10 signs you might be the toxic one in your relationship, according to psychologists

Sometimes, I’m the one who leaves a pile of laundry on the floor or forgets to reply to a message.

But could I be the toxic one in my relationship? It’s a tough pill to swallow, for sure, but it’s never a bad thing to self-reflect.

Psychologists suggest that being a toxic partner isn’t always about glaringly bad behaviors. Rather, it can be about subtle patterns that slowly erode trust and happiness.

You might be wondering how you could be the problem when you’re trying your best. But sometimes, our best isn’t always what’s best for the relationship.

Signs of a toxic partner

Psychologists point out several key indicators that indicate you might be the toxic one in your relationship. Here are some:

  • consistently prioritizing your needs and wants over your partner’s
  • frequent dishonesty or half-truths that undermine trust
  • regularly shifting blame and refusing to acknowledge your mistakes
  • a tendency to belittle or demean your partner, sometimes disguised as “jokes”
  • constant need for control or getting your way in situations
  • making your partner feel guilty for spending time with others
  • lack of empathy and understanding towards your partner’s feelings
  • display of possessive or jealous behavior
  • showing little or no respect for boundaries set by your partner

Recognizing your own behavior patterns can be tough, especially when they’re negative.

But being self-aware is the first step towards change.

Here are some signs that you might be the toxic one in your relationship and suggestions on how to address them:

1) Lack of accountability

A clear indicator that you might be the toxic one in your relationship is your inability to take responsibility for your actions.

This behavior can cause your partner to constantly feel on the defensive and lead to an unhealthy dynamic.

So if you consistently blame your partner for the issues in your relationship and refuse to accept that you might be contributing to them, it’s a red flag.

2) Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a psychological manipulation tactic that makes a person doubt their own reality or sanity.

If you find yourself often denying your partner’s feelings, invalidating their experiences, or twisting situations to make them feel like they’re overreacting or remembering things incorrectly, you might be gaslighting them.

This is a powerful form of emotional abuse and a strong sign of toxicity in a relationship. Psychologists warn that continued gaslighting can lead to severe emotional distress for the victim.

3) Excessive control

If you insist on having your way in every situation or make decisions without considering your partner’s input, it’s a sign of being controlling.

A healthy relationship thrives on mutual respect and compromise, not dominance.

4) Overdependence

While it’s natural to rely on your partner for support, an excessive need for their attention or approval can be harmful.

If you find yourself unable to make decisions without their input or feel distressed when they spend time away from you, it can indicate an unhealthy level of dependence.

This can put undue pressure on your partner and hinder both of your individual growth.

5) Emotional unavailability

If you consistently avoid addressing emotional issues or tend to shut down when your partner expresses their feelings, you might be emotionally unavailable.

This can leave your partner feeling isolated and invalidated, creating a toxic environment in your relationship.

It’s crucial to recognize that being present involves more than just physical proximity; it requires emotional openness and a willingness to engage in difficult conversations.

6) Lack of respect for boundaries

Everyone deserves respect for their personal space and limits.

So if you frequently disregard your partner’s boundaries, whether it’s about their time, their friendships, or their personal choices, it indicates a lack of empathy on your part.

Recognizing and respecting your partner’s boundaries is a vital aspect of maintaining a healthy and balanced relationship.

Remember, their needs and wants are just as important as yours.

7) Consistent criticism

We all have our flaws, and it’s natural to get irritated with your partner from time to time.

However, if you find yourself consistently criticizing them over small issues or constantly pointing out their flaws, it can be a sign of toxicity.

This constant negativity can wear down your partner’s self-esteem and create a hostile environment, so it’s important to express dissatisfaction in a constructive manner rather than resorting to constant criticism.

8) Overindulgence in social media

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to get caught up in the world of social media.

If you find yourself obsessively checking your partner’s profiles, getting upset over their interactions online, or arguing about posts and comments, it might be a sign of toxicity.

Remember that trust extends to the online world too. After all, a relationship is not a game of detectives. If you don’t have trust in your relationship, it’s doomed to fail.

9) Refusal to grow

Refusing to acknowledge your faults and making the necessary changes is a serious sign of toxicity.


Because we all have room for improvement. Refusing to grow or adapt can cause stagnation in your relationship and inflict harm on your partner.

If you truly value your relationship, it’s crucial to admit when you’re wrong and take steps towards personal growth. Remember, tough love also applies to ourselves.

10) Lack of empathy

Above all, a fundamental sign of being the toxic one in a relationship is a lack of empathy.

Empathy is important in any healthy relationship. Striving to understand and share your partner’s feelings can pave the way for mutual respect and enduring love.

Consistently failing to acknowledge and respect your partner’s feelings can make them feel invalidated and alone.

Don’t be in a relationship just for relationship’s sake. You also need to be kind, understanding, and compassionate towards your partner if you want it to work.

What to do if you’re the toxic one in the relationship

Recognizing that you might be the toxic one in a relationship is a hard pill to swallow. But remember, acknowledging your shortcomings is the first step towards growth.

You have to understand that being toxic doesn’t define your worth as a person. It’s a behavior, not an identity. And like any behavior, it can be changed.

At the end of the day, being in a relationship means constantly learning and growing. It means acknowledging your mistakes, working on them, and striving to better yourself for the sake of your partner and the relationship itself.

Remember, this article isn’t meant to label you as ‘toxic.’ It’s here to shed light on some behaviors that might be causing harm to your relationship, and more importantly, it’s about understanding that there is always room for improvement.

Having one or even several of these signs doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ person. It simply means there are areas where you could improve to ensure a healthier and more fulfilling relationship.

Sometimes, the most profound revelations come from self-reflection.

So take some time to reflect upon these signs and ask yourself honestly: “Am I contributing positively to my relationship? Or am I causing harm?”

It’s never too late to change your behavior and turn things around for the better. After all, everyone deserves a healthy, loving relationship, including you.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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