Are you looking for answers on how to stop being toxic in a relationship? Instead of hating yourself for it, let’s get to the bottom of it. Also, it is important to realize that you are not the only one. How many of you have been in toxic relationships and how many of you have been accused of being toxic by your significant other? That count is almost equal. If you have introspected and realized you need to change, then we have some tips for you on how to not be toxic in a relationship.
When reached out to Dr. Aman Bhonsle (Ph.D., PGDTA), who specializes in relationship counseling and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, for his insights on someone who’s being a toxic person in a relationship. He said, “Unfortunately, the toxic person thinks they are always right. They think there is nothing wrong with them, and that others are wrong. They will only know they need to change when they go beyond the parameters of their regular behavior.”
5 Signs You Are The Toxic One In Your Relationship
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Let’s look at the signs of a toxic relationship? A toxic relationship drains you, both physically and mentally. You constantly feel unhappy when they are around you. If you feel suffocated, disrespected, under-loved, under-valued, and everything about your relationship seems unenjoyable, then there are high chances of you being in a toxic relationship. You still love your partner but you are filled with negative thoughts about them or your dynamic every day.
What makes a person toxic? “You will know you are the one doing toxic behavior when people stop hanging out with you, when people make excuses to get out of a meeting with you, and when people keep a distance from you. You will begin to feel that something is going wrong somewhere. Your selfishness will begin to impact all the relationships in your life,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
It’s easier to blame the other person for all the bad things that have happened between the two of you. However, it’s wise to sometimes accept responsibility and ask yourself, “Am I toxic in my relationship?” Think about what your faults in the relationship might be so you learn how to stop being a toxic girlfriend or boyfriend. It’s the first step toward unlearning toxic behaviors in a relationship.
Dr. Bhonsle had an extremely poignant insight to share on this matter. “When you find out you are the toxic one in the relationship and seek out to change the course of your actions, don’t look for immediate results. Instead, look for change. Change is not a guarantee of success. It’s a guarantee of momentum,” he says. If you want to know if it’s you or your partner with the toxic behavior, then read these signs and find out:
Related Reading: What To Look For In A Relationship? The Ultimate List Of 15 Things
1. A superiority complex is one of the toxic traits
A superiority complex is when someone has an inflated view of themselves. They think that they are better than others. A person with a superiority complex also brings this line of thought to their romantic relationships. They think they are smarter, cleverer, and more important than their significant other. If you assert that superiority in your relationship, then you could be the problem.
This complex is mostly seen in people who try to hide their insecurities and their feelings of inferiority. If you have this complex, now is the right time to ask, “Am I toxic in my relationship?” It’ll affect the bond you share with your partner as fixing a toxic relationship requires a lot of strength and courage.
2. What makes a person toxic? Manipulative behavior
How to know if you are toxic in a relationship? Let’s see if you do any of the following. Manipulation is often known to range from gaslighting someone to lying to them and also hiding information from your significant other. To use emotional manipulation on someone is to try and gain power over them. It is sort of a mind game that amounts to being a toxic person in a relationship. The end goal is to use that power to control the other person.
If you want to stop being a toxic girlfriend or boyfriend, then you need to try to change such bad behavior patterns. If you make your significant other feel sorry for expressing their concerns, then you are being a master manipulator and you need to immediately start learning how to stop being toxic in a relationship.
3. Is the relationship all about you? If yes, you are the toxic one
If your own feelings always take center stage in your relationship, you might be the one responsible for your toxic relationship. And sometimes, this is the one thing that can make or break your relationship. It’s time to learn how to stop being toxic in a relationship if:
- Only your wants matter: This is the best answer to your question, “Am I toxic in my relationship?” When the entire dynamic becomes about your wants and needs, from food choices to movie choices to where you want to go out for dinner, then it’s just a one-sided relationship
- Your partner feels compelled to listen to you: In any case or decision, you command and your partner obliges without any questions. This is one of the warning signs of a toxic relationship and you being the toxic one in it
4. Are you a control freak?
If you want to be less toxic in a relationship, you have to stop controlling your partner’s life. In both healthy and unhealthy relationships, people have a tendency to make decisions on behalf of the other person. However, in toxic relationships — it goes too far. Love isn’t an excuse to control someone. Introspect about whether you try to dominate your partner. If the answer is yes, then you’re definitely displaying some signs of toxicity.
If you make your partner live by your rules, then you need to look for answers for how to stop being toxic in a relationship. Control freaks tend to go to an extent of not just telling you what to do or making all the decisions by themselves, but also governing whom you can be friends with and whom to hang out with.
Related Reading: Moving On From A Toxic Relationship – 8 Expert Tips To Help
5. Toxic people demand attention 24/7
If you demand a lot of attention and time from your partner and tend to get needy, then there are chances you are being a toxic person in a relationship. Look for the signs that you are a high-maintenance girl or boy.
