21 Telltale Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

Unfortunately, many people are oblivious to the warning signals of an unhealthy relationship, while others immediately see the red flags but stay in denial.

Signs of a toxic relationship can be subtle enough that it’s easy to sweep them under the rug or excuse them as just a rough patch that all relationships endure. Or sometimes, the signs can be as clear as the blue sky.

Regardless of whether or not these problems seem big or insignificant to anyone else, nobody should be made to feel like they have to settle for anything less than a healthy, loving connection with someone else.

Healthy relationships require work, but they’re worth it. In a study of over 1600 people, those in committed relationships were less likely to experience mental health problems or be obese or overweight. They also reported having an overall greater sense of well-being.

A respectful relationship should be the minimum you expect in a partnership, especially from someone you love and trust and who says they love you.

When your love for someone else consumes you, losing yourself and who you are is easy. You should be able to love someone without compromising your well-being.

When any of the following signs of an unhealthy relationship apply to you, you should consider letting them go.

1. You Hide Things from Your Partner

People don’t tell their partner everything in a relationship, but if you’re constantly hiding things to keep them from becoming angry, there’s a problem. You walk on eggshells because all it takes is one comment or look, and you’ve lit the fuse.

You know what will set them off, but you shouldn’t have to sneak around or lie to avoid upsetting them. Trust and respect are the foundations of a successful relationship, so you’re headed for bigger issues if they find out you’ve been hiding things.

For example, you want to hang out with your buddies, but you know she will get upset if you tell her. So what do you do? You tell her you’re visiting your mother because she would make your life a living hell if she knew the truth. You’ve lied to her because you figured that was your last resort.

Stop deceiving when you want to do things you enjoy. At the very least, you should come up with a compromise. (Instead of hanging out all weekend with your friends, you’ll only go out on Saturday night.)

If she’s completely against compromising, you may need to find another relationship where your partner respects your interests.

2. You Make Excuses for Your Significant Other

Stop making up excuses for their bad behavior. Of course, you’ll want to come to your partner’s defense because you love and care about them, but as much as you hate to admit it, you defend them because you’re also preoccupied with what others think about your relationship. It’s not your responsibility to justify their actions.

One prime example is a guy who is abusing his girlfriend. She’ll use makeup to cover up the bruises, and when asked about the broken bones, she’ll say she ran into a door or come up with some other excuse to take the blame off of him.

In this case, excusing his toxic behavior is particularly unsettling. Sadly, the abuse could result in something much worse than broken bones.

3. Your Partner Lacks Respect

As previously mentioned, respect is part of a solid foundation of any relationship, so if your partner lacks that, your connection is standing on shaky grounds right from the jump.

All healthy relationships should have mutual respect, period! If they’re decent individuals, they will treat you as such without questions. You shouldn’t have to tolerate any less, and why would you want to?

For example, if your partner treats you like a child by picking out your clothes, tells you how to pay your bills, or tells you what you should and shouldn’t eat, they’re not respecting you as a person, more specifically, an adult person. Instead, they view you as someone they want you to be rather than who you want to be.

In this scenario, it’s best to address it sooner rather than later. If they don’t correct their actions, it may be time to move on and find someone who does give you the respect you want and deserve.

4. You Avoid Fights by Any Means Necessary

You walk around your own house on eggshells all day because if that’s what it takes to avoid another knock-down, drag-out argument, then that’s what you’ll do. But how is that healthy for you?

Relations aren’t perfect, but you should not be the one bearing all the weight to keep it going. You might think you’re helping the situation by not addressing issues, but when you let things go, they will appear later and have even more dire consequences than if you handled the issue in the first place.

It’s unhealthy if you’re letting things go because of the fear of your partner breaking up with you or getting into another heated argument.

When you bottle up your emotions, you risk becoming physically, mentally, and emotionally ill. If you’re scared to express your feelings to your partner, this person is not for you.

5. You Can’t Be Your True Self

You shouldn’t have to suppress certain parts of your personality and who you are because you want your partner to accept you.

For example, if you’re a meat eater, and your partner isn’t, they should respect your choice to eat red meat just as you respect theirs.

If your partner can’t accept everything about you, they can’t completely love you and all that you are. If this is the case, they don’t deserve you. Pack up your shit and move on.

Over time, people change, and we get that. But that’s precisely the point. If you love them, it doesn’t matter how much they change or how much weight they gain because you love them and everything about them, not just their physical characteristics.

Would you leave your partner if they became physically disabled or suddenly had emotional issues? If you love them, you will try to get them the help they need. That’s what’s called being in a healthy and mature relationship.

6. You Need Permission to Do Things

You’re not eight years old, so you don’t need permission to hang out with your friends on Friday night.

