What is a Toxic Relationship? 8 Signs of Toxic Relationships (2023)

8 Types of Toxic Relationships & Their Signs

With few exceptions, human beings want to be emotionally and physically close to each other. Life seems better shared. And yet no human endeavor seems more fraught with challenges and difficulties than our relationships with others. Relationships, like most things in life worth having, require effort. Toxic relationships require even more effort.

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Think of it this way: Even good relationships take work. After all, our significant other, our close friends, and even our parents aren’t perfect (and, oddly enough, they may not see us as perfect either). We have to learn how to accommodate and adapt to their idiosyncrasies, their faults, and their moods, just as they must learn how to do the same with us. And it’s worth it.

Some relationships, however, are more difficult and require proportionately more work. We are not clones but individuals, and some individuals in relationships are going to have more difficulties or more disagreements. But because we value these relationships, we’re willing to make the effort it takes to keep them.

And then there are toxic relationships. These relationships have mutated themselves into something that has the potential, if not corrected, to be extremely harmful to our well-being. These relationships are not necessarily hopeless, but they require substantial and difficult work if they are to be changed into something healthy.

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Keep in mind that it takes two individuals to have a toxic relationship, meaning our own words and actions matter as well."

The paradox is that in order to have a reasonable chance to turn a toxic relationship into a healthy relationship, we have to be prepared to leave it (more about this later).

The importance of understanding what defines a toxic relationship is elevated in a global pandemic. Pandemic precautions have us spending more time at home. In 2020 and 2021, many of us lost the outlets that brought balance to our social, physical, and mental health – work, friends, the gym, school. Isolation at home shed a new light on the indicators that a relationship is toxic, meaning recent years have been key in identifying unhealthy patterns in our relationships. In April 2020, theJournal of Clinical Nursingreported that “home can be a place where dynamics of power can be distorted and subverted … often without scrutiny from anyone ‘outside’ the couple or the family unit. In the COVID‐19 crisis, the exhortation to ‘stay at home’ therefore has major implications for those adults and children already living with someone who is abusive or controlling.”

(Video) 8 Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship That You Shouldn’t Ignore

So what exactly is a toxic relationship and how do you know if you’re in one?

By definition, a toxic relationship is a relationship characterized by behaviors on the part of the toxic partner that are emotionally and, not infrequently, physically damaging. While a healthy relationship contributes to our self-esteem and emotional energy, a toxic relationship damages self-esteem and drains energy. A healthy relationship involves mutual care, respect, and compassion; an interest in our partner’s welfare and growth; and an ability to share control and decision-making. In short, a healthy relationship involves a shared desire for each other’s happiness. A healthy relationship is a safe relationship, a relationship where we can be ourselves without fear, a place where we feel comfortable and secure. A toxic relationship, on the other hand, is not a safe place. A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, and control. We risk our very being by staying in such a relationship. To say a toxic relationship is dysfunctional is, at best, an understatement.

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... what defines a toxic relationship is dysfunction as the norm."

Even a good relationship may have brief periods of behaviors we could label toxic on the part of one or both partners. Human beings, after all, are not perfect. Few of us have had any formal education on how to relate to others. We often have to learn as we go, hoping that our basic style of relating to significant others – often learned from our parents and/or friends – is at least reasonably effective.

As mentioned above, however, what defines a toxic relationship is dysfunction as the norm. The toxic partner engages in inappropriate controlling and manipulative behaviors on pretty much a daily basis. Paradoxically, to the outside world, the toxic partner often behaves in an exemplary manner.

Note: Any relationship involving physical violence or substance abuse is by definition extremely toxic and requires immediate intervention and, with very few exceptions, separation of the two partners. While these relationships are not necessarily irreparable, I cannot emphasize enough how destructive they are. If you’re in such a relationship, get help now!

A toxic individual behaves the way he or she does essentially for one main reason: He or she must be in complete control and must have all the power in his or her relationship. Power sharing does not occur in any significant way in a toxic relationship, meaning one person is overtly passive, whether they know it or not. And while power struggles are normal in any relationship, particularly in the early stages of a marriage, toxic relationships are characterized by one partner absolutely insisting on being in control. The methods used by such an individual to control his or her partner in a toxic relationship may or may not be readily apparent, even to their partner.

With the above in mind, let’s examine some of the more common types of dysfunctional behaviors that a toxic partner may use in a relationship with a significant other. These categories should not be seen as exclusive. Frequently, a toxic individual will use several types of controlling behaviors to achieve his or her ends. Also, while the examples below are most typically seen in toxic marriages and /or other committed relationships, they can certainly occur in parent-child interactions or friendships.

