9 signs your relationship is slowly becoming toxic, according to psychology

When we’re looking in from the outside, other people’s toxic relationships feel hard to fathom.

Why would two people stay when it’s making them miserable?

But the truth is that toxic relationships don’t just happen overnight.

They rarely start out that bad. But somewhere along the line, the budding romance turns sour.

This gradual shift over time means that you don’t always notice it happening until it’s too late.

Here are some psychological signs to watch out for that suggest things are going downhill.

1) You’ve begun point-scoring 

You cannot seem to help yourself.

It’s like both of you are trying to score points.

Even if you’re not saying it out loud yet. You are silently keeping track of every little irritating thing one another says and does.

…And you’ll happily use it against each other later.

It secretly feels good to catch each other out or prove one another wrong.

One-upmanship becomes a downward spiral fast.

We can forget that for the sake of cooperation and harmony, it’s often better to be happy than to be right in a relationship.

Sure, your ego may feel good for a moment or two, but it’s ultimately damaging your relationship.

2) You don’t feel like you’re on the same team

There’s not enough support taking place between you anymore.

Some days it feels like you’re just going about your daily lives separately.

There’s no working together and so you frequently feel like you’re on your own in the relationship.

You can’t rely rely on one another. That may be in practical ways, emotional ways, or both.

As a consequence, you feel increasingly isolated and perhaps quite lonely.

It’s not just that you’re no longer pulling together, a lot of the time it may feel like you’re actively pulling apart.

3) Your disagreements and arguments never really get resolved

It’s like you’re going round in circles. 

You have the same fights over and over. But nothing is changing.

No matter how much love there is, couples are always going to clash at some point.

That’s not a bad sign in itself.

In fact, a therapist once told me she thinks it’s a much bigger red flag when couples never argue.

In all likelihood, it means they’re just sitting on their feelings. Eventually, it’s bound to come out in insidious ways.

But how you argue is very important and a big clue to whether your connection will last.

Voicing your concerns to one another should have a point, and that point is to move forward.

If you aren’t doing this it suggests you have some communication problems that are standing in the way.

4) You don’t trust one another like you once did

Sometimes just one act of betrayal can break all trust. But that’s not always what happens.

As the quality of your relationships suffers, so does the sense that you can rely on each other.

It’s not that one of you has done something. It’s more that your general insecurities and unhappiness shake your bond.

So you no longer have the same level of confidence in yourselves as a couple.

That can cause rise to jealousy, suspicions, and doubts when you once felt unquestioning of each other’s loyalty.

5) You’re blaming each other for your problems

Things can quickly descend when we each stop taking responsibility for ourselves in a relationship.

It’s very easy to point the finger and assume your partner is the reason you feel unfulfilled and unhappy.

The truth is that unreasonable expectations can crush a couple.

We inadvertently look to our other half to be the missing piece of the puzzle within our lives.

Then when they fail to make us feel joyous all the time, we can end up resenting it (and them).

That’s why unfair assumptions and demands of one another can be a slippery slope to toxicity.

6) Your relationship is starting to make you feel sad

We all know that things cannot be hunky-dory all the time.

Low points happen in a relationship, it’s perfectly normal.

But there should be more good times than bad, otherwise it’s not worth it.

Of course, the tricky part comes from knowing how long we should ride out the lows and if it’s going to change.

If you’ve been feeling down for quite some time now, it’s a sign something isn’t right.

  • You’ve been complaining to friends and family about the state of things
  • You’ve been privately crying about it, even if you’re hiding it
  • You don’t look forward to seeing each other
  • There is a tension that hangs in the air

Stay alert to your feelings, they are alarms that try to send us signals that something needs our attention.

7) You’re excusing bad behavior

It’s not necessarily that you’re putting up with terrible behavior all the time. But you have started to let certain things slide that you never imagined you would.

For example, let’s say you are increasingly becoming the butt of the joke. Your partner puts you down put plays it off as “just kidding around”.

It feels passive-aggressive and it hurts your feelings. But rather than put your foot down about it, you’re biting your tongue.

Don’t ignore the slow chipping away of healthy boundaries. Because that’s what making excuses for someone often is.

Things turn toxic when what you consider as “normal” starts to slowly descend over time.

You get used to being treated a certain way.

Increasingly you end up putting up with more and more because it flies under the radar and gradually sneaks up on you.

8) You don’t feel safe and secure in the relationship

In order to feel comfortable, there have to be a few vital ingredients in any relationship.

  • Vulnerability
  • Honesty
  • Healthy communication
  • Respect

Without these basics, we can feel like a threatening cloud is hanging over us.

I don’t mean a physical threat. If you feel like this, your relationship is already toxic and you should get out quickly.

I’m talking about an emotional threat.

Whenever we don’t feel valued, can’t fully be ourselves, and don’t feel seen or heard it’s hard to relax.

9) The quality of your day depends on their mood

I said earlier that we cannot be responsible for one another’s happiness in life.

That’s true.

But what is also true is that being around negative people starts to get us down.

Years ago I dated an alcoholic.

Things started to turn toxic between us when whether we had a good day together seemed entirely dependent on his mood at the time.

If he was grumpy and irritable, he’d take that out on me.

I tried to be as upbeat as possible. I wanted to be supportive and be there for him.

But eventually, no amount of cheerleading was enough to stop his downward spiral.

The balance of energy was totally off because it was his feelings that were dictating how happy we were or weren’t on any given day.

It becomes incredibly draining when you devote so much energy trying to compensate for things that are missing in your relationship.

Is it too late to turn things around?

It all depends on how bad things have gotten, and whether you are both prepared to invest the effort needed to change your relationship for the better.

Abuse should never be tolerated. But some relationships start to slide into a few toxic behaviors that they can still come back from.

Miscommunication, false assumptions, and taking each other for granted can all be culprits that contribute to it.

If you want to get back on track you have to find ways to bridge the gap and get back on the same side. 

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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