While it’s nice to consider your partner’s feelings when making decisions, you shouldn’t base your decision solely on what they think. This also means you don’t need to ask for their opinion.

For example, asking, “Do you think I can hang out with the guys on Friday?” is more like asking for permission than an opinion.

Do they ask for your permission to do things? No? Then why are you asking theirs? It shouldn’t be only one of you who can say yes or no. You both are grown-ass adults, so act like it! You both should be completely free to do whatever the hell you want.

However, there is a difference between asking for an opinion and getting permission. Asking for an opinion goes something like this:

“Do you think those black pants look good on me?” This is fine. You’re asking for an opinion because you genuinely want to know what your partner thinks.

Asking permission is more like this:

“Can I buy those black pants to wear to the party Friday night?” You’re asking for permission to do something you already want to do, and in this case, it’s buying those black pants. Whether or not they go to that party on Friday night is a different topic altogether.

7. You Always Feel like You’re Doing Something Wrong

You have constant anxiety about not knowing your relationship’s state, which can be debilitating.

You’re wondering, “Are they mad at me?” Or you’re thinking, “What did I do wrong this time?” These are two questions that someone in a loving, healthy relationship shouldn’t have to ponder daily (or hourly, in some cases).

This goes along with needing permission (see above). Because you don’t want to get the side-eye from your partner, you’re constantly asking for permission. This way, you already know what they do or don’t approve of, so you take away some risks.

When you’re in a relationship where you regularly fear you may be doing something wrong, it can become exhausting. Ultimately, you’ll get tired of the disapproving glances and likely end the relationship and move on to a healthier one.

8. Your Partner Makes You Feel Bad about Yourself

They may make “innocent” jabs here and there in a condescending tone, but this is in no way acceptable in a healthy relationship.

For example, when returning home from going out with your friends, your partner says, “Why did you wear that out?” or “That skirt makes you look bigger than you are.”

If your partner loves and respects you as much as they say they do, they will never put you down in any form. Then when you say you’re hurt, they say, “I was only kidding. Can’t you take a joke?” It begins as rude remarks occasionally, but eventually, it happens more regularly.

Often, this is a form of psychological abuse and a way to control your partner. Many times a person stays in a relationship like this because they suffer from low self-esteem or lack of self-worth.

Sometimes, people don’t understand the extent of their hurtful comments. If you’re in a relationship like this, talk to your partner and let them know how you feel.

But, if you’ve told them repeatedly that their comments hurt you and they continue to say them, they’re not the person for you.

9. Family and Friends Tell You You’re Not Yourself Anymore

Your family and friends will likely notice changes in you long before you do. They may witness mood swings, changes in personality, or even big characteristic changes that you may be blind to. Sometimes we don’t recognize the issue, and it takes people on the outside to tell us.

Unfortunately, your partner’s pessimistic attitude can rub off on you after spending so much time together. Studies indicate that negativity spreads faster than positivity, so even if you were positive at the beginning of the relationship, your attitude might have changed over time.

10. Your Partner Blames You for Everything

Nothing is more frustrating than having a partner who blames you for everything. For example, if he’s late for dinner, he’ll blame you somehow. You should’ve reminded me earlier. Then I could’ve been here before five o’clock.

According to them, everything is your fault, and they take ownership of nothing. This becomes unfair and exhausting because you’re sick and tired of being the fall guy for any bumps in your relationship.

If your partner doesn’t take responsibility for their part in the mistake, you shouldn’t be the one who has to fix it. But pointing the finger at you is much easier than owning up to and dealing with the problem, so they figure, why not put it back on their partner’s plate?

11. There’s a Relief at the Thought of Moving On

Do you sit around and think about life without your partner? Do you think about and are excited about leaving them? If so, that’s a problem.

Sure, it sounds nice to have a little space between the both of you, and that’s normal, especially if you’ve been spending a lot of time together. However, if you can’t see them in your future and feel happy about that, you may be in a toxic and loveless relationship.

People grow apart, so it’s natural that you want to do things without them. But the plan is to do things individually so that when you come back together, you have new and exciting things to discuss.

The goal shouldn’t be to do things individually, only to move on from the relationship altogether. You should save time and move on now if that’s how you feel.

12. Your Work Life Is Being Affected Negatively Because of Your Relationship

When you stay in contact with your significant other, it can hurt or harm your relationship. For example, when a healthy couple contacts each other throughout the day with little messages of appreciation and love, it can make your workday run smoothly.

However, if you’re in an unhealthy relationship and your partner calls you throughout the day, picking at you in an attempt to start an argument, it can ruin your day and even cause problems at work.

Constant check-ins in a toxic relationship are a sign of distrust. Arguing back and forth via text can disturb your productivity at work. It can ruin your mood and focus when you can’t separate your personal life from your professional life.

