It’s difficult to be an objective observer of your own relationships. When you’re so emotionally invested in the partnership, you may find yourself feeling confused or conflicted. Toxic traits can be subtle and pervasive, but you want to believe the best in yourself and your partner. By knowing the signs of an unhealthy relationship, though, you can take a closer look at your connections with others and evaluate whether they’re helpful or harmful.
Keep in mind that any type of relationship has the potential to be unhealthy. While this list focuses primarily on romantic relationships, there can also be unhealthy or toxic patterns in a friendship, familial relationship, or professional relationship. It’s important that you regularly reflect on all of your close relationships to make sure both you and the other person are happy.
Here Are Nine Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
1. Dishonesty Is Common
If you and your partner are regularly lying to each other, you’re probably in an unhealthy relationship. While everyone tells occasional, harmless white lies, lying consistently is a sign of a lack of trust, and it can have long-term effects on the partnership. The truth usually comes out eventually, and when one person knows the other has lied, it can be difficult to trust them again.
2. Negative Influences Are More Common than Positive
Think about the ways in which you and your partner have changed each other’s behavior or lifestyle choices. In a healthy relationship, both people should positively influence the other. You should feel like a better person because your partner is in your life.
An unhealthy relationship often leads to harmful habits like smoking, heavy drinking, or overeating. It may contribute to negative personality traits as well, such as impatience, laziness, or a short temper. Consider how you and your partner have changed since you first became a couple. Do you have more positive or negative habits now? Did your partner play a role in this change?
3. Your Partner Mocks or Teases You
Playful teasing in a close relationship is normal as long as the person on the receiving end isn’t upset with the jokes. However, if your partner regularly mocks you in a hurtful way, the relationship may not be healthy. This is especially true if you communicate to them that you don’t like the teasing, but they continue anyway.
Another sign of an unhealthy relationship is frequent jokes about leaving you. Although they may not actually be planning to leave, joking about this can be very hurtful.
4. You Feel like the Relationship Is Conditional
In a relationship, you should know that your partner loves you unconditionally. The love shouldn’t be based on what you do, say, or offer to the other person, and you shouldn’t worry that they’ll stop loving you if you make a small mistake. If your partner implies that they only love you and value the relationship because of one thing, like your appearance or your income, it may be a warning sign.
5. You’re Isolated from Family and Friends
You should never give up your other relationships for one person. It’s always important to have a healthy network of friends and family, and one of the most common signs of a bad relationship is isolation from others.
Sometimes, isolation happens when the person becomes so consumed with the relationship or dependent on their partner that they forget to maintain their other relationships. Other times, the partner intentionally isolates the individual from their friends or family. If your partner discourages you from seeing other people or speaks badly about your friends or family, there may be a problem in the relationship.
6. You’re Always Scared of Breaking Up
Everyone has their insecurities, but always being scared of a breakup is not healthy. You may worry constantly about breaking up if your partner hints that they plan to leave you or if you have a history of splitting up and getting back together. You might panic after even a small argument because you’re scared that your partner will leave, or you may feel like you’re walking on eggshells to prevent a breakup.
7. You and Your Partner Ignore Important Topics
In some cases, the warning signs for a couple aren’t the things they do or say, but the problem lies in the conversations they don’t have. If you and your partner avoid talking about critical topics, such as having children, career paths, or other major life decisions, it may be a sign that you have some fundamental differences or that you’re worried about the future.
You may also notice that you and your partner never talk through issues. Every couple has an occasional conflict or disagreement, but the ability to work through these challenges together is what makes a relationship healthy. A common warning sign is getting into an argument, not resolving it, and then never acknowledging it again.
8. You Imagine Life Without the Other Person
You should feel like your life is better because your partner is with you. If you find yourself daydreaming about not having the person in your life, it could be a sign that you’re not happy in the partnership. You may think about how your life would be different if you were single, or you might fantasize about dating a friend or colleague.
9. The Relationship Is Codependent
Codependency happens when one person in the partnership relies entirely on the other to meet their emotional needs. Both partners in a healthy couple take on equally supportive roles. The dynamic can be harmful if one person is almost always the “giver” and the other is the “taker.”
A codependent partner may have difficulty communicating, making decisions, or trusting themselves. Their sense of identity may come solely from their role as the supporter. If you feel like your sense of self-worth or validation depends on your ability to take care of your partner, there may be an issue.
There are many signs of an unhealthy relationship, and all couples may experience different challenges. Sometimes, people see many small warning signs in their relationships. Other times, only one problem builds up until it damages the relationship as a whole. Being aware of the most common red flags can help you assess your own relationships with romantic partners, friends, and family.
Experiencing these issues isn’t necessarily a sign that the relationship is doomed, though. In some cases, both people are healthier and happier when they part ways. However, relationships can often grow stronger with counseling if both people are committed to the process. Only you can decide what is best for yourself and your relationship, so self-reflection is key.
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group offers counseling services to clients in the L.A. area. Our team has a wide variety of specialties, including couples counseling, addiction counseling, and therapy for young professionals. Contact us today to connect with a therapist in Los Angeles.