dating,  healing,  marriage,  self-love,  toxic relationships

20 Traits of a Toxic Relationship

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A toxic relationships occurs when one or two persons struggle with unhealthy attachment, coping method, thought process, and behaviors.

Everyone has “unhealthy” behaviors and things they can improve on. I try not to label people as toxic because a good person in a loving relationship can present toxic traits.

A toxic relationship is a bond where one out of the two people in the relationship are “unaware” or “unwilling” to acknowledge their flaws, which results in them refusing to change.

While a healthy relationships is a bond with two people, that may have flaws, but are committed to growing and fixing their behaviors.

What is a toxic person?

Everyone experiences pain and develops ways to avoid or numb the unbearable feelings. Toxic traits are developed to cope with painful experiences. A person that gossips is usually trying to soothe their irritation or distract themselves from other life stressors. Similarly, a person that manipulates is trying to control the issue because they have very real fears. To heal toxic traits we must learn to do healthy things when we are feeling pain, shame, and emotional.

A person with toxic coping mechanisms has a lack of awareness or refuses to grow in dysfunctional areas. In the toxic relationship, the unhealthy person or persons refuse to take the steps necessary to become healthier people.   This can result from different things.

Lack of Awareness. Lack of awareness of what they are doing wrong. For example, a codependent might not know what codependent means or how that contributes to them being in an abusive relationships.

Refusal To Change. Some people know that they are doing something wrong even if they can’t pinpoint it. However, toxic relationships occur when at least one person refuses to truly accept personal responsibility for bad behavior and they won’t change. They may also “fake” change and commit to “short-term” changes to convince you that they are trying to grow.

Learn more about toxic relationships: What is a toxic relationship? What causes toxic relationships?

Am I In a Toxic Relationship?

You are probably in a toxic relationship if you went searching to find out. Toxic relationships are emotionally and/or physically abusive. The relationship leaves you insecure, weak, vulnerable, and unsure of yourself. You can take a Toxic Relationship Quiz and test what type of relationship you’re in!

Am I the toxic person in the relationship?

Curious? You can take the AM I TOXIC Quiz! Usually we attract dysfunctional people because we have our own toxic traits such as people pleasing, enabling, codependence, passiveness, and lack of boundaries.

You can take this quiz to figure out why you are dating the wrong men: Why am I dating the wrong men?  It will reveal areas to avoid toxic romantic relationships. Also, I explain how to find the right relationships in 4 Ways To Attract Mr. Right.

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If you want help navigating this sign up for your First 20 Minutes Free: 1:1 Empowerment Coaching! 

20 Characteristic Traits in a Toxic Relationship:

1. Something doesn’t feel right. Trust Your Gut. 

I believe that God speaks with us through our instincts. If you feel something is wrong, there is probably something wrong. Talk to someone or a counselor to get insight into the issue. This will help you to pinpoint what you are feeling and identify the red-flags of a toxic relationship.

2. You are scared to share your thoughts and feelings.

A tell-tale sign you are in an abusive relationship is fear to vocalize your needs, thoughts, and feelings. The abuser will use different techniques to make you less vocal. He may beat you. He may manipulate you into thinking you understood the situation wrong. He may yell at you. He may accuse you of criticizing him. He speaks unkindly to you and makes you feel like crap about yourself.

The abusive strategies may be different but the overall goal is to intimidate you into being quiet and conforming to what the abuser wants you to do. 

Related Article: Why Don’t People Change? 6 Ways To Manage Self-Hate!

3. The abuser is perfect. You are flawed. You become more concerned with what they think.

Another tell-tale sign is that the person with toxic behaviors is always right. Every time you vocalize a concern they echo the following in different words and actions: You’re crazy and it’s all in your imagination. You eventually start to take on their perspectives and thoughts to keep the peace.

The victim wants to keep the peace so they will fix themselves hoping that the situation will be fixed. The situation seems to be fixed because the abuser got exactly what they wanted – Control and to be right. Overall, the victim continues to lose themselves to please the abuser. The abuser got what they wanted: An obedient servant that will think and do what they want you to do.

4. You’re the only one fixing yourself and growing.

You are constantly growing and becoming a better person, but your partner has admitted to no flaws. In a healthy relationship, the focus isn’t about being “right” or “wrong.” The focus is understanding each other and making changes to strengthen the relationship.

For instance, John realizes that Suzie is suspicious of him cheating. Suzie is often passively accusing him of things. John chooses to address the situation kindly. He talks to Suzie and lets her know he feels like he is walking on egg shells… What can they both do to work on her feeling more secure. Suzie agrees to go to counseling and John agrees to changing certain behaviors that leave Suzie guessing. In this example, John didn’t yell at Suzie and make her feel horrible… He was focused on “growing” and not pointing fingers.

By prioritizing understanding and compromise, John aims to build a stronger foundation for their connection.

 5. It hurts.

If the relationships hurts emotionally and physically there is something wrong. No one should purposely hurt you with body parts, objects, actions, or words.

Also, evaluate: can the other purpose own up to what they have done? Most abuser doesn’t apologize for wrongs and finds a way to blame others for their actions. They may try to blame it on you, on their childhood, their day, etc.

Related Article: Why Don’t People Change? 6 Ways To Manage Self-Hate!

Most abuser won’t say they did it and just apologize. If they do apologize it is a manipulation trick to get you to trust them, but they will more than likely repeat the bad behavior. I strongly suggest talking to a counselor, visit the Advice Cafe, or a friend to evaluate what constitutes abuse. Most abuse victims are so use to making excuses that they stay in the cycle for too long thinking they deserve it or that they will be harmed if they leave.

6. They don’t respect your boundaries. 

The abuser will force you to engage in activities that you don’t want to. This includes emotional conversations and physical interactions that you have said no to. No, means No. If you are not allowed to say No this is a red flag. Even if your partner doesn’t like your response, if they are healthy they will allow you space when you ask for it.

