These warning signs of a bad relationship will help you see your partner more clearly. It’s important to be honest with yourself, because the sooner you face reality, the sooner you can move forward. After the signs of bad relationships, I include a summary of some really cool new research that describes how to predict if a relationship will last.
Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can — and Should — Be Saved by Lundy Bancroft will help you see if your “bad relationship” is really as bad as you think it is. Below, I describes signs of bad relationships, but it’s good to go beyond these signs. Sometimes we need guidance from an expert.
Here’s one of the best signs of a good relationship, from Winnie the Pooh: Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.” ~ A.A. Milne.
In a good relationship, you feel sure of your partner without having to ask for reassurance. Do you feel secure, happy, fulfilled, and protected in your relationship? Maybe not – otherwise you wouldn’t be here, looking for signs of a bad relationship.
10 Signs of a Bad Relationship
I think the worst sign of all types of bad relationships is the first one: secrets. If you can’t talk about what your partner says and does to you, then it’s a bad relationship. Another big sign of an unhealthy relationship is if you feel unhappy, insecure, and unloved when you’re with your partner. If this is the case, then maybe you need to think about starting over after a bad relationship right now, and skip these signs!
You keep your partner’s actions and words a secret. If you can’t tell your family or friends about the things your boyfriend or husband says and does, then you may not be in a healthy loving relationship. If you lie to protect him, then it’s time to get out of that bad relationship. You’re not just with the wrong guy…you’re being the wrong type of woman.
Your partner wants you to change. If your boyfriend or husband doesn’t love you as you are, run for the hills! This is one of the most important signs of bad relationships: a man who doesn’t love or accept you as you are. Your boyfriend or husband should love you unconditionally, whether you’re rich or poor, big or small, or here or there. You know it’s time to get out when you can’t be yourself.
Your partner doesn’t trust you. Constant phone calls, demands on your time, and jealous fits are NOT signs of love! If your husband or boyfriend doesn’t trust you or accuses you of lying, then you need to re-evaluate your love. If he opens your mail or shows up at work unexpectedly, he doesn’t trust you. This is a sign of deep insecurity, which could lead to more serious relationship problems.
Your partner puts you down, in private or in front of others. If he calls you names, ridicules your thoughts or opinions, or makes you feel like a fool, then he’s no good for you! You’re better off to break up with him and start getting over your broken heart.
You don’t feel like an equal partner in your relationship. Does your husband or boyfriend make all the decisions – or do you? An unequal balance of power is a sign of a bad relationship, and a sign it’s time to get out. If you aren’t being treated equally, read When to Leave a Relationship.
You and your partner don’t have the same long or short-term goals. If you can’t agree on financial issues, family matters, or goals for your future, then you may want to think twice about your relationship. Nobody has the exact same plans for the future, but the happiest couples have the same focus.
Your boyfriend says he loves you, but doesn’t act like he loves you. Believe his nonverbal behavior (his actions) over his verbal behavior (talk is cheap!). Read 4 Ways to Tell If Your Husband is Lying About Cheating for help identifying verbal versus nonverbal behavior.
You feel bad, guilty, unhappy, depressed, or sad about your relationship. This tip is based on the quip from Piglet and Winnie the Pooh above. If you don’t feel secure, comfortable, and loved in your relationship, then you may be with the wrong guy. If you’re not happy, it’s a sign you’re in a bad relationship and you should think about leaving.
Your family and friends aren’t supportive of your relationship. I don’t think we should choose our boyfriends or husbands based on our family and friends’ opinions, but I do think we should take their opinions into consideration! If your family or friends have strong reservations about your partner, I encourage you to ask for specific reasons. Find out the root of their feelings, and try to be objective.
Are you staying in a bad relationship because you’re scared to be alone? Read 10 Ways to Move on After a Break Up.
You’re wondering about the warning signs of a bad relationship. The most important warning sign of love gone bad is your gut feeling! Why are you worrying about your relationship? Would you want your sister, best friend, or daughter to be in this relationship? To find the strength and courage to either fix or leave a bad relationship, you may need to talk to a marriage counselor.
If these signs of bad relationships are pointing you out the door, read How to End a Relationship. I wrote it for a reader who knows his relationship is bad, but fears being alone.
Research About the Signs of a Bad Relationship
What does your partner say or think about you? Here’s a way to tell a romantic relationship is going to fall apart: find out what people really think about their partners. The researchers in a new study used a so-called implicit task, which shows how people automatically respond to words. The sign of a bad relationship in this case is whether people link words with pleasant or unpleasant meanings when they’re referring to their partner.
A sign of a bad relationship isn’t just about feelings. Most research on good and bad relationships has focused on how the people in the relationship feel about each other. And this is usually done by the obvious route: asking them. “But the difficulty with that is, that assumes that they know themselves how happy they are, and that’s not always the case,” says Ronald D. Rogge, of the University of Rochester. “To make things worse, a lot of people don’t want to tell you if they’re starting to feel less happy in their relationship.”
The words you choose when you think about your partner are signs of how healthy your relationship is. The 222 volunteers in their study were all involved in a romantic relationship. Each volunteer supplied the partner’s first name and two other words that related to the partner, like a pet name or a distinctive characteristic. Then they watched a monitor as three types of words were presented one at a time – good words (like peace, vacation, or sharing), bad words (such as death, tragedy, and criticizing), and partner-related words (names or traits). There were two different kinds of tests: one where the volunteer was supposed to press the space bar whenever they saw either good words or partner-related words, and one where the combination was bad words and partner words. The idea is to get at people’s automatic reactions to the words – if they have generally good associations with their partners, they should be able to do the first task more easily than the second.
Bad relationships are linked to unpleasant word associations. The researchers found that volunteers who found it easy to associate their partner with bad things and difficult to associate the partner with good things were more likely to separate over the next year. The researchers also asked volunteers to report on the strength of their relationships at the start of the study – and found that the new test did a much better job of predicting breakup.
“It really is giving us a unique glimpse into how people were feeling about their partners – giving us information that they were unable or unwilling to report,” says Rogge. The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
If you’re tired of bad relationships, read How to Find True Love and Happiness.
What do you think of these signs of bad relationships? Comments welcome below.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.