8 troubling signs you might be the toxic one in your relationship

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Navigating relationships can be a tricky business.

We’ve all been there, in a partnership that seems to be spiraling downwards, where it feels like every argument or disagreement is the other person’s fault.

It’s easy to point fingers and play the blame game, but sometimes – and this is the tough part – we have to turn that finger around and point it at ourselves.

This isn’t about self blame, or even about guilt. Rather, it’s about personal growth. It’s about taking a hard look in the mirror and asking the difficult question: “Am I the toxic one here?”

Admitting our own faults can be just as tough as ending a relationship, if not tougher. It demands courage and self-awareness that doesn’t come easy. Yet, it’s an essential part of our journey of self-improvement and becoming better partners.

This is why I’m writing this piece. To help you identify those subtle signs that may indicate you’re the toxic one in your relationship. Because recognizing these signs is the first step towards change, towards healthier relationships and ultimately, towards a better version of yourself.

So, let’s dive in. Here are 8 troubling signs you might be the toxic one in your relationship.

1) You’re always playing the victim

Every relationship has its ups and downs. Disagreements, arguments, and conflicts are part and parcel of any dynamic where two people are involved.

But here’s the kicker: If you always find yourself playing the victim in these scenarios, then it’s time to take a pause and reflect.

Do you consistently feel like you’re being wronged? Do you see all disagreements as personal attacks? Are you constantly blaming your partner for the negative emotions you feel?

If these questions resonate with you, then there’s a good chance you might be slipping into a toxic pattern. This isn’t about shaming or self-blame.

It’s about recognizing that sometimes, our perspective can be skewed by our emotions, leading us to see ourselves as the ‘victim’ more often than not.

This could inadvertently be causing more harm to your relationship than you realize.

Because when we always see ourselves as victims, we absolve ourselves of any responsibility for the problems in our relationship, thus halting our personal growth.

2) You often find it hard to apologize

We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. But how we deal with those mistakes can say a lot about us, especially in a relationship context.

In the past, I’ve found it incredibly hard to say “I’m sorry”. It felt like an admission of defeat, a sign of weakness. I would argue, deflect, and even twist the narrative just to avoid uttering those two simple words.

Over time, I realized that not being able to apologize was damaging my relationships. It was creating a wall of resentment and misunderstanding that was hard for my partners to break down.

Unfortunately, not being able to say “I’m sorry” is a sign of a deeper issue. It could mean that you’re not taking responsibility for your actions or that you’re not acknowledging the impact of your behavior on others.

Apologies are an essential part of any healthy relationship. They allow us to acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them, and move forward.

If you, like me, struggle with apologies, it might be a sign that you’re contributing to the toxicity in your relationship.

3) You keep score

In one of my previous relationships, I had another habit that I wasn’t particularly proud of.

I kept score. Every little thing, from who did the dishes last to who apologized first after a fight, was mentally noted.

It was as if I was gathering evidence to use in future arguments. To prove that I was the one putting in more effort or to justify my actions.

Looking back, I realize how toxic this behavior was.

Keeping score meant that I was constantly comparing and competing with my partner rather than working together as a team. It created an environment of resentment and animosity rather than fostering love and understanding.

If you find yourself keeping score in your relationship, it’s time to take a step back and reassess.

Love isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about growing together. And that requires letting go of the scorecard.

4) You’re always right

In a relationship, an unhealthy need to always prove oneself right, even at the expense of a partner’s feelings is never going to end well.

When winning an argument becomes more important than understanding or respecting a partner’s point of view, that’s just a recipe for a breakup.

I’ve been there. I used to think that admitting I was wrong would make me look weak or less intelligent. Eventually, I realized that it was actually preventing me from seeing things from my partner’s perspective and causing unnecessary friction in our relationship.

Always having to be right isn’t about intelligence. It’s a defense mechanism that can be toxic in a relationship.

Why? Because it shuts down communication, creates tension, and blocks the path towards understanding and mutual respect.

Nowadays, I pick my battles. And when I’m proven wrong, I take the path of grace. That way, my relationship wins. 

5) You struggle with empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s a crucial component in maintaining healthy relationships.

However, there was a time when empathy was something I struggled with.

Whenever my partner expressed their feelings or concerns, I found myself brushing them off or minimizing their importance. Instead of validating their emotions, I would often get defensive or shift the focus back onto myself.

This lack of empathy was harmful to my relationship. It made my partner feel ignored and invalidated. Their feelings were real and important, but my inability to empathize made it seem like I didn’t care.

If you find yourself struggling to empathize with your partner’s feelings, it might be a sign that you’re contributing to the toxicity in your relationship.

Now, don’t go thinking that to empathize is to agree with your partner all the time. It’s simply about understanding their perspective and validating their feelings, even if they differ from yours.

Sometimes, that’s enough to make your partner feel loved. 

6) You have an unhealthy need for control

Another sign that you could be adding to the toxicity in your relationship is if you find yourself needing to have control over every aspect.

You decide where to eat for dinner, what movie to watch, which purchases to prioritize…From the small stuff to the big, you need to have the final say. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to relationships, a certain level of compromise and balance is necessary. If that’s absent, your partner is bound to feel suffocated and disrespected.

7) You’re frequently jealous

Jealousy is a natural human emotion. It’s something we all experience from time to time. But in my past relationships, I found myself feeling jealous more often than not.

It wasn’t just about other people. It was about the time my partner spent with their friends, their accomplishments, even their personal growth. Every time they seemed happy without me, I felt a pang of jealousy.

This constant jealousy was not only exhausting for me but also harmful to my relationship. It created unnecessary tension and bred resentment between my partner and me.

If you find yourself frequently jealous in your relationship, you just might be the toxic one. Instead of letting jealousy control your emotions, try to understand its root cause and work on building trust and security in your relationship.

8) You lack self-awareness

Finally, do you tend to look at your partner’s faults and actions while neglecting to look at your own?

I was this way myself in the past. In every argument, I was quick to point fingers but slow to recognize my own shortcomings. I didn’t take the time to reflect on how my actions or words might have contributed to the problem.

This lack of self-awareness kept me from growing and learning from my mistakes. It kept me stuck in a cycle of blame and defensiveness, preventing me from building a stronger, healthier relationship.

Real talk — self-awareness is crucial in any personal development journey. It helps us understand our actions, our responses, and how we can improve. Without it, no change can happen.

So take the time to reflect and be honest with yourself. It’s the first step towards becoming a better partner and building healthier relationships.

Final thoughts

Recognizing yourself in these signs can be a harsh reality check. It’s never easy to admit that we might be contributing to the negativity in our relationships.

Once again, acknowledging these signs isn’t about self-blame or guilt, it’s about personal growth. It’s about accepting our faults and making a conscious effort to change. And that’s something to be proud of.

Start by observing your own behavior. Notice when you’re quick to blame others, when you’re struggling to apologize, or when you’re always feeling like the victim. These are all opportunities for self-improvement.

It’s not going to be an overnight transformation. Changing ingrained behaviors takes time and patience. But every step you take towards becoming a better partner, a better friend, a better person, is a step in the right direction.

So be kind to yourself during this journey. Celebrate your progress. Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you’re learning from them.

At the end of the day, the goal isn’t to become perfect, but to become better than we were yesterday. And that’s a journey worth embarking on.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

7 signs someone is secretly lonely in life, according to psychology

If someone is secretly attracted to you, they’ll display these 8 subtle behaviors