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9 Toxic Behaviors You Should Never Put Up With in a Relationship

by | Jan 9, 2024 | 0 comments

The term “narcissism” on this blog is used to describe a specific set of personality traits. It is not intended to be used as a professional diagnosis.

Romantic relationships are complex, confusing, and challenging.

This is especially true when there are toxic behaviors at play.

We all get a little toxic sometimes. It’s only natural. Sometimes we don’t play nice when we get defensive or feel like we are being attacked or treated unfairly.

However, toxic behaviors in a relationship can become an emotionally distressing pattern of behaviors that go way beyond having a bad day or engaging in an argument.

So while toxic behaviors can pop up in a relationship, consistent toxic behaviors spell trouble.

Let’s look at some toxic relationship signs you should never ignore.

I’m going to address these from two perspectives: there’s an underlying reason why you’re partner is doing this, and your partner is a complete dick.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to discover which it is but remember this:

You do not have to stay in a toxic relationship, no matter the reason.

Let’s get started!

Toxic Behaviors in a Relationship

In any relationship, certain behaviors can hurt your well-being and happiness – especially if they happen consistently.

Being able to recognize signs of a bad relationship is important for maintaining a healthy relationship or knowing when to leave.

Here are the toxic behaviors in a relationship you should never put up with:

1. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a manipulative tactile that involves making someone doubt their own memories and reality. In a relationship, this usually looks like your partner dismissing your feelings, thoughts, or experiences.

For example, if you bring up a concern about the way they are treating you, they may say, “You’re just being too sensitive. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Or if they say they were going to do something and don’t do it, they may deny ever saying it.

How To Deal With It

If you suspect that you are being gaslit by your partner, trust your instincts. You can keep a journal or record of things that happen that make you feel uneasy.

Be open and assertive with your partner, expressing your concerns calmly.

If the behavior doesn’t stop, you may want to rethink the relationship and maybe speak to a therapist (gaslighting can be very mentally harming).

2. Disrespecting Boundaries

Another red flag of an unhealthy relationship is when your partner disrespects your boundaries. Having your boundaries constantly overstepped can lead to feelings of discomfort and violation.

An example could be your partner insisting on going through your phone without your permission. 

Establishing and maintaining boundaries is an important part of a healthy relationship.

How To Deal With It

You need to clearly set your boundaries with your partner and emphasize how important they are to you. If they continue to disrespect your boundaries, rethink the dynamics of your relationship.

3. Never Apologizing

In a healthy relationship, both partners know how to take responsibility for their mistakes and be willing to apologize. Even though apologizing does not fix the issue, it’s a way for one person to acknowledge that they did something that hurt the other person.

In a bad relationship, one or both partners may never fess up to their wrongdoings or apologize. This can create an unhealthy power dynamic and leave one partner feeling unimportant.

How To Deal With It

Encourage your partner to acknowledge their mistakes by giving them a calm environment to do so. We’re all human and will defend ourselves if backed into a corner.

If your partner still won’t apologize or take responsibility for their actions, it may be worth exploring if there is an underlying issue that prevents them from doing this.

If they refuse to apologize and instead blame YOU for their actions, they are being manipulative, and it may be time to reconsider the relationship.

4. Abuse

Abuse can be physical, emotional, or verbal. It is a huge sign of a bad relationship – but sometimes it can be hard to recognize when it’s happening (except in the case of physical abuse).

For instance, your partner may use intimidation and insults to control you without laying a hand on you. In fact, many of these toxic relationship signs are actually forms of emotional abuse.

Ultimately, a healthy relationship should lift you up and support you. An abusive relationship will tear you down.

How To Deal With It

Prioritize your safety and seek support from friends and family. You can even speak to a counselor or therapist about your situation if you’re not sure if you’re experiencing emotional abuse.

If the abuse is physical, please contact law enforcement and get out of there.

Remember, there is help available, and you don’t have to suffer from abuse alone!

If you or anyone you know is dealing with abuse, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

5. Jealousy

Everyone gets jealous from time to time. It’s totally natural! What’s not natural is excessive and unfounded jealousy. 

This can look like constantly monitoring your activities, questioning your loyalty, or trying to isolate you from others. It can be baseless accusations of things like lying and infidelity.

This demonstrates a lack of trust and is a huge red flag in a relationship. 

How To Deal With It

Have an open and honest conversation about your partner’s concerns and insecurities. Reinforce your commitment to the relationship and emphasize the importance of trust.

You can also establish some healthy boundaries to address any genuine issues that are causing the jealousy.

However, if none of this works, you may want to encourage your partner to get help for their insecurities or consider if this is a controlling behavior.

6. Calling You Names

Name-calling is verbal abuse and totally unacceptable in a relationship. And we’re not talking about silly digs or pet names – I mean demeaning language and names intended to hurt and belittle the other person.

While some of these other signs of a bad relationship may be the result of deeper issues with your partner, there is no excuse for name-calling. This is a surefire sign that your relationship is toxic.

How To Deal With It

Put your foot down and establish a zero-tolerance policy for verbal abuse. Communicate this very clearly with your partner.

Encourage more civil conversations about feelings and frustrations. However, if the name-calling is a behavior pattern and your partner won’t stop, it may be time to call it quits.

