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Shadows of Doubt for Empowerment and Emotional Well-Being: 7 Critical Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship and Practical Steps to Cope


A relationship is the basis of our social existence, it offers support, love and partnership. However, not all relationships contribute positively to our well-being. Some of them, instead of offering comfort, become sources of stress and pain. These relationships are often referred to as "toxic relationships".

What exactly makes a relationship toxic?

And how can one navigate the way out of such a harmful dynamic?

The following guide: "Shadows of Doubt for Empowerment and Emotional Well-Being: 7 Critical Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship and Practical Steps to Cope" deals with these questions.

In the guide, I will share with you 7 critical warning signs that indicate that your relationship may be toxic and offer 6 practical steps to address these problems.

hand giving a poison apple to another hand

toxic relationships

At its core, a toxic relationship is one that consistently undermines a person's well-being, happiness, and ability to thrive. These relationships are not limited to romantic partnerships; They can happen between friends, family members and even colleagues.

The foundation of any healthy relationship is built on mutual respect, trust and open communication.

In contrast, toxic relationships often exhibit a complete absence of these elements;

They are characterized by constant conflict, lack of support and an environment where the person's needs and boundaries are neglected or violated repeatedly.

The impact of being in such a relationship can be profound, affecting the mental, emotional and sometimes physical health of the individual.

Recognizing the signs of a toxic relationship is the first step to addressing the problem.

toxic couple relationship

7 warning signs of a toxic relationship

Recognizing the early warning signs of a toxic relationship can be challenging, especially when emotions are deeply involved. It's essential to spot these red flags to prevent further damage and make informed decisions about your well-being. These 7 key signs indicate that your relationship may be toxic:

1. Emotional manipulation and emotional abuse

Emotional manipulation is a cornerstone of toxic relationships.

It involves using guilt, fear, or duty to control someone's actions or feelings.

This can manifest as "gaslighting" - where your partner makes you question your sanity or perception of reality, which reduces your self-worth and self-confidence.

Emotional abuse can also appear as constant criticism, humiliation, or degrading comments that hurt your self-worth.

2. Lack of trust and support

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. In toxic dynamics, trust is often replaced by suspicion, jealousy and secrecy. A partner may constantly check your phone, social media, or excessively inquire about your whereabouts, which indicates a lack of trust.

In addition, the toxic partner may not support your achievements, your dreams, or your personal growth, and often feels threatened by your success instead of being a source of encouragement.

3. Domineering behavior and isolation

Toxic relationships often involve one partner controlling the other's life decisions, including who you meet, where you go, and what you do.

This controlling behavior can lead to isolation from friends, family and support networks, making it difficult for you to ask for help or escape the relationship. The controlling partner may justify their actions as concern or love for you, but in reality it is a way of maintaining power and control over you.

4. Frequent lies and tricks

Honesty is critical to building a healthy relationship.

On the other hand, toxic relationships are full of lies, half-truths and tricks. Frequent lies undermine trust and create an environment where true connection and intimacy cannot thrive.

If you caught your partner in frequent and consistent lies, if you feel that you cannot trust what they say - this is a red flag!

5. Unwillingness to compromise

Healthy relationships involve mutual compromises and finding solutions that take into account the needs and feelings of both partners.

In toxic relationships, one partner may refuse to compromise or always insist on their own way, ignoring the other partner's needs or opinions.

This imbalance creates a dynamic where the desires of one partner take precedence over the desires of the other, leading to feelings of resentment and inequality.

6. Tendency to run away from difficult discussions

Communication is essential for resolving conflicts and building a strong relationship. However, in toxic relationships, one partner may avoid difficult conversations, shut down communication or resort to putting up walls, leaving issues unresolved.

This avoidance prevents the relationship from growing and addressing the underlying issues, creating a cycle of unresolved stress and unhappiness.

7. Excessive jealousy

It's natural to experience jealousy from time to time, but excessive jealousy is a hallmark of toxic relationships. This often leads to petty behaviors, unfounded accusations, and attempts to control your partner's interactions with others.

Excessive jealousy stems from insecurity and a desire to control, which can suffocate the relationship and erode trust.


Recognizing these warning signs is the first step in dealing with the toxicity in your relationship.

It is important to take these signs seriously and consider their impact on your mental and emotional health.

