Toxic Relationships

The Different Signs, Causes and Types of Toxic Relationships

Toxic relationships are type of relationships that are characterized by intense emotional highs and lows, but is ultimately harmful and destructive to one or both partners.

In toxic relationships, one or both partners may exhibit controlling, possessive, and jealous behavior, or engage in physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

Despite the harm caused, it can be difficult for individuals to break free from toxic love relationships due to the intense feelings of attachment and dependency that they may have developed.

Understanding the signs and dynamics of toxic love is important in order to recognize and avoid such relationships, and to seek help if necessary to escape them.

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MUST READ: Signs of a Dead End Relationship

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Table of Content

Toxicity In Love

Toxicity in love is a pervasive issue that can have damaging effects on individuals and relationships. It refers to behaviors, attitudes, and patterns that are harmful, manipulative, or controlling, and which ultimately undermine the health and happiness of those involved.

Toxicity in love can manifest in a variety of ways, such as jealousy, possessiveness, emotional abuse, or neglect.


It can also be perpetuated by societal norms and expectations around relationships, which may prioritize ideas like possession and control over mutual respect and support.

Recognizing and addressing toxicity in love is essential for creating healthy and fulfilling relationships based on mutual respect, trust, and support, and requires a willingness to challenge societal norms and expectations around relationships, confront harmful behaviors, prioritize personal growth and self-care and seek support and guidance when necessary.

By cultivating awareness, seeking support, and committing to creating healthy and fulfilling relationships, we can break free from the cycle of toxicity and build the loving and supportive relationships we deserve.

Signs of Toxic Relationships

Signs of toxic relationships can manifest in various ways, serving as red flags that indicate an unhealthy dynamic.

One prominent sign is a lack of respect, where one or both partners consistently disregard each other’s boundaries, feelings, or autonomy. Frequent and intense arguments that escalate into verbal or even physical abuse are another alarming indication.

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Manipulative behavior, such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or controlling actions, can gradually erode one’s self-esteem and sense of individuality. In a toxic relationship, there is often a pattern of constant criticism, belittling, or demeaning remarks, which contribute to a hostile and unsupportive environment.

Additionally, a lack of trust, dishonesty, infidelity, or consistent betrayal erode the foundation of a healthy partnership. Recognizing these signs is crucial for individuals to prioritize their well-being and seek assistance if necessary, fostering an environment of mutual respect, trust, and emotional safety.

1. Regular bouts of jealousy

Jealousy in little doses is not necessarily a negative emotion. Unfortuitously, the boundary is very blurry, and social media would have us believe that intense envy is a commendable quality.

The relationship is obviously toxic and not cute, especially if you are unable to leave the house without them growing envious or if they are checking your phone for an incriminating text or image to find.

2. They’re great at avoidance

It’s rather disturbing to think that you basically endure each other’s presence, especially given that the two of you are in a relationship. What can we expect if you go through with the wedding? You aren’t going to spend time with your partner, are you?

A pattern of avoiding one another is often the first indicator that a relationship has run its course and entered the territory of being unhealthy.

3. They’re all about the blame game

It’s possible that playing the blame game is nothing new to you. Toxic relationships can reach their peak when one spouse never accepts responsibility for their own behavior and places all of the blame on the other.

Because no one is perfect, you should never believe that everything is your fault and that they are free of any guilt, all the time. Because nobody is perfect, nobody is perfect.

4. There are negative vibes floating in the air

The power of energy is frequently underrated by people. Every living thing on this planet is composed of various forms of energy. There’s probably a good explanation why you’re experiencing such consistent feelings of unease or worry while you’re around your partner.

You are having a response to the energy that they are putting off. The emotional toll of being exposed to negative energy can be overwhelming.

5. You just don’t feel like yourself

You can’t tell the jokes you regularly tell or watch TV without having the uneasy feeling that you’re engaging in some kind of unacceptable behavior. Yet there is nothing wrong with what you’re doing; you’re just being yourself.

If your partner does not value you for who you are, they will attempt to alter you in some way. And that is exactly what is happening if you feel this way on a consistent basis.