7. Dishonesty

Trust is the absolute foundation of a strong and healthy relationship. Being dishonest and lying can completely undermine that.

If your partner consistently lies or withholds information, this creates an environment of uncertainty. It can lead to things like gaslighting, where you start to question what you think is going on, and a breakdown of trust.

How To Deal With It

Encourage your partner to tell the truth by listening to what they have to say instead of reacting to it. Sometimes we withhold information or lie because we are afraid of the repercussions and how our partners are going to act.

But, as with all of these signs of a toxic relationship, if this behavior is consistent, then there’s no trust on which to maintain a healthy relationship.

8. Manipulation

Okay, so most of these toxic relationship signs can be forms of manipulation if your partner is doing them to control you. But let’s look at what exactly manipulation is!

Manipulation involves controlling or influencing someone in a way that is deceptive or unfair. Again, gaslighting is a form of manipulation because it influences someone to believe something that isn’t true (to the benefit of the person who is gaslighting).

Toxic people use manipulation to get their way or undermine the decisions of others. For example, your partner may guilt-trip you into doing something you’re uncomfortable with. That’s manipulation.

Same as threatening to break up with you if you don’t do what they like or say.

How To Deal With It

The most important step in dealing with manipulation is recognizing manipulation tactics. You can then calmly confront your partner about the behavior and establish boundaries to assert your autonomy (the right to make your own decisions and control yourself).

You should also encourage your partner to openly communicate their needs instead of trying to control the situation to get them.

Unfortunately, if your partner is purposefully manipulative, they may have narcissistic traits and a toxic personality that are likely not going to go away.

9. Cheating

Cheating is a huge breach of trust that can have lasting effects on a relationship. Not all relationships that experience infidelity are automatically doomed, but emotional or physical cheating can be devastating.

Rebuilding trust after cheating is a challenge, and it’s important to consider whether or not the relationship can recover.

How To Deal With It

How you deal with cheating depends on how you feel about rebuilding trust with your partner. It’s not about what you may “lose” by leaving them – it’s about your confidence in moving forward.

Therapy is a great option for helping you figure this out. If you do want to go forward with the relationship, couples therapy is the next step.

Just make sure you prioritize your well-being in this situation. There’s never an excuse for cheating, and apologies are not enough to fix the mistake.

The One Thing You Shouldn’t Do – Don’t Retaliate!

I’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work. I’ve seen other people try it, and it doesn’t work.

Sometimes we think, “I’ll just give them a taste of their own medicine, and then they’ll see what it feels like.” 

Okay, so maybe this will work on a partner who honestly doesn’t realize what they are doing – but is this a healthy way to address these behaviors?

Or, if the partner is a toxic and manipulative a-hole, this is only going to spur more toxic and abusive behaviors.

It’s tempting to respond with retaliation or similar negative actions but, as I mentioned, this will not lead to a positive and healthy outcome no matter what kind of person your partner is.

Treating your partner the same way they treat you can create a cycle of negativity. Even if they aren’t a toxic person, it may encourage them to continue their behaviors in an attempt to retaliate against you.

It’s too messy and not worth it.

Instead, address the behaviors with understanding and assertiveness. Look for solutions that promote a healthier dynamic.

And if your partner is truly toxic, cut your losses and leave.

(Just make sure you do so safely – read more about that here!)

What If I’m the Toxic One in the Relationship?

In a culture where we are starting to call out toxic and narcissistic behaviors, we are sometimes quick to point the finger at imperfect partners without examining our own actions.

Now, I’m not saying that we should blame ourselves for being treated like shit by a toxic partner. But sometimes it helps to take a good look at what you’re doing in the relationship so that you can:

A. Change your behaviors if they are contributing to the situation.

B. Assure yourself that you are not contributing to the situation.

C. Consider if you are engaging in reactive abuse.

The next time you encounter a conflict in your relationship, take a moment to reflect on what happened. Writing in a journal is great for this!

Think about how it started, your actions, and how it ended. Who escalated the situation from a conversation to conflict? Who started the accusations? Who kept the conflict going?

You should also consider your reactions: Did you raise your voice to get your point across? Did you get defensive instead of listening to your partner? Did you respond to them with retaliation?

Either you are the contributor to the toxic environment, or you are being sucked into the toxic environment. This perspective will help you figure out what you need to do (fix or leave).

However, there is a third option, which is reactive abuse.

If you want to learn more about reactive abuse, you can check out my article here.

In a nutshell, reactive abuse happens when you retaliate against your partner as a defense mechanism. It’s a common response in toxic romantic relationships, and usually, the person experiencing it doesn’t realize it’s happening.

So it’s not a choice to retaliate but a knee-jerking reaction to being treated poorly.

Toxic Behaviors in a Relationship

Recognizing and addressing toxic relationship signs is so important for your emotional well-being and happiness.

Either you can work with your partner to fix things, or you can leave and live your best life.

But no matter what you choose to do, always put yourself first!

A healthy relationship is built on respect, trust, and open communication. Don’t settle for toxic behaviors – you deserve a relationship that uplifts and supports you.

Did you spot any familiar toxic behaviors? Share your thoughts in the comments below! ⬇️⬇️⬇️

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