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hOW to identify toxic relationships
15 Warning signs

Toxic relationships can be present in any of our relationships. Whether it be a family member, romantic partner, friend, or colleague. It’s equally important to be aware of how your relationships affect your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing as well as how you might affect the relationships around you.

We’ve compiled 15 warning signs that you might be in a toxic relationship. Some of these are sneakier to identify than others, which often leaves many of us unaware of our unhealthy relationships until later on. Do you have a relationship that includes any of these signs? Do you use any of these toxic behaviors? Read on to find out.

15 Warning Signs of A Toxic Relationship

1. Love Bombing

Love bombing feels good until it doesn’t. You might feel that the relationship has moved too fast, maybe feeling pressured to be in “love” or to be “best friends” right away. Love bombing can look like a flourishing and exciting start to a new relationship, but if your partner or friend wants to be in constant contact, and argue or panic when they can’t contact you, you might be in a toxic relationship.

2. Jealousy

Some jealousy is natural in relationships, but an excessive amount is a sign of a toxic relationship. A healthy relationship requires trust, while jealousy insinuates the lack of. This can look like this person hacking into your phone or social media accounts or arguing with you about past relationships. Intense jealousy can often follow love bombing.

3. Keeping a scorecard

If you feel like there’s a sense of competition in the relationship or a recurring pattern of bringing up past problems during current issues, you might be in a toxic relationship. Some issues are interconnected, but arguments shouldn’t require reminders of past mistakes that have nothing to do with the current issue. Choosing to be in a healthy relationship means choosing to be with all of that person, including their past mistakes. If this seems impossible, this relationship might not be right for you.

4. Being blamed for their emotions

You are not responsible for how someone feels at all times. If you feel attacked or lashed out when this person has a bad day, you might need to reevaluate your relationship. This pattern implies that your life is controlled by the other person’s emotional wellness which often builds resentment. It’s important to remember that we cannot expect others to know how we are feeling or what we are thinking and needing emotionally.


Healthy relationships improve your life, they don’t make it messier or harder. A relationship is unhealthy if there is constant drama or conflict present.

6. Contempt

Contempt in a relationship might be a sneakier identifier of a toxic relationship. This can look like eye rolling, sarcasm, or any form of dismissal of your feelings or input. If you find that this person has a pattern of contempt, it’s a sign of a lack of respect for you, and respect is an essential part of all healthy relationships.

7. Self-betrayal

Can you distinctly define your own values in your relationship? Do your behaviors align with your values or do they align with someone else’s? You might be in a toxic relationship if you find yourself sacrificing your values to better align with the other person’s. Healthy relationships honor one another’s opinions and beliefs, not try to change them. A manipulative person might attempt to excuse this behavior with the excuse that they are trying to “help” you be better. If you’re losing a sense of self in your relationship, you’re probably in an unhealthy and toxic relationship.

8. Stonewalling

Communication is key in healthy relationships. Discussing hard topics and important issues is not a reason to argue or flee. This person might be stonewalling if you feel afraid to bring up certain topics in fear of this person going silent or leaving. A toxic relationship sometimes feels like we are walking on egg shells to not trigger the other person.

9. Your boundaries aren’t being taken seriously

If your physical, mental, and/or emotional boundaries are not being taken seriously, reevaluate this relationship. You are an individual and your boundaries are valid and should be respected in all relationships. This person might excuse their crossing of your boundaries as a joke. They might tell you to “calm down” or “loosen up.” This might not be the relationship for you.

10. imbalance of power

Most healthy relationships thrive on an equal balance. While every relationship is different, and different dynamics work for different people, you might be in a toxic relationship if there is a clear or intense power dynamic. This person might set up “rules” for you, you might feel a responsibility to ask for permission before going out with friends or seeing your family.

11. They have no interest in the people you care about

If you notice this person dreading or avoiding to meet the people you care about, you might be in a toxic relationship. In healthy relationships, people often feel excited to build relationships with the people we care about. They show interest in these valued relationships and the roles they play in our lives. In a toxic relationship this person might speak badly about your friends or attack their character. They might remind you of these people’s past mistakes or attempt to convince you to stop seeing them all together. These are signs of isolation and manipulation. You might need to evaluate if this person is affecting your valued relationships and your mental wellbeing.

12. They strip away your self esteem

In healthy relationships both of you help to build one another up, you affirm and cheer each other on. If you feel badly about yourself, if you feel more insecure or unsure of your own worth since being with this person, you might be in a toxic relationship. Toxic people might constantly picks at you or criticize your choices, these people seem to thrive when you are down. They might feel that they have more power over you this way, and you might feel a constant need to be “better” for them, or to convince them of your worth. You are not responsible for pleasing anyone, and you deserve to feel admired and appreciated for who you are.


Toxic relationships often have us feeling drained and exhausted from all of the drama, disrespect, or from striving to be perfect. Do you feel drained during or after spending time with this person? This relationship might need to be reevaluated. Relationships do require work, but they shouldn’t have us feeling drained or dull.

14. Hostile environment

A relationship is a hostile environment when you feel unsafe emotionally, mentally, and/or physically. Hostility can look like constant anger, yelling, or throwing objects. This person might use verbal hostility by trying to break you down, they disrespect you or constantly speak to you unkindly. Blackmailing, unproductive and hurtful comments, and physical abuse are all warning signs of a hostile environment and an overall toxic relationship. Remember that healthy relationships feel safe.

15. Physical abuse

This might seem like an obvious warning sign of a toxic relationship, but it’s important to address. Any pain inflicted in a relationship is toxic. Healthy relationships involve no physical pain of any kind and you should never fear for your safety. If you feel pressured to forgive physical abuse or find yourself being “love bombed” after, you are in a toxic relationship and we encourage you to reach out. Tell a trusted friend, family member, and seek professional help. Click here for resources to help you or someone you know.

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