If these warning signs are familiar to you, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship and take steps toward a healthier and more fulfilling partnership.


6 steps you should take if you are in a toxic relationship

Realizing that you are in a toxic relationship can be a daunting revelation, but taking steps to address it is critical to your health and happiness.

Here are 6 steps you should take to navigate this challenging situation:

1. Seeking support from loved ones

The first and most important step is to turn to friends and family for support.

A toxic relationship can isolate you from your support network, making reconnecting with loved ones who can offer emotional support, advice and a different perspective essential.

Sharing your experiences with people you trust can also help validate your feelings and reassure you that you are not alone.

2. Defining boundaries and communicating needs

Setting clear boundaries is fundamental in any relationship but becomes even more critical in toxic dynamics.

Determine what behaviors you will no longer tolerate and confidently present these boundaries to your partner.

Expressing your needs and expectations openly gives your partner the opportunity to change their behavior.

However, it is important to be willing to enforce these boundaries and consider the possibility that your partner will not respect them, which will require further action on your part.

3. Professional help

Sometimes, the issues within a toxic relationship are too complex to handle alone. Professional help from a therapist or counselor can provide you with the tools and strategies to deal with the situation effectively. Couples therapy can be a good option if both partners are willing to work on the relationship.

However, individual therapy is critical to understanding your feelings, working through trauma, and building self-image, especially if you decide to leave this relationship.

4. Safety planning

In cases where the toxic relationship involves abuse (physical, emotional or otherwise), prioritizing your safety is a top priority. Develop a safety plan that includes safe places to stay, emergency contacts and an escape route.

Organizations and hotlines that specialize in domestic violence can offer guidance and support in creating a plan that ensures your well-being.

5. Reflecting on the relationship and making a decision

Take time to reflect on the relationship and its impact on your life.

You should keep a journal to record your feelings and experiences. This tool can help you gain clarity and make an informed decision about the future of the relationship.

If the toxic patterns persist despite your best efforts, it may be time to consider ending the relationship. While this decision is never easy, it's important to remember that your well-being and happiness come first.

6. Seeking independence and healing

Whether you decide to stay and work on the relationship or end it, focusing on your independence and healing is crucial. Participate in activities that bring you joy, improve your sense of self, and engage in areas of interest that you have neglected. Surrounding yourself with people who uplift you and focusing on building a positive and fulfilling life, regardless of your relationship status.


Taking these steps will not be easy, but they are necessary to get out of the cycle of toxicity and build a healthier and happier future. You deserve a relationship that brings you joy, respect and mutual growth. Don't hesitate to ask for help and take control of your well-being.


Prioritizing self-care and healing

After identifying and addressing the challenges of a toxic relationship, prioritizing self-care and healing is critical. This journey can be both challenging and empowering, as it involves rediscovering your worth and nurturing your well-being.

These four steps will help you focus on self-care and begin the healing process:

  1. Give yourself permission to grieve the relationship. Whether you decide to stay and work on it or leave, acknowledging your feelings is essential. Realize that it's okay to feel a variety of emotions, including sadness, anger, relief, or confusion. Accepting your feelings without judgment allows you to process them in a healthy way and move forward.

  2. Cultivating activities that promote your mental, emotional and physical well-being. This can include regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and practices such as meditation or yoga. Engaging in fun hobbies and interests can also serve as a powerful outlet for expression and provide a sense of satisfaction.

  3. Writing in a diary as a tool for reflection and healing. Writing about your experiences, thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic. The journal offers a private space to express yourself freely and gain insights into your feelings and behavior patterns. Over time, a journal can help track your healing progress and promote a stronger sense of self-awareness.

  4. Seeking professional support to receive guidance, support and strategies to help you navigate the healing process. Professional support will allow you a safe space to explore your feelings, work through trauma and build mental resilience.



Leaving a toxic relationship is a journey that requires courage, self-awareness and commitment to personal growth. Recognizing the 7 warning signs of a toxic relationship is the first step to restoring your well-being.

Prioritizing self-care and healing is a personal journey that requires time, patience and self-compassion. By focusing on your well-being, you are laying the foundations for a healthier and happier future, free from the shadows of toxic relationships. You deserve love and respect from others and more importantly - from yourself.


Sivan Avni - marriage and family counselor.



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