This Is Why You're the Toxic One in the Relationship


Toxic is a term that's been watered down over the years because of its usage. Hell, it was even named word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2018. It's not that the world has grown more toxic; rather, it's that we finally found the appropriate word to encapsulate the type of behavior we shouldn't have never tolerated in the first place.

It goes hand-in-hand with the era of breaking generational trauma and curses, too. We address the toxicity that engulfs our lives, extending to our workplaces, family affairs, and romantic relationships. We extend that same reflection, of course, to ourselves.

We oftentimes forget that, while we look for those pesky red flags in the people we're with, chances are, we're just as susceptible to having them ourselves. The rose-tinted glasses always dilute toxic relationship signs at first, especially the ones we also commit. But sooner or later, these qualities are going to rear their ugly heads, and it's not going to be pretty. So the question is: "am I in a toxic relationship?" Well, why don't we try to find out?

These are five signs you might be in a toxic relationship:

1| Your Superiority Complex Breeds Contempt

Here's a piece of advice for those in toxic relationships: a lot of them, unfortunately, are unsalvageable if constant contempt exists. This is one of the most common reasons why a relationship is destined to deteriorate. Contempt can sometimes stem from narcissism or a superiority complex. We might think that sarcastic tone or passive-aggressive jabs or empty anger are harmless, but they can actually say a lot.


The University of Michigan, for instance, surveyed 373 newlywed couples in 2013 and found that couples who showed contempt, screamed at each other or withdrew from the conflict within their first year together were likely to divorce.

We go into relationships as equals, and figure stuff out along the way. Criticism is healthy, but we must learn to do it productively. To look at your partner in an inferior way just goes to show that you don't respect them enough as a person. This perceived inferiority is what we use to justify manipulating them. Manipulative people want to hold a certain power over their partners. They threaten to break up and leave the other feeling bad about themselves. Not cool.

A person with a superiority complex looks at relationships as something to conquer. Healthy people look at relationships as something to nurture.

2| Possessive Jealousy Can Say an Awful Lot

Jealousy can be filed under those destructive behaviors that masquerade as care. It's one of those toxic relationship signs that, in the beginning, could be interpreted as love. How cute. But when it becomes something that defines the way our partner thinks, acts, and sees themselves, then that's a problem. A lack of trust always spells doom.

Interestingly, a study by researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and University of Santiago in Chile found that those who have been unfaithful have the highest levels of jealousy. Do what you will with this information.

Note: the study also puts those who have been cheated on atop of the highest jealousy meter list. A history of being on the losing side of infidelity is a different story altogether. When this is the case, we should communicate this to our partner and address this amicably through a shared understanding of boundaries.

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3| You "Can't Live Without Them" Even for a Second

"Am I really the toxic one in the relationship if I want to spend time with them?" Well, not necessarily. Let's look at a survey done by Our World in Data, which followed Americans who enter various stages of adulthood over a decade to find out who they spend the most time with. In the end, our partner comes second only to ourselves. So yeah, we're going to spend a lot of time with them. That's a fact.

But if it gets to a point where our partner is losing friends and family to us, then that can be a cause for concern. They're allowed time for other people and time to themselves without our presence. They have to have room for self-actualization that doesn't involve us nosing around all the time. We're not supposed to be dictators. Suffocating them and confining them to our made-up boxes is just needlessly selfish.


Therapist Garett Coan, LCSW, owner of the Creative Counseling, for example, says that the happiest and most harmonious relationships adhere to the 70/30 rule. We spend 70 percent of our time with them (a given for long-term couples), and 30 percent apart.

4| You're a Horrible Communicator

There's a difference between having toxic habits and being toxic altogether. A lot of that can be addressed by backing up the talk with action. It's easy to shy away from conflict-resolution settings because most of us don't want to face ourselves. In order to resolve those toxic habits, we must be willing to communicate with our partners and be honest and be wrong.

We must also give some room for them to be mad at us when we do something inappropriate. Good communicators know how to articulate and listen. From there, they set up ways to squash unhealthy habits. It's going to be uncomfortable but it's necessary.

5| You Cheat (or At Least Want to)

A main piece and a side piece, a tale as old as time. The most in-your-face sign of being the toxic one in the relationship is cheating. The best advice is to fucking stop. If you feel as though some needs aren't met, then your next course of action is to take it up with your partner, not look around (or even think about looking around).

After reading all this, again, ask yourself: am I the toxic one in the relationship? If you are, maybe think about being, and doing, better.

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Brando Suarez
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