In my mid-20s, I was in a relationship that changed me – and not for the better.
I became argumentative, cold, and in many ways, not myself.
Friends and family could see these negative changes, but I was so caught up in trying to make things work with my partner that I didn’t recognize what was happening to me.
Thankfully I got out and found myself again, but looking back now, I wish I’d done it sooner.
That’s why I wanted to highlight these important red flags to look out for.
So, if you relate to these 10 signs, there’s a good chance your relationship is bringing out the worst in you:
1) You constantly feel negative
Before this relationship, you were a happy-go-lucky type of person.
You saw the positives in every situation rather than focussing on the negatives.
But now, that’s changed.
You’re more pessimistic, quicker to write opportunities off, and generally miserable about life.
If your partner is naturally a negative person, it makes sense that their energy would rub off on you.
But we can’t overlook the fact that if you’re in an unhealthy relationship, that can also affect your outlook on the world.
And often, this comes as a result of the next point:
2) You’ve lost your sense of identity
Do you recognize yourself?
If not, then no wonder you feel more negative.
The person you used to be is slipping away – you neglect the hobbies and passions that used to bring you joy.
Even little things like listening to your favorite tunes or going for long sunset drives, things that you once prioritized now seem like a distant memory.
Here’s the thing, if a relationship is all-consuming, it’s easy to lose ourselves in the process of it.
You might be changing yourself to suit your partner’s needs or requirements. You might be compromising on the core values that make up who you are just to make the relationship work.
I’ve been there. It’s not a nice feeling to look in the mirror and not know the person staring back.
But it’s a pretty surefire sign that this relationship isn’t right for you.
3) You’re isolated from your loved ones
Another sign your relationship is bringing out the worst in you is if you no longer see your family and friends.
There are several reasons why you might be isolating yourself:
- Disapproval or jealousy. Your partner kicks up a fuss whenever you meet your loved ones (let’s call it what it is – manipulation).
- Shame or embarrassment. If you’re constantly having to excuse your partner’s behavior, you might find it’s easier to just avoid everyone.
- Dependency. If you’re codependent with your partner, you may be relying on them heavily to fulfill the roles of your loved ones. You feel like you need them and no one else.
- Conflicting loyalty. If your close circle disapproves of your partner or relationship, you may distance yourself to avoid having to choose a side.
Whatever the reason, it’s not a good sign.
In a healthy relationship, you’d keep a balance between everyone you love. Your partner would support that and they’d do the same with their family and friends.
But if you’re in a toxic relationship, it’s natural you’d distance yourself.
Just remember that it’s never too late to reach out to someone you trust and rebuild that connection. If anything, it’s what you need the most.
4) You always feel exhausted and drained
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about unhealthy relationships, it’s that you’ll feel completely depleted.
Your usual love for life and energy levels will sink further and further the deeper you get into the relationship.
Essentially, you’re spending everything you have to keep the relationship going.
But this is a major red flag.
It signifies that your relationship is too demanding or stressful. And it shouldn’t be like that.
Look, I know they say relationships take work, and that’s true. But not at the cost of your physical and mental health!
5) You feel jealous
If you’re feeling jealous in your relationship, it indicates that you don’t trust your partner. You don’t feel safe and secure.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but while we were together, my ex hired a young, pretty woman to work at his cafe.
I lost my shit.
I turned into a really horrible person. I even remember crying and listing all the things I found disgusting about myself and comparing them to her and her attractive features.
But I’m not that person.
Looking back now, I can see that it was a culmination of many things:
- His mind games and deliberate attempts to make me jealous
- My lack of self-esteem (which had eroded day by day since entering the relationship)
- Our relationship turbulence which made me feel like he’d leave me at any moment
If you can relate to the above, take this as a sign that your relationship is bringing out the worst in you, and you need to think long and hard about whether it’s a situation worth staying in.
6) You argue frequently
This might seem like an obvious sign, but it’s worth mentioning:
Arguments in a relationship are normal. Arguing constantly and fighting dirty, aren’t.
This is something I recognized with my ex – I became a much feistier, temperamental person, which is completely not my nature.
But when you’re constantly on edge, exhausted, and feeling insecure, it’s easy to fall into this trap.
Either way, it’s a sign that you’re not thriving in this relationship. It’s not bringing out the best in you.
And this isn’t to say it’s your fault. It might not even be entirely your partner’s fault.
It could just be that you’re not a good match for each other. Ultimately, incompatibility can lead to a lot of frustration and anger.
7) Your self-esteem has taken a big hit
If you’re in a good relationship, you’ll feel good about yourself. Your confidence increases, and your self-esteem flourishes.
But if you don’t feel that way, then it’s time to take a step back and assess whether this relationship is healthy for you.
You lose your job. Before, you’d have no problem sending out CVs and attending interviews.
But now, you doubt whether you can go through all that. You shy away from applying to positions because you think you’ll fail before you’ve even tried.
I deliberately chose an example that isn’t relationship related, to highlight that a bad relationship can affect every other area of your life.
Even small decisions like where to eat or what color to paint a wall – you find yourself unable to pick with confidence.
That’s a major sign that your self-esteem is low and if you recognize other signs in this article, then it could be down to your relationship negatively affecting you.
8) You’re ignoring personal needs
When was the last time you did something just for yourself?
A relaxing yoga class, a bath to unwind, or a training course to boost your skills at work?
If you can’t remember, it’s another sad sign that your relationship is bringing out the worst in you.
Of course, you’re not deliberately neglecting yourself. But something about your relationship is consuming all your time and energy.
Perhaps you’re more concerned about keeping your partner happy. Or you’re changing yourself to fit their narrative.
The problem with this is that before you know it, you’ve stopped paying attention to yourself completely.
And this can lead to further decreased self-esteem, resentment, and emotional burnout.
9) You’re displaying manipulative behavior
During my time with my ex, I know I became manipulative.
It wasn’t deliberate, or even consciously done.
But I was desperate to keep the relationship going because I was so broken down that I didn’t feel like I would ever find someone else to love me.
I’d do things like emotionally blackmail him into talking to me. Or I’d go the opposite way and stonewall him.
In other words, I wasn’t acting maturely or responsibly. To be fair, he was doing the same.
So it’s safe to say the relationship brought out the worst in both of us.
But a relationship like this isn’t sustainable. It’s a deep hole that can ruin both people, so if you can relate to this point (and the others in the list) I’d strongly advise getting out while you can.
10) You’ve turned to substance abuse
And finally, if you’ve found yourself turning to alcohol or drugs just to escape from the issues in your relationship, this is a major red flag.
Clearly, you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
That’s where such substances come in and make you “feel” like you’re handling everything, but in reality, you’re escaping and distracting yourself from the root of the problems.
And this can have serious consequences on your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Not to mention your finances and living situation.
If this is the case, you need to seek support. And strongly consider ending the relationship.
The same applies to all the points above. If a relationship doesn’t make you thrive as a person – if it doesn’t bring stability and joy to your life – it’s not worth staying in.
I wish you luck. If I could get out, so can you. And while the journey to recovery is long, one day you’ll wake up and recognize yourself again, and that’s worth fighting for.