A further note: For the sake of brevity, I’ll often use the word “victim” to refer to the recipient of toxic behavior. In reality, however, this individual is not a victim, at least not in the sense that they are helpless to do anything about their relationship.

1. Deprecator-Belittler

This type of toxic individual will constantly belittle you. He or she will make fun of you, essentially implying that pretty much anything you say that expresses your ideas, beliefs, or wants is silly or stupid. A toxic spouse or partner will not hesitate to belittle you in public, in front of your friends or family. Even though you may have asked your toxic partner to stop belittling you, he or she will continue this behavior, occasionally disguising it by saying, “I’m just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?” The problem is they are not kidding and what they’re doing is not a joke. The toxic partner wants all the decision-making power. Unfortunately, if you tolerate this deprecating behavior long enough, you very well may begin to believe you can’t make good decisions.

This type of toxic individual will often tell you that you’re lucky to have them as a partner, that no other man or woman would really want you. His or her goal is to keep your self-esteem as low as possible so that you don’t challenge their absolute control of the relationship.

2. The “Bad Temper” Toxic Partner

Frequently I’ll have a client who will tell me they’ve given up trying to argue or disagree with their partner because he/she gets so angry or loses his or her temper, and then often won’t interact with them in any meaningful way for days. “Controlling by intimidation” is a classic behavior of a toxic partner.

Often theseindividuals have an unpredictable and “hair-trigger” temper. Their partners often describe themselves as “walking on eggshells” around the toxic partner, never quite knowing what will send them into a rage. This constant need for vigilance and the inability to know what will trigger an angry outburst wears on the “victim’s” emotional and physical health.

Again, it is noteworthy that this type of emotionally abusive partner rarely shows this side to the outside world. No one else would label the relationship toxic, meaning he or she is frequently thought of as a pleasant, easy-going person whom almost everyone likes.


As you would expect, if you confront a “bad temper” partner about the inappropriateness of their anger, they will almost always blame their temper outburst on you. Somehow it’s your fault they yell and scream. This disowning of responsibility for their dysfunctional behavior is typical of a toxic partner.

3. The Guilt-Inducer

A toxic relationship can, of course, occur not only between two individuals in a committed relationship but also between friends or parents and their adult children. Control in these relationships, as well as in a committed relationship, is exercised by inducing guilt in the “victim.” The guilt inducer controls by encouraging you to feel guilty any time you do something he or she doesn’t like. Not infrequently they will get someone else to convey their sense of “disappointment” or “hurt” to you. For example, your father calls up to tell you how disappointed your mother was that you didn’t come over for Sunday dinner.

A guilt inducer not only controls by inducing guilt but also by temporarily “removing” guilt if you end up doing what he or she wants you to do.

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For guilt-prone individuals, anything or anyone that removes guilt is very desirable and potentially almost addictive, so the guilt inducer has an extremely powerful means of control at their disposal.

Incidentally, guilt induction is the most common form of control used by a toxic parent(s) to control their adult children. For example, perhaps your parents suggest you are limiting their ability to love their grandchildren when you limit the number of gifts and surprise packages they can drop off at the house. Guilt-inducing works the other way as well. Psychologist Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D., wrote in early 2022 about the toxic patterns of adult children laying guilt upon their aging parents. Adult children may consistently remind Mom and Dad of past parenting mistakes and demand they make up for it. They may accuse you of a lack of trust or confidence in them if you decline their request for a loan for an investment opportunity or decline to co-sign on a student loan for a child who has already left college multiple times. Guilt and shame tied to these often time-sensitive demands is unacceptable.

Frequently, a spouse or significant other will disguise their guilt-inducing control by seemingly supporting a decision you make – i.e., going back to school – but will then induce guilt by subtly reminding you of how much the children miss you when you’re gone, or how you haven’t been paying much attention to him or her lately. As with all toxic behaviors, guilt-inducing is designed to control your behavior so the toxic partner, parent, or friend gets what he or she wants.

4. The Overreactor/Deflector

If you’ve ever tried to tell a significant other that you’re unhappy, hurt, or angry about something they did and somehow find yourself taking care of their unhappiness, hurt, or anger, you’re dealing with an overreactor/deflector. You find yourself comforting them instead of getting comfort yourself. And, even worse, you feel bad about yourself for being “so selfish” that you brought up something that “upset” your partner so much. Needless to say, your initial concern, hurt, or irritation gets lost as you remorsefully take care of your partner’s feelings.

A variation on this theme is the deflector: You try and express your anger or irritation regarding some issue or event – your spouse stays out with his/her friends two hours longer than they said they would and doesn’t even bother to call – and somehow your toxic partner finds a way to make this your fault.

