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5 Signs a Relationship Might Be Toxic

  • Becky Weber Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 19 Nov
5 Signs a Relationship Might Be Toxic

Relationships are a key aspect of all our lives. Whether those relationships are with family, friends, coworkers, or simply with our favorite barista at Starbucks—interacting with others is a huge part of our daily lives. But with any relationship come our attempts to navigate the good (and sometimes not-so-good) parts of knowing another person.

One important thing to be aware of in relationships is how our emotional health is being affected. Being aware of your own emotional health is a huge part of maintaining your general well-being.

Relationships are going to affect us in many positive and negative ways, and being able to identify when a relationship is turning toxic can protect us from becoming bitter, angry, or jaded, and even prevent further toxic relationships from happening.

Here are five signs that a relationship could be on its way to toxic status:

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  • couple arguing, how to civil in an uncivil world

     1. Every time you disagree with them, they get offended.  

    In this day and age, we all seem to get offended pretty easily. I’m no different myself. So it wouldn’t be surprising if you have someone in your life who’s easily-offended whenever you disagree with them. You have your views on this or that issue, and they have theirs.

    But have you ever been in a situation where you shared how you feel and the other person simply can’t understand why you feel that way?

    None of us are exactly the same, and that means we will each have our own opinions and convictions on different issues. That’s part of being human. But when a person isn’t okay with you having a view that’s different from theirs on anything, that is a different conversation. That person probably isn’t totally secure in how they feel, and because of that, they need everyone to agree with them on everything.

    When others refuse to blindly agree with their opinion, they take it personally. This is a sure sign of a toxic person, and eventually, a toxic relationship.

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  • couple arguing in counseling

    2. They are overly critical.

    Do you ever feel like you can’t do anything right when you’re around a particular person?

    They’re never satisfied.

    They find the negative in every situation.

    They’re quick to point out what they dislike about each person that comes up in a conversation.

    They don’t hesitate to speak critical of you, your family, and the decisions that you’ve made.

    They dislike even how you sip your coffee.

    This is what it’s like to have a relationship with a person who’s overly critical. Opinions are great. But if you’re immersed in this environment for a long time, it can wear on your soul in a really negative way. We are called to love everyone, but in order to remain healthy, when it comes to those who we’re closest with, we need people who are encouraging and life-giving to be around!

    They don’t have much to say that’s positive, ever—and that can become toxic.

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  • upset couple in bed scared of sex

    3. You feel like you’re always walking on eggshells.

    It can be stressful to be around someone who is always one incident or comment away from blowing up or overreacting.

    One moment they are friendly, and the next they are angry. One moment they like you, the next it feels like they hate you.

    If you can’t predict how this person is going to react the next time you interact with them, it gets really tiring, really fast, to have a relationship with them. Simply put: when you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around someone, doing your best to never upset them, it makes you much less likely to want to be around them.

    It is also hard to be yourself around this person. You don’t feel like it is a safe place. It’s stressful, and can get to the point where it becomes anxiety-inducing. Your needs become less important, because you are always deferring to their needs in the relationship.

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  • sad couple fighting

    4. They play the victim.

    None of us are perfect, and sooner or later we will all screw up. But one of the keys to personal health is the ability to be aware of when you mess up and own your mistakes when you do. It’s obviously not fun to admit our mistakes, but doing this helps us to know when we’re in the wrong and gives us the opportunity to restore the relationship.

    A toxic person isn’t able to see that they’re in the wrong, and, more often than not, they’re the victim in the situation. Even when it may be clear to you that the other person has done something wrong, they don’t see it that way. Instead, this toxic person usually assumes a victim mentality—twisting the situation so that they somehow become the victim.

    And when you try to confront them about how they wronged you, it doesn’t work. A person who plays the victim isn’t able to see things that way. After you’ve attempted to talk to them about how they have hurt you multiple times, it can be very discouraging when they simply become the victim in the storyline again and again.

    Ultimately, this kind of person leaves you mentally and emotionally exhausted—they’re downright toxic, and you don’t even want to try to talk to them about the conflict that got you here in the first place.

    None of us are perfect, and we’re bound to hurt other people at some point. In any relationship, we have to be willing to say “I'm sorry.” We have to be willing to acknowledge our mistakes even if they weren’t done intentionally.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/bee32

  • couple backs to each other upset disagreement

    5. They don’t respect your boundaries.

    It’s important to remember that each one of us has limits. We all need to say ‘no’ sometimes—understanding what boundaries are best for us and our loved ones.

    Someone who may be toxic won’t like it when you put limits in place. They may try to talk you out of what’s healthy for you, or simply not understand why you have to put boundaries up in the first place. People who don’t respect your boundaries may even become angry in these situations.

    Know this type of behavior is not okay. Boundaries are needed, even in the closest of relationships, and someone who repeatedly refuses to respect yours is dangerously close to the edge of toxic.

    These five signs of a toxic relationship aren’t guaranteed dealbreakers and they don’t mean your relationship with that person has to end today. But each of these characteristics do show that you need to set up some guardrails to protect your own emotional health.

    Maybe the person you have a relationship with who’s exhibiting these toxic tendencies simply isn’t aware they’re doing so, and they need you to lovingly point out these toxic areas in your relationship. On the other hand, sometimes it’s up to us to look past a person’s toxic behaviors to try to understand why they might be behaving the way they are.

    All that being said, if you’ve taken the time to have a conversation with the person in your life who’s showing signs of being toxic and they don’t change their behavior, you don’t have to feel like a bad person for walking away from the relationship. We all deserve to have relationships with others that are life-giving and encouraging, not draining and frustrating.

    Use these types of situations to examine the areas in your own life where you might be exhibiting toxic behaviors, and be intentional about bringing people into your life who build you up, not tear you down. I promise you they’re out there, and you don’t have to settle for toxic relationships.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Prostock-Studio


    headshot of author Becky WeberBecky Weber is a wife, and mom to 4 kids. She loves to write and speak. She is a pastor’s wife in Sioux Falls, SD where her husband Adam is the lead pastor of Embrace Church. Her passion is to encourage others (especially women) to learn how to walk with Jesus on a daily basis. You can find more writing over at www.becweber.com and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.