8 Toxic Relationship Signs To Check Yourself For

We’re so quick to label others as toxic but what about ourselves?

It can be difficult to be honest about problems with our behavior. When we know someone has wronged us, taking accountability for our actions can be even harder. Why should we? We’re in the right.

While our toxic traits don’t excuse another’s, admitting them to ourselves can be powerful. It opens us up to change. It makes us better partners for the next people.

Keep reading to learn 8 toxic relationship signs to check yourself for.

Toxic Relationship Meaning

With the word being thrown around, what’s the real toxic relationship meaning? What are the toxic relationship signs?

The first thing to know about toxic relationships is that they’re on a spectrum. A relationship could be toxic because partners have different value they constantly argue about. It could be caused by simple communication problems a partner is unwilling to work on. On the more dangerous end, a toxic relationship could mean abuse.

A toxic relationship could be two partners who just don’t together. Or it could be one abusing the other. The spectrum is large. In any case, because toxic relationships aren’t healthy, you should consider leaving. In cases of abuse, you should consider making a safe plan to leave or calling a domestic abuse hotline to help.

Toxic Relationship Meaning: An unhealthy relationship that falls anywhere on the spectrum of unhealthy relationships.

A toxic relationship could be caused by one partner or both partners. While you commonly read the toxic relationship signs, they’re usually focused on the other person. It’s important to consider when we contribute in the toxic relationship, meaning we can accidently be toxic ourselves.

8 Signs You’re Toxic: Toxic Relationship Signs

Looking at these toxic relationship signs and ask yourself if you can relate to any. If so, try not to shame yourself. Instead, look at your actions with self-compassion and consider how you might change your behavior.

#1 Overreacting

If we’re emotional or sensitive people, we tend to take things personally. Sensitivity is a beautiful thing but it can turn into a toxic trait when we use it as an excuse to overreact.

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While we might be right in our anger, blowing it up into a big situation only makes it worse. Instead of giving the other person space to find solutions or give an apology, we automatically jump to the darkest side of it.

This is called awfulizing — to think that it couldn’t be worse and can’t be solved.

Many of us awfulize in daily life. Like, we take a situation with no meaning and give it a negative one. When we repeat this thinking style over and over again in relationships, it can become toxic to the person around us.

#2 Gripping On Past Expiry Dates

This is a toxic relationship sign that many people look over. I’m willing to bet that most toxic relationships have some sort of off/on, hot/cold or good/bad dynamic.

There’s some good sprinkled in with the bad, which is why we stay and why it’s so toxic to us.

We understand the other person plays a part.

We might also ask ourselves why we’re gripping on so hard. We know the relationship is past its expiry date but we still keep holding on, hoping it will revive.

But in our truest hearts, we know it won’t. It was a dead-end from the start.

Staying despite your deeper truth can be toxic to the other person. It can give them hope that the relationship will change, even though you know it won’t.

More importantly, though, it’s toxic to yourself.

You know your own truth. But you’re rejecting yourself of it.

#3 Insulting and Swearing

It’s hard to keep calm when you know you’re in the right. But being the correct one doesn’t give you the right to treat the other poorly. Justified anger isn’t an excuse for swearing at someone. This is probably one of the most common toxic relationship signs in ourselves and other people.

Many of us do this to some extent.

If a partner doesn’t seem to be getting the point no matter what I say, it feels like my blood is about to spill out. And if he says something worse, it’s tempting to call him an idiot. I’ve learned to couch it as “idiot-like behavior.” It’s still not appropriate, helpful or right to say.

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We should consider the toxicity of our words in context. For example, swearing is normal. But swearing during an argument can be aggressive, even if you’re not directing it at your partner.

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Taking breaks or breathing can help stop us from saying explosive things and escalating an already toxic argument.

#4 Raising Voices

Even though I absolutely hate it when someone yells at me, I sometimes have trouble not raising my voice when I’m overly upset.

This is natural to some extent. What do you do when someone isn’t hearing you? You speak even louder.

And when they still don’t get it? You might yell.

If you’re someone who talks loudly or who has a more direct voice, sliding into your aggressive tone may be unnoticeable to you. But still, your partner can pick up on the toxic shift and the fight gets worse. Many healthy relationships have this one toxic relationship sign. It doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is toxic. However, it means you have some work to do on expressing your anger.

#5 Withholding Affection

Some people are less affectionate than others and that’s just their personality.

If you’re never giving your partner any physical or verbal signs of affection though, that can be toxic.

Only giving compliments or words of affirmation when you’re really happy isn’t healthy.

Affection isn’t a bargaining chip you exchange when someone does exactly what you want them to.

#6 Passive Aggression

Are you one of those people who refuse to admit they’re mad yet everyone around you can still tell?

Everyone is passive-aggressive from time to time, but when it’s a pattern in your relationship, communication will break down. Giving your partner the silent treatment and refusing to talk about issues head-on will lead to failure.

Over time, passive aggression can lead to a toxic environment for both partners. You aren’t getting your needs heard because you’re refusing to voice them. And your partner is constantly confused about why you’re angry and why you take it out in various ways.

To break this toxic relationship sign and habit, we first need to be honest with ourselves. What are we really feeling? Sometimes, it can be difficult to admit if it feels vulnerable. Then, we need to have the courage to admit that truth to our partners.

When we’re honest, we take away the walls we built around the emotion and get to the center of it.

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#7 Triggering Jealously

Doing things to make your partner jealous in an effort for attention is toxic.

This includes trying to test how much they care or intentionally lead other people on.

You may think you’re justified in doing it because your partner doesn’t give you affection. Or maybe you’re jealous of them and are simply just returning the favor.

Your jealousy or hurt may be justified, but that doesn’t mean it’s right to trigger your partner.

Instead, try to talk to your partner about the issue honestly. If the problem ultimately can’t be fixed, it’s better to leave and be healthy than stay and act toxic.

#8 You’re Hot and Cold

Many of us have been in on-and-off relationships. Although the other person is likely also at fault, we have to take some responsibility for having only one foot in.

If we’re fading from a relationship, stepping back instead of away is a good way to assess the situation without regrets. The problem is that we prolong this period. Our partners find out and act differently toward us. We get upset, and that starts the on-and-off cycle. We have to get real on the toxic relationship signs we’re contributing. As toxic as it is, we have to realize the role we’re playing.

By not fully being with a person, we’re confusing them and ourselves.

If we’re making someone feel loved one moment and unstable the next, it might be time to back off completely and breakup.

Toxic Relationship Signs

More Toxic Relationship Signs

To learn more about the toxic relationship signs in yourself and other people, read our other guides:

24 Signs You’re In Toxic Relationship That Won’t Change

59 Toxic Relationship Quotes For Him And Her

9 Trauma Bonding Signs To Scan Your Relationship For

Summary: Toxic Relationship Signs in Yourself

Toxic relationships can be the product of one partner. More often though, there’s a few behaviors of the other person that are helping fuel the fire. While this doesn’t excuse our partner’s behavior, it gives us room to think about our own.

If you relate to some of the toxic relationship signs on this list, me too. It doesn’t make us bad people. But it does mean we need to work on getting rid of them for good.

Toxic Relationship Signs Toxic Relationship Signs


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YoHumanz is a blog dedicated to helpful and inspirational content about being human today—written in a non-bullshitty, (hopefully) more approachable way. We focus on 3 main areas: Heart, Brain and Soul.

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