The 9 Exhausting Stages Of A Toxic Relationship

No matter how emotionally intelligent you are or how experienced you are when it comes to dating, toxic relationships can still happen. However, sometimes they can be really hard to identify when they’re happening to you. If you’re in a relationship like this, you’ll be able to tell because you’ll go through these exhausting, damaging stages.

  1. They get mad when you talk to your family. They don’t understand why you need to call your mom so much. If your partner has a bad relationship with their own family, they may end up resenting you for getting along with yours. In truth, your partner may be trying to weaken connections. They want your full attention and don’t want your parents to talk you out of the relationship if they happen to see any red flags.
  2. They’re also bitter when you make plans with friends. Everyone deserves to have friends outside of a relationship. It’s healthy and natural. While it may seem somewhat common to favor hanging out with your partner at the beginning of your relationship, a toxic boyfriend or girlfriend will actually give you a guilt trip if you want to dedicate your time to anyone else well after the honeymoon period is over. Don’t allow yourself to weaken any of your already-strong connections. You may need to depend on these people for their support when you finally realize it’s time to call it quits.
  3. You feel like you’re always to blame. It’s always for small stuff too. If you accidentally left the freezer door open, you’re led to believe it’s your fault. If you forgot to water a plant, you’re completely held responsible. Even if you live together, it seems like anything that goes wrong is pinned on you. That’s simply not fair, and a surefire way to lower your self-confidence.
  4. Everything seems to be a crisis. Going back to those examples, stop and think — did you get yelled at for forgetting to close the freezer or water the plant? Did your partner make you cry while shifting this blame? Life is short, and accidents happen. People make mistakes sometimes, especially this year with more on our plates. Unless it’s a life or death situation, you should examine your partner’s response to such a nonessential mistake like this.
  5. You keep making excuses for your partner’s behavior. It’s easy to say something like, “oh, he’s just moody since the coronavirus has made him depressed,” or “he just had a hard day at work.” It’s very kind to be understanding and empathetic, but if you’re thinking up a new excuse every day, you’re giving your partner too much credit. People should be held responsible for their actions even if they occur due to their mood change. You shouldn’t be getting sassed at since he forgot about a webinar he forgot to attend for work. That’s on him, not you.
  6. They act like hanging out with you is an obligation. Why waste time with someone who doesn’t want to sit and watch a movie with you? You deserve some of your partner’s time, no matter what. If your boyfriend or girlfriend keeps canceling on you or turning down activities you mention, you’re not really being fulfilled in your relationship. A decent partner will say yes. This is because not only do they treasure the time together but they want you to be happy too.
  7. Your ex is always being brought up. Chalk this up to insecurity, but if your boyfriend or girlfriend can’t stop getting over or comparing themselves to your ex, this relationship is doomed. Everyone has a history, and unless you’ve been less than truthful about your past, it should never be a big part of your current relationship. If your significant other is stalking your ex online or asking about the time you spent with them, they’re being toxic. You deserve to be with someone who won’t continuously doubt the relationship or make you feel bad for having romantic experiences outside of them.
  8. They put you down. Have you been told that “nobody else would deal with this” or that “you’ll never find anyone better”? That’s one of the worst stages of a toxic relationship. Your partner is putting you down since they’re afraid you’ll know the truth — which is, you’re the stronger and more compassionate person in the relationship. You do deserve better and can easily find better, but they really don’t want you to know that. If someone is undermining your value, it’s time to cut them loose.
  9. They make threats. Making threats is one of the final stages of a toxic relationship. Whether they threaten to leave you if you don’t act the way they want, or they threaten to harm themselves if you leave the house or act in a way they don’t, they’re being toxic and this is the biggest sign you should leave someone. You should never fear what may happen if you break up with somebody. If you feel stuck in your toxic relationship, don’t hesitate to ask the police to possibly accompany you during a moveout. Any person out there would be happy to help you if you’re in a situation where you feel unsafe with someone.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.