6. Arguments are a constant thing

It’s not unusual for partners in a relationship to fight with one another. Do not jump to the conclusion that your relationship is unhealthy just because you have a spat every so then.

To be clear, arguing and conversing with one another are not the same thing as yelling at one another without any hope of reaching a compromise. It’s not going to go anywhere if all they do is yell at you or if you always seem to be picking fights with each other.

7. Passive aggressive behavior

At times, each one of us is guilty of engaging in some form of passive aggression. It is not an easy task to discuss your sentiments and emotions in an open and honest manner. If, on the other hand, passive aggressiveness seems to be their middle name, it may be time to reevaluate your connection with this person.

The inability to articulate one’s emotions is a telltale indicator of immaturity and can put one in potentially precarious situations.

8. You only make them happy, it’s never about your happiness

When you are in the company of your lover, they have no interest in how happy you are. Instead, you devote the majority of your time to trying to get their approval.

You eat whatever they want, and you do whatever they want; in essence, they have you as their personal slave. They don’t inquire about how your day went or what activities you might be interested in participating in.

9. Be honest, you’re just not happy

When was the last time you and your significant other shared a good laugh? When was the last time that you felt truly happy while you were by their side?

When you’re in a relationship that’s bad for you, you won’t feel happy anymore, and that’s how you’ll know. There is a rationale behind the internal voice telling you that it is time to move on.

10. You can’t grow as a person

It’s always a good sign when one partner in a relationship puts in effort to improve themselves. You want your partner to advance in their career and you also want to advance in your own career.

It’s not a good sign if you want more out of life, but your significant other is content with the way things are. Because they don’t want to improve themselves, they are preventing you from attaining the goals you have set for your life.

It’s natural to feel some uneasiness about new experiences from time to time; nevertheless, it becomes a problem when people dig in their heels and refuse to adapt to new circumstances.

11. You don’t feel like fighting for the relationship

When two individuals love each other deeply, they will do everything it takes to make their relationship succeed. They are committed to giving the connection their utmost effort in order to preserve it.

Yet in the case of you and your partner, both of you have long since abandoned all pretense of concern. You have the impression that there is no purpose in continuing the relationship because it is not progressing.

12. The drama never ends

Yet in all honesty, it never comes to an end. Something goes wrong in their life on a daily basis, and they almost always place the blame on you, even though you haven’t done anything improper.

They need the drama to keep their minds off of their own shortcomings, so they can live for it.

13. Your friends and family don’t like them

We understand that you don’t want other people to disapprove of the person you’ve chosen to be with, but there are situations when your loved ones are in the right.

Listen to what they have to say if they tell you that you have changed and that your partner is unhealthy. Your loved ones, whether they be friends or family, have nothing but the finest intentions for you.

14. You can never do anything right

Certainly in their own estimation. There will always be criticism, and lots of it, directed at anything you do.

At the end of the day, you come to the realization that you are a total failure and do not deserve their affection. Yet, that is not the case. They are not deserving of your love and affection since they do not value it in the same way that you do.

15. You avoid saying how you feel

You have thoughts, but you’re too nervous to share them with anyone else. It’s possible that your partner resorts to violent behavior when you don’t agree with their viewpoint or when they ignore what you have to say.

In order to avoid a confrontation, you just cease stating what’s on your mind.

16. You feel like the worst version of you

It’s true that being with the people you care about most tends to bring out the best in you. And at that point, you realize that you’ve found the right person to be with.

You need to give your relationship a lot of thought if you find that you are changing into someone that you do not recognize. Is this really the kind of person you wish to spend time with?

17. They’re stuck in the past

They do not appear to be planning for the future with you and instead are fixated on always bringing up the past.

The phrase “The nice times I had” comes out of their mouth rather frequently, which causes you to wonder if they are still enjoying the relationship at this point. But they aren’t; they’re living in the past and can’t go on.

18. There’s a lack of investment in the relationship

This is not a discussion about making a financial investment. For instance, two people can have fulfilling relationships without expending a significant amount of money on one another’s behalf. An emotional involvement is exactly what we are talking about here.

