101 Songs That Nail The Bittersweet Nightmare Of Toxic Relationships

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sad woman listening to songs about toxic relationships

Many of us have encountered toxic relationships, and a few of us have had the misfortune of staying in one way past the relationship's expiration date.

Then there are some of us who are still in one. You know who you are. And you know, like we do, that you deserve better.

When you're in it, it just seems like it must be worth it to try making it work — you know, for the sake of love and all. And also because, for so many reasons, leaving a toxic relationship often feels too hard.

Because our friends and family are often quick to criticize, even if it's in a well-meaning way, it can feel like you're the only one in your corner when weathering that particular storm.

RELATED: 35 Best Songs About Complicated Love & Confusing Relationships

In those cases, finding good songs to listen to — songs that assure you that you aren't the only one who gets it — can make a hugely positive difference for the sake of your emotional well-being.

That said, these 101 songs about toxic relationships will make you feel less alone and more understood.

1. "Love On the Brain" by​ Rihanna

Rihanna is no stranger to singing about her toxic relationship woes, from her earlier singles (remember "Unfaithful"?) to her features on hits like "Love the Way You Lie" with Eminem.

Thankfully, she's no longer actually living them, but knowing about her highly publicized relationship with Chris Brown makes these words that much more powerful.

Must be love on the brain / That’s got me feeling this way (feeling this way)

It beats me black and blue but it f***s me so good / And I can’t get enough

Must be love on the brain, yeah / And it keeps cursing my name (cursing my name)

No matter what I do, I’m no good without you / And I can’t get enough

2. "Mad Love" by​ JoJo

JoJo has always made good music, but she came back strong with this underrated song. JoJo gets real about how a lot of the time we can't see that we can do so much better rather than settle for whatever we get, despite how bad it is for us.

The song paints the picture of insecurity and emotional baggage leaving room for toxic love.

'Cause you give me mad love / How far can we go? Nobody knows

You give me bad love / But I'll take what I get, I'm starvin' for it

Like I've never had love / You keep me insane, I'm not ashamed

Don't give a damn, love / I want you so bad

3. "Ex Factor" by​ Lauryn Hill

The longer you hold on to hope that things will get better and go back to how they were in the beginning, the worst things actually get.

Most of the time, he cleans his act up for just long enough to keep the relationship going. You know you're stuck on this ride but no longer know when or where to exit.

No matter how I think we grow / You always seem to let me know

It ain't workin', It ain't workin' (No, it ain't workin')

And when I try to walk away / You'd hurt yourself to make me stay

This is crazy, this is crazy (This is crazy, uh-huh!)

I keep letting you back in / How can I explain myself?

As painful as this thing has been / I just can't be with no one else

4. "Bleeding Love" by​ Leona Lewis

Being so in love that you can't see what everyone else sees is probably the worst feeling once it finally ends, but we all know that there's no telling someone in love about their love. Just no.

But I don't care what they say, I'm in love with you / They try to pull me away, but they don't know the truth

My heart's crippled by the vein that I keep on closing

You cut me open and I / Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love

5. "Something in the Way You Move" by​ Ellie Goulding

Sometimes we know we've got it bad as the relationship starts to leave you feeling worse than any actual breakup would. It's an agonizing feeling to have when you feel like your heart is breaking in slow motion, and often it ends up being a relief when you finally get the hell out.

There's something in the way you move / Something in the way you move

With you I'm never healing / It's heartache through and through

There's something in the way you move / I don't know what it is you do

Not one bone in your body good enough for me / But this heart is open, bloodstain on my sleeve

When our eyes meet, I can only see the end / But tonight I'm here, yours again

6. "Jealous" by​ Beyoncé​

Anytime you're this enraged with someone, it's time to end things. These lyrics describe a relationship that has been tarnished constantly by issues that led to mistrust, and sometimes there's no coming back from that.

I'm in my penthouse half-naked / I cooked this meal for you naked

So where the hell you at / Just one shot left of this drink, in this glass

Don't make me break it / I wish that you were me

So you could feel this feeling / I never broke one promise, and I know when you're not honest

Now you got me yelling, that's because I'm jealous

7. "The Pressure" by​ Jhené Aiko

The "pressure" mentioned in this song describes the point of no return, where you have nothing left to give and you're sort of just staying with the person out of convenience. There's no fixing it, so you just begin to feel detached from the love.

