5 Warning Signs That You’re Stuck In A Toxic Relationship

As women, we’re naturally nurturing individuals. To our friends, our family, and yes, even to those we date. We often find ourselves trying to “fix” people and help them overcome their difficulties, but how can we tell when this effort has become a toxic cycle, and most importantly, how can we get the heck away from it?

By Julia Song4 min read
Shutterstock/Iuliia Khabibullina

As a modern woman, I’ve always sought to be independent. Free from any debts, any owes. Able to choose my own destiny and blaze my own trail. I never thought I would find myself putting up with a toxic relationship. But the reality is, there are many ways a relationship can be toxic, and often the signs aren’t straight forward. It takes time to understand patterns and to realize that you fell into a relationship pit.

Sign #1: How Often Do You Fight?

Life is complicated, and stress can affect our behavior and interactions with others at times. It’s difficult to predict with certainty if a relationship is toxic based on one behavior alone, but a key telltale sign of trouble is how often you find yourselves arguing.

Our patience often runs thin when we’re faced with momentary challenges, but when you remove those challenges from the equation, are you still arguing with your significant other on a constant basis?

Constant arguing could be a giveaway sign that something is fundamentally not right.

Once you take note of this, try to predict patterns or identify how long this behavior lasts. Relationships are there to provide us with love and peace. Constant arguing could be a giveaway sign that something is fundamentally not right.

Sign #2: What Are You Fighting About?

As the relationship progresses and the couple is exposed to new situations and environments, there’s an understandable expectation that disagreements will occur until everything can be settled and fall into an equilibrium.

The thing you need to be mindful of, however, is what exactly you’re fighting about. Are you fighting about important things that are core values to you and you’re able to explain those needs to your partner and move forward with them? Or are you arguing over types of butter knives or dirty socks out of the laundry basket? One of these can be fixed with a compromise, but the other can’t.

But petty arguments that present themselves often are not good for a relationship. Social media is a good example. If your partner argues about social media, but offers no clear path or solution for the issue and seems to be constantly offended by your use of it, then you have a problem.

They don’t feel loved during the calm seas; they need the reassurance that comes after a big argument.

Or perhaps your partner doesn’t like your group of friends or doesn’t let you go out. Or they pick a dislike for your gym or yoga, or for your calls with your mother. Anything could be a reason to fight because these individuals feel reassured of the relationship after strong emotions have been triggered.

In other words, they don’t feel loved during the calm seas. They need the reassurance that comes after a big argument, and you’ll find yourself trying to coddle and reassure your partner every day, instead of working on yourself, the relationship, and overall improving your lives.

Sign #3: Why Did His Previous Relationship End?

Looking at their past relationships is always unpleasant, but I like to ensure I know why my partner’s previous romantic situations flunked, and whether I have a bad behavior or two that I need to prepare and look out for.

Overall, I found that when someone replies, “It didn’t work out because my ex was crazy” and doesn’t provide clear evidence of such, that’s a sign of trouble. If your ex was crazy, why did you date her? And what makes her crazy? Should I be expecting a drone flying over my house? 

Narcissists will never take the blame.

Or are you simply labeling her crazy for calling out your bull****? Narcissists will never take the blame. Remember that. It’s always the fault of another, never their own. And you don’t want to be labeled as their next crazy ex.

Sign #4: Does He Have Hobbies and Goals?

The teenage idea of a relationship isn’t actually sustainable in the long run. You can’t *literally* be his life and him yours.

When the person you’re dating doesn’t have passions, goals, hobbies, and things they’re interested in, you’ll find their whole life revolving around you. As they create a dependency on you and you become their whole routine, they will start to become severely clingy and insecure.

The mere thought of losing you could cause them to spiral and act out. They will always be afraid and looking for signs that you may abandon ship. Since you’re their whole world, their dependency on you will become overwhelming. The relationship will die, not being able to breathe.

Since you’re their whole world, their dependency on you will become overwhelming.

You need to have separate lives and interests, otherwise, the pressure will snap the rope that keeps you two together and the result of that injury won’t be pleasant. And it definitely won’t lead to a clean-cut breakup.

Sign #5: Do You Admire Him?

Something my uncle Jorge left with me (shout out, uncle!) is that for a solid relationship to take place and last, you need to not only love, but to truly admire the person you’re with. From a human, unbiased perspective. Admire the person they are.

It takes time to get to know someone enough to admire them, and many times we conflate feelings of passion or even sexual attraction with love. But when push comes to shove, those more superficial feelings will disappear like they were never there, and if that’s the only thing your love is based on, your relationship will never be the same.

A good relationship takes a good amount of trying. A good amount of patience and selflessness. It’s not easy. And if you admire them as a person, you will make an effort to be around them. You’ll swallow your pride. You will fall in love with them every day. The love will be constantly refreshed by all the ways that person can positively surprise you. On a personal level, you’re inspired by them.

You need to not only love but to truly admire the person you’re with. 

Someone who is passionate about their work, their family, their values. Someone who fights for others and whom you’re always excited to be around. That’s the person you will fight for when things get rough. Anyone else will be forgotten and dismissed when the “magic” is no longer there. Ask yourself: Do you really love the person that he is? Relationship aside. Do you love their soul?

If the answer is no, then your relationship is doomed for a toxic and bleak future.

Closing Thoughts

Toxic relationships are more common than you think, and it isn’t easy to identify whether you’re stuck in one or not. Nobody can make that decision or that call for you. But you also can’t stick around hoping things will change if they won’t. Realizing patterns and what they’re truly indicators of is your best tool to protect yourself against heartache.

You deserve a relationship that’s full of love, safety, and peace. If that’s not what you have, and it doesn’t look like it’s ever getting better, it’s time to stop and reflect. Is your confidence level affecting your ability to make rational decisions?

You need to, first, take care of yourself. And if leaving a toxic relationship is the first step towards your journey of self-betterment, then so be it. You’re worthy of true love, even if for now, it has to come mainly from yourself.

Not all relationships mean love. Not all people mean the things they say. Learn your value and find the love that you truly deserve, not one you have to settle for.