A Toxic Relationship: 40 Warning Signs & Symptoms You Should Know

Are you always feeling like you've done something wrong? Do you no longer yourself? Here are the top 40 signs you may be in a toxic relationship.

By Lindsey Ladd
A Toxic Relationship: 40 Warning Signs & Symptoms You Should Know

Is your relationship toxic?

Not every relationship is perfect, and they can have their rough patches without being toxic or miserable. It may feel that way at the time, but it's just a rough patch that you work through. Then there are the toxic relationships that are bad for everyone involved. These are the ones from whom we need to run. Here are the top 40 signs that your relationship is toxic. It might be time to get out of the relationship before it worsens.

1. There's no communication

In a toxic relationship there is no communication. One party wants to be heard, the other wants nothing to do with it. There is no effort to communicate about anything. You try to talk and they don't listen, or there just is never any time and you know things need to be said and you never have the opportunity to say them. Either way, this is a behavior that can be found in many toxic relationships. Use it as a warning sign, and be on the lookout for other signs as well.

2. Communication in a toxic relationship is loaded with expectations

When there is communication in a toxic relationship, it is loaded with expectation, and usually, those expectations are very realistic. Be careful of this. If you love your partner, be careful of the expectations you set for them and your relationship. The need to define a relationship too fast or to put too much expectation on the other person is a sure sign of things to come. If the communication in your relationship feels like a to-do list and like you have to meet specific expectations to please your partner then beware. This should be a big warning to you, and this isn't typically something that will get better as the relationship progresses.

3. You're always on edge when you're together

Do you have that feeling when you're together that at any point things may explode? Do you question every move you make or everything you say? This is another symptom that you most likely are in a toxic relationship. You shouldn't feel like you have to tip-toe around your partner. You should be comfortable with them more than anyone. If you are always on edge when you're around them, you may have to think about ending the relationship versus staying.

4. When you're in a toxic relationship you feel like you always have to have your guard up

Fights happen, and they often happen when you're in a toxic relationship. It's one of the many consistent behaviors found in couples who are in a toxic relationship. You don't feel safe, and so you always have your guard up, and you're always on the defensive. If you feel like you are always having to defend yourself and always unsure of when the next attack may come you may be seeing another sign that you are in a toxic relationship.

5. You may be in a toxic relationship if your spouse doesn't encourage you in anything you do

One thing that can define a strong relationship is the amount of support a couple gives each other in multiple areas of their lives. When your spouse isn't encouraging you to be your best or to do what you love, the relationship becomes difficult. As much as the presence of support can define a strong relationship, the lack thereof can be a sign of a toxic one.

6. He/She is only supportive of you when they have something to gain

Support and encouragement of a spouse can come in all forms, but when it is motivated by personal or selfish gain, it's tainted. What's the motivation? Is it more about you being successful or about something they have to gain from it? Toxic relationships don't just happen overnight, and it's warning signs like these that begin to pop up early on, and it could be possible that ending it sooner rather than later is best for everyone.

7. A warning sign of a toxic relationship is that your spouse has a hard time accepting you for you

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We are all different. This is what makes us so great! I have no desire to find someone just like me to date. However, if your spouse is constantly trying to change you and is being critical of who you are, it may be time for you to run. Not being accepted and loved for who you are can be detrimental in so many ways, and this is a huge warning sign that you could be in a relationship that is toxic or headed down that road.

8. Your spouse doesn't understand or get your sense of humor

Who doesn't like to laugh? Why doesn't love the feeling you get from making someone you love to laugh? Well, if your spouse doesn't understand, or "get" your sense of humor it can become very defeating. As said before, a toxic relationship isn't a supportive relationship. A true symptom of this can be seen when they don't laugh at you and get your jokes. It's like they are making a point to tell you or show you that you aren't funny enough.

9. Your spouse always wanting you to change is a sign you're in a toxic relationship

Are you constantly getting suggestions from your spouse about how you can, or should, change? How should you wear your hair differently, lose a few pounds, or make different decisions about your career? Do you have that feeling that you need to be someone else so they will be happy and stay with you? Do you feel like you need to change before it's too late and the relationship ends? If the answer to these questions is "yes," then you might be in a toxic relationship. The ending of this relationship is closer than you may want, but you shouldn't feel like you have to change you who you are to make your spouse happy.

