BAD RELATIONSHIP: Obvious & Subtle Signs (Detailed Guide)

Bad relationship

Many of us have dealt with a bad relationship at least once, twice, and possibly three or more times in our lives. In fact, failing to properly recover from the first bad relationship may prove to be a stumbling block for the ones that follow. Although there is no one way to have a bad relationship, the symptoms are usually the same. You are frequently sad, there are frequent arguments (sometimes every day or multiple times a day), there is abuse (emotionally, physically, or sexually), you don’t feel like yourself, you are depleted, you are undervalued, you are disrespected, and you are alone. In a bad relationship, everything that should not be present in a healthy relationship rears its ugly, toxic head.

What is a Bad Relationship?

According to relationship expert Shula Melamed, M.A., MPH, a bad relationship is one in which one or both partners feel trapped, controlled, and/or drained by the other. “They can be emotionally, psychologically, or physically abusive—or all three,” she explains. “All relationships are difficult to maintain, and there is always room for compromise, but a bad relationship is one in which the members do not support each other in a healthy way.”
Certain themes, such as codependency and narcissism, are also prevalent in unhealthy relationships. “Any bad relationship implies something potentially damaging; for the person (or both people) in that relationship,” says therapist Wendy Behary, LCS. These relationships can cause you to question your own reality, values, and sense of self-worth.

What Causes a Bad Relationship?

So, what is the root cause of these types of relationships? Bad relationships, according to Behary, often elicit our deepest fears; “perhaps early trauma, early memories of abandonment or abuse, being made to feel inadequate or unlovable, or being deprived of emotional attention,” she says.
“When you’re in a bad relationship, you’re often in a relationship that feels familiar to something you’ve known, even if you don’t realize it right away,” she adds.

As a result, it is critical to reflect on what we witnessed as children. “If we grew up in a household where we saw unhealthy relationships as models, or in our friend group, or in our community; if we saw unhealthy relationships as models, it’s easier to think it’s normal, acceptable, or just the way things are,” Melamed says. “It can also be caused by low self-esteem or a low sense of self-worth, as well as a lack of understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like.”

The Symptoms of a Bad Relationship

It is natural for us as humans to seek a loving partner with whom to share our lives. This isn’t always simple. At some point in your life, you may find yourself in a bad relationship. There are numerous ways to determine whether or not your relationship is healthy. Consider your interactions with your partner.

Take note of how you feel in the presence of your partner. It may not be a good relationship if you do not feel relaxed, uplifted, and supported by this person. Take note of how stressed you are. You may feel extremely exhausted. If you realize you’re in a bad relationship, take the necessary steps to leave. Seek the help of friends and family members as you go.

1. Consider how frequently you are criticized

Everyone has areas where they can improve. You might have bad habits that irritate your partner. There is, however, a distinction to be made between expressing irritation and being outright critical. A partner who is overly critical, even mean, is a sign that you are not in a good relationship.

2. Think about who you go to for emotional support

You should be able to lean on the other person for emotional support in a healthy relationship. However, in an unhealthy relationship, the other person may be cold or unconcerned about your needs. Consider who you would call if you were having a bad day.

3. Determine the level of trust

Do you believe you can rely on your partner? If not, the relationship may be in trouble. Has your partner ever struggled with something like infidelity? Did your partner cross any other lines, such as borrowing money and not repaying it? If you don’t trust your partner, you might be in a bad relationship.

Related Article: 10 Best Ways to Get over a Toxic Girlfriend

4. Be truthful about whether you feel under control

Your partner will want you to have your own life and independent interests in a healthy relationship. Your partner will constantly seek control in a bad relationship. Be truthful to yourself. Do you believe your partner is attempting to exert control over you?

5.Recognize the amount of help you’ve received

Do you believe your partner is ecstatic about your accomplishments? Do they appear unconcerned, if not hostile, when good things happen to you? In a negative relationship, your partner will be threatened by your success rather than delighted by it. Your dreams, goals, and aspirations will be viewed as competition for their attention.

