10 Songs That NAIL The Bittersweet Nightmare That Is Toxic Love

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woman sitting indian style
Love, Heartbreak

So good, it's bad. Wait ...

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

Then there are some still in them. You know who you are.

When you're in it, it just seems worth it to try to make it work — you know, for the sake of love and the good-ass sex.

And because our friends are often quick to criticize, in a well-meaning way it can feel like you're the only one in your corner when weathering the storm that is a toxic relationship — whether it be emotional or physical.  

That said, these 10 love songs will make you feel less alone and more understood when you just need a way to vent or don't feel like doing so with friends. Perhaps they'll leave you feeling better than when you began the playlist, but hopefully, you won't even need it.

1. Love On the Brain by Rihanna

Must be love on the brain
That’s got me feeling this way (feeling this way)
It beats me black and blue but it fucks 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

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 in knowing about her highly publicized relationship with Chris Brown makes these words that much more powerful.

2. Mad Love by Jojo 

'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
Jojo has always made good music, but she came back strong with her underrated album and song Mad Love that gets real about how a lot of the time we feel can't see that we can do so much better and settle for whatever it is that we get — despite how bad it is for us. The song paints the picture of insecurity and emotional baggage leaving room for sh*tty love.

3. Ex Factor by Lauryn Hill

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
See I know what we've got to do
You let go, and I'll let go too
'Cause no one's hurt me more than you
And no one ever will

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 no whenowherew to exit.

4. Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis
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
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. \
5. Something in the Way You Move by Ellie Goulding
It's the strangest feeling
Feeling this way for you
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
But tonight I'm gonna lose it all
Playing with fire.
And, hell, 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.
6. Jealous by Beyonce
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
Anytime you're growing this enraged with someone, it's time to end things. These lyrics describe a relationship that has been tarnished constantly issues that led to mistrust and sometimes there's just no coming back from that. 
7. The Pressure by Jhené Aiko

Up till 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
I'm starting to realize

The pressure I know you feel
The pressure just keep it real

The "pressure" describes the point of no return, where you've lost all your f*cks to give and you're sorta just staying with the person out of convenience. There's no fixing it, so you just begin to feel 'meh' about the love. 
8. Rock Bottom by Hailee Steinfeld 
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

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

9. Girl by Destiny's Child  
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 its 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 ya'll understand
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. Years and years after this song came out, it was rumored to be about group member Rowland, who had opened up about domestic abuse in a more recent song "Dirty Laundry." And, if you watch the video Rowland is the woman that the narrative is created around so there's probably some truth to it. 
10. The Heart Wants What It Wants by Selena Gomez

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

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 a known.