When you fall in love with someone, it’s not necessary to make them the center of your universe and it’s not necessary to demand the same from them. That is the cornerstone of healthy relationships, as the opposite could make your partner feel trapped and suffocated. If you are wondering, “Am I toxic in my relationship?” and want to learn how to stop being toxic in a relationship, then accept that your bae cannot cater to every single need of yours, and you shouldn’t expect them to give in to all your demands.
How Does You Being Toxic Affect Your Relationships?
“When you are exhibiting toxic ways in a relationship, it becomes hard for people to love you, rely on you, trust you, and find comfort in you. There’s a certain value that you bring to all your relationships, and when toxicity begins to creep in, the dynamic gets wrecked. Toxicity can also be in the form of hostile behavior, being negligent, selfish, vindictive, and also being clingy,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
If you resonate with any of these traits, you might want to try to unlearn toxic behaviors in a relationship. Because this is what it can do to your bond:
- Your partner will lose their sense of self: The saddest thing about being a toxic partner is that you will watch your partner’s personality fade away. They will become aloof, checked out of the relationship, agreeable, and stop acting like their true selves
- The love wanes: The toxic behavior does not just affect your partner, but can also bring your relationship to a halt soon enough
- You are no more their safe space: Your partner might have confided in you earlier, but now because of your controlling behavior, they stop. Instead, you will see them spending more time or sharing secrets with their friends and family instead of you
When you engage in such tactics, you might end up damaging your relationship beyond repair. It will impact the quality of your romance. But even though a lot of damage has been done, it is never too late to change yourself for the better. The journey of that change begins with addressing a rather uncomfortable question: Am I toxic in my relationship?
11 Expert Tips To Stop Being Toxic In A Relationship
You can love them dearly but that still does not guarantee being in a good relationship. Despite your best intentions, you might be the cause of problem to your loved ones because of your toxic habits. And more often than not, relationships become toxic even when neither partner is bad on their own.
The problematic behaviors that lead to toxicity in a relationship stem from deep-seated insecurities and complexes, which could be rooted in your childhood, early life experiences, or past relationships. Below are some expert-approved tips on how to stop being toxic in a relationship:
1. Find a relationship therapist or counselor
Without the help of mental health professionals, it could be difficult to understand the nature of your toxicity and what might be causing it. Only a therapist will help you unravel your behavioral patterns and discover the reason behind them. They will show you the path to healing and becoming a better version of yourself and teach you how to be in healthy relationships. All of these processes are integral to how to stop being toxic in a relationship.
“Therapy becomes a crucial aspect in this situation because you need a neutral person to understand the entire scenario. Many couples have shared their experience on how talk therapy helped and made them feel better. A licensed professional will know how to guide the person in stressful situations,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
If you can relate to the signs that indicate that you’re the toxic one in your relationship and are looking for help to break your behavior patterns, Bonobology’s panel of licensed and skilled counselors is here for you.
2. Shift from blaming to understanding
This is exactly what happened in my previous relationship when both my partner and I were having a very hard time. There was constant blame-shifting and name calling and I was always at the receiving end of it. When I was blamed for something, I’d accept it as constructive criticism and tried to do better by understanding his standpoint. But when my former partner was blamed for something, he refused to come to an understanding and would take it as an insult. He would blame me for blaming him. The irony here is quite amusing, isn’t it? I realized how blame-shifting in a relationship harms it.
If you are wondering “How to change my toxic tendencies?” then look at how you assign blame. To figure out how to stop being toxic in a relationship, you need to find ways to be more understanding and not take your partner’s concerns as an affront. Take a step back and look at the entire situation from another perspective.
3. What to do if you are the toxic person in a relationship? Own your actions
If I have learned something in my relationships, it’s how a simple act of taking accountability can change things for the better. If you are wondering “Why am I so toxic in relationships?” it is probably because you do not reflect enough upon your own actions.
The answer to how to stop being toxic in a relationship will come to you when you start taking responsibility for your actions and the reaction that follows as a consequence. If you said something to hurt or offend your partner, be sure to own up to it. That’s one of our tips on how you can stop being a toxic person in a new relationship. Focus on your own and your partner’s well-being by apologizing as soon as you realize what you did wrong, and make amends with your significant other.
Related Reading: 10 Signs You Are In A Loveless Marriage
4. Bring an interest in self-growth
“Look for self-growth. Compare where you were last year and where you are now. Compare all kinds of growth, from financial to emotional and relationship growth. Everything matters in the making of you as a person. If you don’t see yourself growing in any aspect of your life, then it’s time you build yourself up,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
When you shift the focus on being a better person, it becomes much easier to be a better version in your relationship too. Build up your own self-worth and try to improve yourself. Those who are in healthy relationships have a much better sense of self and make their own mental health their foremost priority. This will create a ripple effect and help you become a better partner too.
