9 Signs You’re In A Toxic Relationship

By Mika Maddela, Dr Marian Stansbury, and Keri Nola for YourTango.com.

We recently surveyed more than 100 YourTango Experts and discovered that 89% of them felt that half (or more!) of all people are in toxic relationships. So we asked them, “What are the most common, telltale signs of a toxic relationship?” Topping their list of responses was “you spend more time fighting than enjoying each other,” with a whopping 82% of the vote.

More from YourTango: 15 Signs You’re In An Abusive Relationship

But that’s not the only sign of a toxic relationship. Here are nine more:

1. Hostility. Is your significant other hostile toward you? Is he/she angry a lot of the time? If you feel you are living with a lot of tension, feeling stressed and not able to express yourself the way you want, your relationship is not healthy for you. You want to feel the safety and security to express your authentic self. -Dr. Marian Stansbury

2. Criticism and contempt. Does your significant other criticize or demean you? Are you on edge much of the time because you feel that you can’t please your partner or do anything right? Does he/she make fun of you or criticize you in public, in front of friends or family? Does he/she act superior towards you or mock you? These are all warning signs of an unhappy, dysfunctional relationship. -Dr. Marian Stansbury

3. Avoidance. Does he/she avoid you? Maybe he/she gives double messages that make you feel confused (e.g. saying “Of course I love you” while not behaving in a loving manner). When he/she doesn’t want to be physically affectionate, you end up feeling rejected. Meanwhile, he/she complains that you are too needy. -Dr. Marian Stansbury

More from YourTango: The Best Love Advice On YourTango

4. Rigidity. Is your partner open to being influenced by you? Is he/she self-reflective? When you express how you feel and ask for what you want, does he/she listen and make an effort to meet your needs? If he/she refuses to acknowledge that your feelings and needs are important, and refuses to go to counseling, you may be stuck in a toxic relationship. Then you need to ask yourself, “What do I need to do for myself to be happy and satisfied with my life?” -Dr. Marian Stansbury

5. Name calling. Also known as “dirty fighting,” name calling is a definite sign of toxicity in a relationship. Attempting to hurt someone with words is not the way to resolve conflict or communicate hurt feelings. Problems usually escalate quickly when name-calling is present and it makes it especially difficult to create intimacy and connection in the relationship. -Keri Nola

6. You aren’t yourself. Do you change your likes, dislikes or opinions when you’re with your partner? Feeling like you can’t be yourself and adjusting to please for fear of retaliation can be a sign of a toxic relationship. It’s important to be able to express yourself honestly in your relationship for authentic love to grow. -Keri Nola

More from YourTango: 7 Sex Positions Men Love

7. He’s more like an over-involved parent. I’m not talking about the kind who drives you to your violin recital. I’m talking about the kind who decides your career, what school you go to and who you hang out with. When your guy acts like an over-involved parent, he chooses which friends stay, which ones go and what kind of clothes you should wear. You’ve learned from past experiences that your thoughts and opinions do not matter to him and if you express them, you will regret it later on. -Mika Maddela

8. He’s the king of guilt trips. He has a certain knack for making you feel guilty and indebted to him. You feel obligated to give in to whatever he wants, especially when he reminds you of that thoughtful gesture he’s done for you lately. When every gesture comes with strings attached, it might be time to cut the cord. -Mika Maddela

9. He’s your secret lover … but not in a good way. Your family and friends don’t like the way he treats you. Since they are more likely to give unsolicited relationship advice, you’re afraid that what they have to say may be the truth. So, you tend to avoid talking about him, bringing him around, or involving him in any way with your friends and family. -Mika Maddela

This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 9 Warning Signs Of A Toxic Relationship.


Robert German
Past Member 4 years ago

This is an informative blog by which I have got that info which I really wanted to get. Full 8 Colores Article

Jess No Fwd Plz K.
Jessica K5 years ago

Good tips; though I might add that when it comes to verbal/mental games, women can be as bad as men, and this article seems to imply that only guys are the ones who engage in bad behavior. As women are equal in moral fortitude, I believe women with true self-esteem will not only not put up with bad behavior from others, but not engage in it themselves by demeaning their own spirit. Guys involved with toxic women are just as much a victim as women involved with toxic men; as is also true for those in homosexual relationships whether male or female. Thanks.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

I was in one of these for a YEAR at 15, very abusive. Put me in the hospital with broken ribs TWICE. terrible

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elisa Faulkner- Uriarte
Elisa F5 years ago

Thank you for sharing such an important message for all.

Syd H.
Syd H5 years ago

Another toxic sign?

And, it's usually lopsided. Much more points for what they do, and hardly any credit for what you do, but what you do not do, or is perceived as against them is also made into much more but as a debt.

Then comes the "getting even" thing. Not pretty.

Sandi O'Donovan
Sandra O'Donovan5 years ago

Had a few of the above in my relationship, but it takes years of saying the same thing or trying to explain to him indoors, ( cause men switch off) when they don't want to hear certain things, of how it makes me feel that in some things the penny has finally dropped! With other stuff still banging my head off the wall...

Nimue Pendragon

People need to be told these things? The mind boggles.

Ken G.
Ken G5 years ago

While you all go into the 'lady's room' and discuss points about what's toxic there seems to be a complete avoidance in actually understanding our gender differences. The thing I like about these toxic behaviors is anybody that focuses on them would have me owning up to all of them. One of the main things I listen for in my communication with females is what they have to say was wrong with the last male in their lives because I am definitely sure that I have those same exact things wrong with me.

I communicate with a woman I know from the gym who I have known for better then ten years. She is always in relationships and always has problems with them. Our sharing grows naturally which took time for both of us to earn each other's trust and respect. I'm used to making decisions on what I think is best for others from both being in business and being a father and husband. It was always what was best for the entire family or customers that came first so that's my background in reasoning. In our last conversation this woman brought up how they were both controlling. My response is that is a God given gift for her but not her boyfriend. Controlling is fear and the only way she would give fear up is for her to feel secure with her boyfriend. I added that if I would've know enough about earning my wife's trust and respect I could've had a good marriage. Yet I knew without a doubt the I did have to earn our daughter's trust and respect so they could feel secure turning to me as the

Edgar Zuim
Edgar Zuim5 years ago

As the love ends, any relationship becomes a war.