Up 'til the sun rises / There's no compromising

I know, I know, I know / You are such a liar

I never denied you / I was for sure

But it's really out of my control / The way you feel is not my problem

I don't wanna see you go / But I don't have time to solve this

And you don't have the right / After all you put me through

8. "Rock Bottom" by Hailee Steinfeld ft. DNCE

There's a certain high that comes with being in a toxic relationship and it keeps you wanting more... despite your better judgment.

Oh, we're on the right side of rock bottom / And I hope that we keep falling

We're on the good side of bad karma / 'Cause we keep on coming back for more

We're on the right side of rock bottom / Into you, I just keep crawling

You're the best kind of bad something / 'Cause we keep on coming back for more

9. "Girl" by​ Destiny's Child

This song holds a different narrative in that it's one woman making excuses for why she stays with her awful boyfriend despite his cheating and her spending her days sad — instead of talking directly to her lover.

After opening up about her own experience with domestic violence while promoting her solo single, "Dirty Laundry," Kelly Rowland admitted Beyoncé and Michelle​ Williams wrote this one for her.

See what y'all don't know about him / Is I can't let him go because he needs me

It ain't really him, it's stress from the job / And I ain't making it easy

I know you see him bugging most of the time / But I know he be tired, he don't mean it

It gets hard sometimes / But I need my man

I don't think y'all understand

10. "The Heart Wants What It Wants" by​ Selena Gomez

All those times you've sat at home waiting for a call, a sign, and reciprocated love — that's what this song is all about. There's nothing worse than feeling lonely in a relationship, and this song makes that crystal clear.

The bed's getting cold and you're not here / The future that we hold is so unclear

But I'm not alive until you call / And I'll bet the odds against it all

Save your advice 'cause I won't hear / You might be right but I don't care

There's a million reasons why I should give you up / But the heart wants what it wants

The heart wants what it wants

11. "Hostage" by Sia

There's nothing worse than being so entangled in toxic love that you convince yourself that you can't live without it. And even more unpleasant is hiding the relationship from your friends, because you know, deep down, it's not good for you.

It all begins with just one kiss / I'm held hostage by your love

Put me in cuffs, lock me up / I'm held hostage by your touch

This prison is rough but I can't get enough / The secret life of us keeps me in handcuffs

Don't lock me up, don't you wanna free us / I'm held hostage by your love

12. "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back" by Olivia Rodrigo

When a toxic relationship turns manipulative, you start to doubt your worth. And despite feeling this way, your partner will make you believe that they are the one for you.

You got me f***ed up in the head, boy / Never doubted myself so much

Like, am I pretty? Am I fun, boy?

I hate that I give you power over that kind of stuff / 'Cause it's always one step forward and three steps back

I'm the love of your life until I make you mad / It's always one step forward and three steps back

Do you love me, want me, hate me? Boy, I don't understand / No, I don't understand

13. "Use Me" by Bill Withers

The thing about toxic love is that it's so bewitching, you forget just how awful it is for you. In fact, you might even reassure yourself that it's completely fine to be in a one-sided relationship.

Ah-huh, sometimes / It's true you really do abuse me

Ah, you get me crowd of high class people / And then you act real rude to me

Ah-huh, but oh, baby, baby, baby, baby / When you love me I can't get enough

Ah-huh and I wanna spread the news / That it feels this good gettin' used

Oh, you just keep on usin' me / Until you use me up

Ah, until you use me up

14. "Poison" by Rita Ora

Just like a drug, a relationship that takes you to the highest of highs, but then the lowest of lows, is never a good thing. That's why toxic love is a poison that you can't quit.

I could have beer for breakfast / My sanity for lunch

Trying to get over how bad I want you so much / Innocence for dinner

Pour something in my cup / Anything and everything just to fill me up

But nothing ever gets me high like this / I pick my poison and it's you

Nothing could kill me like you do

15. "Pearl" by Katy Perry

When you're on top of the world shining bright, sometimes you find yourself in love with someone who tears that all down. And in an instant, you're no longer a "pearl," just a lackluster shell of yourself.

She could be a Statue of Liberty / She could be a Joan of Arc

But he's scared of the light that's inside of her / So he keeps her in the dark

Oh, she used to be a pearl, oh / Yeah, she used to rule the world, oh

Can't believe she's become a shell of herself / 'Cause she used to be a pearl

16. "Playing with Fire" by Thomas Rhett

Passion that burns like fire feels amazing at first, but when things turn ugly, the flames get out of control. And if you're not careful with your heart, you'll get burned.