The deflector is confused that the information you’re bringing to his or her attention is in direct conflict with their self-perception. This is so uncomfortable that they inadvertently convince you that you’re the one with “work to do.” Perhaps you are being too sensitive. Or perhaps instead of an apology, you’re offered a calculated question: “But do you love me?” Suddenly the criticism is replaced with praise.

5. The Over-Dependent Partner

Odd as it may seem, one method of toxic control is for your partner to be so passive that you have to make most decisions for them. These toxic controllers want you to make virtually every decision for them, from where to go to dinner to what car to buy. Remember, not deciding is a decision that has the advantage of making someone else – namely you – responsible for the outcome of that decision. And, of course, you’ll know when you’ve made the “wrong” decision by your partner’s passive-aggressive behavior such as pouting or not talking to you because you chose a movie or restaurant they didn’t enjoy. Or you choose to go to spend the weekend with your parents and your partner goes along but doesn’t speak to anyone for two days.

Passivity can be an extremely powerful means of control. If you’re involved in a relationship with a passive controller, you’ll likely experience constant anxiety and/or fatigue, as you worry about the effect of your decisions on your partner and are drained by having to make virtually every decision.

Separate from your own anxiety or fatigue, it’s important to consider the root of your partner’s control here. This type of toxic marriage, by definition, may hinge on control induced by anxiety.The Journal of Neurosciencehas reported that the pre-frontal cortex allows us to be flexible in our decision-making while logically weighing the consequences of one decision over another. Anxiety “disengages brain cells” and may play a role in your partner’s insistence that you have all the power, and therefore all the risk in a potential perceived “mistake.”

6. The “Independent” (Non-Dependable) Toxic Controller

(Video) 8 Signs You’re in A Toxic Relationship

This individual frequently disguises his or her toxic controlling behavior as simply asserting his or her “independence.” “I’m not going to let anyone control me” is their motto. This toxic individual will only rarely keep his or her commitments. Actually, what these individuals are up to is controlling you by keeping you uncertain about what they’re going to do. Non-dependables will say they’ll call you, they’ll take the kids to a movie Saturday, but then they don’t. Something always comes up. They usually have a plausible excuse, but they simply don’t keep their commitments. In this relationship, “toxic” means they control you by making it next to impossible for you to make commitments or plans.

What’s even more distressing is that this type of toxic individual does not make you feel safe and secure in your relationship. It’s not just their behavior that’s unpredictable; you’re never quite sure that they are really emotionally committed to you, that you and your relationship with them are a priority in their life. You’ll often find yourself asking for reassurance from them, reassurance that they love you, find you attractive, are committed to your marriage, etc. Their response is often just vague enough to keep you constantly guessing and is designed to keep you doing what they want to “earn” their commitment. The anxiety you feel in such a relationship can, and often does, eat away at your emotional and physical health.

7. The User

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What defines a toxic relationship with a user is its one-way nature and the fact that you will end up never having done enough for them."

Users – especially at the beginning of a relationship – often seem to be very nice, courteous, and pleasant individuals. And they are, as long as they’re getting everything they want from you. What defines a toxic relationship with a user is its one-way nature and the fact that you will end up never having done enough for them. Users are big-time energy drainers who will, in fact, leave you if they find someone else who will do more for them.

Actually, a really adept user will occasionally do some small thing for you, usually something that doesn’t inconvenience or cost them too much. Be warned: They have not given you a gift; they’ve given you an obligation. If you ever balk at doing something for them or doing things their way, they’ll immediately hold whatever they’ve done over your head and work hard to induce guilt.

Staying in a relationship with a user is like paying $1,000 for a candy bar. You really aren’t getting much for your investment.

8. The Possessive (Paranoid) Toxic Controller

This type of toxic individual is really bad news. Early in your relationship with them, you may actually appreciate their “jealousy,” particularly if it isn’t too controlling. And most, but certainly not all, possessives will imply that once the two of you are married or in a committed relationship, they’ll be just fine.

Don’t believe it for a moment.

These toxic individuals will become more and more suspicious and controlling as time goes on. They’ll check the odometer in your car to make sure you haven’t gone somewhere you “shouldn’t,” or they’ll interrogate you if you have to stay late at work. They will, in short, make your life miserable. They may even use technology to their advantage, using smart devices to check on your physical location or doorbell cameras to eavesdrop or verify you actually arrived at home when you said you would. Over time they will work hard to eliminate any meaningful relationships you have with friends, and sometimes even with family. They do not see themselves in a relationship with you; they see themselves as possessing you.

