Every Relationship has its own set of ups and downs. But even with their flaws, healthy relationships work better— you feel good as an individual and confront problems with your partner as they arise. A healthy relationship takes you to a better mental space where you feel safe, respected, and loved. But if your Relationship is doing the exact opposite and you feel drained out as a person, you might be in what we call a “toxic relationship”.

Often, the line between a healthy and a toxic relationship is so thin that it’s hard to identify, even with the most obvious signs. The most independent, strong people can fall for such unhealthy patterns; even before they realize it, they are stuck in the endless loop of a toxic relationship.

These relationships can be physically and emotionally damaging, with a cycle of constant conflicts and the need to control your partner. According to Dr Kelly Campbell, a professor of psychology and human development at California State University, San Bernardino, “If you find your partner is controlling how you spend money, who you hang out with, how you dress, or any other decisions, take it as a big red flag.”

We understand identifying the signs of a toxic relationship can be challenging, especially when all you want is a happily ever after. But if you think you can be stuck in a toxic relationship, this article gives you all the insights you may need to identify the patterns and do what’s best for you.

Table of Contents

What Is A Toxic Relationship?

Even though people often use the word “toxic” around relationships casually, it gets more complicated as we go into the deeper layers. Toxic relationships are built on mutually unhealthy behaviour that can harm both partners physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Ironically, these kinds of relationships create a more profound emotional dependency within partners for each other, and they find it hard to leave the relationship even when they are unhappy. Love gets replaced by the need for emotional control, and partners start neglecting the value of each other.

Let’s admit no relationship is perfect— all relationships can get toxic. But acknowledging and addressing the issues differentiates a healthy bond from an unhealthy one.

17 Signs Of a Toxic Relationship

Ask yourself these questions— Are you always the first to apologize? Do you constantly feel disrespected? Are you uncomfortable sharing all your thoughts with your partner? Do you feel controlled?

The definition of unhealthy relationships can be open to interpretation, but if you relate to the above questions, these can be the early signs of your Relationship growing toxic.

Here are 17 signs that can help you recognize and address a toxic relationship safely.

1. Your Partner Doesn’t Respect You

Respect is the foundation of all relationships, but if you feel the lack of it with your partner, it can be a sign of a toxic Relationship.

Taking you for granted, forgetting important events, and denying your due attention can all be signs of disrespect. They may not respect your boundaries and shame you when you try to stand up for yourself. While partners sometimes get angry, constantly blaming you and dismissing your feelings are red flags.

2. Your Partner Tries To Control You

A toxic partner doesn’t respect your boundaries. They try to control your actions and beliefs as a projection of their image. If you feel obliged to give in to everything your partner wants, even if it doesn’t align with your thoughts, you are in an unhealthy bond to keep your partner happy. Controlling behaviour can lower your self-esteem as you start doubting your thoughts and the power you have over your life.

A controlling partner doesn’t care about your feelings and can lead you to abandon your worth. As Wendy Behary, a specialist in narcissism and high-conflict couples therapy, explains, “You feel you have to forfeit your voice, your opinion, your wishes and wants, and your own needs.”

3. Your Sense Of Self-Worth Is Declining

When you constantly feel blamed and not appreciated in a relationship, it also affects your mental well-being. Having a partner who cannot see your worth makes it almost impossible to see it yourself. They will constantly put you down, judge you, and ignore you.

If you find yourself fighting hard to make your partner see your value, try and shift your energy into different things. We often start perceiving ourselves through our partner’s eyes, which makes us emotionally weak.

4. You Don’t Feel Supported

Good partners help each other become a better version of themselves and are the most extensive support systems apart from family and friends. But in a toxic relationship, you will often struggle to validate your thoughts and emotions. No matter what you try to accomplish, a toxic partner will hold you back and will never treat you as an equal.

Say, for instance, you want to pursue your passion as a  career. Do you feel supported by your decision? Or does your partner seem uninterested or pessimistic about the situation?

If your partner doesn’t value your decisions, it’s time to reconsider how you want to be treated. 

5. Your Partner Doesn’t Trust You

A healthy relationship makes you feel secure and brings stability to your life. You rely on your partner, and they do the same. But if the Relationship doesn’t remain two-way, it may be a sign of toxicity.

Consider asking these questions to yourself— “Do you feel hesitant to share your daily details with your partner?”, “Do they react possessively or aggressively when you do something on your own?”, “Does your partner keep checking your phone, emails, and invade your personal space?” 

