15 signs you might be the toxic one in your relationship

If you clicked on this article, you already have some conscious or unconscious doubts in your mind. Or on the other hand, you want to find out if your partner is toxic.

Whatever the reason, I promise this article will be eye-opening and encourage you to act. 

So let’s dig in and see the signs you might be the toxic one in your relationship. 

1) Constant criticism

If you want to break your partner’s spirit, simply criticize everything they do. The way they wash the dishes, feed the kids, mop the floor, chew their food…

When you habitually find faults in your partner and express them negatively, this, of course, leads to a decline in their self-esteem and confidence.

If you’re doing that to your partner, there’s no denying it – you’re the toxic one in your relationship. You’re also an incredibly difficult person to be around

Just imagine someone doing this to you? How would you feel? It would suck, wouldn’t it?

2) Passive-aggressive behavior

Passive-aggressive behavior is something I see in many relationships and marriages that are 15+ years long. But it can start happening at any time, really. 

If you don’t know what it exactly is, I can tell you that it’s a pattern of expressing negative feelings, hostility, or resistance indirectly instead of openly addressing them.

It combines passive behaviors, such as avoidance, silence, or procrastination, with subtle or covert aggression.

Using passive-aggressive tactics to express displeasure obviously prevents open communication and leads to a toxic cycle of unresolved issues.

It’s important to recognize passive-aggressive behavior in yourself and others, as it harms the relationship and creates a toxic atmosphere.

3) Gaslighting

Gaslighting has caught the public’s interest in the last 10 to 15 years. But the term has been around for much longer. 

It comes from a play and subsequent film adaptation titled “Gas Light,” where a husband manipulates his wife into questioning her sanity by dimming the gas lights but pretending nothing has changed when she notices.

When you’re gaslighting your partner, it means you’re manipulating the truth to make them doubt their sanity or memory. It’s a serious behavior that can cause emotional harm and erode their self-trust.

But ultimately, gaslighters project their own negative traits or behaviors onto the victim, making the victim feel responsible for the gaslighter’s actions or emotional state.

It’s also about having complete control over your partner. 

4) Controlling behavior

If you’re trying to control your partner’s decisions and life choices, you’re the toxic one

Attempting to control your partner’s actions violates their autonomy and breeds resentment and tension.

Controlling individuals do this through isolation, monitoring communication, jealousy, manipulation, and emotional abuse. 

They undermine their partner’s autonomy, self-esteem, and personal growth by doing that. 

Recognizing and addressing these toxic behaviors are crucial for promoting healthier relationship dynamics and ensuring the well-being of both partners. 

A professional can help understand the root causes and develop better communication and boundaries. 

It’s not something you should leave untreated.

5) Defensiveness

Instead of listening to your partner’s concerns, do you immediately become defensive, making it challenging to constructively resolve conflicts? 

Well, in that case, you already know what I’m going to say, right? 

There’s no reason we should feel threatened and start acting defensive toward someone you love and who loves you back. 

You should communicate freely and without constraints. I understand it’s easier said than done, especially if you aren’t good at feeling vulnerable in front of something. 

But just like other signs of toxic behavior on this list, the first step is recognizing your behavior. After that, you can start working on it

6) Lack of empathy

Empathy is one of the basic human behaviors. We put ourselves in another person’s shoes and try to grasp their feelings in a certain situation, right? 

It’s something most of us are capable of doing.

But some people, for whatever reason, start failing to understand or acknowledge their partner’s feelings. 

Maybe they don’t care what they’re feeling anymore? But that’s not right, is it?

If you lack empathy toward your partner, you can make them feel isolated and unimportant in the relationship. And that’s not what they signed up for.

7) Jealousy and possessiveness

Excessive jealousy and possessiveness are arguably even worse than lacking empathy. 

They create an environment of distrust and suffocation within the relationship. 

I can’t even imagine having to explain every “suspicious” action to my partner. From being late a couple of minutes to making a phone call, for example. 

It’s pretty clear where this behavior stems from – feelings of insecurity or low self-esteem, a deep fear of abandonment, comparison to others, etc.  

