Not all toxic relationships look the same, and sometimes not all toxic relationships are avoidable. Before we unpack toxic relationships, please remember that no relationship is perfect and as it is shaping, forming, and growing to a greater depth and intimacy, there may be a level of toxicity as you’re identifying and ironing out the work that needs to be done.
It’s also important to remember that not all toxic relationships are caused by two “toxic” people. A toxic relationship goes beyond an incompatibility of personality types. And both people aren’t always responsible for the toxicity. It may be that one person in the relationship has unhealthy patterns or emotional or mental health challenges.
Whether your relationship involves a spouse, friend, neighbor, family member, boss, or co-worker, you probably know something isn’t quite right. But whether it’s toxic or whether you both just have some maturing and changing to do requires digging a little deeper, because you could be going through a challenging time with someone and it may be a part of the natural up-and-down process of life or you really could have a toxic relationship in your life.
What are the Signs of a Toxic Relationship?
Before we talk about some signs of a toxic relationship, let’s look at the toxic relationship definition. A toxic relationship is any relationship that is emotionally or physically damaging.
Toxic relationships have present within them jealousy, rudeness, unkindness, self-centeredness, impatience, and anger. A toxic relationship is not a safe place and is a place where doubt, insecurity, control, selfishness, dominance, and fear often exist.
This relationship can damage self-esteem and self-worth and rob a person of his or her energy and joy. If something doesn’t feel right in a relationship, you need to pause and explore it further. Look to see if any of the following signs of a toxic relationship are present.
25 Signs You May Have a Toxic Relationship On Your Hands
1. The other person is not open to feedback
If the person in question never wants to listen, is unresponsive, or never open to feedback it could be a red flag.
2. You’re always receiving constructive criticism and “put-downs”
If someone puts you down all of the time or is constantly pointing out your flaws and weaknesses while never encouraging you or praising you for your strengths, that’s not healthy.
3. You feel like you’re doing all the heavy lifting
If the relationship is very one-sided and you’re doing all of the work with no support, that’s not sustainable. If this person is always taking and never giving, it’s a sign of toxicity.
4. The other person makes you feel bad for your achievements
In healthy relationships, people celebrate one another’s achievements. If someone makes you feel guilty for growing, changing, or accomplishing something great, that’s not healthy. You should not be torn down or made to feel guilty for great achievements.
5. Ongoing disrespect
If someone dishonors and disrespects you on an ongoing basis, this is a sign of a toxic relationship.
6. Feelings of unworthiness and self-hatred
If feelings of unworthiness or self-hatred emerge due to the treatment you experience at the hand of the other person, this is a harmful environment for you and toxic.
7. Hostile environment
If your home or workplace feels hostile and like you have to “walk on eggs shells” or be unusually careful about upsetting a person, this is a sign that the relationship is toxic.
8. Lots of yelling and screaming
Yelling and screaming is often a result of someone not knowing how to cope with anger or disappointment or respond in a healthy manner, but it can also be a sign of a toxic relationship. Through anger management and counseling, a person can learn how to communicate differently, but being yelled or screamed at repeatedly is not healthy.
9. Lack of forgiveness
If the other person refuses to forgive you, holds deep grudges, or gives you the “cold shoulder” for days on end, this isn’t healthy.
10. Lack of taking responsibility
If the person never takes responsibility for his or her thoughts, behaviors, or actions and is always blaming someone else, this can be toxic.
11. Blame shifting
Similar to not taking responsibility, if a person shifts blame from himself (or herself) to you or blames you for things that are completely outside of your control, this is not a healthy response.
12. Lack of trust
Due to the broken world we live in, having a lack of trust is not unusual in and of itself and is something a number of people need to work through. But, a lack of trust in a relationship can be toxic. If the person in your life refuses to let you go places, constantly monitors your phone, or micromanages your every move, this can be toxic.
13. Lack of communication
If you are unable to have a constructive conversation about decisions that need to be made, circumstances, everyday life, or future goals and ambitions this could be an indication of toxicity. If every discussion ends in an argument or if you’re not even allowed to discuss a topic or ask questions, you may be in a toxic relationship.
