4 Signs of A Toxic Relationship (And 7 Ways To Move On)

If you have ever considered leaving a toxic relationship, then you have already made your decision. Your mind knows it, but your heart hasn’t accepted it yet.

Then, once you finally decide to act, you are stopped by memories of all the great times you’ve had. You feel drained, empty, and unfulfilled just thinking about leaving them. You realize you do not have the energy to start over again.

Still worse, you let them go, but you keep going back to them after a while. Or, every time you try to end it, the toxic friend or partner won’t let you go.

Breaking up is the most painful part of a relationship. But it is also the most essential part if the relationship has turned toxic. Click To Tweet
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So, how can you spot if you are in a toxic relationship, and what to do to get out of it, heal yourself, and put your life back on track?

What Is A Toxic Relationship?

Toxic relationships are unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships that keep one feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. A toxic relationship is a constant source of stress, instability, and conflict for both people. It makes one feel worse, regretful, and even revengeful after each interaction.

According to the body language expert Lillian Glass, a toxic relationship is any relationship between individuals who …

“… don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”

[You will find this interesting: Signs of Loneliness: Are You Lonely In A Relationship?]

What Are The Signs of A Toxic Relationship?

There are many signs of a toxic relationship, ranging from name-calling, needless criticism, infidelity (cheating), and violence.

Here are the four most telltale signs of a toxic relationship:

1. The relationship has become hopelessly one-sided.

Toxic relationships can make you feel like you are the only one who cares about the relationship. You feel trapped in a situation where you feel like no matter what you do, it’s never enough for them.


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A healthy relationship is based on mutual service (along with trust, honesty, fair play, equality, and open communication).

In a toxic relationship, you keep serving them while being totally taken for granted. Meanwhile, the other person feels they are entitled to everything that you do for them.

They no longer serve you. Even when they do things for you, it’s mostly out of a sense of duty or in expectation of a greater recompense – not out of love. That kind of relationship is hopelessly one-sided.

2. The other person isolates you from your friends and relatives.

A toxic partner is always demanding, and tends to isolate you from your other social relationships. They make you feel guilty for spending time with your family or friends.

This works in their favor because you are rendered helpless, leaving them with no opposition. Since you have lost touch with your emotional and social system, you have no one to share your tragic stories with when they gaslight you or torment you.

This forced isolation also pushes you toward a state of intense loneliness.

3. You feel stuck in the relationship while wishing to break off.

A toxic relationship keeps you stuck. They make you dependent or co-dependent on them. As a result, you remain stuck in the relationship since you need all your decisions validated by them.

Even when you keep wishing you were out of the toxic person’s reach, you cannot seem to do it. Even a mountain of courage doesn’t help you when you imagine what life would be like without them. So you keep putting off the decision to end the relationship.

4. The other person controls you and questions your independent decisions.

The person is overly controlling and causes harm to their partner. They may be physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive to their partner. They may be emotionally manipulative and use shame as a means of control.

Toxic people often use drugs or alcohol to extend their control over their partners. They know that once they have transformed their victim-partner into an addict, they will become their sole supplier of the abusive substance.

If any of the above sounds familiar to you, then it is time to take that step to end the torture of your toxic relationship.

What To Do When In A Toxic Relationship?

The best option, most of the time, is to break off the toxic relationship and move on.

We enter into relationships expecting that they would remain healthy for the rest of our lives. However, some end up becoming toxic.

This toxic person could be a coworker, a friend, or even your significant other, but when they become toxic, they negatively impact your mental health, causing stress to depression.

It’s hard to know to figure out what and how you want your life to be once you’ve saved yourself from a toxic relationship. How to know if it’s time to move on?

If you find yourself doing any of the following, then it might be time to move on:

  1. You find yourself constantly thinking about the person you’re in a toxic relationship with. You can’t get them off your mind, and it’s not because they’re so amazing; rather, you’re afraid of their wrath.
  2. You begin to believe that you are not good enough for them or anybody else, and that there is something wrong with you.
  3. You can’t bear how this person makes you feel, but you can’t seem to get rid of the idea that you need them in your life.
  4. You find there is no point in trying to make things better because they are the only ones who can change their behaviors. And attempting to persuade them to change simply adds to the stress between you and them.

How To Move On From A Toxic Relationship?

In order to move on from a toxic relationship, it is important to understand the 7 steps.

1. Understanding the toxic relationship:

Identifying the toxicity in the relationship is hard. As we grow, we all go through experiences that shape who we are and how we react to certain situations. These experiences can leave a lasting impact on our lives, personality, and relationships with others. If you grew up among narcissistic people, it is easy to get caught up with a toxic person and not realize what you’re going through until it’s too late.

2. Seeing the relationship for what it really is:

Most people believe that they are in a relationship because they have been seeing the same partner for a while. When it’s not what they expected, they blame themselves and stay in a destructive cycle of dependency or co-dependency.

Seeing the relationship from a point of view of a person outside the relationship can help you gain insight into it. You start to see how they affect your behavior, thinking, and natural instincts. You may find you have taken on a shade of unkindness and impatience with others, which you were not earlier.

Accepting the reality of our situation is a huge part of coping with its bad effects.

3. Letting go of any hope that it will change:

When we are able to accept that we can’t control everything, it’s easier to cope with life and let go of the things that don’t matter, and move on more quickly. When we believe that everything goes wrong because of us, we feel like a victim and get stuck in a loop of negative thoughts. But when we are able to see the world for what it really is—full of chaos, unpredictability, and uncertainty—then we can find tranquility in the midst of all of this.

4. Remembering that you are not alone:

Our society is so focused on a “do it all” mentality that often we forget to take care of ourselves. Our brains are not built for this type of high workload and multitasking, which can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments.

Why It’s Hard To Forgive Yourself? Why Can’t You Do It?

5. Getting professional help in developing coping mechanisms:

Taking care of yourself is an important step towards staying healthy, both mentally and physically.

Every day, people face emotional and physical stressors that can lead to various mental health disorders. Coping mechanisms are necessary for staying healthy and getting through these tough times. There are many ways to cope with stress, such as taking deep breaths, exercising regularly, meditation, or talking to a health professional.

6. Moving on from a bad breakup from a toxic relationship:

Breaking up with a toxic person is never easy. It can be as painful and raw as grieving the death of a loved one. When you’ve been in an abusive relationship, it’s important to take care of yourself and process the breakup before moving on.

7. Learning to find love again after a toxic relationship is over:

Let’s face it, relationships end. Whether it is because of cheating, an affair, or just differences in personalities. No matter the reason for the breakup, the aftermath can be devastating for everyone involved. But recovering from a toxic relationship can be difficult.

There are so many questions to ask yourself such as what was the cause? How do I move on? How do I find love again after I leave him/her? Find out the 7 safe ways to make someone fall in love with you.

Final Words

Breaking up is never easy. However, it is important to take care of yourself and do the following things after a break-up from a toxic relationship:

  1. Plan and get into a new routine.
  2. Take time off from social media.
  3. Spend time with real, offline friends.
  4. Get back to old hobbies and passions.
  5. Reflect on what you want in a new relationship.

• • •

Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher. Founder and Chief Editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes on mental health, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).


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