Is Your Relationship Toxic? What You Should Know

Many women rush into romantic relationships for fear of getting left behind and in the process ignore red flags that their boyfriend is toxic. This usually happens due to low self-esteem.  

If you are experiencing an unhappy relationship with your significant other, you may be wondering:

  • Is your relationship toxic?
  • Why are toxic relationships dangerous?
  • Can you fix a toxic relationship?

Here are some things you should know for your physical well-being and mental health.

What is significant about the word “toxic”?

“Toxic” can be a buzzword, popular in culture but used inappropriately.

The word “toxic” comes from the Greek and means “poison used for arrows.” Let that sink in. It is about control and harm.

It is important to know that many of the things that people do or say may irritate or annoy us, but they are not necessarily “toxic”.

At the same time, we need to recognize behaviors that are aimed at controlling, disrespecting, or harming us.

Is your relationship toxic?

Are you wondering how to tell if you are in a toxic relationship? What are considered toxic behaviors?

You may be aware that things are not right. But what are the signs of an unhealthy relationship? How does a toxic person act?

I have been in your shoes. Sometimes you wonder if you are just making things up or going crazy. At the same time, you fear that what you suspect is true.

Warning signs of a toxic relationship

Toxic relationships usually involve some type of abusive behavior. Most women recognize physical abuse but doubt that emotional abuse is just as damaging. And the other types of abuse are off their radar. 

Here are some telltale signs of a toxic relationship. 

Some degree of anxiety

  • You feel like you are walking on eggshells around him
  • You are nervous or fearful that you will upset him or make him angry
  • You are afraid to disagree with him
  • You withhold information because you do not want to start a debate about things that have happened.

Is your relationship toxic? Answering “yes” to this list is a good indicator.

Progressive isolation

  • You are guarded in what you tell family and friends
  • He interrogates you about your conversations with family or friends and is critical of them

Is your relationship toxice? Progressivley moving you away from family and friends is a good indicator.

Toxic communication

  • When you are talking about something difficult he shames, or belittles you
  • He reminds you of what you did wrong over and over
  • He assumes he knows what your motives are for doing things and he won’t let you set the record straight or defend yourself
  • He is critical of you and uses harsh words or humiliates you
  • He distorts what you say and attacks your feelings
  • He uses guilt, fear, and intimidation to control and manipulate you

Is your relationship toxic? Verbal abuse is one indicator.

Rigid rules

  • There are two sets of rules, one for you and one for him
  • His way of doing things is the only right way
  • You feel you can’t do anything right
  • Things always have to be his way
  • He is not teachable because he thinks he knows what is best 
  • He treats you one way in private and another way in front of other people. 

Is your relationship toxic? How many of these points do you relate to? Are you walking on eggshells, feeling isolated, attacked verbally, and often confused about the rules in your household?

None of this kind of behavior is part of a loving relationship.

There are different types of toxic relationships, but they are all harmful. While this list is incomplete, many are expressed in subtle ways. You must pay attention or you will miss them.

Quizzes that help reveal abusive relationships

There are websites that offer toxic relationship quizzes.

Just be aware that most do not write from a Biblical perspective. So their “fix” for your problem will not be complete. But that doesn’t mean that some of what they offer is not useful.

You also need to be aware that every relationship is different so you may need to take several of the quizzes to get a good sense of where you stand.

Not every quiz question will apply to your situation. Yet you have to answer them to move on to the next question.

In retrospect, I took these toxic relationship quizzes and you might want to try them also. They are free and give you an immediate assessment when you finish.

There also is a really good book that is accurate from a Biblical standpoint. “Is It Abuse?” was written by Darby A. Strickland, a Christian Counselor who specializes in domestic abuse – physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, and financial.

What you should know if you are in a toxic relationship

When someone disrespects you it is not your fault. You are not responsible for their unexcusale behavior.

A photo of a woman experiencing verbal abuse and the caption, "Is your relationship toxic? It is not your fault."
Is your relationship toxic? It is not your fault.

Toxic people are self-centered individuals who feel more important when they put others down. They thrive on controlling and playing mind games with you.

What to do if you are in a toxic relationship

If you suspect that you are in a toxic relationship, your physical safety should be your first priority.

Some toxic relationships escalate into deadly ones. While you are trying to figure things out, you need to have a safety plan just in case.

Women in these situations often live in denial because it seems easier than facing reality or making changes. Yet “burying their heads in the sand” ends in tragedy for some. It can be a game of roulette.

There is help available from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. They can help you find resources in your local area, as well as listen to you as you try to sort things out.

How to heal from a toxic relationship

You may need professional help from a clinical psychologist to heal emotionally.

Years of manipulation, degradation, and disrespect can leave you wounded emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically. It has a profound impact on you even if you don’t realize it yet. 

Better Help is an organization that offers Christian online therapy if you can’t find someone locally. You are sure to find a good therapist there. 

That being said, healing from a bad relationship requires time. Here are some things you can do to begin that process.

