We’ve all experienced less-than-stellar behavior from others at some point.
I know I’ve been on both the receiving and the giving end of unacceptable behavior. And that’s normal; we all have bad days, and while we know we shouldn’t let it happen, emotions inevitably spill over. We are only human.
But a consistently toxic relationship: that’s different. It can slowly chip away at our self-worth, mental health, and overall well-being.
The trouble is, more often than most of us would like to admit, romantic relationships can blind us to the glaring signs. So, how can you know if that special someone in your life is truly toxic?
Today, we dive into ten red flags.
Let’s get into it.
1) They frequently interrupt and talk over you
Do you feel like you struggle to get a word in edgewise around them? Do they abruptly cut you off mid-sentence or fail to wait for your response altogether?
Interrupting others is rude and inconsiderate, but let’s be honest, it happens sometimes. We all have bad days here and there; sometimes, our partner gets the brunt of it. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, and your partner will do it, too.
But it should not be happening all the time.
While it’s important and healthy to be understanding of your partner’s behavior, there comes a point where we must draw the line.
If your partner’s disruptive behavior is consistent, it’s a clear sign they don’t respect you. This is even more true if they do it in the company of friends or family.
If so, it’s probably time to address the issue because an issue it is.
As noted by Very Well Mind, there are a number of reasons that people get into the habit of talking over others. It could be something positive like excitement, or something ingrained like cultural differences, or something more sinister like a need for control.
They may not even know they are doing it.
But whatever the reason, we all deserve to feel heard in our relationships.
2) They fail to apologize sincerely—or at all—when they are in the wrong
We all mess up occasionally. But toxic individuals refuse to own up and make amends for insensitive words or actions that hurt you.
Even when you call them out directly, they become defensive and blame others instead of hearing you out. They may even try justifying their behavior by bringing up shortcomings of yours from the distant past.
Spoiler alert: none of that is an apology.
If this sounds like your partner, it might be time to have a talk about it.
A meaningful apology requires empathy, vulnerability, and changed behavior moving forward—if you can’t get one when it’s clearly warranted, it speaks volumes.
This next one is perhaps the most toxic. Left unchecked, it can really hurt you.
3) They regularly make you doubt yourself and your perceptions
Do you ever walk away from your interactions with your partner, second-guessing what you actually experienced?
Was it happening so often that you finally mustered the courage to confront them about saying something hurtful?
But instead of addressing it, maybe they adamantly insisted, “That never happened,” or “That’s not at all what I said.”
Toxic folks will often continually dispute how events went down with explanations like “You remembered it wrong.” It’s essentially gaslighting, and it’s incredibly dangerous if we allow it to happen because, as well put by Psychology Today:
“A gaslighter’s manipulations can grow more complex and potent, making it increasingly difficult for the victim to see the truth.”
This subtle manipulation aims to make you distrust your own judgment —all while making you feel crazy in the process.
If someone regularly challenges your recollections like this, it’s bordering on manipulation, not just toxicity – and do I have to say it?
Now is the time to address it.
4) They flake out on plans or commitments at the very last minute
We understand that life happens. Emergencies arise, or situations outside our control get in the way of following through at times.
But toxic partners are those who chronically cancel on you right when you’re walking out the door. Worse, it’s rarely for any urgent reason that would genuinely warrant short notice.
Let’s get real: if their excuses don’t add up, they likely just don’t respect your time.
And when it comes down to it, time is all we really have. Your partner should respect yours. Period.
5) They demand inappropriate access to your devices, accounts, or personal space
Whether they insist on knowing your email password, snoop through your text messages when you leave the room, or constantly quiz you on who you’re talking to, these are giant red flags that you should not ignore.
Giving others the perpetual benefit of the doubt can enable toxic patterns.
You may have nothing to hide. I hope this is the case. But deep down, you know that your partner always checking up on you feels off.
Don’t doubt yourself for finally pushing back—you deserve autonomy.
6) When you share good personal news, they react badly or try to one-up you
Picture this: you’ve just received a significant promotion at work and are eager to share the news with your partner.
Naturally, you expect excitement and congratulations, but instead, they respond with a dismissive, ‘Oh, that’s nice. But guess what happened to me today?
Sharing our wins and milestones with people we care about feeds our souls. Or at least it should. Toxic folks, however, always seem to sour the moment.
Rather than celebrate your promotion, they somehow steer the conversation toward themselves. They might even make snide remarks like “must be nice” to cast a shadow on your success.
Sure, you could put this down to them being insecure, but regardless of their insecurities, you deserve better support than that.
7) They expect grand gestures from you but make little effort themselves
We all know that relationships involve reciprocity, compromise, and balance.
Many toxic individuals don’t seem to abide by this. They have lofty standards for how others should treat them without applying the same principles to their own behavior.
They insist on extravagant gifts for their birthday; they want you to drop everything when they need support or public displays praising them on social media.
But when roles are reversed, they conveniently develop amnesia about your special occasions or rarely go out of their way to make you feel similarly valued.
You might not think much of it now, but uneven expectations eventually breed resentment. And no one deserves to feel perpetually underappreciated.
It’s something that you might want to talk about. It’s possible they don’t realize they’ve been doing it and will make an effort to change. Great.
However, if gently pointing out hypocrisy is brushed off, it signals deeper issues of narcissism and self-absorption, and it might be time for you to consider if it’s a relationship you really want to be in.
8) They frequently make insensitive or rude remarks but justify them as “just joking”
Playful banter between partners can promote bonding. But consistently making embarrassing, offensive, or degrading comments at anyone’s expense is no joke at all.
Toxic individuals disguise bully behavior as “sarcastic humor,” so they don’t have to take responsibility for purposely hurting you. Then, if you mention it, they say, “I was just kidding,” or “Lighten up. It was just a joke”.
Pay particular attention if mocking one-liners tend to always be about your deepest insecurities. You should never feel ashamed about who you are—especially from those who claim to care.
9) They discourage you from spending time with other friends or family members
Controlling or jealous personalities often try to isolate their partners.
They might make indirect digs like “You don’t need to check in with your mom about everything.” Or they may even outright forbid get-togethers with certain people for petty reasons.
Look, your partner is important. But they aren’t the only important person in your life.
You have friends and family. You should never be pressured into avoiding them.
If someone truly cares, they celebrate what other good people add to your life—not tear it down.
10) You often feel tense, anxious, or worse about yourself in their presence
At the end of the day, listening to your gut is critical.
Reflect on how spending time with your partner typically leaves you feeling. If you consistently feel anxious, worried, insecure, drained, or just “less than” after your interactions, it’s worth evaluating why.
You deserve people in your life who make you feel cared for, energized, and valued—not beaten down.
The bottom line
Prioritizing emotional health means removing regular sources of negativity when possible.
Red flags exist for good reason—learning the difference between a bad day and bad patterns can change everything.
If unhealthy behaviors persist despite communication efforts on your part, you may have to face hard truths. Walking away from toxic relationships requires courage, but choosing peace of mind over toxicity is never weak.
Stay strong and trust yourself.
Until next time.