11 signs your relationship is turning you into a toxic person, according to psychology

Relationships can be a beautiful thing, but when they go wrong they often go very, very wrong. 

The heartache, boredom, anger and sadness can wear on you like a weight sinking you down. Even worse, you can start turning into a person you never wanted to be. 

Often without fully realizing it, a difficult or unhappy relationship can start transforming you into a person who engages in many toxic behaviors and attitudes in life. 

Are you in danger of that? Let’s dive in… 

1) You frequently nag and criticize your partner (and other people)

You find yourself in a highly critical mode quite often even though you don’t want to be. 

It’s not only with your partner, but also with people in your daily life such as work colleagues, friends and family. 

You’ve become quite snippy and unwilling to tolerate disagreement and small tensions. You often nag and criticize, feeling as if you’re the victim and everybody else is letting you down. 

As psychologist Mark Travers PhD., writes:

“Sure, it feels good to play make-believe with ourselves by thinking and feeling that nothing is our fault and that we don’t owe anyone anything. 

But this only acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby we end up perpetuating our victim status.”

2) You’re isolating yourself from friends and family

Unhappiness and problems in your relationship is causing you to self-isolate

You’re spending long periods of time alone and without socializing much with others. 

You’re cutting off channels between yourself and your friends and family, preferring instead to engage in unhealthy habits, lounge around, binge shows or fight with your partner. 

The relationship has sucked all the oxygen out of your social life and you’re making it worse by choosing to shut the door fully. 

3) Jealousy and possessive behavior has overtaken you 

Even if you’ve never been a particularly jealous person, that’s no longer true. 

An honest look in the mirror reveals a person who just isn’t trusting of his or her partner (or other people in general).

There’s a real note of cynicism that’s crept into your personality that didn’t used to be there before, and you feel like you can’t trust anybody. 

The key thing is that this isn’t just an occasional thing but is a recurring habit where you feel jealous and possessive about your partner and don’t trust them much at all. 

“When determining if a relationship is creating toxicity, it’s important to look at which behaviors are being displayed most frequently in the relationship,” writes Elizabeth Scott, PhD.

4) Excuses and justifications come up before an apology

Your relationship has put you on the defensive and made you feel threatened and frustrated. 

As a result, the idea of apologizing and saying sorry for almost anything has become very distasteful to you. 

In your relationship you refuse to say sorry or consider your own part in contributing to problems. 

In your life more broadly you find that admitting you’ve screwed up is very difficult for you and makes you feel very hostile and defensive. 

The truth is you don’t feel safe enough to take accountability for your own actions, and your relationship has driven you into becoming a somewhat dodgy person. 

5) Manipulating your partner and other people has become old hat

Your relationship has turned you into a manipulative person. 

To get your needs met and feel heard in the relationship, you often do things that you never thought you’d do. 

For example, you may find you issue ultimatums or tests such as “if you really cared about me you would…” to your partner. 

This has now spread to other relationships in your life as well, where you feel increasingly normal about manipulating people. 

The mutual respect necessary for a healthy relationship is simply gone, or at least very minimal. 

“Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect, and the trust that accompanies that respect opens up both partners to vulnerability—it’s a necessary part of the process,” notes therapist Jamie Cannon MS, LPC. 

6) Emotional volatility and outbursts occur more and more frequently

The stress and unhappiness of your relationship have worn you to the bone. 

You find yourself prone to emotional outbursts and frustrated statements in response to other people when they annoy you. 

Often you feel bad when you snap at somebody or overreact to a situation, but it feels like this tendency is picking up momentum. 

You find that the smallest infraction and frustration drives you wild with annoyance and you increasingly get upset in traffic, long line ups and other daily realities as well. 

The need to blow off steam starts to feel almost inescapable, driving you to desperation and the feeling that you need to leave the relationship before you lose your mind. 

7) Respecting your partner feels borderline impossible

Basic respect for your partner is something that is foundational for a relationship. 

It’s also crucial in all other areas of life. 

Even if you’ve always been a very respectful person, that part of your personality has gone missing:

At least when it comes to your partner, you find it deeply difficult and unsavory to act courteously to them, and you find yourself unable to really hear their point of view or feelings without forcing your own on them. 

As Travers observes:

“In our attempt to force our truth onto others’ lives, we might end up driving them further away. We also might ignore their reality and become dismissive of their experience.”

8) Stonewalling and the cold shoulder are go-to behaviors 

You find that you occasionally shut down when things get too hard. 

Instead of discussing difficult things with your partner (or anyone), you instead prefer to self-medicate or just avoid tricky subjects altogether. 

Toxic positivity is one way, and so are addictive habits and unhealthy behaviors. Cheating is another temptation and option which you may find yourself considering or engaging in.

Actually communicating with your partner or trying to work through the issues that are happening feels like just about the last thing you want to do. 

“Communication is a definitive cornerstone for healthy relationships, and learning how to disagree respectfully is vital,” points out Cannon.

Speaking of addiction…

9) You’ve become addicted as a way to push down painful emotions

Whether it’s work, sex, gambling, porn, drugs or drinking, you’re seeking out ways to numb the pain. 

Facing the stress and unhappiness that’s come to define your relationship feels insurmountable:

Instead, you’d prefer to just nod off courtesy of your addiction of choice. 

You know it’s harming you. You know you need to eventually face the trainwreck of your personal life. 

But you find yourself always praying “not yet, please!”

10) Self-care is a forgotten part of your life

Looking after yourself has taken a definite backseat. 

You can barely manage your own grooming and personal cleanliness, much less exercise, eating well or taking time off to rest up. 

You start taking yourself for granted in some cases, putting an unfair load on your body and mind. 

The problems in the relationship, especially if your partner is unstable or abusive, have caused you to become toxic to yourself in some cases. 

“You may find that a toxic relationship impacts your ability to engage in self-care. You may sacrifice your normal routine—including personal hygiene, exercise, hobbies, and more,” writes Scott.

11) Codependency has taken ahold of you

Codependency is a series of behaviors where two people in a relationship don’t have a sense of well-being apart from depending on each other in unhealthy ways. 

This can take many forms but often breaks down into a “victim” and “savior” framework or a situation in which one or both of you blame or praise the other as the source of your wellbeing. 

The result can be deeply toxic and disempowering and spread to many other areas of life as well. 

As relationship author Mark Manson points out

“Blaming our partners for our emotions is selfish and a classic example of the poor maintenance of personal boundaries. 

When you set a precedent that your partner is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice-versa), this can easily lead to a codependent relationship.”

Struggling to Love Yourself? This Quiz Reveals Why and Shows You How

Do you sometimes feel unworthy, flawed, or not good enough? Like you’ll never measure up no matter how hard you try?

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