Your partner does not put forth any effort to make the relationship work emotionally. They don’t make an attempt to hang out with you, they don’t confide in you, and overall, they don’t put much effort into maintaining the relationship.

19. You can’t remember the last time you felt content

You should get a sense of fulfillment whenever you are in the company of your partner. But you get a horrible feeling with this person. You go to sleep feeling unloved and wake up feeling like something is missing from your life. This person is not providing you with any encouraging information in any way. And you should avoid this at all costs.

20. Problems are never resolved

If there is a fight between the two of you, you won’t be able to sit down and talk about how the other person is feeling.

Your partner avoids genuinely resolving the issue by disguising it with a dramatic change in mood and then making an effort to buy you something nice or take you somewhere instead of actually helping you.

That is not an indication that they are being kind; rather, it is a clue that they are a partner who is poisonous.

READ ALSO: How To Move On After A Toxic Relationship

21. The relationship sits on your shoulders

When a couple has a healthy relationship, both partners contribute equally to the relationship and work together to strengthen it. But when it comes to your partnership, the responsibility is entirely on your shoulders.

You have to put everything you have into it, even while your partner only needs to relax and take it easy. More importantly, it seems as though nothing you do is enough, and the reason for this is that it will never be enough no matter what you do.

22. You catch them in many lies

When your partner has been caught lying on so many occasions, you can’t help but feel aggravated. When will all of this finally be over?

You were able to forgive the first deception as long as it did not conceal a very significant part of the truth. The moment, though, when you realize that all they do is lie to you, your trust in them is shattered.

When trust is violated in a relationship, repairing it takes a very long time and a lot of work on the part of the other person. And there is no way that will take place. In its most basic form, the relationship may be summed up in a single word: unhealthy.

Causes of Toxic Behavior

Toxic behavior can have various underlying causes that contribute to its manifestation.

One factor is unresolved personal issues and past traumas, which can shape an individual’s worldview and coping mechanisms. Unhealed emotional wounds may lead to a distorted perception of relationships, causing someone to project their pain onto others.

Insecurity and low self-esteem can also fuel toxic behavior, as individuals may resort to manipulation, control, or aggression in an attempt to exert power or protect themselves from perceived threats.

Learned behavior from toxic environments, such as growing up in dysfunctional families or experiencing abusive relationships, can normalize harmful patterns and perpetuate toxic behavior in subsequent interactions.

Additionally, external factors like stress, societal pressures, or substance abuse can amplify negative behaviors. It is essential to recognize that while these causes can provide insight into toxic behavior, they do not excuse or justify it.

Taking responsibility and seeking help to address these underlying issues is crucial for personal growth and breaking the cycle of toxicity.

1. Environmental factors

The environment a person is raised in can, in addition to their genes, play a role in determining whether or not they exhibit harmful habits.

For instance, if a person’s parents coddled, spoiled, or praised them excessively when they were a child, there is a higher likelihood that the person will be narcissistic and have emotions of entitlement.

On the other hand, some persons who exhibit toxic characteristics may have developed such characteristics as a result of a traumatic experience in their past. This trauma may have resulted, for example, from the individual having grown up in an unstable familial environment or having a past with drug dependence.

Even someone who hasn’t been able to adequately process their stress or sadness may, at times, begin to act in ways that are harmful to the people around them.

2. Mental health problems

There are a variety of mental health disorders that may not be present in individuals who display harmful behaviors. On the other hand, there are some individuals who hold such a view.

Toxic conduct can be a symptom of a number of mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), personality disorder, and bipolar disorder.

It’s possible that a person has a mental health disorder if they have sporadic outbursts of rage, a strong desire to be praised, a short fuse, or grandiose feelings.

3. It’s in their nature

There are some persons who simply have some unfavorable personality qualities that were born with. These undesirable characteristics include narcissism, Machiavellism, and psychopathy, amongst others.

Those who suffer from narcissism are characterized by an inflated opinion of their own significance. They also have illusions of having endless power and success, and they don’t care who they have to hurt in order to achieve their goals. The fulfillment of their requirements is the only thing that occupies or interests them.

