15 Characteristics Of An Unhealthy Relationship 

Have you ever felt unhappy in a relationship? 

Do you ever wonder what your life would be like without your partner? 

Do you feel that you would be happier without him/her?

Many people are unhappy in their relationship but do not understand why, despite the fact that they may have strong feelings for their partner. In this article, we will be exploring what are the different characteristics of an unhealthy relationship. 

List of Characteristics of An Unhealthy Relationship

The following are the 15 Characteristics of an Unhealthy Relationship:

  • Trust and Dishonesty
  • Infidelity
  • Manipulation
  • Hidden/Secretive Relationship
  • Clingy Nature (Possessiveness)
  • Abusive 
  • Lack of Boundaries
  • Vague Intentions
  • Dependency
  • Restrictions and Blackmailing
  • Communication Gap
  • Intimacy Issues 
  • Fear of Commitment
  • Bad Influence
  • Constant Criticism 

Now, let us review each one of these characteristics in detail:

Trust and Dishonesty 

Building trust in a relationship takes time and patience. That is usually achieved by being honest to one another. Couples that cannot trust one another are constantly suspicious of each other and end up fighting most of the time they are together.

If your partner is not completely honest with you then you may feel uncertain to completely trust him/her. A relationship built on suspicion is the number one sign of an unhealthy relationship.

Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Trust once broken in a relationship is extremely difficult to rebuild. The relationship becomes toxic if you or your partner are constantly having to explain yourself for every little thing.


If one partner has been unfaithful to the other in the relationship then it is very difficult to come back from such deceit. The bond shatters between them and it is a struggle to rebuild that bond. 

If your partner has cheated once, then he/she is most likely to do it again. This is a big red flag in any relationship and if not dealt with in the right way, it can lead to an extremely toxic environment for the couple. 

Flirty partners can cause their significant other lots of stress and anxiety. They will forever live in doubt about their partner’s loyalty and whether or not they are being honest with them. 


Relationships built on one person manipulating the other is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. One person constantly trying to control and mould the other’s opinions or feelings is very toxic behaviour. 

Most of the time, the person being manipulated does not even realize it. The art of manipulation is very subtle. You may not even realize how long your partner may be manipulating you. 

The partner being manipulated never gets their way as they are constantly being tricked or pushed to agree with the other. Eventually, such relationships can lead to resentments.

Hidden/Secretive Relationship

If your partner wants to keep your relationship a secret and not tell any of his/her friends or family members about it, then either he/she is embarrassed of you or is hiding something from you or someone else they care about.

If your partner only wants to stay indoors and avoid being seen in public together, then he/she definitely has something to hide. Being open and honest is crucial in every relationship. 

Making excuses or last minute cancellations of plans can also be a sign of something fishy happening. It is best to either walk away from such relationships or confront your partner about what’s really going on.

Clingy Nature

A partner who is very ‘clingy’ and constantly wants to spend all of his/her time with you is a sign of unhealthy behaviour. Clingy couples are unable to grow as individuals and become co-dependent. 

Your clingy partner may be extremely possessive about you and often get jealous too. They end up doing erratic and irrational things which stem from this jealousy. 

A person that is overly clingy may also become obsessed with their paramore. They are unable to stay apart and are self-destructive in their lives. These kinds of people are often insecure and have abandonment issues which are both difficult to deal with in a relationship. 


No relationship is perfect. Every couple fights. It is completely natural for couples to have fights but if you or your partner get abusive, the relationship can become very toxic. Physical, Emotional, Verbal or even Sexual abuse can lead to a very unhealthy relationship.

Any kind of abuse in a relationship can lead to long term damages to their partner. It induces stress and trauma to their partner. Abusive relationships are built on dominance and fear, which are extremely unhealthy for any couple.

As time passes, the victim feels trapped, scared and helpless, because of which he/she is unable to leave this kind of a relationship and suffers this trauma on a daily basis. 

Lack of Boundaries

When you fail to set certain boundaries with your partner, you are inviting them to take charge of your life and make decisions which may not be favourable to you. 

Partners that do not establish boundaries in the beginning of the relationship often struggle later on. If you are uncomfortable with certain things, you need to be assertive and let your partner know.

Couples lacking boundaries may also lack respect for one another. They do not respect each other’s space and are unsupportive of each other. This disrespectful and unsupportive behaviour forces the bond to become weaker and eventually break.

Vague Intentions

At a certain point in a relationship, you cross the honeymoon phase and that’s when the relationship begins to get deep and meaningful. However, if you or your partner seems aloof and vague about the direction of the relationship, then it’s a red flag. 

Without direction, the relationship cannot progress further and you get stuck in one place. One partner may have higher expectations from the relationship than the other. 

It is important for couples to sit down and discuss their plans for the future and how they can fit into each other’s plans so they can carry the relationship forward. 