After work hours, the tension at home isn’t much better because of the constant negative communication on the job. So, you find yourself bringing that same damaging energy back into the following workday.

13. You Both Bring Out the Worst in Each Other

In a relationship, you’re supposed to inspire one another to be the best they can be. They should never act as a trigger for the other person, even when they know which buttons to push.

For instance, she hates it when he flirts with other women, yet, he does it anyway. It’s not like he does it because that’s a part of his personality, and he can’t help it. He does it because he knows she will get jealous and upset. So, whenever she gets on his nerves about something, he resorts to his go-to in retaliation.

Or, she spends much time on social media, and he can’t stand that. To push his buttons and get under his skin, she stays on social media all night, knowing he’s seething in bed beside her.

Instead of uplifting each other, people in unhealthy relationships do things to torment one another. They’ve been doing it so often that they don’t even realize they’re doing it anymore.

14. Your Relationship Is a Rollercoaster of Emotions

The one thing you can say about some unhealthy relationships is that it never gets boring. This reason is precisely why some couples stay together for so long.

Without even realizing it, they may find a certain thrill in constantly having to stay on their toes and wondering what will happen next.

This is unhealthy and should never be why a couple stays together. To happily survive, they need a stronger, trusting foundation and more stability. Otherwise, they’ll burn out and move on to another rollercoaster relationship.

15. Your Needs Are Shelved

No relationship should revolve around one person. Instead, both parties should have their wants and needs met.

Your desires are equally important, and you should feel comfortable telling your partner so. However, you’re not in a relationship if your partner is unwilling to compromise. You’re in a dictatorship.

It’s okay to temporarily put your needs on the back burner while you both work to obtain your partner’s goals, but it should only be short-term until you both are ready to work toward your goals. That’s what’s considered a healthy relationship.

16. You Can’t Imagine Yourself as Happy

You’ve been this sad, tired person for so long that you no longer know what happiness is. However, miserable is your middle name.

Even when you entertain the thought of leaving, you figure you’ll only find the same situation with someone new, so why bother?

That’s partly true. Often, people tend to carry old baggage into a new relationship, so if you’re miserable now, you’ll likely be unhappy with someone new.

So, how do you fix that? You can either stay in the relationship and go to couples counseling for professional help or decide to leave your current relationship.

But don’t jump right into another romantic situation. Take some time to find your happiness alone. Only when you’re satisfied with your life alone can you find a healthy relationship with someone new.

17. They Fear Speaking Up

When you don’t have a say in your relationship, it becomes a significant issue because you’re always doing what you’re partner wants. You fear speaking your opinion because you know it will ignite another argument, so you decide to keep quiet.

You’d rather go along with whatever they say so you don’t have to deal with another confrontation.

18. Your Relationship Is More Negative than Positive

We’ve already established that relationships aren’t perfect, but they shouldn’t be negative all the time.

You should have easy and fun times, too. But when it’s a constant battle, the nuggets of good times seem few and far between. But you base your decision to stay together on those sporadic happier times. But often, it’s not always worth it.

When you weigh the good times against the bad and see that the negative reigns supreme, you should reconsider staying in the relationship.

19. You’ve Started Questioning Your Self-Worth

When you start questioning your value in the relationship, you need to think a little deeper about staying with your partner. No one, including your partner or spouse, should make you feel unworthy or less than others.

A loving partner will remind you how much you mean to them and what value you bring to the relationship, even when you don’t ask. They often recognize when you’re feeling down on yourself, so they try to pick you up as best as possible.

20. You Feel Stuck

You fear being alone but also don’t want to be in your current relationship, so you don’t know what to do. You don’t want to leave your partner because you don’t think you will find anyone better than you already have. You can’t imagine a life without them, even if that life sucks, so you stick it out.

Sometimes finances are the issue. Many spouses without jobs find themselves tied to their partner because they don’t have the financial means to move on.

Sticking with a relationship that causes you more grief than happiness doesn’t make sense. So, if you want to leave, talk to trusted family and friends who can assist you emotionally and financially.

21. The Trust Is Gone

It doesn’t matter how strong a relationship is. A lack of trust will always be the downfall. Unfortunately, the power of doubt can weaken any foundation and can cause insecurity in one or both partners. Manipulative and controlling actions often accompany jealousy.

People enter into relationships with the best intentions. You never hope to be in a toxic situation, yet, it happens. Don’t be ashamed if you ever find yourself in an unhealthy circumstance. Decide if the relationship is worth saving, and if it is, you may want to seek professional help.

However, if you don’t believe this is the right situation for you, another option is to move on. Only you know what’s best, so take your time and make a decision that’s right for you.