10 Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship

signs of a toxic relationship

Ever wondered if your relationship is toxic? Take a good look at how you and your partner interact because the signs are usually there.

One of the most obvious signs you’re in a toxic relationship is that you feel drained whenever you engage with your partner.

If your relationship often leaves you feeling emotionally exhausted or down, this is a big red flag.

According to Dr. Jane Greer, a Marriage and Family Therapist, “When we have strong relationships in our lives, we feel fulfilled, supported, and happy, and when we don’t, we can feel lost, alone, and disconnected.”

Being in a toxic relationship can have a profound effect on your physical and mental well-being.

If any of these signs sound familiar, it may be time to make a change.


Do you suspect that your partner is unhealthy for you? A toxic person often exhibits patterns of behavior that are harmful or abusive.

Here are some warning signs of a toxic relationship and what to do if you’re in one:

1. Constant criticism or negativity

Toxic people often use abusive and hurtful words to make you feel bad about yourself.

No matter what you do, they’ll always find something to criticize and rarely appreciate your efforts.

If your partner constantly criticizes or puts you down, that’s a clear sign they are toxic. Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect, not tearing each other apart.

When someone frequently criticizes you, belittles your accomplishments, or is consistently negative, it can be harmful to your emotional well-being.

Does your partner call you names, insult you or make you feel like you can never do anything right? That kind of negativity will seriously damage your self-esteem over time.

Research shows that toxic relationships often lead to heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.

The constant negativity can chip away at a person’s self-esteem, leading them to question their self-worth.

Someone who truly loves you will lift you up, not put you down. Their feedback will be constructive, focusing on specific behaviors, not personal attacks.

If all you’re getting is a barrage of criticism and contempt, that’s toxic and you need to get out.

No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. But if your partner never has anything nice to say and turns even small slip-ups into reasons to insult you, that’s not okay.

You shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells because you’re worried about setting them off again.

A healthy relationship makes you feel good about yourself—not worthless, unloved, or inadequate.

signs of a toxic relationship

2. Control and manipulation

One major sign of a toxic relationship is control and manipulation.

This might involve controlling behavior such as dictating what you wear, who you hang out with, or making demands about how you spend your time.

Manipulation can also involve guilt trips or trying to influence your decisions.

Does your partner constantly check up on you to know where you are and who you’re with at all times?

Do they make you feel guilty for spending time with friends or family without them? This behavior is meant to isolate you and make you dependent on them.

It’s okay if your partner suggests different ideas or alternative ways you can do things, but they shouldn’t nag or force you to accept their advice.

If your significant other tries to control how you behave, where you go, or who you interact with instead of allowing you to be your own person, that’s a sign of toxicity.

Someone who loves you will accept your personality and even admire your independent spirit rather than trying to make you fit into the box they’ve created for you.

Don’t ignore these red flags – you deserve so much better. If you realize that you’re in a toxic relationship, consider leaving.

This might be difficult if your partner is violent or you have kids together, so it’s important to have an escape plan.

3. Lack of trust

A healthy relationship requires honesty, mutual trust, and respect to thrive.

If you feel like your partner constantly questions you, accuses you of lying or cheating, and snoops through your personal belongings, that’s a huge red flag.

Do they demand to know where you are and who you’re with at all times? This controlling behavior shows they don’t trust you or value your independence.

Are they suspicious of new friends or hobbies and try to isolate you from them? Extreme jealousy and possessiveness are not signs of a loving relationship.

Do they frequently check up on you by calling, texting, or unexpectedly showing up announced?

While staying in touch with your significant other is essential, constant monitoring of your whereabouts is a sign of distrust and a lack of boundaries.

Have they gone through your messages, photos, or other private information without permission? Snooping violates your privacy and shows they don’t respect you or trust you.

If any of these behaviors sound familiar, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. A partner who doesn’t trust you can never love you the right way.

You deserve to be in a romantic relationship where you feel trusted, respected, and free to be yourself, so don’t hesitate to leave if you feel unsafe or unloved.

4. Poor communication

Poor communication is one of the biggest warning signs of a toxic relationship.

If you find yourself constantly misunderstood, criticized, or unable to have a constructive conversation with your partner, your relationship may be unhealthy.

Here are other signs to watch out for:

Your partner frequently interrupts, criticizes, or mocks you when you try to express your feelings or opinions.

You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them to avoid angering or upsetting them.

Disagreements often turn into explosive arguments instead of productive discussions and compromise seems impossible.

Your partner dismisses your thoughts or concerns by telling you that you’re “overreacting” or “being too sensitive.”

You feel unheard and unable to connect on an emotional level. Conversations also lack depth or meaning.

To improve communication in your relationship, be open, honest, and vulnerable with your partner.

Express how their actions make you feel without accusing or attacking them. Give them a chance to respond, and listen with an open mind.

However, if you’ve tried addressing issues respectfully and your partner remains unwilling to change, it means the relationship is toxic and you need to leave. 

signs of a toxic relationship

5. Frequent fights

Constant fighting is a major warning sign that a relationship has turned toxic. If you often find yourself arguing with your partner over small issues, that’s not good.

Disagreements are normal in any relationship, but frequent, intense fights where hurtful things are said can be a sign of toxicity.

These frequent spats show that there are bigger underlying issues that aren’t being addressed.

You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells, worried that anything you say or do could spark another disagreement.

The anger and resentment caused by these frequent clashes can be incredibly damaging to the relationship over time.

Rather than attacking or accusing, try to have a calm conversation with your partner about the root cause of your frequent arguments.

Don’t be afraid to suggest relationship counseling or couples therapy to help resolve your issues.

