Love is a beautiful thing, but not all relationships are created equal. Sometimes, what starts as a whirlwind romance can turn into a storm that disrupts your life in ways you never expected.
I’ve been there, lost in a relationship that drained me emotionally.
While my ex wasn’t a bad person, our dynamics were toxic, bringing out the worst in both of us.
It took me time to recognize the signs and muster the courage to move on.
In this article, I’ll share 8 undeniable signs that a toxic relationship might be ruining your life.
1) Constant anxiety
One of the most telling signs that a relationship is toxic is the constant sense of anxiety it induces.
It’s normal to have ups and downs in any relationship, but if you find yourself feeling perpetually anxious, it’s time to take a closer look.
In my own experience, I found myself always on edge, worrying about what would trigger the next argument or upset.
Even when things were calm, the peace felt uneasy, like the quiet before a storm — and I felt a sense of stress, like “How do I make sure we can keep this sense of peace?”
I didn’t even realize how much this was weighing on me until after I got out of the relationship, because I had gotten used to it.
But take a moment and take stock of the kind of thoughts you tend to have. Are they mostly positive and light, or are they full of anxieties and worries about what could happen next?
2) You’re walking on eggshells
When you’re constantly worried about saying or doing the wrong thing, you’re not truly living, you’re surviving.
That’s how I felt in my past relationship — like I was navigating a minefield where one wrong step could set off an explosion.
My ex was a very temperamental guy, and I was shocked at how even simple questions like “Can I open the window?” would trigger conflict that could drag on for yours. (“Sure, if you don’t give a crap about me freezing to death at night, go ahead and open it.”)
This was definitely not one of his best traits, and my defensiveness played right into it.
Eventually, my mind came to expect fights to start at any moment, and I would try to filter everything I said to try to avoid them at all costs.
This kind of situation was obviously not good for me, but not for my ex either. Because while I was trying to protect my wellbeing, I was also preventing myself from being my authentic self — and so who was my ex dating in the first place?
3) Emotional or physical abuse
Now, this is a big one, and it’s a red flag that should never be ignored.
In my case, there wasn’t physical abuse, but there were instances where I felt emotionally manipulated and controlled. Sometimes, this can be just as damaging.
It could be comments meant to tear down your self-esteem or actions designed to make you feel small. Maybe your partner tries to isolate you from friends and family, or threatens you in subtle ways that make you feel trapped.
And don’t think that just because they aren’t laying a hand on you, it’s not abuse. Emotional abuse can be much more subtle but equally damaging. It’s like a snake slowly coiling around you, tightening its grip until you feel like you can’t breathe.
If you find yourself in a relationship where abuse — emotional or physical — is a factor, then it’s time to make some serious decisions for your safety and well-being.
Reach out to people you trust, or professionals, and take steps to protect yourself.
4) You’re always apologizing
Ever found yourself saying “sorry” more times than you can count? I know I did.
In a toxic relationship, one partner often takes on the role of the “apologizer” while the other becomes the “accuser.”
It’s an unhealthy dynamic that can leave you constantly feeling at fault, even when you’ve done nothing wrong.
In my experience, I felt like I was always the one making amends, even when I was convinced I hadn’t done anything to warrant it. I would say “sorry” just to keep the peace, or to avoid another argument.
The problem is, when you’re always the one apologizing, you start to lose a sense of your own worth. You start to believe maybe you are the problem, which can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem.
Or, like me, you might accumulate a feeling of deep resentment which may take months or even years to break down.
Relationships should be about balance. Sure, we all make mistakes and saying “sorry” is part of being in any relationship. But if you’re always the one making concessions, something’s not right.
5) Your self-esteem is taking a hit
Your relationship should uplift you, make you feel valued and loved, not the opposite.
So if you find that you’re constantly doubting yourself and your worth because of how your partner treats you, then it’s a clear sign that things aren’t as they should be.
In my past relationship, I could feel my self-esteem gradually eroding away, as though I was losing pieces of myself.
It wasn’t a sudden drop, but more like a slow leak, making it even harder to notice until the damage was done.
This kind of emotional erosion can take a toll on your mental health, so be vigilant. Your worth is not tied to anyone else, and a loving partner should reinforce that, not undermine it.
Remember, you deserve to be in a relationship that brings out the best in you, not the worst.
6) They frequently lie
Trust is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. When it’s broken, everything else starts to crumble.
In my own experience, I had to face the uncomfortable truth that my ex was not honest with me on more than one occasion.
Small lies snowballed into bigger ones, and soon enough, I found myself questioning everything he said.
A lie here and there might seem inconsequential at first, but don’t underestimate the toll it takes on your trust and emotional well-being.
When you’re always doubting your partner’s words, it’s like a thorn in your side that never goes away. You can never fully relax or feel secure.
And if you’re constantly being lied to, what kind of relationship is that? One built on deceit can never be healthy. It’s time to ask yourself if this is the kind of love you want to live with.
7) You sacrifice your needs and wants
In a balanced relationship, compromise is key. But there’s a big difference between compromising and outright sacrificing your own needs and wants for the sake of your partner.
I remember giving up opportunities for growth — both personal and career-wise — because I thought it would make my relationship stronger.
For example, I gave up Latin dancing because I could see he felt uncomfortable about me dancing with other guys. And, I didn’t participate in a professional development course because he complained that I wasn’t spending enough quality time with him.
I put my own dreams on the back burner, thinking it was the “right” thing to do.
In reality, all it did was make me lose sight of who I was and what I wanted in life. A loving partner should support your ambitions, not hold you back from them.
If you find that you’re making sacrifices with things that are important to you, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate. Are you losing yourself to keep someone else happy?
If the answer is yes, you might be in a toxic relationship.
8) Your health is suffering
A toxic relationship can be a real drain, not just emotionally but physically as well.
In my case, I started losing sleep, my appetite dwindled, and my stress levels were through the roof.
I even developed health issues I’d never had before, all because of the relentless tension and strife.
Remember, your body often knows what your mind hasn’t come to accept yet. Headaches, a lack of energy, or even more severe health issues can all be signs that your relationship is taking a toll on your well-being.
Don’t ignore these signs. Your health is your most valuable asset, and no relationship is worth sacrificing it for.
It’s time to choose you
You deserve love that lifts you up, not one that brings you down.
If these signs resonate with you, it’s time to take a hard look at your relationship. Nobody should compromise their well-being for the sake of love.
Remember, it’s not just about surviving in a relationship; it’s about thriving.
Take the steps you need to protect your emotional and physical health. Your future self will thank you for it.