14. Verbal abuse
If someone verbally abuses you by calling you names or hurling insults at you, this is toxic.
15. Repeated dishonesty
If a person repeatedly lies to you and is dishonest about small things you don’t even understand why he or she feels the need to be dishonest about, this is toxic behavior.
16. Major belittling
If a person belittles your efforts, accomplishments, or you as an individual, this is a sign of a toxic relationship.
17. Feelings of guilt and shame
If in your relationship you feel feelings of guilt and shame when you’ve done nothing wrong or haven’t made poor choices, this can be unhealthy. When we cross lines or make mistakes, it’s healthy to feel a form of guilt that leads us to stop that behavior and apologize. But, if a person is constantly making you feel guilty when you’ve done nothing wrong, this isn’t good.
18. Consistent overreaction
If a person significantly overreacts to something you’ve said or done, this can be a sign of toxicity.
If a person is over-dependent on you for his or her well-being and happiness or if you’re over-dependent on him or her for your well-being or happiness, this is not a healthy relationship.
20. Extreme paranoia
If a person is extremely paranoid that you’re going to make a mistake, other people are flirting with you, or you’re going to leave him or her, this can be a sign of a toxic relationship.
21. You constantly have to make excuses or cover for the other person
If you have to make excuses for a person’s bad behavior or always feel like you’re having to justify him or her or cover for him or her to other people, this isn’t healthy.
22. The other person never remembers commitments or what you’ve said
If a person never shows up to commitments, blows you off, or doesn’t remember your schedule and what you’ve communicated, this can be unhealthy behavior. Some people do have challenges with their memory or are so incredibly busy that they just don’t remember things, so consider trying a shared calendar or another system of syncing schedules before you deem the person “toxic.”
23. They put your mistakes and weakness on public display
If a person constantly “throws you under the bus” or broadcasts your weaknesses or mistakes in public, this is toxic. Healthy relationships support, encourage, build up, and protect.
24. You’re no longer practicing self care
While lack of self-care alone isn’t a sign that you’re in a toxic relationship, if other signs of toxicity are present and you’ve also noticed that you’ve stopped taking care of your body, mind, and spirit and have stopped caring as much about yourself or life, this can be a sign of toxicity.
25. Feelings of depression and anxiety
If along with other signs, you’re plagued with constant feelings of anxiety and depression that seem to be triggered by your relationship or the person in question, this could be a sign of toxicity.
Am I in a Toxic Marriage?
Now that you’ve seen the signs of a toxic relationship, if you’re married, you may be wondering: Am I in a toxic marriage? Any marriage is going to have ups-and-downs as you’re being sanctified and growing in your relationship with each other and Christ, so arguments and frustrations can be expected.
They say that the people you love the most often see you at your worst and that can be the case in marriage. You might have a number of the signs above present in your marriage and if that’s the case, it’s a good idea to get some help and support, perhaps in the form of Christian Counseling.
If you believe that you may have a toxic relationship with a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend, family member, or boss, it’s important to consider whether or not the relationship can be peacefully ended.
You might not be able to quit your job, so a good idea would be to schedule a meeting and have a conversation, perhaps with another person or “mediator” present. The same goes for a family member. We like to see family relationships restored and for forgiveness and unity to happen.
If you’re in a relationship with a girlfriend or boyfriend, ask yourself whether this is how you want to spend the rest of your life or if this is the way you want your marriage relationship to be.
Ending a relationship with a girlfriend or boyfriend, while it can be difficult, does not have the same large scale effects and ramifications as ending a marriage or family relationship. So, if this relationship seems highly toxic, it may be best to bid farewell and open yourself up to other people who are healthier and will treat you better.
Christian Counseling for Toxic Relationships
We hope this insight helps you identify whether or not you’re in a toxic relationship. A Christian Counselor can help you further identify if you’re in a toxic relationship and give you strategies, tips, and solutions for how to navigate it or step away from it. Learn more about our Christian Counseling for toxic relationships by clicking here.
“Stressed”, Courtesy of Christian Erfurt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Determined”, Courtesy of Christian Fregnan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Hurt”, Courtesy of Eric Ward, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Leaving”, Courtesy of Brandless, Unsplash.com, CC0 License