29 Signs of a Potentially Toxic Relationship

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Photo by Christopher Windus

Toxic people exist almost everywhere – at work, in your circle of friends, in your family, and even in your relationship. Sometimes, this toxic person is the one that is the most difficult to deal with because you’ve chosen him or her to love with all your heart.

There are times when people think that they are one of the few fortunate individuals to deserve love, only to find out that what they have was never real. Most of the time, it’s already too late to realize that what they have mistaken for as love has ultimately ruined them.

There’s no need to feel bad because we are only humans full of love, and sometimes our big hearts make us blind to what’s really happening in front of us.

How will you know you’re in a toxic relationship?

You would easily observe these obvious (but sometimes almost unnoticeable) signs:

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1. Being loyal means not going out with your old friends anymore.

Have you been accused of cheating just because you went out with your old friends for a drink? How about being called unfaithful just because you replied to a friendly text message? Loyalty never means that you can’t talk to anyone but your significant other (SO). If you are told otherwise, then you know something should change.

Always wanting to be together is different from shutting your world down so that you can give all the time to your partner. Bear in mind that a relationship is composed of two complete individuals. Your world is supposed to be complete, and you are in a relationship because you are ready to share this completeness with others.

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly sweet effect of the “you are my world” idea. Keep the other circles of your life running while maintaining your relationship. If any of your life circles gets forcibly shut down because of your relationship, you are in a smothering one. Know that it is unhealthy.

2. You’re always being told to wear this and not that.

Imagine if you can’t even wear your style anymore because it’s too “revealing” and “flirty.” Some may say that your partner is just overprotective, and others even think that it’s cute – but if you think about it, your personal style is an expression of yourself. Limiting you from this freedom is both wrong and unnecessary.

3. You have lost your confidence in yourself.

When was the last time you’ve felt that you are strong and confident? When your relationship makes you lose your self-esteem and turns you into a shy, socially anxious, and reluctant person, then something must have gone wrong along the way.

“What are my shortcomings?”

“Am I worthy of being replaced?”

“Am I not enough?”

Those are just some examples of questions you ask yourself if you’re having self-doubt while in a relationship. If your partner is flipping the table and making you and your shortcomings an excuse to cover up for the foul acts he engaged in, reconsider your relationship. Couples accept each other’s flaws and adjust if adjustments are justifiable and necessary. Issues are not supposed to be used to degrade each other’s intrinsic values.

4. You are always called names and awful labels when they’re angry.

It’s normal for couples to fight and argue. However, someone who truly loves you won’t even dare to call you names – terrible names that affect how you see yourself and hurt you to the core. What’s more terrible is when everything has been said and done, they will come to you as nothing happened. No apologies, no regrets, nothing.

5. You can’t go out alone unless you’re together.

Going outside? If you’ve ever been called a bad girlfriend (or boyfriend) because you can have fun and plan a night out without your significant other, then you have to reexamine your relationship. However, if you mutually want to be always together, why not?

Signs of a Potentially Toxic Relationship
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6. You feel trapped.

That helpless feeling of being in a situation you can never get away from can be emotionally draining. You feel trapped and alone, and even the mere attempt of telling your close friends and your family members about how you’re doing is considered a form of betrayal – at least according to your significant other.

7. You’re scared for your life whenever you’ve done something wrong.

You don’t have the normal fights that couples typically experience, and instead of a constructive argument, you get physically and emotionally reprimanded. Most of the time, you feel scared for your life because arguments are often loud, violent, and emotionally traumatic.

8. You no longer think you’re worthy of anything.

Toxic relationships can often turn people into lifeless and depressed individuals. Most of the time, they would not even think of themselves as someone worthy of love and respect. They would accept whatever is thrown at them, loyally following and obeying their partner’s wishes even if it’s against theirs.

9. Your dreams are undervalued and your ambitions ridiculed.

Some types of relationships often come in this form. When your significant other belittle your ambition and thinks that your dream is too simple and shallow, you’ll know that you’re in the presence of a condescending and toxic person.

You should keep the circles of your life running, and you should also keep reaching your dreams. Your partner is supposed to be supporting you and helping you achieve those dreams.