5. How to not be toxic in a relationship? Show love
Have you ever stopped and wondered why we love the way we love? It’s because most of the time, even subconsciously, how we love our partner is the way we wish to be loved. Each has a different way of loving. Some women buy expensive things for their partner and some men show love without saying it. At the end of the day, you both want to be loved by each other. And if you continue being a toxic person in a relationship, neither of you has the chance of giving or receiving love. Here is how you can do that:
- Love with your words: Instead of resorting to physical violence or verbal abuse during a fight or argument, try to use kinder words or phrases to placate the situation
- Spend quality time with them: Don’t just laze around in bed after a fight or eat dinner quietly, without speaking to them. Try to make it up to them. Bring out a board game, or a new bottle of wine to cheer them up
- Do not give them the silent treatment: While it is important to take time off and cool down after an argument, do not give your partner the silent treatment for too long, especially when they reach out. It is one of the signs of an abusive relationship
6. How to change my toxic tendencies? Communicate your worries
“Why am I toxic and how to change it?” — Communication is the answer for you. Stonewalling will never resolve any of the problems you are facing with your partner. In fact, it will only create more.
Communication problems in relationships are quite common. All you have to do is express all your worries, troubles, sadness, and frustration openly. But be mindful of the words you use. Make sure you don’t hurt or offend your partner in the name of an open discussion. Openness allows you to speak out about the things that bother you. It will help you stop being a toxic girlfriend or boyfriend.
7. Remember that healthy relationships have empathy
Empathy is the backbone of every healthy relationship and toxic people are no empaths. It is time to change that, if you want to be less toxic in a relationship. With a lack of empathy, it will get difficult to bond and build a meaningful relationship with your partner. Once you cultivate empathy for others, questions such as “Why am I toxic in my relationship?” will begin to dissipate.
“One of the ways you can learn how to stop being a toxic girlfriend/boyfriend is to cultivate empathy. Spend time with those less fortunate than you. Spend time with people who are disabled or can’t make their ends meet. By spending time with unfortunate people, even the most ruthless will begin to feel empathy and kindness. Get involved in kitchen activities or explore activities that you’ve never tried your hand at before,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
Related Reading: Here’s How To Stop Constant Arguing In A Relationship
8. Why am I so toxic in relationships? Because of your ego
You will know how to stop being toxic in a relationship when you decide to let go of your ego. A toxic person is known to maintain a certain image. When they feel that image is at risk, they tend to become defensive. Learn to put aside your ego as it simply worsens toxic behavior.
Dr. Bhonsle says, “Nothing scars a relationship like ego. Ego is basically a giant wall that comes between two people. When you create that wall too high and too strong, nobody can break it down. Nobody can even climb that wall to reach you on the other side of it. Ego is this – I come from a rich family and I need things to go my way. I am a man. I am in control of the relationship.
“The only time you will know to let go of your ego is when it is damaging your relationship or has already done the damage. An egoistic person hesitates to ask for any kind of help. If they want a promotion at work, their ego will prevent them from asking for it. If you’re being toxic in a relationship already, then an egoistic husband will refuse to ask for his wife’s help. An egoistic wife will never ask for sex.”
9. Assume positive intent to stop worsening a toxic relationship
Negative thoughts and constantly questioning your partner’s intent will most certainly damage the foundation of your relationship. No wonder you end up wondering, “Why am I being toxic in my relationship?” If you keep questioning your partner’s intent, then you will start thinking that you are in a negative relationship.
When you assume negative intent, you become skeptical of every action your partner takes, and that is considered toxic behavior. Not only does it worsen your own mental health, but it also makes things very difficult for your partner. When you look for the worst in people, that’s what you will find. But when you look for the best in people and assume positive intent, life will get easier and more peaceful. And you should especially try to be more trusting with your loved ones.
10. How to change my toxic tendencies? Invite feedback
“Invite feedback from someone else in your relationships. Whether it’s your partner or your family members or just a close friend, ask them if they think you are being toxic in a relationship. If you find yourself lost and in need of a support network, ask the people who love you to find the lost parts of yourself. People who love you will spot your mistakes and know if you are being uneven with yourself. You’ll need to reconnect with them in a vulnerable way to stop being in a toxic relationship,” says Dr. Bhonsle.
11. Maintain your personal space
One of the significant ways to stop being toxic in a relationship is to make time for yourself and be alone, as a form of self-care. Most toxic people tend to have low self-esteem. They radiate their toxicity toward others as a way to boost their low image of themselves. You will learn how to stop being toxic in a relationship when you start practicing self-love. Learn to cater to your needs all by yourself. Spending time with your loved ones will also help.
- This article is for those who are wondering, “Am I toxic in my relationship?”
- If you have a superiority complex or heightened self-worth, you might be showing toxic behavior in your relationship
- Toxic behavior can completely break a relationship. To stop being a toxic partner, you should restrict any controlling behavior and be open to understanding your spouse
- Communicate your worries instead of repressing them to create a more healthy relationship
- Try not to be egotistical with those you love. Make an effort to understand and appreciate their criticism
So now you know what to do if you are the toxic person in a relationship. Pay attention to your toxic behavior and be mindful of it. Concentrate on self-care, healing, and taking time to grow as a person. Firstly, congratulate yourself on asking the question, “Why am I toxic and how to change that?” It’s the first and the most difficult step to take. And you’ve conquered that. The rest will come naturally if you focus on adopting positive habits.
This article was updated in July 2023.