10. You're always criticized for your quirks versus being appreciated for them

Ok, let's admit it. We all do some things that drive our spouses crazy. It's inevitable — especially when you live with someone — that there will be things you both will do that the other just can't help but roll their eyes at. Over time, we realize it's these little quirks that make them who they are, and we come to almost love them even when they're annoying. When you're constantly being criticized for the little things that make you who you are, it becomes exhausting. If this is something you deal with regularly, it is a sign you are in a toxic relationship.

11. A major warning sign of a toxic relationship is when your spouse can't get over past relationships and how they were "wronged"

Being stuck in the past isn't good for anyone. This is especially true when you are the one having to listen to the never-ending stories of your spouse's ex and how they screwed them over. A symptom that your relationship is turning toxic, or already has, is when your spouse can't let go of a past relationship. They are so stuck on what happened that it defines the relationship you have with them and their behavior toward you.

12. They avoid spending time with your friends

I understand if a relationship is new and if you're just not ready to introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your friends, but there comes a time when this naturally happens in a relationship. If your spouse avoids spending time with your friends, this could be a sign that you may be in a toxic relationship. Behaviors such as this can be symptoms that the relationship is turning toxic and the question is why won't they spend time with your friends. Find out why they're avoiding your friends and you'll find out if your relationship is toxic.

13. They avoid meeting, or spending time with, your family

The in-laws can be a treat to endure from time to times. The family of our spouse can be difficult at times. However, when you love someone, you love everything that comes with them. When your spouse avoids meeting your family or spending time with them, it's hard to ignore. They are avoiding a part of who you are, and that is a warning sign that shouldn't be ignored.

14. He/She is always talking negatively about your friends and/or family

Maybe your spouse has meant your friends and family, and they will spend time with them though they do so reluctantly; however, they are constantly talking negatively about those you love, and it wears on you. One behavior I have seen in toxic relationships is that one spouse projects everything they have issues with the other onto their friends and family. It's their way of making a point without having to say it to you directly. Toxic relationships are full of negativity. This spills into every area of the relationship, including friends and family. Be aware of these symptoms, and you may be able to avoid the pain that comes from being in and ending a relationship that has turned toxic.

15. When you're in a toxic relationship everything turns into an argument

This shouldn't come as a surprise, but when you're in a toxic relationship with someone, everything turns into an argument. It doesn't matter how small or large something may be, but it everything will be an argument before you can stop it. Do you constantly fight with your spouse? Is this scenario far too familiar? This is a sign that can define a relationship as toxic.

16. You always feel guilty or like you've done something wrong

Do you always feel guilty or that you've done something wrong? That if he isn't happy it's your fault? If she is grumpy, it has to be because of something you did? Well, there are times that a relationship can show symptoms of turning toxic and this is one of them to look out for. Pay attention to these feelings of guilt as you shouldn't hold yourself responsible for someone else's wellbeing and happiness to this drastic of an extent.

17. If your spouse is passive aggressive, you may be in a toxic relationship

Someone who is passive aggressive can be very frustrating to deal with. Typically, people who are passive aggressive are so for a reason that likely has nothing to do with you. I will admit, there are times I'm passive aggressive, but I tend to comment when I realize it and apologize. For others, this is a consistent behavior, and this is when you need to pay attention. Passive aggressiveness can lead to other warning signs of a toxic relationship. It may sound silly, but if your spouse is passive aggressive then start looking at other areas of the relationship. Are there other warning signs you may be missing as well?

18. Another symptom of a toxic relationship: Jealousy!

I've always believed that the right amount of jealousy in a relationship is good. I want my spouse to want me, and I want them not to want anyone else to have me. However, there is a fine line that has to be walked in this area. If one isn't careful, jealousy can take over a relationship and not for good. If your spouse is constantly jealous, you may want to take it as a warning that your relationship could be turning toxic. As I've said before, toxic relationships are full of negativity, and when jealousy overtakes someone in a relationship, the relationship itself could be doomed.

