25 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.

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

25 Songs About Toxic Relationships and Leaving Abusive Love Behind

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 living them, but knowing about her highly publicized relationship with Chris Brown makes these words that much more powerful.

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.

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.

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.

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.

6. "Jealous" by​ Beyoncé​

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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Kiarra Sylvester is a freelance writer who recently completed her graduate degrees at Widener University.