How Can I Tell If I’m In A Toxic Relationship?

Dear Acenda,

I feel so confused right now on what I should do about my relationship. I've been dating my boyfriend for over a year now, and while the beginning started out amazing and happy, lately I've been feeling the relationship take a negative turn. All of my friends and family tell me he's not good for me and that he's too controlling, but I love him and want to make this work. Who are they to judge my relationship when they're not experiencing it?

He doesn't like when I post on social media, but maybe he's just protecting me from unwarranted attention. He also doesn't like when I have male friends and he gets jealous quite easily, but sometimes I like the possessiveness. Everyone in my life keeps telling me how toxic my relationship is, but I'd hate to throw away something that was once so good. Maybe we're just going through a rough patch. How can I tell if I'm in a toxic relationship?

Lost in Love

Dear Lost in Love,

While all healthy relationships go through rough patches and have their ups and downs, toxic relationships become consistently unhappy and the negatives begin to outweigh the positives. Unfortunately, what you've explained appears to venture into toxic territory, but pushing a definitive label on your relationship is not the end goal. Rather, providing the warning signs and how to recognize toxicity in a relationship will help guide you to come to your own conclusion and begin to take the next steps that you feel are right for your future.

While overt warning signs include any form of abuse, violence, or harassment, there are other, covert signs that may not be as obvious but are just as valid. Emotional or psychological abuse can manifest in many different behaviors that turn a relationship harmfully toxic.

Here are a few warning signs that apply to your situation, but there are many other resources that outline the complexities of toxic relationships.
man looking at woman toxic relationship

1. Outside concern: While it may seem like unwarranted advice, toxic relationships are often apparent to others before the one in the relationship realizes and accepts the situation.

2. Isolation from friends and family: If your partner takes up the majority of your time and you find yourself spending less and less time with other loved ones, this may be a sign of toxicity as they isolate you to become solely dependent on them.

3. Jealousy: While some minor jealousy is common in relationships, if you or a partner start feeling resentful for the others' success or begin to control aspects of their life, it becomes unhealthy.

4. Controlling behaviors: Becoming angry or upset if your partner doesn't have total control over your actions is a definite sign of toxicity. These controlling behaviors are often early indicators of emotional abuse.

If you have any of these warning signs or are questioning your relationship, support is available. Clinicians in our Counseling & Wellness Centers can help if you or a loved one is experiencing the negative effects of an unhealthy relationship.

Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information or to schedule an appointment.