10 Signs of a Toxic Relationship—Are You the Toxic One?

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You know that a relationship is toxic when your sad days exceed your good ones. If you or your partner engage in a behavior that is hurting the other person on a constant basis, there’s a good chance your relationship is toxic. The other person isn’t always the one to blame, sometimes you’re the problem. You have to understand and accept that if you want to change yourself.

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You have a major superiority complex

If you or your partner have a superiority complex, your relationship is about to get toxic…..and soon. Contemptuous people consider their partner as being inferior to them. Rolling your eyes or using a sarcastic tone when your partner says something are just a few signs of a toxic relationship.

“Contempt is degrading,” says Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, developer of A Psychological Approach to Couple Therapy (PACT). “It says, ‘You’re an idiot.’”

In actuality, when a University of Michigan team of researchers surveyed 373 new couples they found that couples who get in a fight very often or screamed at one another were the most likely to get a divorce.

You’re a master manipulator

Another sign of a toxic relationship is manipulation, either you’re the one manipulating or the one being manipulated, mostly without your knowledge. Compulsively lying to your partner is detrimental to the wellbeing and success of your relationship, as it is a whole another level of destruction.

Gaslighting is when you call your partner crazy or paranoid for something you actually did, trying to prevent them from uncovering your lies.

“It’s a triple threat when you withhold information, lie about it, then gaslight your partner and make them think it’s them,” says Dr. Tatkin. “They’re damaging the relationship irreparably.”


You’re a Debbie Downer

Insecure people tend to overanalyze every word that comes from their partner’s mouth while leaving with the fear that their partner will leave them. This habit is rife with insecurity, if you or your partner have this type of behavior, your relationship is toxic.

Studies have shown that people with low self-esteem are more likely to get rejected by their partner and avoid future relationships because they fear being rejected more than individuals who do not suffer from self-esteem issues.

If you see these signs in yourself, it would be better to take a step back from your relationship and start working on yourself, unless your partner wants to support you in this process.

“The key to change this is to surround yourself with positive people who care for you and value you,” says Sadie Leder-Elder, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at High Point University in North Carolina.

“Spend your time with friends and family and not new relationships.”

Begin by doing something that makes you happy. Either start going to the gym, volunteer at a local animal center or pursue a dream you had for a long time, the most important thing is to choose something that puts a smile on your face and builds up your sense of worth.

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You’re always threatening to break up

If you’re the type of person that wants to break up every time there’s a small fight, you’re the toxic person in that relationship. You shouldn’t play the break-up card at every little inconvenience.

Threatening your partner to break up isn’t going to solve your problems, instead, try communication, you’ll have more positive results this way.

“People use threats as a way to get their partner in line,” says Dr. Tatkin.

“People should never threaten the relationship unless they intend to get out. It’s only valid if you mean it and does it, otherwise, it just damages the safety and security of the relationship.”
Instead of using threats, take a break and cool down and start thinking rationally before saying something that you might regret later.

You never fix problems

If you keep on neglecting your problems, they will come back to haunt you when you least expect it. This can lead to really serious problems in a relationship, which can cause your partner to resent you. Something in our brain, called the negativity bias is to blame for this resentment because we tend to remember the negative aspects of things, more than we remember the positive ones, explains Dr. Tatkin.

In addition, many studies have shown that adults use the negative aspects more than they use positive information to help them learn or form first impressions of others. The explanation for this is the fact that the emotional processing center of the brain tends to be more attuned to the negative emotions because they are more intense than the positive ones.

“If you never apologize or admit that you’re wrong and make things right, your partner will accrue a host of negative memories related to being unfairness and injustice,” says Dr. Tatkin. “That will break the relationship.”


You’re addicted to social media

Social media makes it really easy for us to post everything that’s going in our lives without thinking about the consequences. With that in mind, many studies have shown that engaging in social media can lead to ambiguity in the relationship, which can cause jealousy transforming your relationship into a toxic one.

That may be because you’re posting scandalous pictures of yourself, posting statuses referring to your partner, flirting with strangers or simply because you’re not posting photos with your partner to show that you’re in a relationship.

“Letting technology get the best of you can make you accidentally be the toxic one in your relationship,” says Dr. Leder-Elder.

