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Sex + Relationships

Early Signs That Your Relationship Is Becoming Toxic

When you first get into a relationship, you are only noticing the fluffy feelings you experience as you’re newly dating somebody (especially when you become exclusive). You might feel the butterflies in your stomach or the fluttering of your heart and emotions soaring through. Things seem perfect, right?

Once times goes on and the rose-coloured glasses are worn out, you start to notice the flaws, for lack of a better word, of the person you chose to date. However, are there ways you can tell whether these are just quirks of somebody that make them interesting as well as your dynamic or if these are red flags being raised higher in terms of the possibility of your relationship being toxic?

I’ve randomly selected responses on a post on Reddit AskWomen which asks, “How does a romantic relationship become toxic?” I also selected responses to “In your own experience, what are the hallmarks/signs of a toxic relationship?” For more variety.

As you go through these answers, I’d also like to point out an excellent video from Psych2Go’s YouTube channel, “7 Early Signs of A Toxic Relationship.”

1) “When one person doesn’t care about the other as much as they care about using them for their own wants.”

2) “Two things – one partner has toxic tendencies and the other partner does not set boundaries. Toxic behaviour doesn’t start strong, it builds. So there need to be boundaries so that the potentially toxic partner knows that that behaviour won’t be tolerated. If it IS tolerated, that’s when the bar for what’s acceptable keeps being pushed and pushed and pushed.”

3) “When one of you enters the relationship blinded by love. In the beginning it was all romance, connection, love, understand. In fact too much understanding. I tried too hard to see the good in a very f****d up person. I understood he had mental health problems, so every mistake he made was easier to forgive. The romance wore off the more abusive he got, which is now very bad. I didn’t realise he was actually a very manipulative, egotistical d*****bag this whole time. I was too understanding when it came to his excuses, but once the romance died, it all became very clear. It was toxic to begin with, so it didn’t change. I was just more of a doormat in the beginning, too blind with fantasy to see the reality.”

4) “Sometimes someone is preying on you. They lure you in first, then gradually become more controlling, toxic, and abusive as time goes on. They’re very good at appearing to be ‘the perfect boyfriend’ at first.”

5) “When what they say they want or how they say they feel, is not in line with how they actually act towards you within a relationship… Personalities too – people don’t change too much and if someone is inherently selfish for example, then the likelihood is that will creep into the relationship at some point.”

6) “When they manipulate you into getting whatever they want but don’t quench your needs. They instead play a victim when questioned.”

7) “When you feel worse after spending time with them instead of better.”

8) “When your SO makes you feeling guilty for something you shouldn’t, always tries to make it your fault, ignores or doesn’t care for your arguments and doesn’t take your complains in regards to your relationship serious or overreacts. It often comes with your SO being overly attached and making you feel that you have to pay attention to them, sometimes he/she will ignore you for hours or days to make you feel guilty.”

9) “When your SO is manipulative, and can get his way out of anything with his words. They tend to bring up anything they can think of to convince you they were not in the wrong… It’s so pathetic.”

10) Beware the gaslighting… when they do something genuinely s****y but their response is that YOU’RE the one overreacting/can’t take a joke/making a big deal of nothing (e.g. an ex-bf would make a really crappy comment and when I would get upset, say he was ‘just kidding’).”

11) “When both peoples’ happiness is predicated on pleasing the other. It’s important to care for one another, but if you don’t tend to your own happiness you’ll waste away into a shadow of your former self. And when both people do that it’s difficult to ever leave. Instead, you’ll try caring for one another as you both slowly wane into hollow shells of vague existence.”

12) “Someone who doesn’t allow/encourage your growth. If someone is demanding all your time or holding you back from chasing important personal milestones whether it be school, working out, saving money, etc. this is toxic behaviour and subtle manipulation.”

13) “You apologize for everything. It’s always your fault.”

14) “If they talk poorly about people who are supposed to be their close friends. My ex used to talk s*** about his so-called ‘best friend’ to me all the time. Makes you wonder what they’re saying about you behind your back.”

15) “If anyone is rude to waiting staff or people in the service industry when dealing with them get the f*** out of there. Not only is it the hallmark of a poor character it means they will be like that with you soon enough and probably worse. Get out early if someone is like this.”


“Think about your SO right now. Do you sigh, or do you smile?”

Cosette Nelson


Hello! I am a student at SCAD’s Atlanta campus studying for a B.F.A. in sequential art. I am a staff writer for SCAD ATL’s HerCampus chapter and I write opinion-based articles based around current news, pop culture, mental health, and intersectional feminism. If you have any suggestions for article ideas, email me at [email protected]
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