Love and romance should always be built on respect and equality, even from the very first stage of online dating. Love is an amazing feeling. But sometimes, love can be toxic. Fall outs happen, and every couple will argue – so it can be a bit hard to figure out if your relationship is unhealthy or whether you’re just going through a rough patch.
So, what are the signs of true toxic love? Here are some key questions to ask yourself if you’re wondering whether your relationship is on the toxic side.
What is a toxic relationship?
First things first – what actually is toxic love?
A toxic relationship is one where your well-being is threatened. It impacts your happiness, self-esteem, and independence. It can really affect your safety, and you may begin to feel trapped in the relationship.
A relationship can seem totally fine but then become seriously toxic very quickly. A love that’s gone bad can manifest itself in emotionally abusive ways, so it is vital to be aware of the signs in your relationship.
Many people who act in a toxic way make excuses for their behavior. They may say their actions are so extreme because they love you an unbelievable amount and they’re just jealous or insecure. However, there is no excuse for harming those in your life.
10 questions to know if your love is toxic
1. How do you actually feel about your relationship?
A huge sign that your love is toxic is if you feel negative about your relationship. Do you dread seeing your partner? Do you feel jealous of your friend’s happy relationships?
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but if you don’t feel good most of the time, what are you actually in the relationship for?
If your partner is making you feel drained and exhausted every time you see them, you may be in a toxic relationship.
2. Does your partner seem controlling?
Controlling behavior is a big red flag and a huge sign that your love is toxic. This can be difficult to address at first because the person acting in a controlling manner will swear that it’s just because they love you so much and don’t want to lose you.
However, controlling behavior means that there is a power imbalance in the relationship. A healthy relationship should be built on trust and mutual respect. Having control over your partner means that the relationship lacks these crucial ingredients needed to be healthy.
Controlling behavior can appear in a range of ways. However, the most common controlling signs to look out for are:
- Your partner is upset when you see your friends or family
- Your partner checks your messages or social media accounts
- You are accused of cheating or flirting
- Your partner gets angry if you do not answer calls or reply to messages immediately
- You feel you have to ask your partner before making any decisions
- You feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells around them
3. Do you argue about the same things again and again?
Conflict is a part of any relationship. However, what matters is how you and your partner deal with the conflict as a team.
In a healthy relationship, conflict is tackled head-on with respect and communication. Issues within the relationship should be worked on together in order to overcome them. Think you and them vs the world, not you vs them.
However, when you are in a toxic relationship, you will find you and your partner having the same arguments again and again. You are not working to fix these issues, and are not communicating in a healthy way.
It will begin to feel like you are arguing just for the sake of it.
4. Are you sacrificing a part of yourself for your partner?
Can’t remember what it feels like to do something purely for you? Don’t know the last time that you prioritized your wishes? You might be sacrificing your hobbies, interests, and even your own needs. After a while, you’ll begin to feel as if your partner comes first, and you second. No one should feel like that constantly in their relationship.
Toxic love also means that you may be sacrificing who you truly are for your partner. If you don’t feel as if you can be yourself with your partner, this is a sign that your relationship is not healthy.
5. Is jealousy a big issue in your relationship?
A huge red flag in a relationship is if jealousy is the main theme in arguments and conflict. Of course, it is totally normal to feel a bit anxious and jealous from time to time. You like your partner, right?!
However, toxic love means that jealousy can turn pretty ugly. Does your partner get upset when you talk to someone of the opposite sex? Do they appear to not trust you in the relationship? Are they constantly accusing you of flirting with people?
Trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships. When jealousy is a major issue in your relationship, the trust simply is not there.
6. Do you feel as if it is you vs your partner all the time?
As mentioned earlier, when you are in a relationship with someone, they should be on your side. It should be you two against the world, not you vs them!
If you feel that you are in a constant battle with your partner, it is an unhealthy relationship.
7. Do you bring out the worst in each other?
Nobody is perfect, and this means that we all have negative traits. However, a healthy relationship is when you bring out the best in your partner, and vice versa. They should make you feel like you want to be the best version of yourself!