Your efforts to reassure a toxic possessive about your fidelity and commitment to them will be in vain. If you stay in a relationship with such an individual, you will cease to really have a life of your own.

Bernstein, who publishedWhy Can’t You Read My Mind: Overcoming 9 Toxic Thought Patterns that Get in the Way of a Loving Relationship, explains that “giving in” to toxic thoughts like paranoia is easier than you might think. The possessive partner often ends up with an “All or Nothing” thought (She is never the partner to initiate intimacy) and “Catastrophic Conclusions” (She must be cheating). Without mindfulness of the error of this line of thinking, the possessive partner doesn’t realize that his or her “feelings are probably not the reality of the relationship.”

(Video) 8 Side Effects of A Toxic Relationship

Toxic Relationships and COVID-19

COVID-19 has complicated the already delicate dance at home for people dealing with a toxic spouse or partner. The truth is, in a pandemic, toxic relationships can worsen. While what defines a toxic relationship is not necessarily physical violence, the World Health Organization did see a 60% increase in women reporting emergency domestic abuse situations in April 2020.The loss of routine, perhaps even the loss of finances, can take someone who is already difficult to communicate with and turn up the heat. In turn, our loved one may experience a new intensity in his or her behaviors.

White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested in January 2022 that the coronavirus pandemic will eventually become endemic. As we experience both a renewed sense of normalcy and continued disruptions from variants like Omicron, we may find ourselves reflecting on what our relationships looked like in 2020 and 2021. For some, the past two years have meant more concentrated time under the same roof with a toxic partner. For others, the past two years has meant intentionally protecting ourselves from developing toxic patterns with the people we love. We’ve had to respect the boundaries of friends and family members while communicating our own – and while perhaps also feeling isolated or lonely. Moving forward, adjusting to the coronavirus as an endemic will happen at a different pace for different people. Fostering a toxic relationship in 2022 and 2023 may look like making someone feel guilty for communicating boundaries or deflecting responsibility for emotional outbursts by using pandemic stress as an excuse.The good news is just because we’ve developed a toxic trait while under stress does not mean we’ve entered territory that we cannot retreat from.

Further Thoughts on Toxic Relationships

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The toxicity of the above individuals is clearly a matter of degree. You may have experienced some, if not all, of these behaviors – hopefully in a mild form – occasionally in your relationships. And that’s the key word: occasionally. In a toxic relationship, these behaviors are the norm, not the exception. Most of us manipulate once in a while, play helpless, induce guilt, etc. We’re not perfect nor are our relationships. What distinguishes a toxic relationship is both the severity of these behaviors and how frequently they occur.

So why do people behave in toxic ways, and why do others put up with such behaviors? The answer is the same for both individuals: poor self-esteem rooted in underlying insecurity. Toxic individuals behave the way they do because, at some level, they don’t believe they are lovable or that anyone would really willingly want to meet their needs. Their partners stay with toxic individuals because they too believe they are unlovable and that no one would willingly meet their needs.

But aren’t controlling individuals often narcissistic? Don’t they simply have inflated egos and believe they’re entitled to everything they want at no cost to themselves?

Occasionally, particularly in the case of the toxic user, narcissism may be part of the problem, but narcissism itself is often a reaction to underlying insecurity.

This brings up the question and the problem of what to do if you’re in a toxic relationship. Many of my clients initially come to me with the hope that I will give them a magical tool that will “fix” their toxic partner, or, at the very least, for me to sympathize with them and agree how bad their partner is. While catharsis may give temporary relief, it isn’t lasting. And while there certainly are things an individual can do to attempt to change the way a toxic partner behaves, most of my clients are often hesitant to do them, fearing their toxic partner may leave the relationship.

The paradox is this: If you want to improve your relationship with a toxic partner, you have to be willing to leave that relationship if nothing changes. If you’re unwilling to do so, you have very limited power available to you. Your toxic partner will know ultimately, regardless of what they do, you really won’t leave.

So before you attempt to confront a toxic partner, make sure your self-esteem and self-confidence are good enough for you to know that you will be alright if they end the relationship with you (or you have to end it with them). If you’re not there, I strongly urge you to get therapeutic help or join a co-dependency group.

What to Do if You’re In A Toxic Relationship

The bad news is that you cannot change your partner. The good news is that you can change yourself, which may lead you to behave differently with your partner, resulting in your partner deciding to change his or her behavior. Essentially what you do is calmly but firmly confront the toxic behavior. You do this by identifying the behavior(s) to your partner, letting him or her know they are no longer acceptable, and suggesting alternative behaviors that would work better. Simple, isn’t it?

Actually, it is. Once again, you have to believe you deserve to be treated with courtesy, compassion, and respect in a relationship or you will not continue the relationship.

