scorecardCouples therapists recommend these 10 questions to test whether your relationship is just rocky or fully toxic
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Couples therapists recommend these 10 questions to test whether your relationship is just rocky or fully toxic

Ashley Laderer   

Couples therapists recommend these 10 questions to test whether your relationship is just rocky or fully toxic
Insider Picks7 min read
  • If your partner constantly makes you feel like your doing something wrong, it's a red flag.
  • Not having your own hobbies and having your life revolve around your partner is also concerning.

When you're in a relationship and blinded by love or infatuation, it can be tough to see straight. And you may miss red flags that could indicate your relationship is toxic.

The term "toxic" gets thrown around easily, so it's important to know what actually constitutes toxic or unhealthy behavior in relationships — which is why we put together this toxic relationship test to help you take stock.

By answering the following questions, you should be more able to identify toxicity in your relationship, which can save you from a negative cycle of destructive or even potentially abusive acts.

If you're not sure if your partnership is healthy or not, it's time to get introspective and take a hard look at you and your partner's behavior. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to determine if your relationship is toxic.

1. Do you feel comfortable telling your partner when they've hurt your feelings?

If you answered yes: Green flag

If you answered no: Toxic red flag

Communication is crucial in relationships, and it's important to be able to voice your concerns. "Being able to tell a partner that your feelings have been hurt is a good sign. It signifies that you feel safe to share vulnerably," says Rachel Klechevsky, a licensed social worker who specializes in romantic relationships.

But on the flip side, if you feel weary to share your feelings, it could be a sign that you feel like your feelings don't matter, or that your emotional needs will be weaponized or diminished, says Klechevsky.

If you're afraid to voice your feelings because you worry about your partner lashing out at you verbally or physically, this is an even bigger concern and could be a sign of an abusive relationship.

2. Do you constantly feel like you're doing something wrong?

If you answered yes: Toxic red flag

If you answered no: Green flag

Feeling like you're always doing something wrong or upsetting your partner in one way or another is a big red flag. Klechevsky says this can cause tension and resentment in the relationship.

Your partner may straight up criticize you and tell you that you can't do anything right, or there may be more subtle digs — such as saying "your cooking never tastes good" or "that outfit doesn't look very good on you."

Ultimately, this toxic behavior will put a major strain on your relationship. "It is painful to trust someone who has historically made you feel that you can't do anything right, belittles you and your feelings, and makes you feel insecure around them," Klechevsky says.

In a healthy relationship, you want to feel like your partner supports you and builds you up — not like you're constantly walking on eggshells in fear of being "wrong."

3. Do you have your own group of friends, hobbies, and interests — and does your partner support this?

If you answered yes: Green flag

If you answered no: Toxic red flag

A healthy relationship has a balance of togetherness and separateness, says Klechevsky. This allows for "differentiation" which essentially helps each partner be their own person and keep their sense of self while in a relationship.

Not to mention, Klechevsky says spending some time apart gives each partner time to build desire and miss their partner.

If you and your partner primarily spend time with each other and neglect other relationships with friends and family or abandon your hobbies and interests, this is toxic behavior.

This toxic behavior can be a symptom of different kinds of relationships. For example, if you feel like your partner is deliberately keeping you from seeing loved ones, it could be a sinister sign that they are purposely trying to isolate you and keep you to themself. Alternatively, if you simply feel very uncomfortable being without your partner, it could be a sign of codependency.

4. Do you and your partner make up and come to an understanding after you have an argument?

If you answered yes: Green flag

If you answered no: Toxic red flag

It's normal for couples to argue from time to time, but to have a healthy relationship, you need to hear each other out and make compromises — not let things simmer.

"100% of couples have conflict — but if you don't return to the discussion to understand each person's perspective, it can lead to distancing or slow-building resentment," says Laura Silverstein, a couples therapist and the clinical director and co-owner of Main Line Counseling Partners.

While it can be tempting to avoid returning to the controversial topic that started the argument to try to "keep the peace," this can ultimately lead to dissatisfaction in the relationship, Silverstein says.

Continuously brushing things under the rug is toxic and leads to problems building up instead of getting resolved.