  1. Continue to have a safety plan with boundaries
  2. Make healing a priority
  3. Use Biblical affirmations to build your confidence again
  4. Learn about toxic relationships and the many different forms of abuse
  5. Have a strong support system and ask for help

1. Continue to have a safety plan with healthy boundaries

A safety plan is your first step in healing. Just because you have left a toxic partner does not mean that they won’t still try to control you. Think through the different scenarios where you might run into your ex or receive messages from him.

You may need to block him from your social media. Better yet, take a break from social media entirely.

Your phone is also important to think about. Believe me, toxic people will continue to try to manipulate you through phone calls and intimidating messages. It is not in your best interest to continue to have this kind of pressure. 

You also may want to receive your mail at a neutral place such as the post office. Only your close friends need to know where you live.

To protect your single status you might want to use your initials instead of your first name when you begin changing your address with your many contacts.

Another thing to consider is if you should change your email address.  You likely will find further ways to eliminate chronic stress as you begin to heal. 

2. Make healing a priority

Make up your mind to not begin a new relationship any time soon.

As much as you may want a romantic partner, now is not the time to start dating again. Otherwise, you will likely repeat past mistakes. For the time being, it is far better to be single than be in a wrong relationship.

Now is YOUR time. Pay attention to your feelings and engage with them. Keep a journal to process your emotions. It is a safe place to express them and will help you see when healing is taking place.

Be sure to also find some fun things to do in your free time. Maybe it is something you used to like to do but were restricted in the toxic relationship.

3. Use Biblical affirmations to build your confidence again

Having some negative emotions is common after the manipulation that your ex-partner used to control you. You need to build your self-esteem from God’s point of view. 

The bottom line is you were not responsible for your partner’s unhealthy dynamics.

Find creative ways to be reminded that God’s opinion of you is what matters.

  • Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself.
  • Give a friend letters to mail to you in the days or months ahead.
  • A Bible study on Biblical affirmations would give you daily reminders to think correctly about yourself, others, and your circumstances.

4. Learn about toxic relationships and the many different forms of abuse

Many of us were not aware of or ignored red flags when we were dating.

Now that you are free, take the time to educate yourself so you don’t enter into a similar relationship in the future.

The same websites that offer quizzes to help you know if your relationship is toxic, can also answer your many questions about:

  • The signs of toxic partners.
  • Why women fall in love with an abusive partner.
  • Why it is so hard to leave?
  • The different ways that toxicity plays out in a relationship.
  • Body language can be telltale signs of a toxic individual. (Check out some of the books by Lilian Glass on body language.)

5. Have a strong support system and ask for help

Few women are able to completely heal from a toxic relationship with a lack of support from friends, family, or family therapist.

You will need someone to listen to you, pray for you, and maybe help in other ways.

It is understandable that you may have a lack of trust in others.

All too often women have been systematically isolated from the very people who can offer them emotional support. You need to reconnect to those kinds of relationships as quickly as possible.

If you are a friend of someone who has gotten out of a toxic situation, here are ways you can help. 

  • Listen to your friend
  • Pray for your friend 
  • Help her be safe

Listen to your friend

We can learn from the Bible about active listening,

” … Be quick to listen, slow to speak …” James 1:19 ESV

” Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

Do you ever find yourself thinking about how to reply when you are listening to someone?  Active listening is not trying to have answers or fix things, at least to begin with.

People need to feel understood before they will take any advice. You may think you understand, but truthfully you don’t unless you have walked in another person’s shoes.

Instead, ask questions to draw out more conversation.

  • Tell me more.
  • What do you mean?
  • I am not sure I understand.

Active listening will go a long way in developing a good relationship and help erase your friend’s absence of trust. 

Pray for your friend

How should you pray for a victim of a bad relationship? You will find some of those answers after you have taken the time to listen to her. 

One of the best things you can do for any friend is to pray Scripture. 

” … For the word of God is living and active ..” Hebrews 4:12 ESV

” All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

Because of the living nature of the Bible, it helps us cope with the imperfect world we live in.

Women who have experienced abuse of any kind will have developed some thoughts about themselves that will need correcting with the truth. So you can pray these things for her. 

  • Help my friend realize that she is worthy of love because you died for her. (1)
  • Help her realize that she is created by you, God, and you will make something good from this horrible situation. (2)
  • Help her realize that you, Lord, are with her and she is not alone. (This is for Christians.) (3)
  • Help her trust You, Lord, even though she is having trouble trusting others right now. Help her remember that you are faithful and keep your promises to her. (4)

Help her be safe

Sometimes a woman needs a safe place to stay until she can find more permanent housing. That might mean sleeping on your couch for a couple of nights until a shelter is found. Do what you can, or enlist Godly friends in this endeavor. 

Help her figure out the next steps. Just knowing she is not alone in this recovery period will give her more confidence and encourage her. 


  1. John 3:16, John 15:13
  2. Romans 8:28, Genesis 50:20,
  3. Hebrews 13:5 , Psalm 139:1-12, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 43:2
  4. Psalm 9:10, Philippians 4:9, Hebrews 10:23, Deuteronomy 7:9
  5. If you don’t have a Bible, you can look up any of these verses at Bible Gateway. It is a free resource.

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