You can spend many years thinking you’re worthless. But you’re not worthless. You’re underappreciated.” – Steve Maraboli
Being in a bad or toxic relationship is often something that we don’t realize that we’re in until we’re out of it. Bad relationships can invade every other aspect of our lives, from our friendships to our family relationships. They can make you feel depressed or anxious for no reason.
Marriage & family therapist and author Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT says, “Healthy relationships nourish and support us. A toxic relationship, on the other hand, is like poison to us — instead of lifting us up, it makes us feel worse. When it ends, we might experience post-traumatic stress or a lessening of self-esteem and trust in ourselves and others.”
When you’re in a bad relationship, you’re probably ignoring all the signs – it’s what we do as humans to protect ourselves. If you’re in a toxic relationship, you may notice these signs that point towards a bad relationship that you don’t want to admit.
1. You keep his actions and words a secret
If you can’t tell your family or friends about the things your boyfriend or husband says and does, then you may not be in a healthy loving relationship. If you lie to protect him, then it’s time to get out of that bad relationship. You’re not just with the wrong guy…you’re being the wrong type of woman.
Examples of keeping secrets include: lying or deceiving your loved ones about how your husband treats your children, hiding things your boyfriend broke or ruined because he was angry, and not talking about the names he calls you or the things he asks or makes you do. The more secrets you keep, the more you’re hiding. The more you hide, the worse your relationship is.
2. He isn’t happy with you, and he wants you to change
If your boyfriend or husband doesn’t love you as you are, then you can’t feel truly secure or comfortable with him. This is one of the biggest warning signs of bad relationships: a man who doesn’t love or accept you as you are. Your boyfriend or husband should love you unconditionally, whether you’re self-employed or unemployed, rich or poor, big or small, or tall or short. And, you should love and accept your boyfriend for who he i – self-employed or unemployed, rich or poor, big or small, or tall or short.
Are you happy with yourself? If you’re getting your sense of identity or self-esteem from your boyfriend or partner instead of a divine source of love, you’ll never feel truly happy with who you are. No matter how your boyfriend feels about you, you need to find ways to love and accept yourself.
3. Your boyfriend or husband is suspicious and jealous
Constant phone calls, demands on your time, and jealous fits are NOT signs of love. If your husband or boyfriend doesn’t trust you or accuses you of lying, then you need to re-evaluate your relationship. If he opens your mail or shows up at work unexpectedly, he doesn’t trust you. This is a sign of deep insecurity, which could lead to more serious relationship problems.
Warning signs of abusive relationships include lack of trust, lack of respect, and an inability or unwillingness to allow freedom. Does your boyfriend or husband try to control you or your children? Talk to someone you trust in person. You can share your comments here, you can write about a more specific warning sign of a bad relationship, but please talk to someone in person. Bring it out, whatever you’re going through. Get it out of the dark, into the light.
4. Your partner puts you down, in private or in front of others
If he calls you names, ridicules your thoughts or opinions, or makes you feel stupid or ugly, then he’s no good for you. Maybe he’s critical or negative, or he never has anything good to say about you, your home, your kids, or anything you do. You know it’s not right, yet you can’t leave. You know you deserve better, but you feel trapped and helpless. He’s set it up this way, and you’re allowing him to keep you down.
You do not have to stay in a bad relationship. Even if you only recognize one of these warning signs – and even if you have six children and a mortgage together – you do not have to stay with a man who is abusive.
5. You don’t feel like an equal partner in your relationship
Does your husband or boyfriend make all the decisions – or do you? An unequal balance of power is a sign of a bad relationship, and a sign it’s time to get out. If you aren’t being treated equally, it might be time to consider leaving him.
Are you submissive and subservient to your husband, or afraid of telling your boyfriend what you really think and feel? Warning signs of bad relationships!! There’s a difference between healthy compromise and unhealthy servanthood. The healthiest relationships involve give and take, which means we take turns giving and taking. Your husband should not patronize you or treat you like a child, housekeeper, errand runner, or slave.
6. You and your partner don’t have the same long or short-term goals
If you can’t agree on financial issues, family matters, or goals for your future, then you may want to think twice about your relationship. Nobody has the exact same plans for the future, but the happiest couples have the same focus for their lives and futures.
Not having the same goals isn’t necessarily a sign of a bad relationship, but it is an indication that you’re not headed in the same direction. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be together. It means you need to align yourselves toward the same goals, or accept that you’re going in two totally different directions.
Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what could be.
7. Your boyfriend says he loves you, but doesn’t act like he loves you
Maybe he says, “You’re the best, love you a lot, you know I miss you, you know how I feel about you” — but he only sees you once a week. Maybe he doesn’t text or call you, and he spends more time with his friends or at work than with you.
Believe his nonverbal behavior (his actions) over his verbal behavior (talk is cheap!). Do not believe what he says. Believe what he DOES. Unless, of course, he says he doesn’t love you or he can’t commit to a relationship. Then you should believe him.
8. You feel bad, guilty, unhappy, depressed, or sad about your relationship
If you don’t feel secure, comfortable, and loved in your relationship, then you may be with the wrong guy. Feeling insecure and unsure are two warning signs of bad relationships that should never be ignored.
How do you feel about yourself – separate from your boyfriend or husband? Who are you? What is your source of identity and self-image? Don’t rely on your man to make you feel good about yourself. He is an addition to your life. A boyfriend or husband is not your whole life, and he should not be the source of your self-esteem. If your self-image is dependent on a man’s love (or lack of love), then you’re setting yourself up for a broken and unhealthy sense of self.
9. Your family and friends aren’t supportive of your relationship
I don’t think we should choose our boyfriends or husbands based on our family and friends’ opinions, but I do think we should take their opinions into consideration! If your family or friends have strong reservations about your partner, I encourage you to ask for specific reasons. Find out the root of their feelings, and try to be objective.
If your boyfriend or husband makes you feel bad about yourself, read The Verbally Abusive Man, Can He Change?: A Woman’s Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go by Patricia Evans. If you’re in a bad relationship, learn how to empower yourself, improve your relationship, and change your life for the better.
10. You’re searching for warning signs of a bad relationship
The most important warning sign of love gone bad is your instincts and gut feelings. Why are you worrying about your relationship? Would you want your sister, best friend, or daughter to be in this relationship? To find the strength and courage to either fix or leave a bad relationship, you may need to talk to a marriage counselor.
If these signs of bad relationships are pointing you out the door, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love. I wrote it for a reader who has identified all the signs his relationship is over, but he fears being alone.