11 Clear Signs of a Toxic Relationship That You Need To Know

November 15, 2020
5 mins read
toxic relationship
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Last Updated on December 12, 2021 by Randy Withers, LCMHC

Some of us stay much longer in a toxic relationship than anybody with half a brain should. But for some reason, we just keep going back for more, long after most others would have walked out the door.

Maybe we have a twisted sense of love. Maybe through circumstances of our choosing, we linger out of some misguided sense of duty.

The answer is never simple. For whatever reason, our partner is our Kryptonite.

Does Kryptonite imply a weakness or an allergic reaction? There’s no clear answer to that question.

All we know is that even Superman was brought to his knees by that toxic green rock.

Toxic relationships
11 Clear Signs of a Toxic Relationship That You Need To Know

The Psychology of Toxicity

If you are in an unhealthy relationship and you keep repeating the same behaviors, thinking things will get better… guess: you are being exposed to Kryptonite.

Yep, that person who you just can’t seem to shake; who you know is not good for you; who makes you feel worthless, they are your Kryptonite.

Call it toxic, weakness, or allergy, they are something you need to avoid like the plague and never come in contact with again.

For whatever reason, you are susceptible to their ‘powers.’

Don’t blame the Kryptonite for being Kryptonite. It is what it is. If you are around them, you will be undone.  GET AWAY from them.  Lessons hard-won.

We can come up with all kinds of reasons to continue in a relationship. We think we can’t live without that person. We think they are the one. If you are hurting and miserable… something needs to change. It’s you.

How to Recognize a Toxic Relationship. Courtesy, YouTube.

What qualifies as a toxic relationship?

Let’s talk about toxic relationships here. You know the kind: the one that drives you crazy, keeps you confused, and makes you hate yourself.

When someone is your Kryptonite, it is like an addiction. If you are not on down the road of separation from that person, you will crash and burn. You think you can’t live without them…that’s how addiction destroys.

Ask any addict who has been clean for a period of time and they will tell you, they cannot even use one time.  Addiction or a toxic relationship will take your life, month by month, year by year. You cannot begin to heal until you are away from toxicity. When you are with them you are wounded.

When we are in the midst of the storm, all we can do is survive. Once you are away and in the calm, your sight will clear. Hindsight is always 20/20. We gain perspective.

Many people do not leave a destructive relationship because they are afraid of what comes next.  Fear of the unknown is greater than fear of the known, no matter how it is tearing them apart.

The fear of being alone can keep us in a perpetual cycle of one bad relationship after another. There is no time to figure out why we choose the toxic people we choose.

If a person wants a healthy relationship, the decision must be made that being alone is preferable to being miserable and in the toxic cycle.  A person has to take responsibility and admit that something, somewhere in their psyche is broken.

If we are making bad choices in our intimates, stop and figure it out. Rushing from relationship to relationship perpetuates the cycle.

Nobody wants to continue in that miserable cycle.  Doing the same thing over and over, thinking the outcome will change is called INSANITY. 

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How do you know if you are in a toxic relationship?

You may have experienced all or some of these at one point:


Making negative statements about their partner to make themselves feel good. A negative statement or comparison that makes their partner seem lesser than. It is defined as a disrespectful or scornfully abusive remark or action.

Emotional Abuse

Any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.


The act of lacking consideration for others; being concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.


The partner’s sexual or emotional needs or wants are more important to them than the other’s feelings and/or being honest.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that endangers or injures that person.


Deceitfulness shown in someone’s character or behavior, such as being a liar.


Assigning the responsibility for your bad behavior on someone else. Blaming is verbal aggression.

Fighting instead of communicating

Screaming, yelling, and sabotaging the relationship because one is afraid of speaking the truth like an adult.


Pretending to be someone you are not; covering up who you are, what you like, and what you dislike. A false display of feelings, attitudes, or intentions.


An attitude of superiority. Looking down on your partner thinking that you are better than they are for any reason.


In relationships, some form of manipulation of others so that one’s partner’s conflict can be acted out on a ‘larger stage.’ There is a continual emotional upheaval and usually an unexpected, unpleasant series of events playing out.

6 Signs Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship You Shouldn’t Ignore. Courtesy, BetterHelp

How You Feel In A Toxic Relationship

These are ways you may feel when you are in a toxic relationship or after you finally untangle yourself from its grasp. This is by no means an exhaustive list. These residual feelings are even more important than the symptoms. If you are in a relationship and it is not nourishing and uplifting to you something is wrong.

Self-hatred and unhappiness

An extreme dislike or hatred of oneself or being angry at or even prejudiced against oneself. Such as feeling ugly, not good enough, seeing the bad, and forgetting the good in yourself.


You no longer feel safe in the relationship, being constantly aware that they may leave you at any time for someone else.


When manipulation occurs, we often feel angry and disbelief. Then follows the self-degradation of “how stupid or gullible could I be.”  


Overwhelming feels of regret; the desire to go back in time; have a do-over. Remember, from this day forward you can learn from your past and build the life you want.

Final Thoughts

The belief that you will be alone the rest of your life is a symptom of self-hatred and insecurity, caused by the toxic relationship. Manipulation will cause a person to doubt their ability to discern other’s intentions.

When you begin to heal, these feelings will slowly leave as you learn to trust yourself again.

Every human on this earth, if they live long enough, feels regret… the “what if” monster. Deal with it head-on and determine that you will not let it rule your entire life. If miserable is not for you, actively seek a way to LET IT GO and move on.

During your time of healing, seek out a strong support group. Gather your true friend(s) and tell them the truth. Often, we try to hide our problems from others. We suffer alone. You need the support of your friends and family.

If they are negative or blaming in any way, move on to the next person who can be supportive in a positive manner, truthful, but never blaming.

A licensed therapist can help you discover the underlying reasons why you are attracted to toxic people if this is a pattern. Find a counselor that can help you dig deep. There is a reason(s) you are attracted to persons that are like Kryptonite to you.

Learning to love yourself is a process.  Part of this process is knowing your standards and determining to not compromise on the important issues. Life is too short to be unhappy. Give yourself this most wonderful gift.


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Rita Richards, LCSW

Rita Richards is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in North Carolina. She is a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill. In her 20 years as a psychotherapist, she has worked with diverse populations in trauma and abuse; anxiety and depressive disorders; and Severe and Persistent Mental Illness.


  1. Before reading the article, I didn’t know what a toxic relationship was or toxic relationship signs. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable content.

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Randy Withers, LCMHC

Reviewed for accuracy by Randy Withers, MA, NCC, LCMHC, LCAS. Licensed Therapist and Managing Editor of Blunt Therapy

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