If your dreams are considered trash by your partner, if he or she remains unsupportive, or worse, if you are asked to give your dreams up, you are in a toxic relationship. Your dreams are a part of what keeps you alive. They are a part of who you are. Don’t let anyone take them away from you.

Believe in yourself and find someone who’ll cheer for your victories, big or small.

10. You don’t get to take part in the decision-making.

You don’t have a voice in matters concerning not only your relationship but also personal decisions. Toxic partners often convince you that you are not capable of making good decisions and that they should be the ones deciding for you.

11. They always blamed you even if it’s clearly their fault.

They don’t take responsibility, and you are often blamed for everything wrong that happens in your relationship. Whenever they are found guilty of doing something bad, they would always find a way to turn it around and make you feel responsible.

12. You experience emotional and physical abuse.

Most battered partners often ignore this obvious and often deadly sign of a toxic relationship. If you’re constantly abused, physically and emotionally, do something about it. Sometimes it can be scary to make a move, but it’s the only way to save yourself before it’s too late.

Knowing a relationship

13. How you feel doesn’t matter, and you’re just overreacting.

You can’t be negative, and you can’t be sad – showing these undesirable emotions are considered a waste of time and energy. Have you ever heard the same thing before? These are all wrong and misleading. It’s okay to cry and feel sad sometimes, and anyone who doesn’t respect that should be kicked out of your life.

14. You can’t say NO or suffer the consequences.

When you no longer have the option to refuse and say NO, then you know it’s time to run away and never look back. Realize that you have every right to say NO, to protest against something you’re not comfortable doing, to refuse something you don’t want.

15. Jealously from groundless accusations always brings out the worst in your significant other.

An obsessive attitude of finding even the tiniest reason to be jealous is where toxic people are good. They’ll observe and investigate everything you do until you’ll no longer want to do something to make them feel at ease.

16. You forget to love yourself and to care for yourself.

If you “love” your significant other so much that you even forget to take care of yourself, it’s no longer healthy. You have to acknowledge your own needs and take time to take care of yourself. Your world should not revolve around your significant other or anyone.

17. You’ve changed a lot – and not for the better.

You’re no longer the jolly and optimistic person you once were. If you’ve noticed changes in your personality – and if most of these changes are not contributing to make you a better person, take time to step back and reassess where you are. Do you deserve it? Do you really feel that you belong here?

Signs of a Potentially Toxic Relationship
Photo by doodleroy

18. You argue about even the littlest things.

Do you turn petty issues into a big deal? You might want to take that as a sign that you are in a toxic relationship. It can show that your goal as a couple has changed. From enjoying each other’s company and wanting to make precious memories when you’re together, your goal might now be how to get away from your partner or how to ruin the day of your partner. So, when you turn the argument about what movie to watch into a big deal, evaluate what’s happening to your relationship.

You have no idea how you got there, but you suddenly find yourself in an endless loop of fights with your partner. Every day seems the same to you, a particular subject or even a petty conversation would trigger a whole bucket full of emotions that would lead to the two of you lashing out against each other. If you find yourself feeling weary, dreading, and even anticipating every fight, then it’s time to stop.

19. You choose your pride over saving your relationship.

Yes, arguments are normal in relationships because you are two different individuals. How will you know when those arguments sign that you are in a toxic one? See if no one wants to yield. If winning the argument is now the priority and not saving the relationship, you might be in a toxic one. Remember that in a healthy relationship, couples make amends and reach a compromise to address the issue while protecting the feelings of each other. If you choose to protect your pride instead of protecting the relationship, you might no longer be in a healthy one.

20. You are being used.

Another factor to consider to know if you are in a toxic relationship is being used. Are you seen by your partner as his or her bank account? Are you always the one being asked to buy everything he or she needs? Yes, you can help each other financially, but it’s a different story when you are already asked to pay for even the basic needs.

ALSO READ: 10 Ways to Detoxify Yourself from a Toxic Relationship

21. You now consider right the things that are actually not.

Do you now consider cheating okay and assume that it’s normal for your partner to fill your imperfections using someone else? Do you now take emotional abuse as normal because you’re convinced that the issue is your fault? If your concept of right and wrong gets blurry, re-consider your relationship. It might already be a toxic one.

