3 Less Obvious Types Of Toxic Relationships

How to spot an unhealthy relationship.

Last updated on Mar 28, 2024

Couple fighting junce, amazingmikael | Canva 

A toxic relationship can be a different experience for everyone. But, they all end with exhausted and hurt emotions. Sometimes, we end up dating toxic people and building the wrong kind of relationships — specifically, unhealthy and toxic relationships. Constantly being in these relationships leads to confusion and distress for couples looking for a serious love commitment and a lifetime partnership. Some couples fighting through a toxic relationship might even go to the length of salvaging whatever they can. 


And many types of bad relationships could be solved with just a little positivity and understanding. But, in reality, there are a few types of relationships where the best solution is separation. "Is my relationship healthy?" you may be wondering. And, to understand the effects and warning signs of a toxic and unhealthy relationship, you need a breakdown of the characteristics and behaviors that distinguish these dangerous relationships from good relationships. So, here are the signs of the 3 types of unhealthy and toxic relationships you need to get away from.

RELATED: 7 Subtle-But-Deadly Behaviors Of Toxic Men


Here are 3 less obvious types of toxic relationships you need to avoid, and how to spot the signs:

1. A dishonest relationship

  • Lying

Studies show that 60 percent of adults cannot carry out a short conversation without bending the truth a little. Consistent lying and dishonesty are emotionally destructive to both partners. There's no room for a liar in a responsible relationship. Couples need to be honest, communicative, and respectful of one another.



  • Keeping secrets

According to Divorcemag, about 1 in 5 people are keeping secrets relating to infidelity. Like lying, secrets can hurt the respect between two partners and undermine trust. It’s fine to have a little privacy about something in a relationship such as bank accounts. Your financial privacy can’t hurt someone emotionally. But, if you are seeing another person on the side, that can lead to issues.

  • Being defensive

Defensiveness is a reaction we get when there is a suspected threat or offense taken. Overly defensive behavior puts distance between a couple making it harder to communicate. It can also raise suspicion and it could be perceived as one hiding something from the other.

  • Pleading for trust

Trust is a key element to all relationships, and what dishonest relationships need. Lack of trust alienates people and it’s disrespectful to continuously show dishonesty towards somebody. If one has to constantly beg their partner or spouse to “promise” them honesty, or always expect the other to be dishonest, that shows a void of trust between close couples.

RELATED: Diagnosing A Dead-End Relationship Is Relatively Simple

2. An emotionless relationship

  • Emotionally unavailable


This is when one partner harbors emotions and leaves the other in the wind. Psychology Today says that giving your partner the cold shoulder makes them feel distanced, unimportant, rejected, and not a priority. It has the same effects as dishonesty. Unfortunately, people often don’t realize how emotionally unavailable their partner is until they are well into a relationship.



  • Disconnection

Related to harboring emotions, disconnection, and distance can lead to the same negative emotions of feeling rejected and insignificant. But, when both parties tend to drift away from one another, it is a major sign of emotional disinterest.

  • Dismissive behavior

This leaves a strong void between two partners when one is dismissing the other’s emotions and conscious thoughts. A dismissive partner only wants to show their surface.

  • Lack of concern

Both partners may still have feelings for one another, but there is no real investment in the relationship. There is no strong empathy, no more long-term goals, and no emotion for one another. Both have no real interest in each other.

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3. An abusive relationship

  • Manipulation

In healthy relationships, couples will get into occasional disagreements and arguments. In an abusive relationship, an abuser will use hostility, aggressiveness, and manipulation to control their partner into having it their way.

  • Threats

An abuser will use physical threats against their partner in turn with manipulation. Other kinds of threats an abuser will use are emotional, verbal, and psychological. Just because these threats don’t warn of physical harm, doesn’t mean they are to be taken lightly. Verbal harassment and emotional threats can be classified as a domestic violence misdemeanor.

  • Violence

According to Reach Out, Australia’s leading online mental health organization for young people and their parents, the level of physical abuse gradually increases throughout a relationship. An abuser will commit an act of violence against their victim and proceed to either blame the victim for causing a violent outburst, or the abuser will apologize and ask for forgiveness to make it hard for the victim to leave.

  • Possessiveness

An abuser will want their partner to always be with them, giving them no independence or freedom. A possessive abuser will frequently call their partner when they are away, use excessive surveillance, and keep them away from their own family.

Are these bad relationships repairable? Some may have the potential to be turned into a positive one. For example, an abusive relationship is solved with the victim leaving their abuser and never going back, but leaving can be very difficult for victims. A victim might already have a family, a house, and finances shared with their abusive spouse. It can be very dangerous for someone to escape an abusive relationship. (There are several resources such as domestic violence law experts and organizations such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline where trusted people help victims leave an abusive relationship safely and peacefully with protection.)


How about non-abusive relationships? Can they be fixed? It can be an emotionally draining and disenchanting experience when a once fruitful relationship starts to go sour. A relationship that is faced with complications or a lack of intimacy can have a chance to be fixed before it’s decided to cut ties. Accountability, commitment, and understanding are key factors partners need when trying to mend a broken relationship. Partners should discuss their feelings openly and listen to one another to address their state of emotions. Relationship counseling is also offered to couples who want to seek professional help from an expert.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse, you are not alone.

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong.

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

RELATED: 7 Tragic Reasons People Stay In Bad Relationships, According To Experts

Brian Beltz is the head writer at Divorce Help 360. He writes guides, offers advice, and explores trends and pitfalls for those affected by or interested in divorce.