19. Are you always being blamed for things you have no control over?

You and your spouse are on the way to the movies and traffic is bad, and you are going to be late. Next thing you know, they are yelling at you like it's your fault. Or, maybe they come home from work and had a terrible day and spend the whole night upset with you like what happened at work was your fault. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you may be seeing a behavior that can lead to a toxic relationship. Be careful letting this continue as it never ends well for anyone involved.

20. You are in a toxic relationship if you are talked down to, especially in public

When your spouse talks down to you and treats you as if you're beneath them it isn't healthy. When this happens, especially in public, this is a sign that your relationship could be heading down a negative path. Toxic relationships are typically built on one spouse asserting themselves over the other and behaviors such as this are what can quickly lead to the demise of a relationship.

21. A major symptom of a toxic relationship is how you fight

Fighting can define a toxic relationship in one simple word. If you fight and fight, often this can be a warning sign in and of itself. However, if those fights go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds, then I believe you may need to take a closer look at things. No one wants to fight all the time, and no one should have to deal with volatile behavior on such a regular basis.

22. There's always tension in a toxic relationship

Having never-ending tension with someone you're supposed to love is stressful and no way to live. Love isn't easy, but it shouldn't be impossible. If you and your relationship are constantly under tension, then it could be toxic.

23. You may be in a toxic relationship if you've begun avoiding your spouse

Have you noticed that you are starting to avoid seeing your spouse? You know that it's probably not going to be the most positive part of your day, so you make yourself busier. You define your relationship as "complicated" and more often then not you're just not up for "complicated." If this the case, your relationship could certainly be a toxic one.

24. A sign of a toxic relationship is having to avoid specific topics of conversation around your spouse

As discussed previously, most toxic relationships revolve around negativity and fighting. You know that when you mention specific topics, your spouse blows up, so you avoid those things. In a toxic relationship, this list of avoided topics isn't short and sweet like it may be in other relationships. It's long and exhaustive, and it's exhausting keeping track of what you can and cannot talk about.

25. You no longer seek their opinion about decisions you are making when you're in a toxic relationship

Speaking of avoiding specific topics, when you're in a toxic relationship you also avoid seeking their opinions. You don't want to hear what they think about any decisions you make because you know they won't have anything good to say about them. This can a pretty severe symptom of toxic relationships.

26. Another major warning that you're in a toxic relationship is that you feel depressed all the time

It's hard to admit, and most don't want to, but when you're in a toxic relationship, you often feel depressed and sad. You can't figure out why, but you are always sad. You begin seeing the worst in life and people and not the best. This can be a terrible symptom of being in a toxic relationship and a sure sign that ending is the best thing for you to do.

27. When you are in a toxic relationship you lose your sense of purpose

Different things define us as individuals, but having a sense of purpose is important for everyone. Some say that this, in itself, can define a person, who they are and how they live. When your relationship begins to change that and forces you to lose that sense of purpose, it's changing who you are at the core.

28. You're only goal is to make them happy, and you never seem to succeed

For those of us who are people pleasers, this can be a difficult one. We want to make others happy because it makes us happy. In this situation, however, it can be our greatest downfall. We want to make others happy, and if we are in a toxic relationship, we make it our mission to make them happy and then beat ourselves up when we're never able to do so. Stop spending so much time working on something that you can never obtain. Toxic relationships are full of disappointment and frustrating moments. This is something that defines them. Don't allow yourself to fall into this trap, especially if you are a pleaser and want everyone always to be happy.

29. Does your spouse get angry every time you suggest wanting to improve your relationship?

Do you love them so much that you want to try to fix this? That you know, things aren't right, but you know they could be amazing? Do you try to come up with suggestions and ways to make things better for you two, but they always get angry and tell you everything is fine? This is a clear warning that your relationship is toxic and the person you're in it with is either not up for trying to change or is just fine with the status of things. This is also a sign that things aren't good and that your relationship is toxic. They are also signs that ending the relationship at this point may not be the worst thing.

