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  • Writer's pictureLaToya Henry

14 Warning signs of a toxic relationship

Toxic relationships are everywhere and can be so sophisticated that sometimes you may not even realise that you are in one.

Recently Emily Bediako from and I did an Instagram Live on ‘Has lockdown made you realise that your relationship isn’t healthy?’ This collaboration came about as we noticed in our sessions that this theme was becoming more common; however, clients not always having the language to label it.

Due to the coronavirus, this has naturally led to people spending more time with their partners, not having an escapism from normal routines and a reduced support network, especially when people are coping in their own individual ways.

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship can literally strip a person away of their self-esteem, the way they perceive themselves and can be a constant a roller coaster of emotions, even for the most confident person.

Often there are elements of one person commanding power and control, which plays out in either (or all three) emotional, physical or financial abuse. Yet, this can be portrayed in the most loving and caring manner.

It’s important to remember that all relationships can be filled with difficulties at times, but this is different from being in an unhealthy relationship. Perhaps in the beginning stages of the relationship, things were completely fine; however, the cracks usually begin to show and the partner’s troubled upbringing and failed relationships (including with friends and family) can start to seep into your relationship.

Moreover, unhealthy relationships are not only exclusive to intimate relationships.

Am I in a toxic relationship?

There are not a set number of signs of a toxic relationship, but below are some examples of abusive and unhealthy relationships:

  • Fabricating stories. Having a background in working with children and families, I have seen this time after time, whereby this can start to result in one partner making the children start to go against the other parent

  • Being passive aggressive, which can be played out in receiving the ‘silent treatment’ or s/he giving you the ‘guilt trip’ speech, i.e. “I’ll just stay at home by myself while you go out and have fun”

  • Feeling threatened or intimidated

  • Constantly being critical of everything you do, resulting in you feeling useless

  • Despite being an adult, you always need to ask for permission, even for the most minor of things

  • Amongst other people they act completely different, which can often make you feel that it is all in your head. Secondly, you could feel like you are in a relationship with Jekyll and Hyde as one day s/he can be sweet as pie and the next day they are giving you the cold shoulder

  • There is often a misconception that there is not such a thing as non-consensual sex when you are in a relationship with someone; however, this is false. An abusive partner can use this as a way of enforcing their power

  • Joking, but they're not joking, which can make you feel that you are overreacting

  • Feeling like a shadow of your former self

  • You can feel lonely or even stifled in a toxic relationship. This can also lead to isolation as the abusive partner does not want to share you with anyone

  • Walking on eggshells to keep the peace

  • ‘Woe is me!’ Whatever you are going through is nothing in comparison to them. This simply always undermines you

  • Lying about absolutely everything and never taking any ownership, especially when s/he has been caught out

  • I purposely kept this as the last one as people often think of abuse in a relationship as only being physical. Also, physical abuse is not only what we often see in TV programmes, i.e. a black eye. It can be anything from pinching or pulling your hair.


Hi, I am LaToya.

I am a relational therapist and counsellor, whereby I specialise in helping people improve their personal identity, their relationship with themselves and others, and enable individuals to feel more confident in communicating their needs.

I provide weekly counselling in London Bridge and Camberwell, alongside online counselling sessions.

Want to learn more about how I can help you? Book a FREE 15 minute consultation and together we can start to get your life and relationships back on track.



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