13 Early Signs of a Toxic Relationship (Before It’s Too Late)

13 Early Signs of a Toxic Relationship (Before It’s Too Late)

In healthy relationships, partners support each other’s growth, communicate openly, and prioritize mutual respect. Sure there’s a fair share of struggle, but they’re approached with empathy, and a willingness to find solutions together.

In contrast, toxic relationships involve possessiveness, jealousy, and manipulation. People in toxic relationships may experience domestic violence in the form of physical and emotional abuse, leading one individual to feel powerless & worthless. Whether it’s through gaslighting, controlling behavior, or constant criticism, the impact of toxicity ruins self-esteem and hinders personal growth.

While healthy relationships may endure occasional disagreements, toxic ones sustain destructive cycles that cause lasting emotional damage. Recognizing the early signs of a toxic relationship is vital for individuals to prioritize their mental and emotional health.

In this blog, we’ve discussed 13 early signs of a toxic relationship for you to determine whether you’re in one.

13 Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship

A relationship may start healthy but with time it can turn into a toxic one. And oftentimes it becomes hard to identify the red flags in toxic relationships. Following are some of the signs that you can look into to figure out about your relationship.

13 Early Signs of a Toxic Relationship (Before It’s Too Late)

Unhealthy Communication

“Communication to a relationship is like oxygen is to life. Without it, it dies”- Tony A Gaskins Jr., life coach.

In toxic relationships, communication is not filled with mutual understanding and respect. Instead, it is filled with passive aggression, sarcastic replies, or complete avoidance. There is always a struggle to be heard, understood, and respected.

Short, sharp, and rash exchanges replace thoughtful dialogues, making the partners feel unheard. Such communication patterns eventually deepen the toxicity of the relationship. Without communicating effectively, trust fades and resentment takes its place.

Also Read: Top 26 Best Long-Distance Relationship Movies For Couples

Lack of Support 

Healthy relationships thrive on mutual encouragement and the support flows both ways. Partners in a healthy relationship stand next to each other through thick and thin. They celebrate victories together and offer comfort in times of adversity.

In toxic relationships, support is scarce. It is replaced by indifference, criticism, or sabotage. Whether it’s a personal crisis, a career setback, or a basic need, the toxic partner’s apathy destroys your self-esteem. In a toxic relationship, you may get the feeling that the other person just cares about only their desires and your wants & interests are unimportant.

Emotional Abuse

13 Early Signs of a Toxic Relationship (Before It’s Too Late)

Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse disguises itself through words and acts. Being emotionally abused for the long term destroys your confidence and self-worth. Manipulation, verbal attacks, and gaslighting are some of the forms of emotional abuse that leave long-lasting effects. 

Gaslighting is one of the vicious behaviors where someone deceives you into questioning your own reality. It causes you to doubt your worth & sanity and makes you feel small & powerless. Emotional abuse is equally harmful as physical abuse, even though it is not easily visible. It leaves deep wounds that take time to heal.

One-sided Effort 

In a healthy relationship, both partners contribute equally, but in a toxic one, it often feels like you’re carrying the weight alone. It’s like constantly giving without receiving much in return. Whether it’s planning dates, initiating conversations, or resolving conflicts, you’re the one putting in all the effort while your partner remains passive or indifferent.

This one-sided effort creates an imbalance, leaving you feeling unappreciated and drained.

Voicing out your concerns can help bring awareness to the issue and hopefully prompt your partner to step up. However, if the pattern continues despite discussions, it may indicate deeper issues within the relationship. 

Also Read: Are Long Distance Relationships Worth It?

Lack of Self-care 

When in a toxic relationship, self-care often takes a backseat. You may find yourself giving up on the hobbies and activities that once made you happy and fulfilled. Neglecting your health becomes common, and you start to skip your meals, ignore exercise, or neglect doctor’s appointments.  

Your partner’s disapproval makes you set aside your needs and ambitions. You find it difficult to find free time, and you experience guilt over any attempts at self-care. Over time, this neglect of self-care can lead to feelings of emptiness, resentment, and burnout, further continuing the toxic cycle. 


Disrespect within a relationship often reveals itself either through subtle moves or through obvious ones. When your partner is chronically late or “forgets” about some important dates, it’s a clear sign of disrespect for your time and commitments. It feels like your efforts and priorities are not that important.

Engaging in open communication about these behaviors can provide clarity and an opportunity for resolution. By expressing your concerns calmly and respectfully, you create the path for mutual understanding. However, if disrespect persists despite efforts to address it, it may signify a basic disregard for your feelings and needs.