When you first confront a toxic partner, you can expect that he or she will actually escalate their controlling behaviors. You have to be able to handle whatever they do. You have to stay calm and firm and simply repeat your request. If your partner refuses to change, consider separating from the relationship for 30 days. You should then talk with them again, repeat your requests, and let them know that you will not stay in the relationship if they continue their toxic behavior. If they once again refuse to change, you need to end the relationship. If they promise to change but relapse, repeat the cycle one more time. The bottom line: You can attempt to seriously improve a toxic relationship only if you’re prepared to leave it.

A notable exception: I believe strongly in a “zero tolerance” policy for physical abuse. No matter how apologetic your partner is,if you’ve been physically abused you must separate from them immediately. If they then seek appropriate help and you have reasonable confidence that they will not physically abuse you again, you may consider whether or not you want to return to the relationship.

What if you have aparent who behaves in a toxic manner? Fortunately, as an adult child you do not live with them 24/7, and you likely have the support of a significant other in dealing with them. Essentially you need to deal with a toxic parent in the same way you would deal with a toxic partner: You confront the controlling behavior, offer alternative ways the two (or three) of you could relate, and see what happens. If your parent(s) refuse to change their behavior, which will usually be control by toxic guilt induction, you will need to severely limit their contact with you. Since few of us would, or should, totally abandon an elderly parent who may need our help, you’ll probably maintain some contact with them, but you’ll need to take control of the relationship. This is not an easy task, but by taking control – for example, by limiting phone calls or by choosing when you see them – you may be able to offer them the help they need while keeping your emotional equilibrium.

We often label those who stay in toxic relationships as “co-dependent.” They may well be. Co-dependency is, in my opinion, a result of low self-esteem that can make it very difficult to follow the plan I’ve suggested. Again, if you’re in a toxic relationship and having trouble, or are reluctant to effectively confront your partner’s behavior, seek therapeutic help. You might well profit from joining a “co-dependency” group. By all means, read books or use the Internet to find other techniques to help yourself develop the self-esteem and self-confidence you need to live without a toxic relationship.

Tom Cory has lived in Chattanooga for 35 years. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Miami University where he received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Today he practices clinical psychology specializing in interpersonal and marital therapy. Tom can be reached at tompatcory@aol.com.

Tom Cory, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist

(Video) 8 Signs Its A Trauma Bond, Not Love


What is a Toxic Relationship? 8 Signs of Toxic Relationships? ›

While toxic relationships can take on many different forms, common signs might include mutual disrespect, emotional manipulation, or feeling lonely even when you're together.

What are 8 signs of a unhealthy relationship? ›

Recognizing the signs of unhealthy relationships
  • Control. One person makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, what to wear, or who to spend time with. ...
  • Dependence. ...
  • Digital monitoring or “clocking”. ...
  • Dishonesty. ...
  • Disrespect. ...
  • Hostility. ...
  • Harassment. ...
  • Intimidation.

What are the signs of toxic relationship? ›

What are the signs of a toxic relationship?
  • Lack of support. “Healthy relationships are based on a mutual desire to see the other succeed in all areas of life,” Caraballo says. ...
  • Toxic communication. ...
  • Envy or jealousy. ...
  • Controlling behaviors. ...
  • Resentment. ...
  • Dishonesty. ...
  • Patterns of disrespect. ...
  • Negative financial behaviors.
Jan 11, 2022

What makes a toxic relationship toxic? ›

A toxic relationship is one that makes you feel unsupported, misunderstood, demeaned, or attacked. A relationship is toxic when your well-being is threatened in some way—emotionally, psychologically, and even physically.

What are one love 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship? ›

10 Signs of unhealthy/abusive behaviour
  • Obsessive behaviour.
  • Possessiveness.
  • Manipulation.
  • Guilting.
  • Belittling.
  • Sabotage.
  • Isolation.
  • Controlling behaviour.

What are 5 signs of a unhealthy relationship? ›

Some characteristics of unhealthy relationships include:
  • Control. One dating partner makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, what to wear, or who to spend time with. ...
  • Hostility. ...
  • Dishonesty. ...
  • Disrespect. ...
  • Dependence. ...
  • Intimidation. ...
  • Physical violence. ...
  • Sexual violence.

What is a typical toxic relationship? ›

A toxic relationship is characterized by insecurity, self-centeredness, dominance, and control. We risk our very being by staying in such a relationship.

How do toxic relationships start? ›

Fundamentally, toxic relationship behaviors are the result of a lack of empathy. Whether that be demanding your partner live up to your expectations, or refusing to see things from their perspective, toxic behavior often represents an inability to feel genuine understanding and compassion for the other person.