Machiavellianism is a psychological attribute that involves the use of shrewdness, the capacity to manipulate others, and a great determination to achieve one’s goals. The word comes from the Italian philosopher Machiavelli, who held the opinion that it is preferable for monarchs to be generally feared by their kingdom rather than greatly adored by its subjects. Having this mentality in a romantic partnership can never result in anything positive.

Lastly, psychopathy is a neuropsychiatric condition in which a person is unable to control their own behavior, lacks the ability to feel empathy for other people’s experiences, and has impaired emotional responses. The typical end effect of this is behavior that is antisocial and criminal.

These three elements, when combined, have the potential to form what is known as the “Dark Triad.” So, these unfavorable characteristics of personality are at least largely hereditary, and they are handed down from parents to children.

Types of Toxic Relationships

Toxic relationships can manifest in different types, each characterized by distinct dynamics and harmful patterns. One type is the emotionally abusive relationship, where one partner consistently demeans, belittles, or manipulates the other’s emotions, leading to a diminished sense of self-worth and emotional well-being.

Another type is the controlling relationship, where a partner exerts excessive control over the other’s actions, decisions, and social interactions, restricting their autonomy and independence.

In a codependent relationship, both partners become enmeshed and overly dependent on each other, often enabling destructive behaviors and prioritizing the relationship over individual well-being.

A volatile or physically abusive relationship involves recurring instances of aggression, violence, or intimidation, posing significant risks to the victim’s safety and mental health.

Finally, there are toxic relationships characterized by constant deceit, betrayal, or infidelity, eroding trust and fostering an environment of constant suspicion and hurt.

Recognizing these types of toxic relationships is essential to protect one’s well-being and make informed decisions about seeking support and creating healthier dynamics.

1. An overly jealous relationship

Is your significant other excessively envious whenever you spend time with your buddies? Or do they always get the impression that you are sharing a specific sexual connection with someone else, even though you are simply having a good laugh when conversing on the phone with them?

Sometimes it’s cute to show a little bit of jealousy. But, it is not healthy for you in any way if it has a negative impact on your life or if it prevents you from being independent.

2. A pessimistic relationship

A partner who is always finding fault in everything is one of the worst kinds. Does your partner believe that life has dealt them an extremely unfair hand? Or do they find a way to find the worst in every situation that arises in their life?

When you’re with a spouse like this, happiness will drain out of your life before you even realize what’s happening.

3. A controlling relationship

Does your significant other want to weigh in on everything that you decide to do? Or do they have an obsessive desire to know everything that you are up to, to the point where they will rudely interrupt you in order to learn what it is that you are doing at this precise moment?

If you are in a relationship in which your spouse acts as the approver and everything you do needs to pass through their scrutiny, regardless of whether you want their approval or not, then you are undoubtedly in the midst of an unhealthy romance.

4. Bitchy relationships

Does your significant other constantly come to you to complain about the horrible days they’ve had or to whine about the troubles they’re having, to the point where you want to hide under the couch or get away from them?

Lovers who find enjoyment only in griping about their lives have the potential to transform you into a gloomy and pessimistic person as well.

5. Cheating relationships

Have you ever found evidence that your boyfriend was cheating on you? And what about that? There are certain partners who simply are unable to remain dedicated to a single relationship, and there is nothing that can be done about it.

When a partner does not respect you or does not believe that you are important enough, you can be sure that they will cheat on you frequently. And if they’ve already established that cheating is a pattern of behavior for them, there’s no way they’ll ever quit doing it.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 20 Signs of Disrespect in Relationships

6. Abusive relationships

A physically violent assault is not the only form of abuse that can come from a relationship. Even verbal abuse can sometimes have the same effect as physical abuse.

Do not put up with it in any circumstance if your spouse threatens you with physical harm or lifts their hand to hit you. When you stay in an unhealthy relationship like that for a longer period of time, your spouse will have an increased sense of control over you.

7. Narcissistic relationships

Partners that are narcissistic are typically shallow and heavy users. Even if the two of you are in a relationship, your boyfriend treats you more like an accessory than anything else.

They feel humiliated when you haven’t dressed to the best of your ability when you go out together, and they believe that the world revolves around them regardless of what you do or say.

