We’ve tapped a ton of mental health experts who have provided a list of not-so-obvious signs that you may be in a toxic relationship—whether with a romantic partner or coworker or friend or whatever else. But don’t worry, we also have some tips and advice for WTF to do when you realize this list is a lil too familiar.
1. Your partner gaslights you by either telling you how you feel or disvalues your feelings when you share them, says Piper. (Aka, if anyone has ever said the words “you’re being so sensitive right now” after you expressed an issue with them.)
2. Your partner blames you for a problem they caused. This is called scapegoating, and it happens “when an individual will displace their problems onto someone, leaving them to feel guilt and shame when they were not the source of the problem,” says Lori Nixon Bethea, PhD, owner of Intentional Hearts Counseling Services. (Like, has your significant other ever blamed you for the fact that they cheated?)
3. They isolate you from friends, family, or plans. “Many times in toxic relationships, the toxic individual will seek to isolate you in order to gain control over you or feel that they have control over you,” says licensed therapist Oddesty K. Langham. A prime example: Maybe you tell your partner that you have plans Thursday night, but they say “Ah, no, I was going to surprise you with a special dinner that night” and this happens over, and over, and over again to the point of seeming intentional.
4. They are notorious for playing the victim card. “If every time you tell your significant other how you feel about something, they find a way to make it about them or somehow become the victim despite you bringing awareness to your feelings,” says Langham. “It is impossible to create balance in a relationship with a person who is only concerned with their own feelings.”
5. You are experiencing more stress, anxiety or excessive worry—or maybe evena weakened immune system. “Toxic relationships tend to make us go into fight or flight response, which in turn causes our bodies to work overload which can lead to health issues,” says Langham. That explains the headaches.
6. You have nightmares. JSYK, Sigmund Freud was definitely onto something because your inner psyche is smart as hell. It’s possible nightmares frequently involving your significant other could be a major signal that something not-okay is going on, says blogger Candice McCoy, who has a background in psychology. It could be the body’s way of letting you in on something you’re not seeing yourself.
7. You hide things that have happened from your friends or family. If you’ve ever told a story about your significant other to someone else, and purposefully left out a key detail in hopes of making them look better than they are—hi, yes, guilty—this could be a maje problem. Psychiatrist Ndidi Onyejiaka, MD, confirms that it could be a sign of a toxic relationship if “things are done or said to you which you are too ashamed to tell anyone about.”
8. You make excuses for their crappy behavior. Oh, they haven’t texted you all day despite being active on social media? They’re just busy. Oh, they forgot your birthday? Understandable. Oh, they yelled at you and called you names? They had a rough day at work. If this sounds familiar, it’s not a super great sign, says Onyejiaka.
9. They are controlling. Umm, yeah, if someone is telling you what is and isn’t okay to 1) wear, 2) post on social media, or 3) eat, that’s a no from me. “That’s a sign of a toxic relationship,” says Sandeep Kumar Aggarwal, CEO of Skaology.
10. You would never date any of their friends. No, not saying you should actually casually hookup with one of their friends. But, “it is necessary that the people in your partner’s life are good, smart, thoughtful people,” says love coach Jocelyn Jackson-Williams. “If your new person is surrounded by friends who lack morals and common sense, your relationship will suffer at some point because of it.”