How to identify a toxic relationship: 10 red flags to be aware of

September 10, 2020

Relationships, Therapy

I am sure that if you reached this entry, it is because you are looking for help in knowing if you are in a toxic relationship. Or maybe you’ve already left this relationship, but you want to understand why it had such an impact. If this is your case, you’ve come to the right blog! In this post, we will explore 10 signs of toxicity in a relationship.


Disclaimer from the beginning, your relationship may have some of these elements and not be toxic!

We don’t always have the privilege to be taught about how to have healthy relationships from the beginning. However, if your relationship exhibits these traits frequently, you may be in one. An important thing to remember is that these behaviors are not limited to romantic relationships; they can also arise in family, friends, and even work relationships.


Now, let’s list these 10 Red Flags:

1) Your partner makes you question your worth as a person.

People who have these toxicity characteristics have a great capacity to manipulate you. They can identify your weak points, and use them to their advantage. One way this manipulation can arise is through gaslighting. This refers to when a person manipulates the other person, making them feel that they are losing their sanity. It can get to the point where you question your goals, values, limits, and even your perception of events.


2) You become aware of lies or things that don’t add up.

You realize that the information you are given is not following reality. Whether they go to places and they say they weren’t there, There could be expenses we don’t know about and look suspicious to us. It may be that sexually transmitted infection that came up even when you are supposed to be exclusive. These situations can generate a high level of distrust and can make it difficult to know when to believe your partner and when not.


3) You feel anxiety when you are around your partner. 

Our partner should be the person who makes us feel safe when we want to be our most authentic version. This does not mean that we have to like each other 100% all the time. But we must be sure that our partner accepts and loves us, even with our differences. However, if your partner criticizes you, controls you, ridicules you for the way you are, what is important to you, and how you want to live your life, then you may find yourself in a toxic relationship.

Again, our partner may have a different lifestyle than ours, and there may be disagreements. However, if your partner minimizes you or forces you to change to their version of you instead of looking for ways to deal with it, then this is no longer healthy.

4) You sacrifice parts of yourself to have a chance with this person. 

There are essential elements that make up who we are. Whether it is our likes, our fears, our spirituality, our values, our profession, etc.  When entering a relationship, it is normal to adjust a little when sharing our life with another person. But if you find yourself consistently sacrificing your friendships, the time you spend with your family, your weight, among other things, this already entails a sacrifice of your identity. No relationship is worth losing your essential parts to have a chance with someone or to “avoid” being left.


5) The effort that each person puts into the relationship feels unbalanced.

When we are in a toxic relationship, you can feel that we are carrying the relationship. That is, you invest disproportionately compared to what the other person invests. Something relevant to mention is that there will never be a perfect 50/50 balance in relationships all the time. Someone will give more at different times, and the other person will give less (40/60, 30/70, etc.). But this is a dynamic that changes according to the circumstances of the relationship. And both parties show responsiveness when they need extra support. However, it is different when consistently in the relationship, it feels like you give 90% or 100%, and the other person has no intention of giving more to help the relationship.



There are many ways these behaviors can be seen in a relationship. They can be threats to end the relationship if you go out with your friends. They can also be manipulated so that you don’t use protection when you have sex. Another manifestation is forcing you to share your social network passwords. These behaviors can escalate into verbal or physical abuse. A reminder that I think is essential for this issue; there does not need to be physical violence in an abusive relationship. If you identify with this situation, I invite you to find out what resources are available in your country to maintain your safety and integrity, both physically and mentally.


7) Spending time with your partner drains you rather than making you feel good. 

Some people drain your emotional energy because negativity, criticism, or guilt have a significant place in the communication dynamic. If these elements come up frequently, there is an erosion of the relationship’s bond.


8) Double standards in the relationship.

The other person demands something from you that they do not fulfill on their behalf. For example, your partner requires that you know where you are at all times, but does let you know when they go out. Of course, it is important to clarify that there are times when mistakes can be made in the relationship. However, these should be the exception and not the rule. There is a difference between making mistakes and seeking to repair the relationship, versus demanding something we are not willing to give back.

9) Arguments are not solved in a healthy way. 

The problem in relationships is not that there are arguments. Fights are a vital part of them! It is through what doesn’t work that we learn to connect adequately. However, suppose every time there is an argument insults arise or the problem is avoided, opportunities for improvement are rejected, the experience is minimized, then this becomes a big problem in the relationship.

10) Limits are not handled in a healthy way.

Limits are different for each person; they can change over time and adapt. Simultaneously, when there are no clear boundaries in a relationship, the following can happen:

  • Other people are allowed to “manage” the relationship.
  • There is no privacy.
  • Relationship decisions are made without consulting the other person.

Among other things!

Boundaries are a way of taking care of yourself and the relationship. If they are not unmistakable and respected in the relationship, we may be facing a toxic dynamic.


Relationships are spaces that can be of significant growth with their ups and downs. However, it should not feel as if we are being destroyed.

If you related to several of these elements, I recommend this entry on my blog. In case you want to continue with your healing process, I would love to hear from you!  It would be a pleasure to be able to support you, either through therapy or coaching! My goal is to help you heal from this experience and create more fulfilling and intentional relationships.

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