Recognizing the Signs of a Toxic Relationship


We feel an energetic high when we experience the romantic love of another. We even feel fulfilled on a different level when it’s a satisfying friendship relationship. The level of love is different of course between friendship and romantic relationships but a friend fulfills that part of us that a lover cannot and vice-versa. A truly supportive relationship brings out the best in us and leaves us feeling more energized, happy and alive. We tend to feel like we are on top of the world and that nothing can penetrate that high-spirited energy. Our mood changes for the better and we tend to be less emotional and dramatic in our daily interactions. Love seems to reign when we feel supported, fulfilled and whole inside.

Unfortunately many of the relationships we engage in are actually dysfunctional and even toxic in most cases and can lead to depression, anxiety, stress and even illness. When we begin a relationship with a friend or a lover we do not always know initially if it will work out or become fulfilling for us. We generally do not even consider any future ideas about the person or how the relationship will go, we mostly just accept the person “as is.” It isn’t always clear at first if they are in favor of our best and highest good. Many emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety start with problematic relationships. We often continue these awkward relationship patterns in our choice of friends, marriage partners or work associates unknowingly.

It’s important to evaluate the people you tend to befriend and the people you tend to be romantically attracted to (I’m not referring to their appearance although that’s part of it but more so their personality and their personal endeavors) as well as the co-workers you tend to be paired with.

The question becomes: How can we tell if our connections with others are healing and fulfilling our emotional needs or if they will lead to problematic, difficult or toxic relationships?

Signs your relationship is not fulfilling and more toxic:

  • You feel criticized or whatever you do for the other person is never enough or good enough.
  • You argue about things that don’t matter.
  • You don’t share the same worldview or belief system.
  • You feel guilty most of the time.
  • You feel afraid to ask for what you really want.
  • You fight over each other’s wrongdoings, fault-finding mistakes.
  • Nothing seems to change even after you talk about issues.
  • You feel pessimistic or hopeless about yourself and/or the relationship.
  • You feel drained after interacting with them.
  • You lose your general feeling of happiness and joy around them.

If you recognize these “warning signs” then it’s important to re-evaluate your relationship and if it’s good for YOU? It’s okay to care about the other person but you have to live in your body and mind and if it’s not serving you in a healthy, happy, constructive way then it may be time to consider moving on.  

I recently recognized ALL these signs in a friendship and it was quite disturbing.  I cared about this person very much and tried so hard burning myself out to show them how I cared; as well as how to be a good friend through my own actions toward them. However, when we hung out I felt picked on, criticized, scolded, left out, stepped on and ignored every time. This person always tried to one-up me trying to make themselves feel superior. I constantly had to receive a lecture on their “rules of acceptance” and what fit into their reality of how to JUST BE around them. It was like walking on egg shells except worse. High maintenance couldn’t even describe this person’s outlook on life. Everything was a problem or an issue and there were always “rules” around social outings or even just hanging out. Another area that always bothered me was their constant complaining of a past friend that did them wrong. I had to hear how great of a friend they were and how the other person was so horrible. They never looked at their actions and how they might have affected others. Instead, they blamed the other person and everyone else for all mistakes. A lesson here is when someone talks so poorly of another, they will do the same to you. Also, if they are unwilling to look at their own mistakes they will always blame YOU and try making you feel guilty for everything that goes wrong. The unfortunate part is that people who always blame others can never escape themselves by doing so. In time our repressed emotions always surface.

The more I spent time with this person, the more they made it so deliberately clear that they craved “attention” as well as made it obvious they needed to be the “center of attention” where ever they were and that they needed to feel a sense of “control” and “leadership” over everyone else. This stemmed from their childhood and relationship with their Mother. We even had a conversation about how my being part of the group made them feel stressed out because their sense of “control” felt jeopardized. I would not allow them to control me or my actions and my positivity was too stressful to them. Being around this person became so toxic to me because their negative outlook on life and personal health and relationship issues took center stage when we were alone or with a group. It was like a recorded broken record hearing the same old, same old. They DID NOT want support or change, they only wanted to vent and dump their toxic energy onto others. They took my good energy and it drained me to the point I had no choice but to cut them out of my life. I forgave myself for allowing this person to take so much of my good energy and time and for trusting them enough to share and disclose personal information. I also forgave them for being so selfish and uncaring of the effort I showed in favor of their best and highest good and behalf. Some people do not realize they do this but overall you begin to recognize when someone is NOT in favor of YOUR best and highest good but instead only their own. There is a balance in a healthy relationship and you both are for each other’s best and highest good and in this case of friendship it was not reciprocated.

Sometimes it’s not important to save every relationship you enter but definitely to learn from it. You are a worthy person no matter who is at fault and what mistakes have been made. It’s always important to look at the bigger picture and accept ourselves (not in an egocentric way) but in a way without conditions as well as not retell the negatives over and over. We live in a world where most people think it’s more important to be right and preserve our ego by blaming others but what purpose does that really serve? It does not create Peace; it creates distance and more anger perpetuating the problem further with that person as well as others that come next. Our ego wants to tell us we are NEVER at fault and it’s always the other person; this mind-set holds us back from growing. This is a defense mechanism to deflect the areas we really need to consider for our own personal growth. However, it’s not healthy to dwell on them either. Just look at the scenario and ask yourself, what can I learn from this? Answer it and move on.

In the end, it’s always good to learn from others but do not let the adversity of the relationship overcome you and keep you from healing. Every person enters your life for a reason and its often to learn a lesson of some sort. It’s not about being right, it’s about learning from them and them learning from you. However, you can only control yourself and what you learn, not what the other person learns. Release any negativity you feel toward those that hurt you and recognize the signs of a toxic relationship for the next time.

Peace and Love







2 thoughts on “Recognizing the Signs of a Toxic Relationship

  1. Anna at Premarital Counseling

    While I agree with your opinion about negative people, unfortunately, we all share some of the negative characteristics you’ve mentioned. One way or another, we all have these negative traits and we have to deal with them.

    1. My Soulful Healing Post author

      Yes, unfortunately we cannot completely escape negativity. However, recognizing those traits within ourselves is positive and gives us the insight to proactively work through them. Thank you for your view, I couldn’t agree more. 🙂


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