The abuser might also tell you what you are thinking… They may try to define who you are, even when you are explaining that you don’t feel that or think that way.

7. You feel confused and fearful. Explanation

Confusion and fear are common emotions experienced in toxic relationships. The dynamics of the relationship may be unpredictable, leaving you unsure of how the other person will react or behave. This creates a constant state of anxiety, making it difficult to navigate the relationship with clarity and peace of mind.

8. You need the other person for happiness and love.

Relying on your partner as the sole source of happiness and love is indicative of an unhealthy dependency within the relationship. In a balanced partnership, individuals find happiness and fulfillment within themselves and support each other’s growth and well-being.

9. There is emotional and physical abuse present.

Emotional and physical abuse are significant signs of a toxic relationship. Emotional abuse includes behaviors such as manipulation, belittling, humiliation, controlling actions, and constant criticism. Physical abuse involves any form of physical harm, whether it be through direct violence or the use of objects to inflict pain.

10. You or your partner are not growth-oriented.

A healthy relationship involves both partners actively seeking personal growth and self-improvement. However, in a toxic relationship, one or both individuals may lack the willingness or motivation to grow, change, and work on themselves, leading to stagnation and resentment within the relationship.

11. You argue about the same thing over and over.

Engaging in repetitive arguments about the same issue without resolution is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. In healthy relationships, conflicts are addressed, and efforts are made to understand each other’s perspectives and find mutually beneficial solutions.

12. Family and Friends Pointing Out Red Flags

Sometimes, the people closest to you have valuable insights that you may overlook when you’re deeply involved in a relationship. If your family and friends consistently express concerns or point out red flags regarding your partner’s behavior or the dynamics of your relationship, it’s crucial to take their observations seriously. Their perspectives can provide an external and objective viewpoint, helping you see patterns or issues that you may have missed. While it’s ultimately your decision, listening to the concerns of loved ones can offer valuable perspectives and support in evaluating whether you are being used in the relationship.

13. Feeling Embarrassed

Feeling embarrassed or ashamed about certain aspects of your relationship is a significant indication that you may be used by your partner. If you find yourself constantly hiding or downplaying the nature of your relationship when discussing it with others, it suggests that there might be something unhealthy or exploitative happening. A healthy and supportive relationship should make you feel proud and confident, rather than embarrassed or ashamed. Pay attention to your emotions and consider whether the relationship is truly bringing you joy and contentment or causing feelings of embarrassment and discomfort.

14. Sacrificing Job, Finances, and Friendships

A clear sign of being used in a relationship is when you consistently sacrifice your job, financial stability, or friendships for the sake of your partner’s needs or desires. If you find yourself frequently prioritizing their demands over your own professional growth, financial well-being, or social connections, it indicates an unhealthy imbalance in the relationship. A healthy partnership should support and encourage personal growth in all aspects of life, including career, finances, and friendships. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance and ensure that your own needs and aspirations are not constantly overshadowed or neglected.

15. Feeling Depleted

Being used in a relationship can leave you feeling emotionally drained and depleted. If you constantly find yourself giving more than you receive, emotionally, physically, or mentally, it can take a toll on your well-being. Your partner should be a source of support, care, and understanding, rather than someone who consistently leaves you feeling empty and exhausted. It’s crucial to pay attention to your own emotional needs and assess whether the relationship is providing the nourishment and fulfillment you deserve.

16. Confusion

Feeling constantly confused about where you stand in the relationship is another sign of being used. If your partner’s actions and words consistently leave you uncertain and unsure of their true intentions, it is vital to communicate openly and seek clarity. A healthy relationship thrives on open and honest communication. However, if you find that your attempts to communicate and seek clarity only result in persistent confusion, it is a strong indication that you may be trapped in an unhealthy, one-sided relationship.

17. Constant Pleasing

If you often find yourself striving to please your partner and accommodate their every wish, disregarding your own needs and desires, it is a sign that you are being used. A healthy relationship should involve a balance of compromise and consideration for each other’s happiness.

18. Imbalanced Effort

If you find yourself constantly giving and making efforts to please your partner while receiving little in return, it is likely that you are being taken advantage of. A healthy relationship should be built on mutual support, respect, and the genuine desire to meet each other’s needs. If you feel consistently undervalued and unappreciated, it is essential to reevaluate the dynamics of the relationship and consider whether it is a healthy and fulfilling partnership for you.

19. Emotional Disconnect

When a relationship solely revolves around physical intimacy without emotional commitment, it is a red flag that you may be used for the gratification of your partner’s desires while your emotional well-being is neglected. True connection encompasses both physical and emotional intimacy, and if one aspect is missing, it is essential to reassess the nature of the relationship.

20. You’re searching for reassurance. 

In a toxic relationship, you may find yourself turning to online platforms, such as social media or forums, to seek reassurance and validation. This behavior often arises from a lack of support and understanding within the relationship. You may search for confirmation or seek solace by comparing your experiences with others, hoping to find reassurance that your concerns and struggles are valid.

However, relying solely on online sources for reassurance may not provide a sustainable solution and can exacerbate feelings of insecurity and dependence. Healthy relationships are built on open communication and support from your partner, where you can openly express your needs and concerns without having to seek external validation. If you find yourself constantly searching for reassurance online, it may be indicative of underlying issues within the relationship that need to be addressed in a healthier and more direct manner.

If you want to see if 18 other signs apply to your relationship? Then you can text the toxic relationship quiz now.

Christina Daniels is the founder of Adorned Heart. She is devoted to learning about human behavior and its affects on society. She received a B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Public Policy. She hopes to use her life and academic experience to empower & heal the hearts of women!


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