How do you identify toxic people? ›

Signs you're in a toxic situation with someone
  1. They gaslight or lie to you. ...
  2. They don't apologize properly. ...
  3. They don't understand how their behavior makes others feel. ...
  4. They think they are superior to others. ...
  5. They see themselves as a victim of their own behavior. ...
  6. People can't change their toxic personality traits.
Jan 12, 2022

What are toxic behaviors? ›

The toxic traits of a toxic person include unsupportive and unpleasant behavior, being manipulative, judgmental, controlling, and self-centered. Such people can be the cause of various negative feelings and emotions that you may be experiencing like depression, anxiousness, worthlessness, and unhappiness.

What makes a toxic person? ›

Toxic people love to manipulate those around them to get what they want. This means lying, bending the truth, exaggerating, or leaving out information so that you take a certain action or have a certain opinion of them. They'll do whatever it takes, even if it means hurting people. They Abuse Substances.

Why do toxic relationships last? ›

People stay in unhealthy relationships because they believe they have invested significant time and energy in this relationship. As a result, they anticipate that everything will be fine one day. Dr Anand says, “It's normal to hope for better days, but sometimes this hope can get too prolonged and lose objective.”

What are the red flags of an unhealthy relationship? ›

Physical, emotional, and mental abuse are undeniable red flags in any relationship. Physical abuse is easier to pick up. But emotional and mental abuse can be just as damaging in the long run. And just like physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse can cause PTSD.

What is an unstable relationship? ›

Emotionally unstable individuals tend to complain frequently and have a strong sense of entitlement, creating an air of negative energy around them. In talking to them, they may simply feel too intense. During a conversation with an emotionally unstable partner, you may notice their sense of empathy is impaired.

What are the 3 C's in healthy relationships? ›

Relationship dynamics will go up and down based on communication, compromise and commitment, the 3C's.

What are 5 important thing in a relationship? ›

Open communication, loyalty, kindness, compassion, trust, emotional vulnerability, and willingness to forgive are some of the most important things that keep a relationship afloat.

What are the 5 A's of a healthy relationship? ›

The 5 "As": Acceptance, Affection, Appreciation, Approval, and Attention: The Journey to Emotional Fulfillment.

What are 4 signs your relationship is failing? ›

It may be hard to accept, but when you notice some signs like abuse, lack of trust, lack of communication, and disrespect, it may be some signs that your relationship is failing, and time to call it off. Even when you try your best to put the relationship together, the damage may be too severe.

What are 3 unhealthy behaviors in a relationship? ›

Lying, cheating, jealousy, and disrespect are signs of an unhealthy relationship. So is trying to control a partner.

When should you consider ending a relationship? ›

If you feel like you're playing a part, behaving and responding based on how you think you should rather than authentically, you might want to reassess what's going on. If you're not able to be authentically yourself around your partner, flaws and bad moods and all, it might not be the right relationship for you.

What are 3 signs of a toxic friendship? ›

Toxic friendship signs
  • They disrespect your boundaries. ...
  • They always need something from you. ...
  • They don't take accountability. ...
  • They may weaponize their struggles. ...
  • They make you feel guilty for spending time with other people. ...
  • They dismiss your values. ...
  • They ignore your efforts to be a good friend to them.
Oct 12, 2022

What is toxic communication? ›

Known as 'The Four Horsemen', these are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling. All couples are likely to engage in these communication styles at some point. However, if consistently experienced, these counterproductive behaviours can have a very negative impact on your relationship.

Would I be toxic in a relationship? ›

Having a superiority complex could be a sign of a toxic relationship waiting to happen. Contemptuous people destroy relationships because they see their partner as inferior. Rolling your eyes, curling your lip in disgust, or using a sarcastic tone with your partner are just a few telltale signs of a toxic relationship.

How do people in toxic relationships act? ›

If a relationship stops bringing joy, and instead consistently makes you feel sad, angry, anxious or “resigned, like you've sold out,” it may be toxic, Glass says. You may also find yourself envious of happy couples. Fuller says negative shifts in your mental health, personality or self-esteem are all red flags, too.

How do you treat a toxic person? ›

Tips to cope with toxic people
  1. Set boundaries even if it creates guilt. When dealing with toxic behavior, knowing where to draw the line is critical. ...
  2. Avoid getting drawn into the drama. ...
  3. Talk with them about it. ...
  4. Resist trying to fix things. ...
  5. Limit your time around them. ...
  6. Above all, ditch the blame.
Nov 15, 2021

Can a toxic person change? ›

If you've addressed toxic behavior with the person exhibiting it and they have taken it to heart, it's possible for toxic people to change. “Toxic people can absolutely change,” Kennedy says, “however they must see their part in the problem before they are likely to find the motivation to do so.”

