Signs of a Toxic Relationship


Vera Arsic

Stressed man and disappointed woman sitting on bench

Are you concerned about yourself or someone you know being in what seems like a toxic relationship?


What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship consists of behaviors from one (or both) partners that attempt to diminish their partner’s self-worth.


Why do people stay in toxic relationships?

A lot of the time, people are confused as to whether or not the person they’re with is toxic or not. Others fear loneliness. They decide to ignore mistreatment and focus on the good. Obviously, nobody is perfect. People come in all forms with bad habits and facial features they can’t control; but no individual has the right to control another’s self-worth and happiness. A lot of people in such relationships believe that their ‘love’ can change the other person, which is really just an attempt to rewrite the narrative from a painful past experience(s).


What are the signs of a toxic relationship?

  • LIES. These people lie pathologically without considering the toll it may take on the other person’s well-being once they find out. 
  • LOVE-BOMBING. A huge red-flag. Psychologists say it’s a stage of an abusive cycle. Love-bombing is when someone showers you with gifts, affection, attention for a period. They do this to manipulate their partner into feeling like no matter what they do, it’s never going to be enough for them.
  • ABUSE. This can be physical, verbal, mental and emotional, and are easy to spot.
  • THEY ISOLATE YOU from your family, friends, and other loved ones. In their eyes, anybody who raises a concern for you in your relationship is someone toxic that needs to be removed. They make their partners feel their relationship is supposed to be the center of their lives and that they’re not supposed to have an identity or interests outside of it.
  • GASLIGHTING: a form of manipulation, usually verbal, to trigger and make one question their sanity. Can be displayed through passive-aggressive statements and backhanded compliments.
  • CLOSED COMMUNICATION. This person is unwilling to listen to you. They dismiss your needs, emotions, accomplishments, trauma, etc., and are only interested in discussing either about themselves or the relationship, which makes you feel like voicing your concerns would be pointless.


Is there a solution?

YES, BREAK-UP. If you suspect that you are or know someone in such a situation, the best thing to do is break up. All relationships require effort but if the other person is not willing to listen to you, they won’t change no matter how much you try. In such a case, the best thing to do is protect yourself from further pain and focus on things that make you happy — working on your goals, socializing with loved ones, self-care, indulging in your hobbies.

  • SKEPTICISM. People have charming personalities and justify their wrongdoings so use your skepticism to decode how people truly are, by paying more attention to their actions rather than their words. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, as it leads to more clarity in situations. You’d rather be safe than be sorry.
  • START SAYING “NO.” We want to be there for people who mean a lot to us but it’s important to also take a break and think about yourself since it can get pretty exhausting to always put yourself out there and be there for everyone. Saying “no” doesn’t make you a bad person. In fact, it’s a healthy thing to practice to save yourself from situations where you could be at harm.
  • SEEK HELP. If the situation has worsened to the point where you are afraid for your or somebody else’s life/well-being, seek professional help. 


The good news is that most people are well intentioned and actually care about your problems and what you’re going through. Most people are healthy and don’t betray, abuse or manipulate so don’t let your past experiences stop you from experiencing all that the world still has to offer. Till then, learn to break old patterns that attract you to such partners, and don’t be afraid to fall back on people and let them help you out if you’re in a position where you need it.