Signs of a Toxic, Unhealthy Relationship

When it comes to romantic relationships, we all want to be with “The One.” We may describe this person in our way, but essentially we want someone who makes us feel seen, heard, and understood. We want to be in a loving, healthy relationship.

Sadly many of us can’t decipher a healthy relationship from a toxic, unhealthy one. Therefore, let’s look at five signs you may be in an unhealthy relationship.


  1. Lack of Trust

Trust is an essential part of any relationship. It’s an invisible glue that keeps two people together even when they’re apart. Oxford Languages and Google defines trust as the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” 

However, if you find yourself constantly questioning your partner’s actions and/ or words, or if they question yours, this could be a sign that trust is lacking in your relationship.

Personally, in the first four years of our marriage, I couldn’t trust my husband. He was not reliable, he was secretive and dishonest, and his words never matched his actions. He also lacked communication, which is on this list.

  1. Negativity and Criticism 

In a healthy relationship, both partners are positive in words and actions. They are gentle and understanding, and they praise one another and uplift each other. 

In an unhealthy relationship, however, the opposite occurs. If your partner is always putting you down, belittling you, making comparisons, or making you feel bad about yourself, you’re in a toxic relationship. 

I personally know such couples. It’s always awkward at the dinner table to hear these couples one-up each other, put the other person down, or call their partner a name, such as stupid.

  1. Lack of Communication 

Communication is vital in any relationship. It’s as simple as checking in with one another, such as a “How are you doing?” text, or letting your partner know that you’ll be late to your planned date together.

Yet, if you find that you and your partner are not communicating effectively, this is unhealthy. For instance, if they shut down any topic you want to talk about, don’t relay important information, or give you the cold shoulder or silent treatment, communication is lacking in your relationship.

As mentioned above, I was not able to trust my husband for many years because he wouldn’t communicate with me. Examples are: If my in-laws invited us to dinner, I wouldn’t know about it until my mother-in-law called the day-of; if my husband was going to visit friends right after work, I would only know after he doesn’t come home and I call home out of worry; if we had overdue bills to pay, he would leave me in the dark until our heat has been turned off.

  1. Controlling Behavior 

Controlling behavior may be hard for some of us to decipher, especially if the other person is “only being nice” or “looking out for you.” It’s also not an immediate red flag if our parents or caretakers were controlling, because we would consider our partner’s same behavior to be “normal.”

Concern arises through discernment and listening to your gut. If you feel your partner is controlling you—not for your best interest but rather their own—you may be right. They may be controlling if they constantly tell you how to dress, what to do with your day, who to see and not see, just to name a few.

My own mother was controlling. She would criticize my looks and tell me how to do my hair or to change out my outfit, which was not inappropriate; she would tell my sisters what to eat and how much, even though my sisters and I were sticks; and she would dictate how my dad spent his days after work and his weekends. She pretty much had to be the boss of everyone. 

  1. Isolation 

Isolation is removing someone from others so they are alone. This process may be slow and covered up with lies and excuses, such as “I don’t like your friends” or “Your family said some mean things about me”. These may be attempts to isolate you so that the other person can start controlling other aspects of your life, just to please themselves.

Folks who may have become isolated may not even admit it to themselves. They may not admit that they’ve lost friendships or thrown away their family just to please an unpleasable person. (ie. Prince Harry of the British Royal Family.)

Again, I personally know such people. I know couples who marry and you never see nor hear from them again, and couples whose relationships consist of only each other. And these folks never admit they’re lonely and isolated from friends and family. 


We all want to be in a healthy, loving relationship. Yet many of us may not know the signs of a toxic, unhealthy one. The list above consists of five signs to be aware of.

Before I end this article, please know that being in a toxic relationship can be damaging to your mental and emotional health. If you feel you are in an unhealthy relationship, I encourage you to seek help and/or end the relationship. It’s better to be alone with just yourself than to be in a relationship and feel alone.

Leave a Reply