6. Keep an eye out for manipulative behaviors

If you are in a bad relationship, you may be the victim of manipulation. This is when someone does something to try to persuade you to do something they want, or vice versa. Manipulative behaviors that are common include:

  1. Ignoring you or acting as if you don’t understand what you’re saying.
  2. Attempting to overburden you with facts and statistics.
  3. yelling, screaming, or talking over you
  4. Pressuring you to make decisions without giving you time to consider them.
  5. Making fun of or dismissing you.
  6. Passing judgment or criticizing you.
  7. Holding you responsible for their unhappiness or other problems.

7. Consider your own sense of identity

You and your partner have separate identities in a healthy relationship. You may have a diverse set of friends and interests. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to maintain your own relationships, hobbies, and interests. In a bad relationship, this will make your partner feel threatened or angry. They may insist on doing hobbies with you, even if you prefer to do them alone. They may discourage you from seeing friends they dislike or from spending too much time with your family.

8. Evaluate your own energy levels

What emotions do you experience when you spend time with your partner? Is their drama something that bothers you? Do you feel drained when you leave their place rather than energized? You and your partner should bring each other up in a healthy relationship. You should feel happy and energetic when you’re with your partner. If the opposite is true, you may be in a bad relationship.

9. Keep an eye on your feelings of guilt

In a bad relationship, you will be made to feel guilty on a regular basis. You may believe that your partner’s dissatisfaction or outbursts are your fault. Be truthful to yourself. In this relationship, how often do you feel guilty? Do you feel obligated to stay out of guilt? Is your partner so reliant on you that you feel responsible for them?
If guilt is a major emotion in your relationship, it could be a sign of trouble. If you’re staying because your partner makes you feel bad for not being there, you’re in a bad relationship.

10. Always be optimistic about the future

Can you see yourself having a future with this person? Some relationships are not meant to be long-term. It’s fine if you’re casually dating someone with whom you don’t want to have a serious relationship. However, if this is a serious relationship, you should think about the future.
Do you believe this individual would make a good parent? If you want children and are concerned about this person’s ability to be a good mother or father, you may be in a bad relationship.

11. During good times, meditate on your feelings

You may not be able to enjoy the good times if you are in a bad relationship. Even when things are going well and you should be enjoying yourself, you are tense. This is often due to the fact that your partner is easily set off, and you’re afraid they’ll start drama at any moment.
For example, suppose you go out to brunch with some friends. For a brief moment, your partner complains about the menu, becomes hostile, and then calms down. The rest of brunch is fine, and everyone appears to be having a good time.

12. Determine whether you are at ease enough to be vulnerable

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your partner is an essential component of a healthy relationship. It may not be a good relationship if you do not trust your partner enough to share your personal thoughts and feelings with them.

Is it possible to save a bad relationship?

Many people believe that toxic relationships are doomed from the start, but this isn’t always the case. What is the deciding factor? Change must be desired by both partners. If only one partner is committed to developing healthy habits, there is a slim chance that change will occur.
Here are a few more indicators that you may be able to work things out.

1. Investing inclination

You both exhibit openness and willingness to invest in improving the relationship. This could be demonstrated by a desire to deepen conversations or by setting aside regular blocks of time for spending quality time together.

2. Acceptance of accountability

Recognizing past behaviors that have harmed the relationship is critical on both ends, according to Manly. It reflects a desire for self-awareness and responsibility.

3. A shift from blaming to comprehension

There may be a way forward if you can both steer the conversation away from blaming and toward understanding and learning.

4. Receptivity to outside assistance

This is a significant one. Individual or couples counseling may be required at times to help you get back on track.

Ending a Bad Relationship

There may appear to be no way out of a bad relationship, but you always have a choice. Plan ahead of time and rely on family and friends to assist you. Keep in mind that ending the relationship will allow you to find a healthier, happier relationship.

1. Recognize that you’re in a bad relationship.

The first step in getting out of a bad relationship is admitting that you’re in one. It’s easy to ignore the warning signs and go about your daily life in a failing relationship, but no one should have to go through that. Everyone has the right to be happy.
Make a list of the warning signs you notice in your relationship. Examine the list to get a clear picture of what is going on. Discuss your concerns with a close friend or family member to get a second opinion. Recognize that you have the ability to change things and get out of the relationship.