If you don’t appreciate being handled like a plaything, then this relationship is not going to be beneficial to your sense of self-worth at all.

8. Constant lying relationships

Some couples simply cannot help but engage in constant lying to one another. You might have a gut feeling that they’re lying, but there’s no way to prove it, is there?

When you’re involved in a relationship that’s unhealthy like this one, you’ll start to feel more insecure and agitated, and you might even start to feel paranoid about the entire connection, all while your partner laughs and lies to cover up their bad behavior.

9. An extremely insecure relationship

When you are in a committed relationship with another person but are required to spend the most of your day apart from them, a certain amount of uncertainty is unavoidable. This is especially true if you frequently come into contact with attractive members of the other sex.

But if your partner is extremely insecure and constantly needs a ton of reassurance and proof of love from you, it may be time to ask if there is anything else you can do to show your love, or if they are too insecure to be in a relationship right now. If they are too insecure, it may be best to end the relationship.

Otherwise you’ll find that you’re constantly irritated with your partner for not trusting you, which will lead to a downward spiral of resentment.

10. A demanding relationship

Partners that expect the best from you but never deliver on their end of the bargain are demanding. They never stop trying to exert their authority over you or to convince you that their buddies are very fortunate to have partners who are so understanding.

You will experience feelings of helplessness and depression if you are in this kind of relationship because no matter what you do, you will never be good enough for the other person.

11. The blame-game relationship

Are you in a relationship with someone who frequently vents their frustrations on you or places the responsibility for their shortcomings on you?

Your partner may legitimately believe that it is your fault, even if you believe that they are acting childishly, and they may even become progressively upset with you as a result of this.

Take a stance the next time someone accuses you of doing something that you are not responsible for. Alternately, you run the risk of ending up in a toxic relationship in which you and your partner despise one another.

12. Always perfect relationships

Are you in a relationship with someone who frequently vents their frustrations on you or places the responsibility for their shortcomings on you?

Your partner may legitimately believe that it is your fault, even if you believe that they are acting childishly, and they may even become progressively upset with you as a result of this.

Take a stance the next time someone accuses you of doing something that you are not responsible for. Alternately, you run the risk of ending up in a toxic relationship in which you and your partner despise one another.

13. The competitive relationship

These kinds of lovers view everything as a contest between themselves and one another. They may tell you that they love you, and it’s possible that they do care about you. They won’t let you win at anything, whether it’s a game or when it comes to making more money, and they won’t let you beat them at anything.

They are a sensitive bunch who demand to be coddled at all times. And maybe most importantly, they take great pleasure in watching you trip and fall in life so that they can be the ones to pick you up and help you get back on your feet.

14. The manipulative relationship

Does your significant other frequently engage in word games with you or attempt to manipulate you into thinking things they don’t really mean?

If you’re dating someone who constantly attempts to deceive you into doing things their way by lying to you or manipulating you into doing things their way, it might be time to let them know that you’re not so naive as to fall for such immature games.

15. The over-dependent relationship

The term “over-dependent partner” means exactly what it sounds like it does. They are as helpless as a child since they are completely reliant on you for everything. In point of fact, they could not function at all without you, but on the other hand, it is draining all of the vitality out of you.

They could be reliant on you to make judgments for them and instruct them in various topics. You get the impression that you’re dating a child rather than an adult, even if it isn’t a bad thing in and of itself; nonetheless, when it’s a consistent part of the relationship, it gives you the impression that you are.


In conclusion, toxic relationships can have devastating consequences for individuals and relationships, both in the short and long term.

It is important to recognize the signs of toxicity in love, such as controlling or abusive behavior, and to take steps to address and break free from such relationships.

This may involve seeking professional help, setting clear boundaries, and prioritizing self-care and personal growth. While it can be difficult to leave a toxic love relationship, it is crucial to prioritize one’s own well-being and to seek out healthy and fulfilling relationships built on mutual respect, trust, and love.

With awareness, support, and a commitment to personal growth, it is possible to break free from toxic patterns and create the healthy and fulfilling relationships we all deserve.

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