What are the stages of toxic people? ›

Toxic relationships generally follow three stages: idealizing, devaluing, and discarding. Learn about each of these stages and the impact it has on you.

Is overthinking a toxic trait? ›

Overthinking strikes all of us at some point, but if it goes unchecked and unresolved, overthinking can certainly morph healthy relationships into toxic relationships. If you fall victim to your thoughts and allow them to go too far, they can end up driving a wedge of distrust between you and other people in your life.

How do you stop toxic behavior? ›

Learn how to stop being toxic with these seven steps:
  1. Apologize when necessary. Everyone exhibits bad behavior from time to time. ...
  2. Assess yourself regularly. ...
  3. Be open to feedback. ...
  4. Deal with past trauma. ...
  5. Practice mindfulness. ...
  6. Respect boundaries. ...
  7. Seek opportunities for compassion.
Oct 28, 2022

What are the three types of toxic? ›

There are generally three types of toxic entities; chemical, biological, and physical. Chemicals include inorganic substances such as lead, hydrofluoric acid, and chlorine gas, organic compounds such as methyl alcohol, most medications, and poisons from living things.

What are the 4 toxic behaviors? ›

The four behaviours are Blaming, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling. Relationship expert Dr John Gottman termed these "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" as they spell disaster for any personal or professional relationship.

What are 3 examples of toxic? ›

Radon in basements, lead in drinking water, exhausts from cars and chemicals released from landfills are just a few examples of toxic substances that can hurt you.

What is the difference between a narcissist and a toxic person? ›

Toxic people are controlling, manipulative, and emotionally abusive. A narcissist will use gaslighting to make you feel confused and insecure. They will use every opportunity to shame you and isolate you from other people.

What happens when you ignore a toxic person? ›

Toxic people are often pessimistic, and their attitude can be contagious. If you spend too much time around them, you may start to doubt yourself and question your ability to achieve your goals. Additionally, toxic people can be manipulative and Machiavellian.

How long until you let go of a toxic relationship? ›

Let it be six weeks, six months – whatever feels right for you. In that time, give the relationship everything you've got. When that 'one day' comes, be honest and act from a place of strength, self-respect and self-love.

Why is it hard to let go of a toxic person? ›

It's hard to let go of toxic relationships because there is a sick thrill that comes with getting so close to someone. There is a sick thrill that comes in almost getting it right. There's something about not giving up on someone that makes you want to stay.

Can a toxic relationship ruin your life? ›

A toxic relationship takes a huge hit on your self-esteem. If your partner is horrible to you or insists on betraying you whenever they can, the result will be a lack of self-esteem. It's not going to bode well with other areas of your life. You will start to doubt yourself as a person, friend, or coworker.

What do you say to end a relationship? ›

What to Say and How to Say It
  • Tell your BF or GF that you want to talk about something important.
  • Start by mentioning something you like or value about the other person. ...
  • Say what's not working (your reason for the break-up). ...
  • Say you want to break up. ...
  • Say you're sorry if this hurts. ...
  • Say something kind or positive.

How do you let go of someone you love? ›

These tips can help you start the process of moving forward.
  1. Acknowledge the truth of the situation. ...
  2. Identify relationship needs — and deal breakers. ...
  3. Accept what the love meant to you. ...
  4. Look to the future. ...
  5. Prioritize other relationships. ...
  6. Spend time on yourself. ...
  7. Give yourself space. ...
  8. Understand it may take some time.
Jan 14, 2020

How do you detach from someone you love deeply? ›

How to let go of someone you love
  1. Identify the reason. Ask yourself why you're now deciding to detach from the relationship. ...
  2. Release your emotions. ...
  3. Don't react, respond. ...
  4. Start small. ...
  5. Keep a journal. ...
  6. Meditate. ...
  7. Be patient with yourself. ...
  8. Look forward.
Aug 20, 2021

What is a bad temper toxic partner? ›

The quick-tempered toxic partner

These are also known as the ill or bad-tempered toxic persons. These individuals have a quick trigger to their temperament that is they are swift to get angry. They get annoyed and angry easily and unpredictably. They are also known as “walking on eggshells” toxic partner.

What is the biggest red flag for you in a relationship? ›

Red flags in a relationship include excessive jealousy and frequent lying. You should also be wary of a partner who frequently criticizes you or puts you down. Another major red flag is an unwillingness to compromise — relationships shouldn't be one-sided.