8) Constant need for attention and validation

Relying on your partner for constant reassurance becomes emotionally draining for them and stunts their personal growth, among other things. Not to mention how annoying this behavior is, too. 

When you’re demanding excessive attention from your partner, you start suffocating them after some time.

They’ll start looking for every excuse they can to get away from you, which is, you have to admit, extremely unhealthy and can bury your relationship. 

9) Refusing to compromise

Being stubborn and hardheaded isn’t a great trait to have. It makes you incredibly difficult to deal with because you’re so set in your ways that you don’t want to hear and accept anyone’s input. 

How does that affect your partner and your relationship or marriage? 

It can lead to power struggles and make your partner feel disregarded and unimportant.

You’re blatantly signaling you don’t care what they think, and you don’t value their advice even when you know it’s good for you. 

10) Blaming others

Shifting blame onto your partner or external factors isn’t just unfair, but it also prevents you from taking responsibility for your actions. 

We know that the most successful people among us learn from their mistakes, and this lets them grow.

By blaming others, you’re damaging your partner, their trust in you, your reputation and impeding personal growth and reconciliation.

11) Frequent lying

Lying is bad. I mean, there are no ifs, buts, or maybes here. If you’re consistently lying to your partner, of course, you’re toxic. You erode trust and create an unhealthy atmosphere of uncertainty and doubt.

Even if you’re trying to playfully trick your spouse into believing silly things, eventually, it will come to bite you in the ass. Been there, done that.  

But above all the bad things frequent lying brings to the table, one of the worst is that it complicates relationships, as partners feel the need to constantly verify the information to confirm what’s true.

12) Poor communication skills

In a relationship, communication is incredibly important, right? So having poor communication skills leads to misunderstandings, unresolved issues, and a lack of emotional intimacy.

It includes traits like lack of active listening, avoidance of difficult conversations, negative body language, and emotional flooding.

If you’re constantly interrupting the partner while they are speaking, using silence as a weapon, using harsh or critical language, being defensive, etc, you need to start working on your communication skills.  

13) Constant need for drama

If there’s something I personally hate, it’s drama and drama queens in all genders. They’re just exhausting. No one has time for that.

Life is complicated enough without people provoking arguments over trivial matters, exaggerating emotions, overreacting, gossiping, etc. 

Thriving on drama and conflict is incredibly emotionally exhausting and prevents building a stable and secure relationship.

14) Feeling superior

Do you feel inherently better, smarter, or more valuable than your partner? 

Even if you don’t express it, which is probably impossible, you’re the toxic one in the relationship.

A superiority complex creates a power imbalance and breeds resentment and insecurity in the relationship.

A partner who feels superior displays arrogance, acts as if they know better in all situations, and treats their partner with condescension.

They also constantly need to correct their partner’s thoughts, behavior, or mistakes, undermining their partner’s self-confidence (as seen at the top of this list already).

15) Physical or verbal aggression

I’ve left this as the last sign of toxic behavior only because it’s so blatant and obvious. If you’re verbally or physically aggressive toward anyone, let alone your partner and the person you presumably love, you’re toxic

It’s that simple.

Resorting to aggressive behavior during conflicts (or anytime, really) causes emotional and physical harm and can be a sign of an abusive relationship.

If you’re reading this and you’re experiencing physical or verbal aggression from a partner, reach out to friends, family, or a support organization. It’s an important first step to ensure your safety. 

Final thoughts

Even if only a couple of signs on this list describe you and your behavior, you need to rethink your actions and how they affect your partner. 

Start by having more patience and understanding of their feelings and emotions. This alone can make a world of difference in a relationship. 

Adrian Volenik

Adrian has years of experience in the field of personal development and building wealth. Both physical and spiritual. He has a deep understanding of the human mind and a passion for helping people enhance their lives. Adrian loves to share practical tips and insights that can help readers achieve their personal and professional goals. He has lived in several European countries and has now settled in Portugal with his family. When he’s not writing, he enjoys going to the beach, hiking, drinking sangria, and spending time with his wife and son.

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