7 Clues You’re in an Unhealthy Relationship


Broken heart

“You don’t let go of an unhealthy relationship because you stop caring about them. You let go because you finally start caring about you.” ~Charles Orlando

Most of us have experienced the pain of being in an unhealthy relationship.

It took me a long time to admit that I was in one. When I finally took off the rose-tinted glasses, I saw my relationship for what it was: an exhausting, lonely experience, with no real long-term benefits, that sucked the life out of me.

I recognized that the relationship was causing me to feel worse about myself, not better, resulting in low self-esteem and a lack of personal growth. I thought I needed this other person, but I learned that I needed myself much more.

Why do we stay in unhealthy relationships that have clearly run their course? Well, first, because it’s better the devil we know that the one we don’t, right? As creatures of habit, we find it difficult to break away from familiarity.

Low self-esteem is another contributing factor. We feel stuck because we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that we will never love again, or that nobody else will ever want us.

For so long I made excuses to stay, even though I knew it was over and wrong for me. I convinced myself that the relationship was normal, and that the dysfunction was just part of the journey of love. Eventually, I realized that it shouldn’t be that hard.

After I stepped away from the emotional chaos, I realized that I wasn’t being true to myself, doing what I enjoyed, or taking care of myself anymore. So I focused on developing and strengthening the relationship I had with myself.

Whereas before I’d neglected my well-being, I began prioritizing self-care.

I practiced meditation on a daily basis and used this as a therapeutic tool to calm my anxiety and help me learn to live in the moment.

I also made a list of a few simple words that represent my core values and boundaries. I then recognized that my relationship was not in alignment with any of those.

After deep reflection, this list turned into a gratitude journal. I’d write down everything I still had going for me, including my best qualities, to give myself strength when I felt weak and hope when I felt there was none.

As a result of making these positive choices for myself, my intuition became stronger and I knew it was time to let go and move on. If I’d ignored my intuition and the clues that my relationship was unhealthy, I’m convinced that the situation would have gotten much worse over time.

Don’t allow your unhealthy relationship to dictate your future like I did. Make a choice that your future self will thank you for.

Not sure if you’re in an unhealthy relationship? Here are seven clues.

1. Everything you do seems wrong.

No matter what you do, it doesn’t feel right, and the blame always falls on you. Your self-esteem has been knocked so low that you’ve started to believe every negative thing your partner says about you. You may also feel like everything you say and do is wrong. It’s always about them and what they want.

2. You can’t be yourself.

You find it hard to speak your mind or express your true self around your partner. You have to become someone you’re not in order to be accepted or loved by them, so you forget about who you really are and what makes you happy.

3. You always feel drained and exhausted.

You’re always trying, the one who puts in all the effort with no compromise. As a result, you’re left feeling exhausted and burnt out. They drain your energy, which leaves you feeling empty and alone inside.

4. You avoid the issues.

You prefer to keep the peace, so you avoid discussing the underlying issues in your relationship. You make excuses for them to protect the relationship. You pretend you’re okay when you’re not, telling yourself it’s normal. You are scared of seeing the relationship for what it really is, because it hurts.

5. You struggle with trust and dishonesty.

Your intuition and that little voice in your head always tell you not to trust them, because they’ve let you down and been dishonest before. The relationship is based on secrecy, and there is no open and honest communication going on.

6. There’s a lack of communication.

There isn’t enough or any open and honest communication, or perhaps the communication is hostile, leaving you feeling like you are always the one to blame. Perhaps you feel ashamed to communicate how you feel because you are scared of being ignored or rejected.

7. You feel resentment.

You are starting to feel angry or negative toward yourself or your relationship because you can’t let go of the past and everything they’ve put you through. It’s gotten to the stage where an apology just isn’t enough. Too much has happened. As a result, intimacy has stopped and you feel uncomfortable getting close to them.

If any of these things are true for you, know that it’s far better to be alone than in the wrong company.

Focus on strengthening the relationship you have with yourself by focusing on your good qualities, your strengths, and everything you still have to be thankful for.

Get to know yourself better by understanding your values and boundaries, and don’t be afraid to walk away from any relationship that is not in alignment with them. Remain true to yourself, and the right relationships will come in time—one that doesn’t hurt.

About Holly

Holly Inspires is a spiritual life coach & writer, she creates video blogs through her website and youtube channel to help you with personal development, motivation and self improvement. She also has a free Guided Meditation iPhone app. Visit it her at and on YouTube Facebook and Twitter.

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  • Dee

    I was able to connect to all the points., No matter how much you try to be positive and stay strong in a relation to keep it alive but still ended up being blamed for everything. Walking away is the best thing to do even though heart clinches to be with that person.

    Well said Holly.

  • Melayahm

    Welll, 6 out of 7. But another reason for staying is our daughter. I kind of have in mind that once she’s finished college and left home, then I can maybe have the courage to make a move. Don’t know it will happen or not, might be that I’m too financially dependant on my partner to ever leave. And in many ways, he’s my best friend. But so often I feel that I’d be happier if we didn’t live together.