I don't know, why I don't / Put it out baby

We kiss and the flames / Just get higher

But yeah I know / When I hold onto you baby

I'm all tangled up in barbed wire / I get burned, I don't learn

I'll be back, give it time / Yeah, I know it sounds crazy

But guess I like playing with fire

17. "Run Right Back" by The Black Keys

Just like an addiction, you can't help but return to the one thing that keeps hurting you. And hard as you may try to escape, there's no denying you'll run right back.

She holds it all under / That pretty head of hers, oh

It comes screaming out / In an electric shout

She's the worst thing / I've been addicted to

I run right back / Run right back to her

I won't jump the track / I'll run right back I'm sure

I'll run right back to her

18. "Need Me" by Eminem ft. Pink

When you love someone so much, you become blind to the reality that they don't have your best interests at heart. You might even think that without you, this toxic person in your life would be nothing, so you stay.

Some nights I wanna run for the hills / It's never easy with you

I cannot reason with you / But your smile as rare as it comes

What would I do without that?

Maybe that's why I come back / Oh, what I wouldn't do for you

19. "Walls Could Talk" by Halsey

A toxic relationship can turn you into an emotional mess, drinking your feelings away. But then, when there's a moment of elevation, you're quick to be manipulated, and only the walls in your home know the full story.

Been about two weeks since you went away / I'm about halfway through a Cabernet

There I go, I'm wastin' a Saturday / Sittin' at home

Told my new roommate not to let you in / But you're so damn good with a bobby pin

Now you gon' play me like a violin / Hittin' these notes

20. "Cuts Both Ways" by Gloria Estefan

Staying in an unhealthy relationship is not only a bad choice for your partner, but for you as well. Because when you're so codependent, it feels like the world will end if you aren't with one another.

It cuts both ways / Our love is like a knife that cuts both ways

It's driven deep into my heart each time / That I realize

How it cuts both ways / Can't be together, cannot live apart

We're heading straight into a broken heart / But I can't stop

21. "Toxic" by Kehlani

A master manipulator sometimes takes to physical affection to keep you wrapped around their finger. And when you're blinded by good sex and a physical connection, it's hard to see the truth.

And that damn Don Julio made me a fool for you / And now I might hit your phone up

With that ra-ra-ra, missin' my da-da-da / Missin' that a-a-a (ah, ah)

And all of this love is toxic / All of this love is toxic

All these kisses and hugs is knock s*** / You a damn drug, you're toxic

22. "Ultraviolence" by Lana del Rey

This song explains the close relationship between love and pain. What feels like love is actually physically and emotionally damaging, and the two can become intermingled in a toxic mess.

Ultraviolence / I can hear sirens, sirens

He hit me and it felt like a kiss / I can hear violins, violins

Give me all of that ultraviolence / He used to call me poison

Like I was poison ivy / I could've died right then

'Cause he was right beside me

23. "Take Me to Church" by Hozier

Sometimes, you consider your love so holy that you neglect to see the truth of the situation: this love is toxic! And it's so unhealthy that you're willing to worship the person who is making your life miserable.

The only Heaven I'll be sent to / Is when I'm alone with you

I was born sick, but I love it / Command me to be well

A-, Amen, Amen, Amen / Take me to church

I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies / I'll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife

Offer me that deathless death / Good God, let me give you my life

Take me to church

24. "It Won't Let Go" by Gloriana

Sometimes, being in a bad relationship means standing idly by while your partner cheats on you. And even though you know they've betrayed you and have seen it with your own eyes, you refuse to leave.

Sittin' on the floor on my bedroom cryin' / Tears like rain on roof top

Scars on my heart from the war I've been fightin' / And I pray like hell but the pain won't stop

And you know that the boy you love keeps lettin' you down / And the boy you love is killin' you right now

And the boy you love keeps runnin' around / You got two eyes but you see you

And it ain't blind but you don't leave

25. "Think About That" by Jessie J

A song about the pressures of the music industry and being torn down by the people who are supposed to support you, it's all about taking back your power from those who made you feel useless for so long.