30. A sign of a toxic relationship is when your spouse mocks you for wanting to follow your dreams

Do you have big dreams? The kind of dreams that make some people think you're crazy, but you know you're spouse will understand because they know you and get you. Right? At least that's the way it should be. When you have dreams, and your spouse mocks you for trying to follow them, this is a warning sign that you're in a toxic relationship. They should be supporting you and should be your biggest cheerleader. If they mock you and make you feel like your dreams aren't significant than it's possible you may be in a toxic relationship, or maybe you're just with the wrong person.

31. They are always focusing on the negative side of any positive changes you try to make

Are you trying to make some positive changes in your life? Maybe you're trying to go to the gym more or your working on improving your diet. Maybe you are trying to reach out to friends more and build stronger relationships. If you are in a toxic relationship, it doesn't matter what you're working on and how it could impact your life positively. Your spouse will always find something negative to say about it. They will comment about the bland food you have to eat, or about how you're always on your phone and don't pay attention to them anymore. There's no room for understanding in a toxic relationship, just negativity — remember that.

32. The phrase, "How things used to be" is used a lot

Do you our your spouse often bring up, "How things used to be"? That when you first meant things were different? That your relationship was better when —? This can be an early warning sign of a toxic relationship. Be careful of focusing too much on the past; it can set you up to destroy the future.

33. A major warning sign of a toxic relationship is when you no longer feel happy

You used to be happy. When people asked you about your relationship, you knew that you were happy and you loved everything about your relationship. Nowadays, things are different. You no longer feel happy. You no longer can feel confident and happy in your relationship. This can be a sure sign that your relationship may be toxic.

34. Disrespect is a common symptom of toxic relationships

It makes me sad, and almost sick to my stomach, to watch couples who disrespect each other. It's uncomfortable and not just for me as a bye-standard. A couple should always maintain respect for one another, even when you have a fight or disagreement. A sure sign of a toxic relationship is when disrespecting one another becomes more common than not.

35. Does your spouse always have to be in control?

Are they always the one in control? Do they always have to decide what you do as a couple or where your relationship goes? A warning of a toxic relationship is when your spouse always has to have control, even over the little things. It may start slowly, but over time this can be a very serious issue.

36. Does your spouse often make you feel like you don't deserve them?

We all deserve to be loved. There are times that I feel so lucky to be with my man that I feel like maybe I don't deserve him. However, if your spouse is making you feel like you don't deserve them and should be lucky to have them, then something's wrong. They shouldn't be saying things like, "You're lucky I'm with you. I could be with anyone I want, so you should be careful of how you behave." It's sad, but I've heard these things being said. Toxic relationships usually involve toxic people. If your spouse is making comments like the one above then, it may be time for a fresh start.

37. A sign of a toxic relationship is when your spouse insists they are with you, but then never pays any attention to you

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If your spouse makes you feel guilty about being away from them, but then won't pay any attention to you when you are with them, then this is a sign you should pay close attention to. This can typically be a symptom of jealousy and can lead to a toxic relationship so say something and stand your ground before it's too late.

38. Do they bring out the worst in you, instead of the best?

I have friends, both whom I love dearly, who used to date each other. They are great people separately, but together they were toxic. They brought out the worst in each other, and when they were together, it was like a ticking time bomb. Our spouse should bring out the best in us, not the worst. No matter how much you love someone, if they bring out the worst in you, it's time for a change.

39. A sign that you are in a toxic relationship is when you never get to speak your true feelings

A major warning sign of when you're in a toxic relationship is that your partner never allows you speak your true feelings. They stifle you and how you feel isn't of any importance to them. This is a glaring sign that can define the entirety of your relationships, and not in a good way.

40. Is your spouse jealous of your success?

Jealousy comes in all forms. Being jealous of your partner's success can be a detriment to your relationship though. This form of jealousy is a symptom that your relationship is turning toxic and shouldn't be ignored.

What to do if you're in a toxic relationship

If you've read through this and find that your relationship is indeed a toxic one, it's time for a change. If you're not sure, still, then continue to pay close attention and be aware. The most important thing is that you are happy and that you can be the best you possible. The person you're with should bring the best of you out, and make sure you are doing the same for them. Toxic relationships can lead you down some negative paths. Ending a toxic relationship can be tough, but it may be the most important decision you make. Whatever you do, be the best you.

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