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Toxic Traits of Bad Relationships

Toxic Traits of Bad Relationships

Alice O'Donnell

From friendship to family to romance, every relationship has its up and downs.

Arguments with parents can leave you feeling upset, while even the best of friends will have a falling out once every so often. However, if you find that a relationship is leaving you feel drained, upset and unhappy more than happy, you may be experiencing a toxic relationship. Toxic relationships can start out healthy and sour, or a person can manipulate another to believe a relationship isn’t that bad.

Below are some red flags that indicate a relationship may have gone bad.

Attention is a battle

Does every second spent with a person feel like a prize in a competition to win? Do you feel like you have to compete to ‘win’ their company? They may have other friends who they chose over you, or flirt with other people in front of you. While it’s healthy to have different friends, if you continuous feel like you’re fighting for attention, the relationship is clearly not equal.


A true friend should feel like they can talk to you honesty. There’s nothing worst than hanging out with a friend, only later to realise you had something stuck in your teeth. However, while honesty is good, a friend should always talk with kindness. If you find a friend is continuously criticising you, but seems to do so less for your benefit but more for their own amusement, then they’re probably not a real friend.


While we always want to feel a little bit cared for, there’s a limit that toxic people can sometimes cross. While you want a friend to care for you, you don’t want someone who continuously demands texts telling them where you are.

Jealousy and possessiveness are also closely tied to a controlling personality. Do they give out and emotionally blackmail you if you spent time talking to someone else, or spend an evening with a different group of friends? A relationship should be freeing, not imprisoning. You are your own person, and not an object to be controlled and possessed.

You’re not yourself

A healthy relationship should allow you to explore who you are, while also being true to yourself. If you find you always have to think carefully about what you say, what you wear and generally how you act, then you’re not being yourself. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the other person in the relationship is a toxic person, it clearly shows you don’t feel comfortable enough in the relationship to be who you truly are. If you pretend to be a different person, you’re not really in a relationship with someone, you’re just pretending to be.

Growth and change are seen as bad

Through each experience, people change. It’s natural and shows a need to continuously grow and progress. A good partner should encourage you to change in what ways you feel is best for you. However sometimes people change so much that a relationship no longer works. If you feel like you no longer connect with someone, this may have happened. A healthy relationship between two people will work out what is best in the future for both people. However, some people refuse to see that you have change, and will constantly blame you and reminisce of the past. If the lines you didn’t use to be like this or the old you wouldn’t do this, you may be being emotionally blackmailed and manipulated.


Perhaps the most reliable and elemental sign that a relationship isn’t healthy is if you’re not happy. A relationship should be a fulfilling experience with someone who not only accepts you for who you are but encourages you to grow into the type of person you want to be. If you dread seeing someone or continuously feel like you’re walking on eggshells around – that’s not a healthy relationship. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to step away from the relationship, or talk to someone who is not involved, and think about the nature of the relationship. Does the bad outnumber the good? Can you and the other person involved change and salvage the relationship, or it is better to simply move on.

When it’s time to move on

Unfortunately, toxic relationships can sometimes be incredibly difficult to recognise yourself, so one of the best things you can do it talk to someone not as intimately involved as you might be. Friends, parents or even teachers will be more than happy to give an ear.

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However, if you feel like the situation is more serious and you need professional help, Childline and Samaritans are 24-hour national listening services which offer guidance, hope and counselling.

Have you any experience with toxic relationships?

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