In any healthy romantic relationship, you feel happy, appreciated, and fulfilled. There’s good communication, trust, and boundaries. You respect each other, are there for each other no matter what, and, of course, love each other! If you’re feeling the opposite, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they’re in a toxic relationship until the signs become devastating. There are many different types of abuse, from psychological to physical, and experiencing them can leave you feeling defeated, isolated, and emotionally drained.
So, how do you know for sure if you’re in a toxic relationship? If you notice any of the following red flags, it might be time to end things for good:
1. Extreme Criticism
Is your partner extremely and unnecessarily critical of your decisions, actions, or appearance? If you feel like they are constantly bringing you down instead of lifting you up, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.
Humiliation is meant to lower your self-esteem and make you more reliant on your partner. Are they humiliating you in public? In front of your friends? When your partner continuously embarrasses you on purpose, it isn’t just hurtful, it’s toxic to your relationship.
If your partner is intentionally ignoring you or depriving you of attention, then you’re experiencing neglect. It can lead to devastating psychological harm, and it’s a sign that you should leave the relationship.
Gaslighting is when a person (in this case your partner) uses manipulation to make you question the validity of your thoughts, experiences, and memories. Are they constantly deflecting blame, accusing you of lying, or making you think you’re “crazy?” Gaslighting is very unhealthy and one of the ultimate signs your relationship is toxic.
A little jealousy in a relationship is normal, but what if it’s taken to the extreme? If jealousy is affecting trust or causing you to give up your social life, it’s a bad sign.
Partnerships are about communication and compromise. If your partner is making you choose between them and any other important part of your life, it’s a sign that they are unwilling to compromise, which leads to a toxic relationship.
7. Isolation from your support system
If your partner tries to limit the time you spend or contact you have with friends and family, it’s a major red flag. You should never feel like you have to abandon those who are important to you just to satisfy your partner.
It’s important to remember that you are your own person, and that includes when you’re in a relationship. If your partner is trying to control your decisions, appearance, relationships with others, or any other aspect of your life, you’re in a toxic relationship.
9. Lack of boundaries
This can often be related to your partner wanting to control you. Healthy boundaries are essential in any relationship, and when your partner refuses to respect them, it’s a toxic sign. If they’re constantly calling or texting when you’re apart and getting angry when you don’t respond, it’s an extremely unhealthy sign of a toxic relationship. This type of behavior can stem from a lack of trust that results in an attempt to control your every move.
10. Withholding affection
Affection and intimacy are essential to healthy romantic relationships. If your partner withholds affection from you as a form of “punishment” or as a way to manipulate you, this is a sign of a toxic relationship.
Emotional and/or physical threats related to you or people that you love are never an acceptable part of a relationship.If you’re feeling threatened in any way, it’s time to end the relationship.
12. Blame game
Along the lines of gaslighting, a toxic partner will constantly blame everything on you without taking responsibility for their own actions. This type of behavior should be a sign that it’s time to take a step back from the relationship.
If you and your partner are supposed to be in a monogamous relationship and you learn of infidelity, you should reconsider or end the relationship. Cheating shows a lack of commitment and respect, which is a major sign of a toxic relationship.
14. Physical abuse
Physical abuse in any form (slapping, hitting, pushing, etc.) is never acceptable in a relationship, period. You should never justify or accept physical abuse, even if it happens only once.
15. Sexual abuse
Even if you are in a sexual relationship, you should still have complete control over your own body. If your partner ever forces you to have sex or perform sexual acts that you do not want to, you should leave the relationship.
It’s important to recognize that toxicity doesn’t necessarily stem from one person, and that it’s possible that both people in the relationship are toxic and need to get help. A toxic relationship (without abuse) has the potential to turn into a healthy one if both you and your partner are honest with yourselves and each other, and put in the work to fix it.