22. Your rights get disregarded.

Even when you are in a relationship, your rights remain. For example, if you’re a woman, it is your right to decide what you want to happen to your body. If you start building a family with your partner, that right remains. That means no one can force you to conceive if you don’t want to. If that right gets disregarded, consider that a red flag.

23. You lost yourself in the process.

Do you now prefer playing online games to reading books because of your partner?

Do you now drink alcohol even if you actually don’t so that you can befriend your partner’s friends who are heavy drinkers?

Trying to change for your partner isn’t bad, and there’s nothing wrong with trying new things. However, if you no longer know who you are without your partner, you might have given up too much of yourself.

sad in relationship
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy

24. S/he is constantly cheating on you.

It didn’t hurt that much the first or second time he did it to you, but now you realize that this is happening more often than you desired. In fact, this shouldn’t be happening at all! A serial cheater is not a trait that’s to be looked forward to in a partner because this will only start or even raise the relationship’s toxicity levels.

25. S/he emotionally blackmails you.

Many people find it hard to identify what emotional blackmail is because it’s usually something you’re not aware someone is doing to you. Emotional blackmail is when your partner uses emotions to urge you to do something he or she wants. It’s a tactic that manipulators commonly use.

Let’s say your girlfriend doesn’t really like it when you hang out with your friends, so she either cries or questions your commitment to the relationship when you refuse to bend to her will, and then you end up following her wishes – that’s emotional blackmail. Many people fall prey to these alligator tears because their own guilt and love for the other person blind them. Try your very best to think logically before you’re pulled into the endless pit of a toxic relationship.

26. The relationship is built on lies.

Everyone knows that a long and lasting relationship is built on communication and trust. But what do you do if your love story is built on ground lies? These can be lies your partner tells you or even lies you tell yourself.

If you’re aware of the lies composing the relationship, you have to ask yourself: why am I staying? Honesty is the best policy, and this is especially true when it comes to personal relationships. Transparency is the key to preventing toxicity.

27. Problems are left unspoken and unresolved.

When you’re in a relationship, oftentimes, this is easier to do. You and your partner may tend to avoid talking about problems or issues you have with each other and prefer waiting for it to die down so that everything is okay again. You’re afraid of confronting because maybe you’re afraid of facing the truth.

But the same can’t be said for married couples. You can’t run away from your problems because you’re officially committed in pen and paper and the eyes of God in this relationship. Absolving communication is not healthy and will lead to more problems along the road.

ALSO READ: Top 10 Relationship Problems and How to Avoid or Fix Them

28. There is no future in the relationship.

When you feel like the relationship has no future anymore. This means you’ve sought out every way to make it work, to erase the toxicity, and to have a healthier relationship. But you find yourself with an unwilling partner, someone who refuses to talk and work.

Signs of a Potentially Toxic Relationship
Photo by jwvein

29. You feel better alone.

If you drag yourself to your date with your partner, if you come up with excuses to not come, and if staying at home is more comforting than being with your partner, there must be something wrong. You will not want to stay away from a person if he or she does you good, and toxicity may be one of the reasons why you want to limit your contact with him or her.

How to fix it?

Don’t fear to let go of your relationship if it is already toxic. Gather the courage to accept the fact that the person you love is no longer healthy for you.

Here are some tips on fixing a toxic relationship: 10 Tips on How to Fix a Toxic Relationship.

Final Words

If you think you’re on the brink of giving up and losing every single part of what makes you a happy and optimistic person, know that there is still hope. Many people who have had the horrible experience of going through a draining and traumatic relationship with a toxic person have survived.

Perhaps the lesson you can learn from their experiences is: love yourself first and don’t let anyone tell you that it’s wrong.

Finally, take note that the ones listed above are only signs of a potentially toxic relationship. They can be correct or wrong. But the earlier you recognize them, the better chance you have to deal with them properly. Remember that when you’re already married and have kids, it’s not that easy to drop everything and leave. You will have to consider the factors and consequences that could affect your family and your children’s future.

At the end of the day, it’s still your choice that counts because you’re the only person who knows your own reality.

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Charm Villalon
Charm is a writer and a student. She is currently completing her Graduate Degree in Language Studies while refining her creativity and related skills through the visual arts: drawing and painting.

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