What does a unhealthy relationship look and feel like? ›

Feeling pressured or intimidated to make a certain decision or act a certain way. An overly dependent partner that threatens drastic action if the relationship ends. A partner exerting physical force to get their way. Pressuring or forcing a partner to engage in sexual activity without consent.

What is a draining relationship? ›

Relationships where there are a lot of conflicts, lack of authenticity, minimal attention, or little reciprocity, are exhausting. In those cases, the connection may even feel outweighed by the stress, frustration, or resentment. You may even feel so "used" to this person that the state of exhaustion feels normal.

What does an emotionally unstable person act like? ›

Emotionally unstable personality disorder causes significantly impaired functioning, including a feeling of emptiness, lack of identity, unstable mood and relationships, intense fear of abandonment and dangerous impulsive behaviour, including severe episodes of self-harm.

What does emotionally unstable look like? ›

If you think you're struggling with emotionally unstable personality disorder, you'll likely be struggling with some of the symptoms listed below: Impulsivity. Mood swings. An overwhelming fear of abandonment.

What are 4 behaviors that may exist in an unhealthy relationship? ›

Unhealthy and Abusive Relationships

These behaviors can include grabbing, pushing, pinching, yelling, making demeaning comments, hitting, strangulation of the neck, not letting you spend time with friends or family, or making you feel guilty for not spending time with your partner.

How do you know someone is not good for you? ›

Here are some warning signs to watch out for if you think you're dealing with a toxic person: You feel like you're being manipulated into something you don't want to do. You're constantly confused by the person's behavior. You feel like you deserve an apology that never comes.

What is the biggest failure in relationship? ›

Trust Issues

The lack or loss of trust is one of the most harmful impediments to a couple's long-term success. Without trust, a relationship misses two of the key anchors for forging and maintaining a strong bond: safety and security.

How do most relationships fail? ›

The main reasons why relationships fail are loss of trust, poor communication, lack of respect, a difference in priorities, and little intimacy. This article discusses why each may cause a relationship to come to an end.

When should you end relationship? ›

If you feel like you're playing a part, behaving and responding based on how you think you should rather than authentically, you might want to reassess what's going on. If you're not able to be authentically yourself around your partner, flaws and bad moods and all, it might not be the right relationship for you.

What's the best way to end a relationship? ›

What to Say and How to Say It
  1. Tell your BF or GF that you want to talk about something important.
  2. Start by mentioning something you like or value about the other person. ...
  3. Say what's not working (your reason for the break-up). ...
  4. Say you want to break up. ...
  5. Say you're sorry if this hurts. ...
  6. Say something kind or positive.

What are the 10 effects of an unhealthy relationship? ›

As a result of an unhealthy relationship many face problems of various disorders such as mental breakdowns, low self-worth, helplessness, fear, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and even narcissism.

What are some bad habits in a relationship? ›

10 Bad Habits That Can Lead To A Break Up
  • Withholding Affection. ...
  • Taking Your Anger Out On Your Partner. ...
  • Never Taking Blame. ...
  • Not Listening. ...
  • Withdrawal. ...
  • Holding Your Partner To Unrealistic Expectations. ...
  • Trying To Change Your Significant Other. ...
  • Compare Your Relationship With Others.
Nov 23, 2021

What are the 4 things that destroy relationships? ›

The Four Horsemen
  • Criticism – Complaints are fine. Criticism is more global — it attacks the person, not their behavior. ...
  • Contempt – “… name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor. ...
  • Defensiveness – “… defensiveness is really a way of blaming your partner. ...
  • Stonewalling – Tuning out. Disengaging.

How do people try to control you? ›

If someone tries to control situations or other people to an unhealthy extent, others may describe them as a controlling person. They may try to control a situation by taking charge and doing everything themselves or control others through manipulation, coercion, threats, and intimidation.

How do you know if your partner isn't good for you? ›

To help you get some clarity on this, here are ten common signs that your partner may not be right for you:
  • They negatively affect your confidence. ...
  • They don't value what you have to say. ...
  • They don't respect your job. ...
  • They don't support you when you evolve. ...
  • They lie. ...
  • Your life goals differ. ...
  • One of you is unhappy. ...
  • You can feel it.


1. 8 Signs You're With a Toxic Person
2. 7 Signs You’re in a Toxic Relationship
3. 8 Toxic Behaviors You Should NEVER Tolerate In Your Relationship
4. 8 Signs of Toxic Relationship| Unhealthy Relationship #psychology #relationships
(Rabi Think Dose)
5. 8 Signs You Are Dealing with Narcissistic Abuse
6. 8 Signs of a Toxic Relationship | James M Sama
(Love Strategies)


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