When your partner isn’t honest with you, it raises questions about their intentions and what they might be hiding. Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, and without honesty, it crumbles.

Sometimes it’s not just the blatant lies but hiding truths are just as damaging. They manipulate the narrative, leaving you unsure of what’s real and what’s not. Whether it is hiding something big, such as infidelity, or just some little details, dishonesty creates an atmosphere of doubt and anxiety. Without honesty, it’s impossible to truly connect and feel secure in the relationship.

Controlling Behavior  

13 Early Signs of a Toxic Relationship (Before It’s Too Late)

Controlling behavior in a relationship aims to assert dominance and restrict independence over the other individual. Your partner may demand constant check-ins, limit interactions with your friends and family members, dictate how you should behave and dress, or insist on granting permission for everyday tasks. 

Constantly inquiring about your location or bombarding you with text messages indicates a desire for control. Such activities are intended to exert authority and reduce the other’s independence, resulting in dependency and insecurity. Whether through subtle manipulation or overt coercion, controlling behavior destroys trust and creates feelings of suffocation and resentment.

Walking on Eggshells 

Walking on eggshells in a relationship means feeling like every step you take might upset or anger your partner. It’s like tiptoeing through a minefield, unsure of what might trigger an explosion. You never know when all hell breaks loose whether it’s for spending time relaxing or for talking with your family and friends. You find yourself constantly worried about saying or doing things wrong, afraid of how your partner might react.

Sure, in a relationship it is important to be considerate of your partner’s emotions. However, being constantly worried about them creates an atmosphere of tension and anxiety. You may avoid bringing up problems entirely to prevent confrontation, but it reinforces the pattern of walking on eggshells. Over time, the persistent anxiety of causing anger to your partner damages your self-confidence and emotional well-being.

Constant Drama

In a toxic relationship, constant drama is unavoidable and it is like “having a black cloud hanging over the head” all the time. It’s a cycle of arguments, misunderstandings, and intense emotions that never seem to subside. Short-term peace is always followed by another storm, keeping you on edge and unsure of what might come next. The smallest issues escalate into major conflicts, and calm moments are rare and always fleeting.

It’s exhausting to never know when the next storm will hit or how severe it will be. In toxic dynamics, the drama becomes the main storyline, and it overshadows the moments of joy or contentment.

Also Read: 21 Reasons Why Long Distance Relationships Fail


13 Early Signs of a Toxic Relationship (Before It’s Too Late)

You may find yourself depending on your partner excessively, whether it’s for validation, decision-making, or daily basic needs. A bit much dependency on your partner and not being able to make your decision feels like tangled in a massive web. Such a dynamic creates an unhealthy relationship where one person holds power over the other. 

The dependent partner may feel trapped, unable to pursue their own interests without the other’s approval. Meanwhile, the partner in control may use this dependency to manipulate and control the relationship, further deepening the toxic cycle. 

Negative Financial Behavior

Financial behavior can be one of the telling signs of toxicity in a relationship. In a healthy relationship, financial decisions are often made through mutual agreement, but it becomes toxic when one partner consistently disregards agreed-upon financial boundaries.

This behavior undermines trust and leads to financial strain with a feeling of resentment and frustration. Addressing negative financial behavior requires open communication. Ignoring or excusing such behavior only reinforces the toxicity in the relationship.


From subtle sarcastic remarks to public humiliation- cruelty in a toxic relationship manifests in various ways. Constant criticism or sharp remarks whether behind closed doors or in front of people, take away self-esteem, leaving long-lasting scars. Regardless of how it’s delivered, cruelty creates distrust, anger, and profound hurt.

It’s a vicious cycle where one partner seeks to assert dominance through manipulation or intimidation. The victim often feels trapped, unable to escape the cycle of abuse. Eventually, cruelty makes you feel unsafe within the relationship.

Final Words

Recognizing these early signs of a toxic relationship is the first step toward your well-being and happiness. Different forms of toxic behaviors can crack the foundations of your relationship, leaving you feeling drained and unfulfilled. 

But if both you and your partner are committed to making a change, seeking the guidance of a relationship therapist can be immensely beneficial. Note that, it’s never too late to prioritize your mental and emotional health and build a relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and support.

Sahanaj Yasmin
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Sahanaj Yasmin

Sahanaj is a content writer who is passionate about turning ideas into words that inspire positive change.

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