When love is toxic, you and your partner will bring out the worst in each other. Those negative traits that you once thought you had under control will now begin to emerge.
8. Do you feel as if you are doing all the work?
If you are in a toxic relationship, you might often feel like you are the one putting all the effort into making the relationship work. Are you always the one to contact them after your fight lands? Are you the person to arrange dates and days out?
This can start to feel really exhausting and create resentment in the relationship.
9. Do you feel unsupported by your partner?
Your partner should be your biggest cheerleader, so a lack of support is a big red flag in a relationship!
Toxic love can mean that your partner feels resentment toward your successes. Achievements will become competition, and ambitious talk becomes a source of embarrassment.
If you feel that you cannot talk openly about your goals without being judged by your partner, they are not supporting your journey in life.
10. Are you always to blame when things go wrong?
Are things always your fault in the relationship? Are you always getting the blame for arguments and conflict?
When you are in a toxic relationship, you tend to find that you get the brunt of your partner’s problems all too often. If they have had a bad day at work, it is somehow your fault. If they have had an argument with their friend, it is because of something you did.
This is a horrible thing to experience, and it can mean that you start to believe what your partner is telling you! But, you are not in the wrong, they are.
Could I be toxic?
In order to be your best possible self, it is useful to reflect on who you are and how you interact with other people. Nobody is perfect, but being aware of our behavior is the first step towards happiness in both your romantic and platonic relationships.
Sometimes, toxic people simply do not know they are toxic. This means that they find themselves in unhealthy relationships that are harmful to themselves and their partner.
So, how do you know if you are toxic?
Take time to really reflect on the 10 questions above about toxic love. It might be uncomfortable but you have to be honest with yourself. Do you relate to any of them at all? Perhaps you get anxious about your partner’s relationships with other people. Maybe you’ve started to tell them who they can and cannot hang out with. Or maybe you always pick a fight with your partner if you’ve had a bad day.
There are also common things that toxic partners say. By being aware of these conversational tactics toxic people use, you are able to identify your own unhealthy behavior.
Things that toxic partners say include:
- You’re overreacting
- You are too emotional
- You don’t trust me
- I will leave you if you do that again
- You always / you never
- My ex used to …
- If you really love me, you would …
I am in a toxic relationship. What shall I do?
Do you relate to the signs of toxic love? If so, it is really important to act now to overcome the issues in the relationship and save it, if that’s what you want.
But if your relationship is toxic and you’re past the point of wanting to make it work, the one option you have is to leave. A lot of toxic behavior will simply not change. If it is really affecting your well-being, you must put yourself first.
Nevertheless, if both you and your partner want to make the changes for the relationship to work, there are things you can do.
The most important step in fixing a toxic relationship is acknowledgment. If you or your partner do not see the toxicity in the love, there is no point in trying to save the relationship. By taking responsibility for your actions and identifying the toxic behavior, you are able to work together to fix the issues that you face.
We also recommend seeing a counselor if you are wanting to work through the issues with your partner. Getting help from a professional outside your relationship allows you to gain a new perspective and understanding. They can also teach you ways to identify and change your toxic behavior.
Because communication is key in relationships, take time to learn how to overcome conflict and issues with your partner in a healthy way.
Healthy communication is developed using these key strategies:
- Really listen to what your partner is saying
- Make sure you are clear with what you are saying
- Use ‘I’ sentences not ‘you’ sentences
- Consider your partner’s point of view
- Do not interrupt them
- Do not raise your voice or attack their personality
- Acknowledge your mistakes
- Take a time-out if things get heated
- Separate the person from the problem
- Look for compromise
- Share positive emotions with your partner
- Focus on working together
Moving forward from toxic love
Many of us will experience toxic love at one time or another in our lives. However, with knowledge and understanding of what makes a relationship unhealthy, we can avoid or move forward from toxic love.
We hope that this article has helped you understand what makes love toxic, and what you can do in order to help yourself and your partner.
However, if your relationship is abusive or you are in danger, there is help for you out there. Have a search online for charities where you live, or ring a domestic violence support line for help.