How to Tell If You’re in a Healthy or a Toxic Relationship

Updated on February 15, 2018
Kaitlyn Lo profile image

Kaitlyn has a background in psychology and writes articles that teach you how to lean on your body, mind, heart, and on those around you.

By Snapwire. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Snapwire. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

We know a relationship is toxic when it’s physically abusive. But a relationship can often be toxic even with the absence of violence. So, if there is no physical abuse, how do you know whether you’re in a healthy or a toxic relationship?

Poll: Expressing Your Gratitude

How often do you tell your partner how much you appreciate them?

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By Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

Here are some key distinguishing points to watch out for to help you figure out whether your relationship is healthy or toxic.

1. When Someone Makes a Mistake

Healthy
Toxic
You never have trouble saying “sorry” for anything. If you forgot to take out the trash, have to reschedule a date night, or couldn’t pick up eggs on your way home from work, you're quick to say sorry.
You would rather break up and never see them again than to apologize.

No one’s perfect and we certainly shouldn’t expect our partners to be perfect. But, the most important thing is that you’re able to take responsibility for your mistakes. More specifically, couples in a healthy relationship are comfortable with feeling vulnerable enough to own up to their mistakes and apologize for disappointing or hurting their partners.

Many of us can struggle with apologies because it means that we’re admitting to our imperfections, which can be a very uncomfortable thing for us to do. So it’s understandable for us to want to ignore it and pretend that we never did anything wrong.

But, in a healthy relationship, we should be able to admit that we made a mistake and trust that our partners will still love us regardless.

2. Positive vs. Negative

Healthy
Toxic
You’re constantly reassuring each other and talking about things that you love about your relationship together. You do complain sometimes and request changes every now and again that will help you both feel even more comfortable together.
You only see faults in the relationship and in your partner. Times spent talking are mostly filled with complaints and hidden jabs at each other’s imperfections.

Like everything in our lives, what you choose to focus on determines how happy you are with yourself and with what you have. In a healthy, happy relationship, partners tend to acknowledge the things the other person does that make them happy. You can call it a type of positive reinforcement. The more you reward each other for doing positive things, the more you’ll both be motivated to please each other more.

In toxic relationships, couples tend to only criticize and talk about things that disappoint them, generally saying that the other is never good enough.

3. Keeping Your Promises

Healthy
Toxic
You know you can trust your partner to do what they promised.
You never feel very secure in the relationship because you don’t know when they’ll stick to their word or not.

Feeling safe and secure is the foundation of a healthy, happy relationship. So, when you know you can always rely on and trust your partner, you’ll feel secure in devoting more of your resources to continue building the relationship. In toxic relationships, on the other hand, there’s usually a constant level of anxiety because you don’t know when you can trust your partner to do something or to be there for you when you need them.

4. When You Disagree

Healthy
Toxic
You respect each other’s differences, and you’re okay to agree to disagree.
Whenever you don’t agree on something, a big fight ensues.

Just because someone has a different opinion doesn’t mean that one is right or wrong. It just means you have different thoughts about something, and that’s very normal and very okay. One of the main reasons why small disagreements tend to get blown out of proportion in toxic relationships is because there’s usually simmering resentment and bitterness that can flare up at the smallest opportunity.

Poll: Your Dreams

Do you talk about your dreams and goals with each other?

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5. When You're Away From Each Other

Healthy
Toxic
You both have your own group of friends that you regularly hang out with sans partner.
Your partner is your entire world, and nothing exists beyond your relationship.

When you feel happiest when you’re together and can’t bear to be away from each other, it may seem like your relationship is perfect. But always needing to be together could be a sign of insecurity and codependency. Couples in a healthy relationship are comfortable in pursuing their own hobbies, friendships, and creating an independent life outside of the relationship because they know it will only strengthen the relationship, not weaken it.

6. How Much You Share

Healthy
Toxic
There’s nothing you can’t talk about with each other. Whether it's about strange bodily functions or running into an ex, there are no secrets.
You’re hiding even the most random things from each other in the fear that the tiniest thing could break the relationship.

When you’re walking on eggshells, it’s a sign that you’re afraid of upsetting your significant other. This is when you need to ask yourself why you’re scared, and whether you’re willing to live with someone you're always scared of offending or upsetting. In a healthy relationship, you’re never scared to be yourself and to share every part of yourself with your partner because you know they’ll still love you.

7. Being Supportive

Healthy
Toxic
Your partner supports your life goals and never complains when you need to take a rain check on a date to meet a deadline.
You always feel like you need to put your partner above everything else. Your partner always points out flaws in your dreams, making you think that you’re being unrealistic.

When you choose to share your life with someone else, it’s normal to compromise a little. But it’s also important not to give up the things that matter to you. If you’ve been working towards opening a bakery for most of your career, it’s not fair for your partner to make you feel like you need to give that dream up for the sake of your relationship. For a healthy relationship, make sure you talk about your goals and dreams early to make sure you’re both on the same page.

By Anastasiya Lobanovskaya. CC0 Creative Commons.
By Anastasiya Lobanovskaya. CC0 Creative Commons. | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 KV Lo

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      • profile image

        Amisha 

        9 months ago

        Very well written article. What I liked the most is the comparison you've shown. I agree with all points you mentioned here. Communication and trust is the foundation of a healthy relationship. It is equally important to support and understand each other's goals and dreams. Loved the article.

      • profile image

        Katie 

        10 months ago

        This is seriously such a great post, I think everyone ought to read this whether or not they are currently in a relationship.

      • profile image

        Ashley 

        10 months ago

        Incredibly helpful and informative! I really love the comparison method you used and the format of the post. It makes everything easy to read and compare. Well done!

      • Kaitlyn Lo profile imageAUTHOR

        KV Lo 

        10 months ago

        @Dr Billy Kidd. Thank you so much! :)

      • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

        Dr Billy Kidd 

        10 months ago from Sydney, Australia

        Great post!!

        I especially like the toxic fact of when "Your partner is your entire world, and nothing exists beyond your relationship."

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