5 Signs of Highly Unhealthy Relationships

Love is blind, as the old saying goes. And it can be true—the excitement of romance, the attachment to a certain someone, and the comfort we might take in having a go-to companion to run to can keep us from seeing harsh truths about our relationship.

Do you feel this way about someone, but also suspect that your relationship may be highly unhealthy? Perhaps you do not feel ready to be without this person, while at the same time, you feel tired and unhappy?

Difficult as it may be to face the realities of being with your partner, it is important to be mindful of signs that your relationship is bringing you more hurt than happiness.

With that being said, here are 5 signs of highly unhealthy relationships. 

1. One-sided self-sacrifice

Do you feel that either you or your partner is the one who always gives in? Is only one person in the relationship giving and sacrificing—and giving profoundly more than they’re receiving? If this is the case, that person will likely feel devalued and drained. This is especially true if this person forces themselves to sacrifice their own principles and values for the sake of pleasing their partner, or “keeping the peace” in the relationship.

Compromise is sometimes necessary in a healthy partnership, but this involves a loving give and take, in which the couple considers each other’s needs and wants before making a decision together. While it is important to look out for your partner and your relationship together, it is equally necessary to attend to your own personal needs. One person constantly sacrificing their wellbeing for the other’s happiness will prove to be unhealthy for the relationship overall (Cannon, 2021; Gaba, 2021; Scott, 2020).

2. Losing your identity

Hyperfocusing on the relationship, prioritizing your partner’s needs well above your own— and neglecting your needs in the process—can contribute to you losing yourself. If one (or even both of you) are losing your own identity, then the relationship may be becoming unhealthy. 

Have you been sacrificing or altering aspects of your personality and interests in hopes of better fitting your partner and the relationship? It is good to try out or explore what the other likes, but it would be unhealthy to force yourself to act a certain way or be interested in things to appease or suit your partner. 

Similarly, it is important to spend quality time together, but it is equally important to save time for yourselves and your individual activities, interests, and friends, as well. Otherwise, one or both of you may lose who you are. Remember, your uniqueness sparked a relationship in the first place. You are your own, wonderful person, not just one half of a couple. Furthermore, you and your partner would better be able to draw on your own personal strengths to also strengthen your relationship, functioning as two separate individuals who can both bring their own good qualities to work together as a team (Cannon, 2021).

3. Issues with control and power

As previously mentioned, it is good to look out for your partner and their happiness, but it is unhealthy for one partner to have control over the other. Does one partner use the other’s affections to exert power over them? A healthy relationship is built on a display of power, control, or “winning” over the other person. 

Perhaps one partner uses this power to manipulate the other into letting them have their way,[regardless of the others’ feelings and needs. The controlling partner might go so far as to isolate their significant other from their family and friends, so that they are forced to become dependent on the relationship.

On a related note, control can take the form of jealousy and dishonesty. Does your partner accuse you of flirting, cheating or entertaining potential relationships with others? This could happen even from the most innocent interactions with others. It is imperative that you be attentive to signs of controlling, possessive behavior (Cannon, 2021; Gaba, 2021; Elsevier, 2021).

4. Endless fights

Another sign that the relationship is unhealthy is if you have constant arguments and fights. Relationships do have room for disagreements; situations in which the couple may not see eye to eye. But in healthy relationships, partners hear each other out and resolve the issue while maintaining respect for each other’s feelings. 

Unhealthy relationships, on the other hand, may involve constant fighting that can include shouting matches, belittling, aggression, or shutting the other person out. The arguments are a platform for negativity and hostility, instead of a space to express feelings and grow together. The words exchanged can be cruel and hurtful, leaving one or both partners feeling worse. If you are met with anger or manipulation whenever you try to express your concerns, then the relationship will only worsen and bring you more sorrow and agony than joy (Gaba, 2021; Peterson, 2019).

5. Feeling unhappy

Lastly, one way to tell if you are in an unhealthy relationship is, simply put, if you are feeling unhappy. Do you often find yourself feeling angry, tired, or depressed from your relationship? Do you feel this way whenever you speak to your partner or spend time with them? 

Perhaps they make you feel guilty and ashamed. Or perhaps you have even begun to feel anxious and fearful most of the time, which is a sign that they have a tendency to mistreat you. 

All couples disagree and have their own problems to work through, but in a healthy relationship, both partners should feel safe, loved, and happy overall. If your relationship is making you feel miserable, then it may be time to seek your own happiness instead (Elsevier, 2021; Scott, 2020).

Concluding Remarks

If you are suffering and deeply troubled from your relationship, remember that you always have a way out, or a way to improve your situation. Counseling or therapy from a qualified professional can help with moving forward from relationship struggles.


Cannon, J. (2021, September 20). 3 signs of a seriously unhealthy relationship. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/stress-fracture/202109/3-signs-seriously-unhealthy-relationship 

Gaba, S. (2021, March 12). What is a toxic relationship? . What Is a Toxic Relationship? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/addiction-and-recovery/202103/what-is-toxic-relationship 

Healthy Relationship Information . Elsevier. (2021, July 19). Retrieved from https://elsevier.health/en-US/preview/healthy-relationship-information 

Peterson, T. J. (2019, March 25). 4 signs you’re in a toxic relationship. HealthyPlace. Retrieved from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-health-newsletter/4-signs-you-re-in-a-toxic-relationship 

Scott, E. (2020, July 4). What is a toxic relationship? Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/toxic-relationships-4174665 

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