Relationships are tough. It takes time and effort to build a lasting, healthy bond with someone. Children, careers, friendships and your overall health can complicate even the thought of starting a loving partnership with someone new.
But when you find a special someone, a connection unlike any other can transpire. Love brings out the best in us. It's the basis of some of the most popular songs for a reason.
The trick to staying happy and healthy is knowing when a relationship turns out to be bad news. Maintaining any relationship is hard work, but if you're single-handedly working to keep it alive despite seeing signs of toxic behaviors from your partner, chances are it's affecting you negatively.
If you're wondering whether your relationship is taking a turn for the worse, here are the signs that it may be toxic.
Your partner is controlling
In any relationship, it's normal for your partner to have thoughts and opinions about things you may talk about. They may have a suggestion regarding how you should speak with your manager or spend your morning. But if at any moment their opinions dictate how you decide to live your life, you may need to evaluate whether their words are kind and suggestive or controlling. There's a difference between suggestions and demands.
They no longer listen to you
We all occasionally get caught up in the chaos of balancing work with relationships and fun. Days are long and, if you're not getting enough sleep, nights can be too. Your partner might not be as present if life starts to catch up with them, but if you feel like you're regularly speaking to a brick wall, there might be a problem. Communication is fundamental in any relationship, and the moment it becomes consistently one-sided, you may need to check the state of your relationship.
You always fight
Disputes are common in any relationship. Two individuals from entirely different backgrounds hoping to merge into one partnership are bound to have a quarrel or two about principles or something as simple as what a common cliche may mean. Endless bickering, however, is not only emotionally taxing but unhealthy for a relationship. If you're fighting more than you're talking, you may need to take a step back and examine where things stand.
You feel less confident
There are some days when we don't feel our best. It may be because of a lack of sleep or a health condition - like anxiety. If you feel less confident each day because of hurtful words from a partner - whether it be about your weight, intelligence or personality - it may suggest your relationship is toxic. Your significant other should work to build you up to be a better version of yourself.
Your partner only offers criticism
Sticks and stones may break your bones - but words can and do hurt. Your partner may have thoughts and opinions about an outfit that makes you look good or a gym regimen to try together to improve your health. But there is a thin line differentiating opinions from criticism. If your other half is only telling you what's wrong about you or what needs to change, it may be a sign that their intentions are negatively rooted.
Your partner is dismissive
Your thoughts are valuable. Every dynamic duo requires the melding of two minds to reach thoughtful conclusions. Your partner should always be open to hearing how you feel, even if it's something as small as how you should clean your home. If your partner is dismissive and treats you as if your opinions hold no weight, you may need to sit down and have a conversation about how to best cultivate the relationship.
You don't want to introduce them to friends and family
Introducing a new partner to family and friends can be nerve-racking. As much as you may love and care about your new partner, you may wonder how this new relationship will affect the bonds that have already stood the test of time. Nerves are natural, but if you want to keep your partner away because you know your friends and family will dislike them, it may be a sign that you're ignoring negative factors about the person and the relationship.
They separate you from friends and family
When establishing a new connection, you may spend most of your time getting to know your new person. Your partner might want to spend most of their time with you. But if they are actively preventing you from spending time with your parents and friends by guilting you into hanging out or manipulating situations, it may be a sign that they are controlling and hoping to cut you off from everyone but them.
You feel trapped
Everyone occasionally needs a bit of space to regroup. It's normal to want some alone time every once in a while to keep your mind right. Your partner should respect and grant you the time and space you need and not trap you into a constant cycle of "us" time.
Your partner doesn't respect you
Respect goes a long way. When two people genuinely care for one another, the last thing one should want to do is make the other feel lesser-than. If your partner often belittles you or openly disregards your passions and beliefs, there is a problem at hand.
You don't trust them
Trust is necessary for all relationships - that's one lesson we learned from our grandparents' long marriages. If your partner is continuously defying your trust by lying about even the smallest things, it may be a sign that your relationship is toxic.
