Are you seeing some red flags in your relationship but not sure what they mean? (Psst… Seeing reg flags doesn’t mean it’s a party or that you should see it as a challenge you need to overcome.)
Chances are you’re in a toxic relationship with your partner.
Sure, every relationship has its challenges and obstacles, and no relationship is perfect. But it’s important to recognize when the relationship you have with your partner is toxic. These kinds of relationships have significantly detrimental effects on your well-being and your overall health.
Today, I share what a toxic relationship is and the red flags you need to identify.
What’s a Toxic Relationship?
Some relationships are toxic from the start, and some relationships turn toxic after a period of time. But what exactly is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is an unhealthy relationship.
It is the opposite of a healthy relationship where you and your partner share equal responsibility for the relationship and you both contribute jointly. You both give, and you both take. It’s a two-way street where you are invested in the relationship – to add to your collective happiness, to make it work, and to be there for each other.
In a healthy relationship, you tackle problems together. You are mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually intimate with each other. And you love being in each other’s company.
A toxic relationship is the exact opposite. It is often a one-sided relationship and you frequently feel unhappy, worried, anxious, drained, and stressed. You rub each other the wrong way and bring out the worst in each other.
11 Warning Signs You and Your Partner Have a Toxic Relationship
Here are the most common signs (red flags) that prove you and your partner are in a toxic relationship.
1. Unhealthy Communication
A healthy relationship has open communication channels. Both partners listen to each other, and they meet each other with mutual respect, support, and kindness.
This is absent in a toxic relationship. Your conversations are full of sarcasm (and not the cute, lovey-dovey kind), criticism, and snide remarks.
You are full of contempt when you speak to and about your partner, and you find that you dodge all communication from them so you can just breathe and have a break.
2. No Support
There is no support in a toxic relationship. But if it is still one-sided, then one of you may still try to support the other partner.
You may feel that you and your partner compete against each other in unhealthy ways, where you try to outdo each other. Neither of you feel like you are enough.
3. Controlling Behavior
If you or your partner are exhibiting controlling behavior, you are in a toxic relationship.
Does your partner demand to know where you are all the time? Do they dictate how and when you should do something?
These controlling behaviors stem from a lack of trust or jealousy, but your partner may also just need to control you. This is abusive.
In a healthy relationship, it’s natural for both partners to be honest with each other, even if they don’t share every little thing.
But in an unhealthy relationship, you may find yourself lying about where you’ve been or who you met up with.
You are dishonest because you don’t want to spend time with your loved one, or maybe you feel scared because they are abusive.
5. No Self-Care
We all need to self-care and have time for ourselves in a relationship. A healthy relationship will foster me-time and your partner will want you to have time for yourself and be the individual they fell in love with.
Most often in toxic relationships, your partner wants you to be there for them 100% of the time. This leaves no time for self-care or time you can spend on your hobbies, interests, and friends. They consume you.
6. Playing the Eggshell Game
You know the eggshell game, right?
Where you don’t know where to step, you watch where you veeerrrryyyy carefully step, and fearfully triple think before you utter a word. You know that if you misstep and bring up issues, conflict with your partner will ensue and it feels like a war zone or the cold war.
Your partner is volatile, and anything can set them off.
If you walk on eggshells all the time, you aren’t in a healthy relationship. (Just stating the obvious so you can be sure.)
7. Loving the Potential
In a healthy relationship, both partners love each other for who they are. You are safe to be authentically you. And you want your partner to be authentically them.
When the relationship turns toxic, you are still in love with the potential you see in your partner and you are hanging on for dear life, hoping they’ll reach that potential.
People don’t change. They can grow and learn and personally develop, but who they are at their core doesn’t change.
Stop expecting your partner to change. Stop hoping for this wonderful potential you see in them to manifest.
Trust actions, not words. Actions show you who someone really is.
8. Ignoring Your Needs
When you are in a toxic relationship, you prioritize your partner’s needs to the extent that you ignore your own. Everything is about your loved one, and you come last. Always.
And when you go along with your partner – even when you feel uncomfortable – it’s a sign that your relationship isn’t healthy. Your loved one should want you to be comfortable, and when necessary, they’ll compromise on the way forward.
If your partner really loves you, they’ll want you to be around people who are important to you and who love you (and whom you love, of course). They’ll want you to be as loved and supported as you can be, and they’ll foster this too.
A toxic partner wants you all to themself and they strip you of any outside support. This is a play for control.
A partner that takes you away from everything and everyone you love is isolating you, and this is a major red flag that you’re in an unhealthy relationship (read also: How to Spot Red Flags in Your Relationship).
There are many types of abuse, and any kind your partner perpetrates against you means you are in a toxic relationship.
The abuse can be verbal, mental, physical, sexual, financial, or spiritual.
A partner who truly loves you won’t do anything that puts you in harm’s way, but a toxic partner only thinks about themself. And they don’t see abusive behavior as abuse – for them, it’s their right to treat you like dirt and violate you.
11. Unhealthy Attachment
In healthy relationships, you and your partner have a healthy secure attachment style where you are empathetic, set and enforce boundaries, and have respect for each other.
Toxic relationships foster unhealthy attachment styles, like the ambivalent or anxious attachment style where one of you is overly needy and clingy. Boundaries aren’t respected, your self-worth is tied to how you’re treated, and you are jealous or anxious when you aren’t with your loved one.
Final Thoughts on Recognizing You’re in an Unhealthy, Toxic Relationship
Toxic relationships lead to the couple being highly unhappy – with themself and their loved one. It isn’t good for your physical or mental well-being to stay in such a relationship, but the first step is recognizing that you are in a toxic relationship.
Then, you need to decide what you are going to do about it – stay or go – and if you stay, is it truly worth your sanity?
You deserve love.
You deserve to have a healthy relationship where you are valued, supported, and treated with love, kindness, and respect.
You are worthy.