A toxic relationship is a relationship that’s harmful, draining, or in some way negatively impacting the well-being of one or both partners. There are many different kinds of behaviors that are unhealthy—aka toxic—in romantic partnerships, ranging from one-sidedness or codependency to manipulation and full-on abuse. (Here’s our full guide to toxic relationships.)
A relationship doesn’t necessarily need to involve “bad” people for it to become toxic. It’s more about whether the dynamic between the two partners allows both individuals to feel individually happy, nourished, empowered, and whole—consistently, in both the good times and the bad times.
Generally speaking, a relationship that involves constant fighting, power imbalance, fear, or mistrust is likely toxic because of the way these dynamics can harm one or both people’s well-being and create instability in the relationship that isn’t sustainable long-term.
Additionally, there is no room for aggression, threats, attacks, or controlling behavior in a healthy relationship—and if these dynamics are at play in a relationship, it may no longer be safe to stay in at all.