Trust is one of the essential pillars of a healthy relationship; if you lack it, you will eventually feel suffocated.

6. Aggressive Communication

Communication is the key to a healthy relationship. But when communication turns into endless arguments, it can make the bond toxic. Your partner may hold grudges against you that come out as aggression during a conversation.

They may not want to understand your point of view but instead keep putting you in the guilt spot. Any argument’s goal is no longer to solve the problem but to blame you.

7. You Let Go Of Your Usual Self-Care

You stop caring about things you loved once and feel like you are compromising in the Relationship. Don’t defend your partner if you constantly see these signs— it’s essential to sit down and confront them openly about the changes you have been feeling. No relationship is perfect, but it’s essential to understand if partners are willing to work on those problems together.

8. Your Needs Are Ignored

Do you feel that you are not valued enough? Does your partner dismiss you whenever you try to tell them what they did wrong? Chances are your partner doesn’t care enough about your needs and feelings. You feel isolated from your emotions and may often end up mentally wrecked.

9. You Are Always The Wrong One

You can never win any argument with a toxic partner. They will always manipulate you to believe you are disappointing them or hurting their feelings. This cycle can build constant guilt inside your mind; no matter how hard you try, you can never be good enough.

10. Frequent Lies

If your partner frequently lies to you, it’s a sign that they don’t respect you enough. When partners cannot trust each other, it grows into insecurity and instability in a relationship. Gaslighting is a common sign of manipulation in toxic relationships to make the victim doubt their idea of reality. 

11. Violence Or Sexual Abuse

In some cases, toxicity is very evident through physical abuse— acts of violence or any aspect that jeopardize your sense of physical security. This can include forcing your partner to do chores even when you are ill, manipulating you to restrict your diet, or withholding food.

Abusive partners may also frequently abuse you under the influence of alcohol or force you to consume drugs. They may hit you or insert force to build fear and control. Either way, any form of physical abuse can lead to profound trauma and can have long-term consequences.

Sexual abuse is another major problem in extremely toxic relationships— using fear, shame, or guilt to control you sexually may lead to physical abuse. For instance, your partner may touch you without your consent or make you feel bad about not getting intimate. Not using a condom despite the partner insisting on it is a common but significant red flag.

It would be best if you did not stay silent about these signs and instead consider ending the Relationship. It’s important to know that there’s nothing to be scared of, and you have the full authority to choose better.

12. You Are Never On The Equal Footing

Your partner will never treat you as an equal and may prohibit you from doing things that are natural to them.

Are you expected to do the chores after work even when they never do them? Does your partner constantly make your career choices? Do they frequently take “breaks” from the Relationship according to their needs?

These signs can mean your partner doesn’t treat you as his equal. It’s better to consider the depth of your situation and take a final call. 

13. Manipulation

Manipulation to prove you guilty or keep you under control is a common sign in toxic relationships. Your partner may constantly play the victim or give you silent treatment to trigger your guilt. Such partners can also use the past relationships and trauma you have shared with them in an argument only to prove you wrong. Triangulation is one of the most profound forms of toxicity where partners bring a third person to make you feel insecure or manipulate you to get what they want.

14. Jealousy 

Your partner may become jealous of you and never support your achievements because it triggers their insecurities. If this has repeatedly been happening, it can signify a toxic relationship.

15. Infidelity

Lying and infidelity can be very hurtful and often as damaging as physical abuse. Toxic partners do not care about hurting you and will make false promises if caught. On the other hand, you may feel too dependent on leaving them or get stuck in the false hope of changing them.

In most cases, cheaters do not intend to fix things and revert to their standard patterns, thus making infidelity a cycle in toxic relationships.

16. Parental Intervention

Parents play a crucial role in their children’s dating life, but intervention beyond a point can make things toxic. For instance, your partner’s family may constantly invade your Relationship’s privacy, or your partner may never take your side during any argument. These signs can escalate rapidly in any bond and create insecurity and isolation.

17. Forceful Keeping

When you try to call off a toxic relationship, your partner may suddenly start giving you affection or use emotional manipulation to keep you. However, get back to standard patterns once you agree. Some partners can threaten to damage your image or personal relationships. Don’t ignore these signs, and try talking to your close ones. These relationships often make you feel isolated, but it’s important to remember that you have the needed support.