People in healthy relationships seek each other’s company, make decisions together, discuss problems as they arise and generally feel energised and supported. Toxic relationships on the other hand make you feel drained and uncomfortable at the prospect of spending time with your partner. 

1. You feel isolated and insignificant 

One of the most common traits of a toxic relationship is that small arguments rapidly escalate into huge fights, and rather than feeling that your partner will support and encourage you, you constantly feel a sense of isolation and that your needs and interests are not important in this relationship. 

2. There are toxic communication and controlling behaviours 

One of the most common traits of these relationships is toxic communication where you relate in a way that puts each other down, both when you are alone and in public. Toxic communication includes a spectrum varying from subtle snide remarks and sarcasm to open hostility and abuse. It is common that this relational dynamic arises from competition, jealousy and controlling behaviours. 

Controlling behaviours are often congruent with a feeling of insecurity in the relationship where the partners need to constantly monitor the other and there is a lack of trust and respect for one’s need for space and privacy. One of the red flags in these relationships is a feeling of suffocation and a need to escape the constant scrutiny and criticism. 

3. Resentment and mistrust 

Another red flag in these relationships is a secret feeling of resentment where you are not allowed to openly discuss an issue as you don’t feel safe speaking up and you might catch yourself being dishonest in order to safeguard yourself from an outburst. 

4. Financial issues 

These feelings of mistrust usually infiltrate even financial matters as partners do not respect mutual agreements on how to spend money and they would make purchases that affect the other’s spending power or the common budget without first discussing it with the other. 

5. Physical and mental health issues 

Due to the constant tension and ignoring basic needs, physical and mental health issues might arise. These might span from a feeling of physical discomforts such as headaches or an upset stomach to getting sick more frequently and taking longer to recover to a sense of feeling miserable, lethargic, exhausted and depressed. 

6. Lack of self-care and loss of meaningful relationships 

This pattern might also lead to a lack of self-care as you simply feel too drained by what is going on to see to your needs. This might also include jeopardising your relationships with loved ones as they might notice that something is off in your relationship and might ask you questions you feel uncomfortable answering. 

A final word

Though many might feel that toxic relationships are doomed to fail if both partners accept to take responsibility and work on the relationship in order to re-establish trust, and respect, with hard work and determination it is possible to slowly rebuild a healthy dynamic, yet in cases where the relationship has been strained for a long period of time or the relational pattern is particularly toxic, couple therapy might help. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here

Sonya Galea is a family therapist with Willingness Team. She works with families and couples experiencing couple relationship issues and parenting struggles. 


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