When choosing a partner, people often check whether that person is dependable and whether they can rely on them for support during difficult times. 

While dependency in a relationship can be a good trait, over-dependent behaviour can turn the relationship into a toxic one. It is important to have an individual identity in a relationship and find a balance of dependency with your partner. 

Partners who spend all their time together can develop codependency and face difficulties living apart even for a short period of time. It is unhealthy to be completely dependent on your partner in a relationship. 

Restrictions and Blackmailing

Relationships involving emotional blackmail can be extremely toxic. At the same time, imposing restrictions on your partner and their need to ‘ask for permission’ is a sign of a very unhealthy relationship.

Individuals should not have to ask for their partner’s permission on where to go, who to go with and what to do or wear. This is very harmful behaviour which leads to a failed relationship. 

Trying to understand your partner’s perspective and needing to accept their demands whether you like it or not, are two different things. An unhealthy relationship spurs out of guilt, shame, insecurity and manipulation. 

Communication Gap

Lack of communication creates misunderstandings in a relationship. It is essential to be open and honest with your partner as much as possible. At the same time, it’s important to voice your concerns when you feel like you need to be heard.

While it is important to communicate with your partner, it is also important to communicate efficiently. Screaming, yelling or blaming your partner will only lead to bigger misunderstandings and greater conflicts. 

Communication gaps and awkward silences may leave your partner open to incorrect interpretations and assumptions. Ultimately, the longer the delay in resolving a conflict, the more the negativity in the relationship which makes it very unhealthy. 

Intimacy Issues

Lack or excess of intimacy in a relationship can cause the heat to die out early. Your partner may have intimacy issues which can pose a problem in the relationship especially when boundaries are not established. 

In a relationship, lack of intimacy can cause lack of interest or a poor emotional connection between partners. Emotional intimacy is based on trust, honesty and communication. If you fail to be open in your relationship, your connection with your partner grows weaker. 

Physical intimacy is equally essential in a relationship. Intimacy determines the intensity of the relationship. How deep a connection can you develop with your partner? The deeper the connection, the stronger and healthier the relationship.

Fear of Commitment

Inability to commit in your relationship leaves your partner filled with doubt and insecurity. People who have trouble committing to their partners often fear being abandoned. 

A fear of commitment often means that they are unable to devote themselves completely to one partner. They may want to keep their options open and cannot see themselves spending the rest of their lives with you. 

People with commitment issues often look for an escape in a relationship. They avoid talking about or making plans for the future with their partners. They are constantly in doubt whether there is something better out there. 

Bad Influence

Partners who encourage their significant others to pick up bad habits which may be harmful to them or others in the future, are extremely toxic and should be avoided at all cost. These kinds of relationships are highly unhealthy relationships.

If your partner is trying to force you to do things which you know are wrong or feel uncomfortable doing, you should immediately walk out of that relationship. For example, if you don’t like smoking but your partner is making you do it.

Such relationships are very lethal and even after these relationships end, their partner is still stuck with the bad habit and it may affect him/her in a worse way. 

Constant Criticism

For any healthy relationship, it is important to communicate with your partner in a constructive way. When people in relationships fail to do so, they tend to start criticising every little thing about their significant other. 

If you keep criticising your partner, you will eventually drive them away. They feel belittled when you constantly point out their mistakes or flaws. It is important to also compliment and appreciate your partner instead of always criticising them.

Consistently, putting your partner down reduces their self-esteem and confidence. They may also feel embarrassed and ashamed if you criticise them in front of friends or family. 


In this article, we looked at 15 different characteristics of an unhealthy relationship and discussed in detail about how they can be toxic or harmful to you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Characteristics of an Unhealthy Relationship

What are signs of an unhealthy relationship?

There are many different signs of an unhealthy relationship. Mentioned below are a few signs that you should look out for:

  • Unfaithfulness
  • Trust Issues
  • Lack of Space
  • Lack of Communication
  • Toxic Behaviour
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Different Priorities
  • Lack of security
  • Physical/emotional/verbal/sexual abuse

Apart from these, there are many other signs, like different levels of passion, suspicious behaviours, excuses to meet or cancellation in plans, and so on.

What are four signs of an unhealthy relationship?

Here’s how you know you’re in an unhealthy relationship:

  • You always feel unhappy when you’re with your partner.
  • You experience stress or anxiety at the thought of meeting your partner.
  • You feel unsafe around your partner.
  • You don’t like confiding in your partner.
  • You have too much of a communication gap.
  • You are constantly fighting with your partner.
  • You are never on the same page.

What are the 5 markers of unhealthy love?

You may be in an unhealthy love if: 

  • you’re the one always calling them or waiting for them to call. 
  • you keep breaking up and getting back together.
  • you or your partner is always saying nasty things but then quickly apologizing to make up for it.
  • you’re constantly accusing each other or criticising one another.
  • you feel like you can’t be honest and open with each other.




10 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

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