Are You In a Bad Romance? 4 Subtle Signs of A Toxic Relationship

By  //  June 17, 2022

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When relationships are healthy and happy, they enhance our lives and bring out the best in us. Unfortunately, not every partnership has these characteristics, and some are very bad for both people and cause a lot of emotional turmoil.

Everyone wants to believe that the status of their relationship is informed by positive things, so it’s often really hard to notice and even admit that their relationship isn’t healthy; that it might in fact be a toxic one. 

Not every sign of toxicity is blatantly noticeable on the surface – sometimes there are very subtle signs that something isn’t quite right and that it might escalate to something far more negative. Here are some less noticeable signs of toxicity that you need to pay attention to. 

An Unwillingness to Take Responsibility 

In a relationship, disagreements are inevitable. There will be times where you and your partner see things differently, and even moments where one upsets the other. In a healthy partnership, the partner who is in the wrong will take responsibility and apologize, but in an unhealthy relationship, they will blame their partner for everything, and make it their fault. No one is 100% right all the time, and the emotionally mature way to handle this is to own it. 

If someone keeps blaming you for everything that goes wrong, it can wear away your self-esteem, make you doubt yourself and even cross into abusive territory. You can also study how your partner talks about other conflicts they face at work or with friends to recognize signs of not being able to take responsibility. If everything is a co-worker’s fault, or a friend or family member’s fault, and nothing is ever on them, this is a red flag you need to really be aware of. 

Emotional Blackmail 

One of the clear signs of a toxic relationship is someone weaponizing how you feel about them and using it to control how you behave. Also known as emotional blackmail, this is a form of manipulation that you might not notice is actually happening to you. 

This can happen in many ways including; 

■ Threatening to leave if you don’t do what they want 

■ Threatening violence or self-harm when you say you want to leave the relationship

■ Playing victim when they are in the wrong, and reacting emotionally to avoid taking responsibility 

■ Making you constantly prove your love to them 

■ Using other people to make you feel jealous or threatened 

■ Gaslighting you and making you question your own reality 

■ Keeping score of your mistakes and throwing them in your face 

Emotional blackmail is a form of emotional abuse, and it can also be a precursor to physical abuse, but there’s something people often don’t think about. An emotional blackmailer can hold you hostage in a relationship you don’t want to be in and retaliate when you still leave.

For example, they can falsely accuse you of domestic violence in a bid to ruin your life. According to Phoenix domestic violence defense lawyer, Aaron Black, false abuse allegations are quite common, and many people have had their lives, careers, and reputations completely taken apart by them. Many toxic relationships end up this way when one partner decides to take the other person down after they decide to get out of the marriage or relationship. 

Walking on Eggshells 

In a healthy relationship, you feel free to be yourself. In a toxic partnership you constantly walk on eggshells, afraid that something you say or do can spark an argument or a negative reaction. It could be because your partner has a really short fuse, or because you feel like they will leave you if you bring something up; either way it’s not a healthy situation if you can’t be 100% open and honest. 

Constant Belittling 

Your partner is meant to be the person who supports you above everyone else. They are your biggest fan and they want the best for you. In a toxic relationship, your partner makes you feel small and insignificant. Perhaps they call you stupid, make you feel like your achievements aren’t important or they constantly criticize you and never give you any compliments. This is usually in a bid to lower your self-esteem so they can manipulate you even further. 

The best way to think of a toxic relationship is that it brings out the very worst in you, instead of the best. You never feel safe, happy or at ease. It makes you feel awful all the time, and you are reduced to the worst reactions and behavior just to get through it. This isn’t normal or healthy, and if your relationship shows these indicators, it might be time to get some help or to leave the partnership entirely.