  • Dee

    Very Insightful and rang true.
    If you find it to be true for you, change
    sooner than later since it will reappear again and again until you do!

  • Ima

    So much truth in this.
    Sometimes we let ourselves subscribe to the idea that if we avoid talking about the problem or we take all the blame or we keep all our feelings bottled in, somehow things would move along — but they won’t.
    They’d just keep piling up till we face them or they burst open in our face afterwards.

  • Kristen

    Such an important piece! Holly, thanks for putting to words what so many have experienced and felt, as well as for providing insight and tools to do what is right.

  • I felt a LOT of resentment in my last relationship! I’m so glad that I had the courage to step out and get the divorce. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life!

  • Sam Archer

    Who would you rather be to your daughter? Surely you want to show her the best you you can be? Is the best you the one who stays and is unhappy? Do you want her to learn that you should change who you are to suit someone else even though it makes you miserable or do you want her to learn how to listen to herself and do what’s best for her. I don’t know your story so I can’t tell you what to do. I just know children always know when their parents are unhappy – and usually think it’s their fault.

  • lolo

    I know all of these things to be true and cannot agree more however, my question pertains to Mel’s comments. I’m in a unique situation where in, children and finances are a huge issue, not to mention health issues with myself and one of the children. In our case I’ve surmounted so much, it’s all I do. Filed many times but it comes down to the fact that this situation calls for two people ( if not a third) to parent and I am not at ” full health” as the video games say. It’s awful and I am ashamed of my health and the situation I have made for myself. Both choices are too expensive, one to my soul, the other to our finances. Anyone have any input. I feel like I’ve knocks on and tapped every resource I can find over the last three years.

  • Jack

    I spent eight months in a toxic relationship, fearing the loss of the person you percieve to support you & be your rock. It wasnt until I officially hit rock bottom that it became clear to me what needed to be done. Its tough to consider change & even tougher implementing it but pull in everyone who actually supports you. Friends & Family. Together you support each other through the change, then slowly your start to accept it & support yourself. When one door closes, another opens, just perceiver with positive actions as these increase your positive thoughts.

  • Casangiu Adriana

    Thinks will alwais come to keep us in a place that we dont belong, the problems is that we concentrate too much on them instead of searching for the ones that can get us where we feel truly good. Financial problems are a result of low self esteem that comes from unhealthy relations. And as wird as it may seem iven healt problems apear from the same reason- to tell us that we dont belong there, that we dont receive what we need, and this affects the kids too. I think you should engage with more trust intro respecting your true self. I am not saying to leave from the relation, cose this is not a solution in fact, but what i say is that if you stay in the relation and suffer this will only make your problems bigger. The solution is personal development- you like many people need to realize that you have some aspects to work to and that those aspects that you miss make you engage in toxic relations and support thinks that are not good to you. Once again i say- the solution is not leaving from the relation but developing yourself- and that unhealthy relation is the best place to look for the thinks that you miss and that make you stay in the relation and endure thinks that are not good for you, because of other thinks that you try to get from the relationship. When your work with self will be done then mabe the relation will be better or mabe it will end because you will feel and be able to engage in a healty relation. But i underline- just staying in a relation that feels bad is wrong no mather the reasons- staying in relation and learning, working with self that is to be done, so that you can understand why you truly dont want to leave, what you are truly afraid, because health and money are only in surface but there are other reasons inside like low self esteem and bad subconscient ideas, iven genetic traces that make you not able to engage in working to be souccesfull, healty and happy and achieving them all. It is normal to feel like all resources are gone, because you are not infact engaged in gaining money and also not in feeling happy and beeing healty, you are just “hitting the wall” and waiting to fall, but the only think you get is getting hurt, and i repeat- this also affects the kids. You are like in a room, not locked but not able to leave and still needing to leave, so what you only do is hitting the wall- that will not get to good- you have to understand why you are there, why you are not able to leave and work with self to become able to go anywhere you fell like- for this the first and essencial step is beleiving it no mather what, but also essencial is the second step, getting to work by rising your head from the box instead og hiding there iven if you know deep down is not in fact truly safe and good there- and the next steps are going and going, learning from mistakes step by step and not getting scared and hopeless from them. Good does not get us in places that we dont belong, but it lets us go to places where we feel bad so that we can learn how to find happiness, and we have to believe that we can all find it cose it is there for us all along.

  • Fiona McClynda Justine

    I have to say this is one hell of an article that I can totally relate. Every words resonated with the current situation I’m in and the reason why I am reading this type of article is because I am trying to find the courage to leave. I have been trying and various attempts have miserably failed either by him or my self-sabotaging thoughts.
    Wish me all the best.

  • Olga King

    That’s how my previous marriage of 18 years felt. 9 years ago I finally began carrying about who I am, not who I am needed to be viewed as.

  • Christina Landmark

    I’m not in an unhealthy relationship for sure 🙂

  • June

    I have got my partner to move out a quite considerable cost to me but I can’t seem to let go. I still see him but I know long term it can’t continue. He manipulates me and I’m drinking at home alone to stave of the tears!
    No one understands, including me sometimes,the hold he has and I let him :0(