“Your desire for other people to validate you may cause unnecessary jealousy in your relationship.”

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You’re losing friends and relationships quickly

If you find that you’re only spending your time with your partner and you forget about your friends and family, then you’re in a toxic relationship. Take a look at the people in your life. Do you have friends and family members by your side? Or do you have a lot of burnt bridges smoldering in your wake? If this happened to you, you need to take a step back and find out if you’re the problem.

“A lot of people who are engaging in these bad behaviors don’t realize that they’re bad behaviors,” says Rachel Sussman, a licensed clinical social worker and marriage/family therapist in New York City.

“You can’t come up with a game plan if you don’t know what’s wrong.” Try calling a friend and ask where things went wrong so you can see where you went wrong.


You only think about yourself

A narcissist person is extremely self-centered and self-serving, feeling no remorse when hurting others it is extremely difficult for others to be around this type of person.

“You’re only aware of what your partner does to you and not aware of what you do to them,” says Dr. Tatkin.

Narcissism is a difficult behavior to overcome, and it can only be dealt with when you realize that you’ve treated others badly. The first thing you have to do if you want to change your behavior is to understand that you have a problem and only you can find ways to resolve it.

You don’t know what you want

Nothing is more frustrating in a relationship than an indecisive partner. Your relationship is beginning to be toxic the minute you start going hot and cold on your partner.

“People don’t like breakups,” says Dr. Leder-Elder. “They don’t like being alone. We want social connections.”

If your thinking starts to lead to a toxic relationship, maybe you’re not ready to be in one, you just don’t want to be alone. Make sure you’re honest with your partner and with yourself before getting in a serious relationship so they will know for sure what they’ll be getting themselves into.

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Your friends and family cause problems

Believe it or not, your family and friends can ruin your relationship by transforming it into a toxic one.

“If you have a lot of people in your head saying, ‘They’re not right for you. You could do better.’ It could turn you against the relationship because you can’t deal with the constant strife with the people that you care about,” says Dr. Leder-Elder.

You can try to solve this problem by organizing a get-together to allow your partner to communicate with your family. If this method doesn’t work, you may need to resort to an ultimatum: your family or your partner.

However, Dr. Leder-Elder explains that it can be a tough decision and is only best to debate in long-term relationships you’re 100 percent sure about, in case you choose love over blood.

You never take responsibility for your actions

If you always blame someone else for your mistakes, it may boost your ego in the short term but it will cost you your relationship in the long run.

“We defend ourselves from pain,” says Dr. Tatkin. “If your partner complains about you, it might make you feel bad and make you believe your partner wants to attack with an ulterior motive.”

You may resort to blaming others to avoid being in uncomfortable situations, but no one is going to stick around if you do that constantly. Admitting where you went wrong and owning up to your mistakes is actually brave and it is the only way to keep your relationship working.


You don’t show emotions

Even if it’s not your intention, showing no emotion towards your loved one can make them doubt your feelings and it can lead to a toxic relationship.

“People who don’t respond or under-respond are toxic to their partners,” says Dr. Tatkin.

“It puts your partner in a tremendous state of insecurity because they’re going to interpret it as a threat, even if you’re not intending to be threatening.”

Let your partner know what you’re thinking and show interest in what they say, making sounds and facial expressions so they’ll know for sure you’re listening. By doing this, they’re not left to draw their own conclusions, which are most of the time wrong.

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You humiliate your partner

You may be a bully without realizing it, many people are blind to their hurtful criticism. However, if several people called you a bully, you may want to believe it and start fixing your behavior before losing them.

“You have to put yourself in the other person’s position and realize how would you feel if you were shamed,” says Sussman. “Come up with a list of strategies on how you can tell someone you have a problem with them in a loving way.”


You don’t have your partner’s back

A relationship should be about supporting, protecting and having each other’s back. If you allow your family to slander your partner without having something to say about it, you’re compromising your relationship.

Stick up for the one you love if you don’t want to lose them.

“The purpose of a relationship is fundamentally grounded in safety and security: not love, not attraction, not romance,” says Dr. Tatkin.

“If you’re not providing that need to ensure each other’s sense of safety and security, it defies the whole psychobiological purpose of being with another person.”

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