Learning to Recognize the Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

Reviewed by Rashonda Douthit, LCSW

Published 06/21/2022

Everyone wants to be in a loving and fulfilling relationship, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. You might find yourself in a relationship that you’re a bit unhappy with. It’s even possible that your current relationship could be considered to be unhealthy by various standards. How do you figure out whether or not you’re in an unhealthy relationship, though? Is there something that sets an unhealthy relationship apart and makes it stand out? What are the bad signs in a relationship?

Learning to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship can put you in a better position to determine what type of relationship you’re in. There are lots of signs that will be indicators of unhealthy behavior in your relationship. Knowing these relationship signs can give you a chance to either turn things around or get out of the relationship.

Lack Of Trust

What are bad signs in a relationship that you need to look out for? Well, a lack of trust from your partner is one of the things that you should look out for the most. Someone who doesn’t seem to trust you will be a bad candidate for a romantic partner. You need to have trust if you’re going to be able to be in a loving relationship. Some people seem to have substantial trust issues, but those need to be addressed for your relationship to succeed.

If you’re dating someone who has been hurt in the past, then you might have to help them get over trust issues. These can be tough hurdles to clear for many relationships. It might even be worthwhile to consider relationship counseling if you’re committed to dating this person. Over time, trust issues can be overcome if you’re willing to work on things together.

Using Guilt As A Weapon

Did you know that some people will try to use guilt as a weapon? If your partner tries to make you feel guilty for not doing certain things, then that could be a sign that you’re in an unhealthy relationship. This is true for any aspect of the relationship.  It is is never going to be acceptable to use guilt as a weapon.   


Of course, jealousy is a big problem that can pop up in relationships. Many unhealthy relationships start to go sour because of serious jealousy issues coming to light. You could be dating someone who will get jealous for seemingly no reason. There are individuals out there who will get jealous when someone interacts with their partners. This is definitely unhealthy behavior, and this level of possessiveness can even border on abusiveness in some cases.

It can make you feel very anxious when someone whom you love is so jealous and possessive. This can even start to negatively impact your professional life in various ways. If you’re worried that you might be experiencing anxiety, then you can take this anxiety test to find out. It should help you know whether you need to make an appointment with a professional to get an official diagnosis. Even if you aren’t feeling anxious because of your partner’s jealousy, it’s still going to be prudent to try to curb this habit before it gets worse. No one wants to date someone who is overly possessive.


Being manipulated by your partner is terrible, but many people do this to others. Some people like to feel like they have power over others, and they might try to manipulate you in subtle ways. Organizations such as the One Love Foundation are dedicated to helping people to recognize unhealthy relationships. They note that manipulation can be very dangerous and that you shouldn’t be in a relationship where someone is trying to manipulate you. There are even situations where people will try to keep you away from your friends and family to have you to themselves.

If you’re worried about being in a manipulative relationship, you should know that you can get help. Those who are being abused emotionally can always seek out help if they’re too afraid to leave. Sometimes people make others feel as if they have power over them, and it takes an outside force to help them get out. Just try to be honest with yourself about whether your partner has shown signs of trying to manipulate you.

Lack Of Affection

A lack of affection can be a very bad sign when you’re trying to date someone seriously. If your partner doesn’t seem that interested in intimacy, what does that say about your relationship? Do you often get turned away when you go to hug or kiss your partner? If someone loved you, would they really deny your affection so often? This is supposed to be an expression of your feelings for each other, but it could be an indication that there’s a disconnect in your relationship.

If your sex life hasn’t been going well, then you might be worried about whether your relationship will last. Relationships can thrive without sex being the main focus of the relationships, but most adult relationships involve intimacy and affection. It may be troubling when there is a lack of affection in your relationship, and you might need to ask yourself some serious questions about your partner to see if it’s worthwhile to continue dating them.


Selfishness is perhaps one of the most horrible qualities that a person can possess. When someone is selfish, they’re going to put their needs and interests ahead of your own no matter what. Certain people just don’t seem capable of caring for others as deeply as they do themselves. If you’re a very empathetic and selfless individual, it might be hard to relate to selfish people. A selfish partner can really make a relationship turn sour fast.

Small signs that your partner is selfish can be seen in their everyday actions. This could be a small action, such as someone eating all of your favorite snacks without saving you any. Or it could involve them inviting friends over even though they know that you need to study for a big exam. Selfishness can even extend to the bedroom, where your partner might not care whether you’re sexually satisfied or not. Relationship signs like this are not good, and there’s a chance that you won’t want to be in a relationship with someone once you see how selfish they are.


Partners are supposed to be supportive of each other to help each other become the best versions of themselves. When you’re in a good relationship with someone, you’re going to be able to feel their love no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. Even when you make a mistake, your partner should console you or help pick you back up. When you’re in an unhealthy relationship, the opposite might happen.

Feeling like you’re being judged by your partner is a sign that they really don’t care about you. For instance, your partner might constantly judge your taste in music and make fun of you for it. Your partner could also choose to judge you and make fun of you for gaining a little bit of weight. Even if things like this seem harmless at first, it’s going to have a negative impact on your relationship. You can’t be in a healthy relationship with someone that is going to judge you. Relationship signs like this show you that your partner might not have a very good heart.


Have you caught your partner in a lie recently? Lying is one of the signs of a bad relationship that may cause concern.  It may be difficult to trust your partner if they lie to you about random things. It doesn’t even really matter if the lies start out small either. Any lies can lead your partner to develop a tendency to lie to you.  If this continues, then they could even start lying about major things that will make a huge difference in your relationship.

Unhealthy relationships are often rife with lying on both sides. Even if you’re a very truthful person, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a healthy relationship with someone you feel you can’t trust.  If you notice these signs you’re in an unhealthy relationship, it might be best to move on before you get hurt. You could also try to fix things and turn your relationship around if you’re really committed to this individual that you’re dating.


Laziness might not be something that you typically associate with unhealthy relationships, but it can be pretty bad. If someone you’re dating is living with you and not doing anything to help you, that’s not a good sign. Someone could just be using you so that they will have a place to live and food to eat. Even when someone is pulling their weight financially, you may feel upset if they don’t help with the chores. Someone who expects their significant other to clean up after them might not be a keeper.

It’s up to you to decide whether laziness is going to be a deal-breaker. This trait might not be as toxic as some of the ones mentioned above, but it’s still something that could negatively impact your life. Think about how things would be if you had children with a person like this. Would they even be willing to help out if they showed a lack of motivation this early in the relationship? Not everyone is highly motivated to clean and get things done, but it stands out when someone truly puts forth no effort to help.

Keeping You A Secret

Another sign that you’re in an unhealthy relationship to look out for is when your partner seems to be keeping you a secret.  If you have been dating someone for months, then you might have expected to meet some of this person’s friends or family members by now. When someone doesn’t seem to be letting you into their personal life, it’s a sign that they don’t really value you that much. It could also potentially mean that they have something to hide.

For example, people who try to keep you a secret while you’re dating them could be dating others as well. They might not want you to meet certain people because it will expose the fact that they’re dating multiple individuals. Sometimes married people even do this and try to date others while never inviting them back to their houses. This might sound absurd to some, but manipulators can be very convincing and will come up with reasons why things need to be a certain way.

If you’re worried that you’re being kept a secret, then you should discuss your concerns with your partner. Hopefully, it’s a big misunderstanding, but understand that this sign is a tough one to ignore. Try to be reasonable while talking with your partner to see if you really are in an unhealthy and manipulative relationship. If you are, then you can take the right steps to get out so that you can move on to the next chapter of your love life.