“A Poisonous relationship can alter our perception. You can spend many years thinking you’re worthless. But you’re not worthless. You’re underappreciated.” – Steve Maraboli
Being in a bad or toxic relationship is often something that we don’t realize that we’re in until we’re out of it. Bad relationships can invade every other aspect of our lives, from our friendships to our family relationships. They can make you feel depressed or anxious for no reason.
Marriage & family therapist and author Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT says, “Healthy relationships nourish and support us. A toxic relationship, on the other hand, is like poison to us — instead of lifting us up, it makes us feel worse. When it ends, we might experience post-traumatic stress or a lessening of self-esteem and trust in ourselves and others.”
When you’re in a bad relationship, you’re probably ignoring all the signs – it’s what we do as humans to protect ourselves. If you’re in a toxic relationship, you may notice these signs that point towards a bad relationship that you don’t want to admit.
1. YOU’RE WONDERING IF YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS BAD
One of the first signs that you’re not actually in a good relationship is questioning whether or not your relationship is bad because “This is your subconscious telling you something,” says Relationship expert and couples therapist Nicole McCance.
You may have rough patches in normal relationships, but aren’t always wondering if your relationship is bad. But a bad relationship will have you wondering if your relationship is garbage – and that’s the first sign that you should be looking critically at your relationship.
2. YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE A PRIORITY
Does your partner put you first when you need it? Does your partner seem like the kind of person who will drop everything and help you when it’s really important? If not, then you’re probably in a relationship where you don’t feel like a priority to your partner. While we can’t always be top priority, you should feel like your partner cares about you.
3. IF THEY DON’T WANT TO DO SOMETHING, THEN YOU CAN’T DO IT EITHER
In a relationship, you sometimes have to do things you don’t want to do because it’s important to your partner, or because you want to make them happy. You may go see a movie you’re not interested in because your partner likes it. But in a bad relationship, if your partner doesn’t want to do something, then you probably won’t be allowed to do it either. If your partner doesn’t want to go to a movie, you’re probably not going to be able to see it.
In a toxic relationship, “… you are constantly put down, criticised and forced to do what is unacceptable to you and your values. When your autonomy in thoughts, words, and decisions is taken away and you start actually believing and accepting that you have no choice in any matter,” says psychotherapist and relationship counselor Dr. Minnu Bhonsle Ph.D.
4. YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY DISLIKE YOUR PARTNER
You have probably been on the other end of this situation. A friend or family member has been in a bad relationship, and you didn’t like their partner. If you’re suddenly on the opposite side of that, you may want to take your friends and family’s concern seriously. If your partner isn’t well-liked, it might be for a reason.
5. THEIR PROBLEMS ARE YOUR PROBLEMS
And your problems … are also your problems. This is a red flag. When your partner wants you to help with all of their problems, but doesn’t want to help you with yours, this is a sign that your relationship is just plain bad. You need to have a relationship where both partners help each other equally.
6. YOU DON’T TRUST THEM
If your partner is working late or hanging out with their friends, you’re suddenly worried about what it is they’re out doing. You may be trying to tell yourself there’s no reason to worry, but … if you’re worried, it’s probably for a good reason.
Clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., says, “When there is no trust there is no foundation. You can’t address communication issues, compatibility issues, and intimacy issues if there is no trust. If you fundamentally don’t trust your partner on any level, the relationship is poisoned.”
You shouldn’t have to worry about what your partner is up to in a good and healthy relationship.
7. YOU’RE HAPPIER WHEN THEY’RE NOT AROUND
If your partner goes on a trip or leaves for the night, you may feel a huge rush of relief. And that’s not normal!
“If you’re all that excited to have a weekend alone, consider that the reason for your joy is that they’re draining you when they’re around. You should be happy to have a break, but not that happy,” says relationship expert and author April Masini.
You may just try to tell yourself that you’re an introvert, but the truth is that you’re just happier when your partner isn’t around. This is the biggest sign of an unhappy or bad relationship.
8. YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING
Food, bills, rent, entertainment, furniture… no matter what it is, you’re always paying. Your partner seems to always be needing you to pay for things, and offering to pay you back … but you haven’t seen a dime. This is a big sign that you’re being used, and being used is a sign that you’re in a bad relationship.
9. YOU’RE CONSTANTLY WORRIED ABOUT BREAKING UP
No matter what kind of disagreement that you have, you are always worried about breaking up. You could be disagreeing about what to have for dinner, or whose family’s house to go to for Christmas. Whatever the disagreement is, it seems to always spiral out of control to an argument that feels like the end of your relationship.
10. THEY’RE ALWAYS MENTALLY ELSEWHERE
When you’re spending time together, your partner seems like they’re just mentally distant. They’re not engaging with you or with the things that you’re doing together. They may always be on their phone, or they just may sound or look bored. You may think that it’s just you, but that’s not true. This is a red flag that you’re in a bad relationship and it’s time to move on.
11. YOU’RE TRYING TO REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES
When things get bad, you’re always trying to remember when things were good. This may be only the first few months of the relationship, or they may be only certain snippets of time. This is a sign that the relationship is bad and doesn’t show any sign of getting better.
“If you’re starting to have thoughts like, ‘This is not like it used to be,’ ‘This is not what I signed up for,’ or ‘This doesn’t feel good anymore,’ it is possible that what was a good relationship has turned toxic. If you find that your partner doesn’t feel much like a partner or lover any longer—and he or she is bringing you down more than lifting you up, you need to rethink your relationship.” says relationship expert Sofia Milan.
Therefore, if you’re not looking forward to more good times and are only looking back, you might need to accept that the relationship is bad.
Bad relationships are hard to accept, especially when you’re in the middle of one.
“If you are experiencing a toxic relationship, then you likely move in and out of a state of denial about how unhealthy it truly is. At one moment you feel revulsion and at another you are making excuses and justifying your partner’s intolerable behavior,” says relationship expert, psychologist and author Jill P. Weber, Ph.D.
Admitting to yourself that your relationship is bad or toxic is one of the first steps that everyone has to take in order to start to escape them. If your relationship sounds a lot like this list, it may be time to start considering that it’s time to leave the relationship and find someone who appreciates you.