2. Plan a place to stay after the break-up.

Ask a trusted friend or family member if you can spend some time with them after you have severed ties with the other person. Having someone close to you support you will make you feel better about your decision. If your relationship has a history of abuse, it is critical to inform someone of your plans so that you can be safe after the break-up. You should also devise a safety plan in case you decide to leave the relationship. This should include seeking support from loved ones and domestic violence professionals, anticipating a change of heart and resisting the urge to stay, and preparing your belongings to leave.

3. Develop a strategy.

You must have a plan in place to successfully end a bad relationship. Making a plan of action can assist you in holding yourself accountable to follow through. The most successful plans include specific implementation intentions, also known as if/then statements.

  • “If I start missing my ex, I’ll call a friend and go hang out.”
  • “If I start to regret my decision, I’ll make a list of the reasons I left.”
  • ” What If I become depressed as a result of the breakup, I will seek professional help.”

4. Schedule a conversation with your partner

Prepare yourself for the day when you will call it quits on the relationship. Large social gatherings can create awkward scenarios for a break-up. To avoid confrontations, consider holding your meeting in a quiet public place.

5. Inform your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend that your relationship is over

Be direct and blunt. When it comes to ending a relationship, it is best to be direct about your intentions. Tell your partner how you feel in person, rather than by phone or text, to help you process what is going on and demonstrate that you mean what you are saying.

6. Create some space between yourself and your new ex

After you’ve ended the relationship, you must avoid the person you left. Bad relationships can be difficult to leave mentally; make it easier on yourself by cutting off contact with the person so you aren’t tempted to get back together.

  1. Remove your ex from all social media platforms.
  2. Remove your ex’s phone number from your phone.
  3. Seek out entertainment in places where you won’t run into your ex.
  4. Request that your friends refrain from discussing your ex in order to assist you in creating distance.

Moving on from a Bad Relationship

Repairing a toxic relationship, according to Manly, will take time, patience, and diligence. This is especially true, according to Manly, “given that most toxic relationships frequently occur as a result of longstanding issues in the current relationship, or as a result of unaddressed issues from prior relationships.”

Here are some suggestions for getting things back on track.

1. Surround yourself with people who are upbeat

After leaving a toxic relationship, it is critical to surround yourself with the right people. You need to be around people who will encourage you and remind you that you made the right decision.

2. Let go of your regrets

When a relationship ends, it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of wondering what you could have done differently to change your ex. Know that no matter how hard you try, the past will not change. Rather than regretting the relationship, learn from it. Focus on what you want moving forward to help you stay positive and move in the right direction.

3. Begin to forgive yourself

You should not be sorry for a failed relationship. Many people blame themselves for failing to recognize the warning signs of a bad relationship, but this way of thinking will only make you feel worse. Declare your forgiveness aloud or in writing. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes, and that the failed relationship can teach you valuable lessons.

4. Remember who you were prior to the relationship

When you’re in a bad relationship, it’s easy to lose sight of your true interests. Now is the time to rediscover yourself, revive old interests, or discover new ones.

  1. Enroll in a class on a topic you used to be interested in learning about.
  2. Participate in a club.
  3. Reintroduce a past hobby.

5. Ask for assistance

When it becomes too difficult to process the break-up on your own, you may require assistance. When you are feeling down, ask for help from friends or family; talk with people who are close to you.
If you need assistance, don’t be embarrassed to ask for it. Many people find themselves in the same situation, and professional assistance helps them get back on their feet. To help you rebuild yourself after a bad relationship, seek emotional support from family and friends.

6. Inquire with local authorities about obtaining protective orders

If your ex is harassing or intimidating you, contact the local police and ask for a restraining order. If you feel threatened or endangered, contact a shelter or a support group.


Bad relationships are extremely difficult to deal with, but once you recognize what needs to change, you may be able to overcome your issues—or walk away. In any case, there are always lessons to be learned. “Once we realize our health and welfare truly matter,” Behary says, “it’s a journey worth taking.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of a bad relationship?

Here are some warning signs of a bad relationship: Physical abuse occurs when your partner pushes you, hits you, or destroys your belongings. Humiliation occurs when your partner calls you names, humiliates you, or makes you feel bad in front of others. Unpredictability: your partner is easily irritated, and you never know what will set them off.

What is a word to describe a bad relationship?

If your toxic relationship is full of turmoil and chaos, the word Tumultuous is a good one to use.

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