Constant fighting is not a normal part of a relationship. If you’ve given it your best effort and things still don’t improve, you may need to decide whether the relationship is right for you.

6. Lack of respect

In a healthy relationship, couples love and respect each other. If your partner frequently puts you down, humiliates, or embarrasses you, that’s a big red flag.

Here are other ways a toxic partner can be disrespectful:

They insult you or call you hurtful namesnames. Demeaning comments about your looks, intelligence, or worth are a sign they don’t value you.

They criticize or judge you harshly over small things. Constant nitpicking and cruel judgments are emotionally damaging.

They violate your privacy or share your secrets without permission. Respect means honoring boundaries and keeping promises.

They make important decisions without consulting you. Having no say in matters that affect you is dehumanizing and disrespectful.

They blame you for their bad behavior. Refusing to take responsibility and instead turning accusations back on you is manipulative and shows a lack of respect.

No one deserves to be in a relationship where they feel devalued or unloved.

If these warning signs sound familiar, it may be time to speak up, set clear boundaries, or consider walking away from this dynamic.

7. Isolation from friends and family

Toxic partners want your world to revolve around them and them alone. This means they’ll try to prevent you from interacting with the people who care about you.

They may also make you feel guilty for spending time with friends and family or outright forbid you from seeing them.

If your partner tries to cut you off from your social network, this is a sign of toxicity. Our close relationships with others are vital for our well-being and happiness.

Someone who truly cares about you would not try to cut you off from your support system. Stand up for yourself and don’t let their manipulation tactics work.

Isolation is a common tactic used to gain power over someone, and the situation may be more serious than you realize.

If your partner refuses to change, consider relationship counseling or reaching out to a domestic abuse helpline.

Breaking free from isolation and reconnecting with others is challenging, but with professional help, you can gain the strength and clarity you need to improve or leave your toxic relationship.

signs of a toxic relationship

8. Abusive behaviors

A toxic relationship is usually characterized by abusive behaviors that make you feel bad about yourself. Some signs to watch out for include:

Constant criticism and insults: If your partner repeatedly criticizes you, calls you hurtful names, or puts you down, this is emotional abuse.

Controlling behavior: A controlling partner dictates who you spend time with, what you wear, how you spend your money, and limits your independence.

Physical violence: Any physical harm such as hitting, slapping, or forcing you into intimate acts against your will is unacceptable. Seek help from local authorities immediately.

Gaslighting: Gaslighting is manipulating someone into doubting their sanity. For example, denying that hurtful events actually occurred or blatantly lying and then accusing you of being the liar.

Toxic relationships can be harmful to your self-esteem, mental health, and quality of life. Any form of abuse is unhealthy and a clear sign of toxicity.

If you recognize these signs, don’t hesitate to reach out to a domestic abuse organization or a counselor for support in establishing boundaries or leaving the relationship.

You deserve to feel safe, respected, and cared for.

9. Lack of empathy and care

One of the most obvious signs of a toxic relationship is a lack of empathy or care from your partner.

For example, they may not seem to care about your feelings or needs. They’ll also ignore you when you express how you truly feel and won’t offer comfort when you’re upset.

A caring partner will listen to you, validate your feelings, and support you through hard times.

If your significant other is cold, distant, or indifferent towards you, that is not a healthy sign.

A toxic partner is often self-centered, always putting their own needs first without considering how their actions affect you. They won’t even show concern for your happiness or well-being.

Over time, this lack of empathy and care can chip away at your self-esteem, making you feel unloved and unimportant. Consider leaving before it’s too late!

signs of a toxic relationship

10. Inability to take responsibility for actions

A toxic partner is unwilling to admit when they’re wrong or have made a mistake.

They constantly blame others for their poor behavior and choices rather than accepting accountability.

If your partner never says “sorry” or always has an excuse, that’s a red flag.

Healthy relationships require both partners to own up to their actions, acknowledge how their behavior impacts the other person, and make amends when needed.

A refusal to take responsibility shows a lack of respect, empathy, and maturity that will seriously damage your relationship over time.

Don’t make excuses for their behavior or let them shift the blame to you.

Call them out on it and be clear that accepting responsibility is non-negotiable for a healthy relationship. 

If they still refuse to change, don’t be afraid to do what’s best for you. Even though it’s hard to leave a toxic relationship, it’s the wisest decision you can ever make. 


It’s not often easy to know when you’re in a toxic relationship, especially if you love your partner.

However, if you’re willing to look below the surface and be honest with yourself, you’ll see the warning signs.

If you recognize a few of the red flags mentioned in this article, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself.

This could involve speaking to a professional or trusted person in your life, setting boundaries, or even considering leaving the relationship if it’s safe and feasible to do so.

Don’t ignore the red flags or make excuses for your partner’s behavior.

Staying in a toxic relationship can negatively affect your self-esteem, mental health, and even your physical well-being over time.

Instead of ignoring the little voice in the back of your head telling you that something feels off, pay attention to it and see if you can do anything about it.

Try having an honest conversation with your significant other about your concerns.

Suggest couples counseling, give them time to change, and don’t be afraid to walk away if needed.

Life is too short to waste time with someone who makes you feel miserable, so have the courage to put yourself first.


Recommended reading:

15 Telltale Signs You’re With The Wrong Person

What To Do When You Feel Alone In A Relationship

How To Know When To Walk Away From A Relationship

About The Author

Jennifer Dagi
 | Blog

Jennifer Dagi is happily married to her best friend and the love of her life.

As a relationship coach, she is passionate about helping couples build healthy and happy relationships.

She strongly believes communication and intimacy are the most important ingredients for building a successful relationship.

Join her on a fabulous journey to improve your love life one step at a time and don't forget to subscribe for weekly blog updates.

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