5. Do you have fond memories of pleasant times with your partner?

If you answered yes: Green flag

If you answered no: Toxic red flag

Of course, every relationship has its ups and downs, and not every single memory can be great. If you can look at your partnership through a mostly positive lens, think about the good times, and feel confident that you got through any rough patches in healthy ways, this is a green flag.

But, if your relationship gets to a point where there's so much negativity that it's hard to remember the good times, this is an indication of a toxic relationship, says Silverstein. This is a sign that you should take a step back and re-evaluate if the relationship is bringing you any pleasure anymore.

6. Does your partner try to make you question your own reality or feelings?

If you answered yes: Toxic red flag

If you answered no: Green flag

It's possible for you and your partner to view or experience the exact same situation differently and have unique reactions and feelings. "Both experiences are valid and real. It is important for couples to work to understand each other's perspectives, especially when they disagree," Silverstein says. This is how partners should be in a healthy relationship.

However, if your partner tries to tell you that you're wrong for feeling the way you feel or makes you question yourself, this is a form of gaslighting, says Silverstein. Gaslighting is extremely toxic behavior that can make you question your own sanity — and it's a form of emotional abuse.

7. Do you rely on your partner to meet all of your needs — or vice versa?

If you answered yes: Toxic red flag

If you answered no: Green flag

Of course, everyone wants to feel like they have a partner they can depend on who will be there for them and stick with them through the tough times. But relying on your partner for everything isn't healthy.

"It is unrealistic to think that one person can meet all your needs. Happy successful relationships work when each member of the relationship meets some of their needs outside of the relationship through friends, family, and community," Silverstein says.

The same goes for the flip side, if your partner relies on you to meet every one of their needs. This is a sign of codependency and can ultimately put a lot of strain on the relationship, especially if you find yourself neglecting your own needs in order to please your partner.

It isn't healthy for either partner to be in this position.

8. Do you feel like you have to be perfect or change yourself for your partner?

If you answered yes: Toxic red flag

If you answered no: Green flag

If you feel like you need to act or look a certain way in order to be "perfect" for your partner, this is toxic because you can lose yourself and stray from being who you truly are.

"If you feel like you cannot make mistakes or look anything less than perfect because it will hurt your relationship or disappoint your partner, this relationship is too stressful to be a safe and supportive dynamic," Klechevsky says.

This can occur due to direct criticism or less obvious passive-aggressive behavior. Either way, it's a sign that your partner doesn't love and accept you just the way you are — which shouldn't be the case in a healthy relationship.

9. Is jealousy taking over in your relationship?

If you answered yes: Toxic red flag

If you answered no: Green flag

Klechevsky says there's a common misconception that jealousy is a sign of caring about another person. However, jealousy can quickly turn toxic and unhealthy.

"It is easy to confuse jealousy and possession as positive expressions of love. The truth is that jealousy and possession are harmful and can even be dangerous. You can belong with someone and not belong to someone," Klechevsky says.

If you or your partner is feeling minor jealousy, it's healthy to bring it up and have an open, honest conversation about it — but jealousy can definitely get out of hand for some couples.

Klechevsky says unreasonable and immature expressions of jealousy include if your partner is threatened by your friendships, gets suspicious of your communication with others, or asks you to change your behaviors to accommodate their jealousy.

10. Does your partner ever act condescending towards you, call you names, or put you down?

If you answered yes: Toxic red flag

If you answered no: Green flag

The abusive tactic of making you feel small or putting you down is what couple's counselors refer to as contempt –– and Silverstein says this is one of the most toxic things that can happen in a relationship.

Warning signs of contempt include public shaming, mocking, and acting as if they are better than you, Silverstein says.

In some cases, the abuse may be more subtle and harder to spot, such as if your partner is acting condescending towards you, or it may be more obvious, with your partner calling you derogatory names.

Regardless, this behavior is unacceptable and certainly a sign of a toxic relationship.

Insider's takeaway

If you recognized your relationship in most or all of the toxic red flags, it's important to take action. When you let toxic behavior continue, there is often a vicious cycle that ensues — and it can be hard to break.

Remember that communication is key, and in a healthy relationship, you should be able to discuss any conflicts with your partner. If you and your partner are having trouble working through the toxic behavior, you may benefit from seeing a couples counselor.

If you believe you are the victim of abuse, consider letting a trusted loved one know what's going on for your safety, and seek help through a service such as The National Domestic Violence Hotline.