Your partner shames you
Relationships are about lifting your significant other to be bigger and better through the good and the bad times, not about shaming them for mistakes made. It's OK to talk through problems, but you shouldn't feel mocked for the things you do or the way that you are.
You're always unhappy
This one is obvious, and yet it's the most commonly ignored. We may attribute unhappiness to having an "off day" or to our partner making a few dating mistakes as they find their footing in the relationship. But when the bad days outweigh the good days by a lot, it's time to take a step back and discuss why things may not be working.
You're blamed for every problem
When any problem arises, the first step should be to discuss the root of the issue, not to point fingers. If you're to blame for every little problem, or find yourself blaming your partner at all times, it may be a sign that your relationship isn't where it should be.
You feel unappreciated
It's easy to give your significant other the world when you truly love them. But if the giving is not reciprocated or appreciated, you may feel drained beyond your means. Mutual caring is a necessity in all relationships.
You can't be yourself
We are all unique with distinctive characteristics that make us who we are. Whether you're charmingly playful or seriously stoic, your partner shouldn't try to change you into someone they want you to be. You should be able to be yourself freely without fear of disappointing your significant other.
You're constantly compared to an ex
Our past relationships can set the tone, either positively or negatively, for how we hope to date in the future. They shouldn't, however, loom as a constant cloud of comparison. If your partner is regularly comparing your actions negatively to an ex, it's worth a conversation about what (and who) the other wants.
Your partner uses your words as weapons
Secrets and stories told confidentially to your significant other should not be thrown back in your face in the heat of an argument or around others. Trust is a fundamental ingredient in any healthy relationship.
There's nonstop drama
No relationship is perfect. There are bound to be bumps along the road to creating a happy partnership. Despite how much you love dramatic television shows, however, your relationship shouldn't feel like one.
Everything is one-sided
Relationships require giving and taking. You should supply just as much love as you demand from your partner. Just like any partnership, a relationship shouldn't be one-sided with one person making constant sacrifices to appease the other. There should be an equal balance.
Your partner makes you feel guilty for simple things
Yes, your partner should want to spend time with you. But if they persistently make you feel guilty for wanting to do simple things like catching a movie with friends or wanting occasional alone time (activities that don't involve them) you may need to reconsider where you both stand in the relationship.
You're always questioning yourself
It's easy to lose yourself within your partner when you first find love. Your hopes and dreams can merge into one as you work to maintain a happy relationship. A problem arises when you start to lose sight of your own needs and wants because of your partner's constant demands. It's natural to want to consider your significant other when making decisions. But if you always second-guess yourself in fear of angering your partner, there may be a problem.
You justify your partner's negative actions
We all defend our loved ones. Mothers go into "mama bear" mode when someone offends their child, and siblings can mold and shape who we are just by shielding us from some of the bad in the world. Similarly, it's an instinct to protect a significant other when it appears someone is attacking them. It's natural to defend someone you love, but if you regularly have to justify their negative actions with excuses, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.
You stay because you're afraid of being alone
If you're adjusting to a new home free of children or have been single for a few seasons, finding someone to spend your time with can feel like a breath of fresh air. Finally, there is someone who not only wants you but needs you. If, however, your partner's behavior is hurtful or destructive, and you stay for the sake of not being alone, that can be a sign of toxicity. The fear of not being with someone can often trap people and prevent them from finding true happiness within themselves and, potentially, someone else.
You're wondering if your relationship is toxic
Chances are if you're wondering if your relationship is toxic, it may very well be. Our instincts are the first thing to tell us when things are taking a turn for the worse, but we often neglect them in favor of maintaining a pretense of happiness. Breaking up can be hard, but ending a toxic relationship is a great way to ditch unhealthy habits.
More from The Active Times:
18 Ways Friendships Change as You Get Older
How to Navigate Dating Apps Over 40
The Absolute Best Romantic Adventure in Every State
Wedding Etiquette Isn't What It Used to Be. Here's How It's Changed