Think about that / Think about that time when you blamed me

Think about that time I called you up and I said I needed saving / Think about that time when you said you cared

You were lying, tryin' to face me

Think about that time when I got sick and you made me go on stage / Think about that time when you used my fame to stack up on your paper

Think about that time you told my label lies, you said, "She's crazy" / Think about the fact they see it now

You're a shark, a cheat, a traitor (shark, a cheat, a traitor)

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Even More Songs About Toxic Relationships

26. "affection" by BETWEEN FRIENDS

27. "COFFIN" by Jessie Reyez (feat. Eminem)

28. "Die for You" by The Weeknd

29. "Him & I" by Halsey and G-Eazy

30. "Emotional Bruises" by Madison Beer

31. "Do Re Mi" by Blackbear

32. "7 Things" by Miley Cyrus

33. "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga

34. "Bad at Love" by Halsey

35. "Toxic" by Britney Spears

36. "Rehab" by Rihanna

37. "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi

38. "Love the Way You Lie" by Eminem (feat. Rihanna)

39. "I Knew You Were Trouble" by Taylor Swift

40. "Heartless" by Kanye West

41. "Ruin My Life" by Zara Larsson

42. "Addicted" by Dan Seals

43. "boyfriend" by Ariana Grande (feat. Social House)

44. "Love Bites" by Def Leppard

45. "Gangsta" by Kehlani

46. "I Hate Everything About You" by Three Days Grace

47. "I Hate Myself for Loving You" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

48. "i hate u, i love u" by Gnash (feat. Olivia O'Brien)

49. "Quit" by Cashmere Cat (feat. Ariana Grande)

50. "Back to You" by Louis Tomlinson (feat. Bebe Rexha)

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51. "Happier Than Ever" by Billie Eilish

52. "Hate That I Love You" by Rihanna (feat. Ne-Yo)

53. "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell

54. "Bad Things" by Machine Gun Kelly (feat. Camila Cabello)

55. "This Love" by Maroon 5

56. "Lose You to Love Me" by Selena Gomez

57. "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" by The Clash

58. "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus

59. "Put My Heart Down" by Sara Evans

60. "Nicotine" by Panic at the Disco

61. "FIGURES" by Jessie Reyez

62. "Pictures" by Lady A

63. "Loveless" by PVRIS

64. "Let Me Go" by Cassadee Pope

65. "Better Man" by Little Big Town

66. "Teeth" by 5 Seconds of Summer

67. "Your Love is My Drug" by Kesha

68. "Teacher's Pet" by Melanie Martinez

69. "Pretty When You Cry" by Lana Del Rey

70. "My Boy" by Billie Eilish

71. "Make Me (Cry)" by Noah Cyrus (feat. Labrinth)

72. "Same Old Love" by Selena Gomez

73. "Worst in Me" by Julia Michaels

74. "Mercy" by Shawn Mendes

75. "Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry

76. "Irresistible" by Fall Out Boy

77. "My Type" by The Chainsmokers (feat. Emily Warren)

78. "We Need a Resolution" by Aaliyah (feat. Timbaland)

79. "Hold Up" by Beyoncé

80. "if you hate me, say it" by Cassidi

81. "The Worst of You" by Noah Cyrus & PJ Harding

82. "Love is Pain" by FINNEAS

83. "All I Really Want" by Alanis Morissette

84. "Easier" by 5 Seconds of Summer

85. "Allergic" by Post Malone

86. "Gemini Feed" by Banks

87. "Games" by Demi Lovato

88. "I Fell in Love with the Devil" by Avril Lavigne

89. "Face Down" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

90. "Mood" by 24kgoldn

91. "Vicious Love" by New Found Glory (feat. Hayley Williams)

92. "Outta Time" by Bryson Tiller

93. "Better Love" by Foxes

94. "Fast as You Can" by Fiona Apple

95. "I Hate U" by SZA

96. "Playing with Fire" by Thomas Rhett

97. "Just Like a Pill" by Pink

98. "Monsters" by All Time Low

99. "Pretty Girl (The Way)" by Sugarcult

100. "Prisoner" by Miley Cyrus (feat. Dua Lipa)

101. "Misery" by The Word Alive

If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, there are resources available in your state, as well as the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233).

RELATED: 50 Songs About Forbidden Love & The Relatable Lyrics That Speak Right To Your Heart

Kiarra Sylvester is a freelance writer who recently completed her graduate degrees at Widener University. Visit her website for more of her work.