you may find yourself doing all the work soon. Which gets you invested in a relationship that isn't paying off for you.
You'll become resentful and yet addicted to the relationship at the same time.
That's when it becomes toxic.
Sign #12: You're always bracing
- Bracing yourself physically means that you are tensing up your body in preparation for something to happen. Something bad usually.
- Bracing yourself emotionally means that you are constantly “clenched” in your feelings. Which is also a really bad thing.
If you find that you are bracing yourself in your relationship a lot, this is another sign of a toxic relationship that you have to look at.
That constant feeling of always waiting for something bad to happen is never a good thing. It's especially bad if you feel this feeling right after something good happens in your relationship.
Meaning, you're always on alert for the next bad event in your relationship.
Check your physiology when you're with your man. If you notice that you are frequently tense or ill at ease, this could be an indication that you already have an unhealthy toxic pattern with him.
Sign #13: Constant Jealousy
Jealousy is another evil force in relationships. If you find that you are constantly jealous of him, or he is constantly jealous of you, this is a toxic situation.
It shows that there's very little trust between you. And a TON of insecurity about where you stand with each other.
You have to look at the core of your jealousy issues. Is this something you experience in your relationships a lot?
If it's just him, you have to get to the core of his insecurities as well, before jealous emotions start to dominate your relationship.
Sign #14: Constant Cheating
Even worse, is when you or him have a problem staying faithful to each other.
If you're unable to foster a healthy monogamous relationship, you should probably either not date or agree to date other people. When someone cannot stay true to their primary relationship, they are attending to other ego and self-esteem issues.
Obviously this can't create a healthy relationship. And the constant cheating will only make it a volatile battleground.
Sign #15: He’s a Control Freak
If a guy likes to control too much of your relationship, you will start to feel the pressure.
And not only this, but if he needs all that control, that says a lot about his security and confidence in himself.
Controlling men create dysfunctional, toxic relationships.
And you must also watch out for your desire to control HIM in the relationship, too!
Sign #16: Poor Money Skills
This is a huge problem in a lot of relationships, and it stacks up the odds against you. If you don’t manage your money in healthy ways, the relationship will suffer.
Take a class or two on money management yourself so that you aren’t reliant on someone else to keep your finances straight.
And insist on participating in the financial aspects of your relationship.
Sign #17: Relationship Abandonment
When you no longer attend to your healthy relationships (family & friends) because of the way your love relationship is structured, that’s toxic.
If you’re not seeing your family much, or you’re not hanging out with friends because your love relationship demands so much of you, this is unhealthy.
Keep a balance in your life.
Sign #18: Isolation
One of the Ways you lose focus of balance and the outside world is when your relationship isolates you from everyone else. It's tempting to just hibernate with your boyfriend, but you have to stay social as well.
Watch out for isolation into your relationship. Stay social and connected.
Sign #19: Intimidation & Fear Tactics
This is borderline abuse. In fact, in many cases it's just plain abuse.
Your relationship is a place for love and openness. If you find that your partner is using fear and intimidation to control you, it's a toxic relationship.
If you feel like you're being held an emotional hostage, you need to escape. Seek help.
Sign #20: Name-calling, threats, including possible physical harm
Of course these are the tools of emotional intimidation. And these three are a sure sign that you are not only being controlled by your partner, they indicate emotional abuse at the very least.
It's up to you to keep a firm boundary and defend your right to a healthy connection.
If you're noticing this kind of pattern - name calling, threats, and the fear of physical harm - seek help.
Sign #21: You’re Reading About Toxic Relationship Signs!
Yeah, this one should be the biggest one of all. I understand that you might just be curious, you just want to know what might indicate this.
Maybe you just want to reassure yourself that you're in a good relationship. We all read reviews for movies that we've already seen just to confirm our stand.
But if you're reading about the signs that shows that you have a concern. If you find that you do have a few of these signs with him, you should be thinking about how to work on your relationship.
I also have to point out that if your relationship is truly ”toxic,” you might want to just forgo the work and leave.
I say this knowing that almost no woman would actually do it. Something I'm noticing is just how few women are willing to simply drop a bad relationship on its ass.
It may sound a little cold, but the best attitude is to dump more men than you keep. You'll learn how to be picky, you'll have a good frame of reference, and you'll also avoid a scarcity mindset.
It's not hard to find a relationship.
And it IS hard to get out of a bad relationship.
But it can be nearly impossible to fix a toxic relationship.
How Do I Fix a Toxic Relationship?
First of all you have to know whether or not it's a relationship worth saving.
How do you know if a toxic relationship is worth saving?
Here are a few signs:
- Willingness to work on it - if he shows you constant and substantial effort to work on your relationship, you may have the foundation to improve it. However, if his willingness starts to fade, you have to be willing to abandon the relationship. You have to be able to let go.
- Everyone takes responsibility - Both of you have to be willing to take responsibility for the past patterns that got you here. And you must both work together to break those patterns in the future. If he is not willing to admit that he has a part in this, or you don't think you have a part in it, it's very unlikely that you can fix it.
- Stop the blame-storming - One of the most obvious indicators of a relationship in trouble is when both sides can only blame each other. When all you do is point the finger of blame, you can never get to the point of taking responsibility and then working on it. So this is essentially your very first step. Get rid of the blaming!
- You can call for help - It's very likely that you can't do this alone. Both of you may have to seek outside professional help. A therapist or relationship counselor is essential. It's also essential that you have your own therapist that you're working with. You have to be doing individual work as well as your relationship work.
When you're ready to move forward here are some more steps you can take:
- Tap into your compassion - Don't just assume the worse, engage your heart in the process!
- Make a vow to work on your communication and never stop - Critical if you want to reach him...
- Make sure you're accountable - both sides have to own up to their responsibilities. And you have to be willing to point out when either one of you is not living up to them.
- Let go of the past - Don't deny it, but also don't hold on to the grievances that don't move you forward...
While a toxic relationship can be saved, I want to warn you against clinging to this hope. Usually what happens is that a toxic relationship has at least one toxic PERSON in it. And that means that the person has to change before the relationship will.
Remember that it’s a short step to go from “toxic” to “abusive.”
You have to watch your relationship boundaries and keep yourself in a healthy place no matter what.
It’s easy to get addicted to a relationship. You put in so much effort to make it work, and that’s hard to walk away from.
But walk away you MUST.
There are hundreds of millions of men that are out there ready for a relationship. These are men who aren’t toxic. And who you don’t have to struggle to connect with.
Instead of chasing the unattainable, why not put your energy where it belongs? With a man who will love and protect you.
The hardest part is not knowing what to do next.
It can seem confusing, trying to figure men out on your own. Much less how to get him to see what you have to offer him!
If you’d like to discover how to attract the right man, The One, into your life, it's CRITICAL:
You need to know what to do next!
I've just put the finishing touches on my "Relationship Rx: Dating Diagnosis Quiz"
You can find out RIGHT NOW what to do next in YOUR relationship!
Go take the quiz now!