How To Identify & Respond To A Toxic Relationship

While relationships can be wonderful and life-affirming arrangements that seem to happen naturally, sometimes, like anything, they can take a turn for the worse. While it might seem easy on the outside to assess when a relationship becomes toxic, when you’re involved in it you might find yourself making excuses for the behavior of the other person or even your own. Many times (but of course not all the time,) toxic relationships are an interplay of negative behaviors.

How To Identify & Respond To A Toxic Relationship
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This means that while one person might take most of the blame for how the relationship has deteriorated, the other person might not be so innocent themselves. Of course, this isn’t to ignore the reality of good people who become prey for people with negative intentions, or people who might be unable to defend themselves in some way. In addition, almost all toxic relationships do not become that way overnight. Instead, they happen incrementally, and as a result become difficult to assess on the part of the victim.


Sometimes relationships that are toxic are fully understood by both parties, but some strange circumstance keeps the couple together. It might be they are co-operatively dependent. It might be that one person believes they cannot leave for some reason, or the other switches around, acting toxic the one day and supportively affirming the next. There is no hard and fast rule to a toxic relationship being identified as toxic, but there are certain methods you can take to identify it. If you suspect that you are in one of these, you might consider the following advice in this article. Remember, the last thing you should do if you consider yourself to be in one of these is blaming yourself. That weakens you at a time you should be strong, no matter how accepting or enabling you have been in the past with those behaviors.


To get started, please consider:



Negative behaviours will often manifest themselves in small ways. It might be that your partner doesn’t seem to be very interested in prioritizing your space as they walk past you in the hall. It might be that they do not greet you lovingly from the moment they return from work. It might be how they expect you to form to their preferences completely, while never paying attention to yours. It could even be something simple, such as neglecting to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when making a request.


These small behaviors can be the most insidious because they can develop very slowly and become the new norm. Consider how these behaviors manifest. If you don’t like one of them, consider how comfortable you would be politely requesting your partner would change them. If you are afraid to, or you do and it goes unheeded, it might be that you’re in a very one-way relationship in terms of what is expected from you and how you should proceed from there on out.



Communication is the first thing to suffer in a bad relationship. There are many forms of negativity surrounding the art of bad couple communication. Some days, it might be that your partner is too quick to criticize instead of praising. Sometimes it can feel like communicative neglect is taking root that day, meaning that your partner does little to open up to you, or continually learn about who you are each day. It might be that omit certain information, or are generally vague about their activities. For example, if they seem to head out at night quite often and only give basic answers about why, or are defensive about the whole deal, you might find that further action could be needed.


It’s hard to trace peoples actions, but sometimes simply a lack of communication cannot hold up in court if trying to file for a divorce in the final analysis. Sometimes, infidelity is well hidden, and requires an expert to prove this to you. Other times, you might find that the person in question is just bad at communicating, and might have lost that skill just a little as they have gotten older. Ironically, one of the best measures of trying to improve communication between you and your partner is to just open yourself up to talking about it. If this is shut down you will be able to see the miscommunication is somewhat of a subtle and purposeful set of actions, not only via awkwardness or a misunderstanding.



While we have previously said in this article that friends can be hard to listen to when you’re in a relationship, odds are that none of them are interested in actively lying to you in this situation. For example, if most of your friends are telling you that your partner is no good, and can detail why, when, where and how, it’s pretty imperative that you listen to them. Friends, at least friends you love and trust, will rarely try and simply ruin your relationship for the fun of it. This is not only because they care for you, but because seeing a friend go through that is hard on them also.


It might be that their warnings carry some legitimate weight, but how can you act on this if you refuse to listen? Friends are discerning and will try to help friends in need. It’s likely they already know a list of circumstances, odd behaviors or even have evidence of foul play. It might be your friend is absolutely emphatic that even rare domestic or emotional abuse is absolutely unacceptable, no matter how normalized or accepting you might have become of it. Listen to your friends. They can often help weed out the good from the bad better than you might be able to, because often love blinds, and toxic love is the least transparent of all.


Evidence & Proof

Sometimes it can be absolutely clear that the relationship isn’t healthy when you are presented with proof.  However, some people will refuse to acknowledge the truth of infidelity because it’s too hard to face. This is because that will often state that not only did you not know the other person as you thought you did, but you might not know yourself as well as you thought. When dropped into this chaotic mental space, it’s easy to try and defend it by preserving what happened before.


However, often a simple look for evidence can make the realization come crashing down, and help you leave, begin to heal, and one day find someone much more deserving of you. Be sure to never ignore evidence, or to even look for it if noticing inconsistencies in your partner’s story. It might not sound fun, but sometimes prodding a little can help us defend ourselves in circumstances where that means the most for our continued health and self-respect.


Limitation & Freedom

As a grown person, you have every right to freedom. While there might be valid requests such as ‘please look after the children, clean the house and cook dinner while I’m gone to earn the family income,’ there are others that might be less fair. These can range from not being allowed to head out with your friends, perhaps being advised not to communicate with your family, or simply being unable to leave the house. It might also be that your dreams of starting a new hobby are shut down, or your intention is ridiculed.


No matter who you are, you can be sure that the limitation and freedom of your relationship will indicate just how healthy it is. Healthy relationships treat both parties as autonomous adults, responsible for their own actions but also free to explore. The more secure your partner is with you, the more comfortable they would be to let you potentially have a life outside of them. To limit that is where the alarm bells start ringing. For example, it’s often the case that people who have or are cheating on a relationship will be the most accusatory and suspicious of the other person, because they know intimately how clearly people can lie and still act as if nothing happened. Insecurity of this kind is a good indicator something is up.


Present Circumstances, Not Past Memories

One of the best methods of accurately figuring out how healthy your relationship is will be to judge and value your present circumstances. This might mean neglecting to view your partner as the person you knew them to be fifteen years ago, despite how much happy memories you have. You are not living fifteen years ago, you are living today, and without the willingness to see that you can become blind to the daily issues that might become swept under the rug.


ssess your life now. How is it? How free do you feel? How much love do you bathe in? What are the input and output investments and rewards from both side of the coupling, referring to how much love and support you exchange with one another? Could it be better? Viewing it in the daily moment, the now of nows will help you see the arrangement more clearly, and not with rose-tinted spectacles.


With these simple insights, you should feel much more capable of identifying and responding to a toxic relationship.

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