The 5 Subtle Differences Between True Love And Toxic Love

It's crucial that you don't confuse them.

couple sitting on couch Studio4dich / Shutterstock

Although you might think it'd be easy to identify a toxic relationship, that's not always the case. Sometimes, a behavior that might seem like love is actually not at all. This is what happens when you're in a toxic relationship and don't even know it.

So, how can you tell the difference between a bad relationship and true love?

RELATED: The Difference Between Being Protective And Toxic Jealousy In A Relationship


Luckily, we've put together the 5 major differences between true love and toxic love:

1. Support

In true love, the development of self is most important. Both parties should want the best for one another. If you're not working on yourself for yourself, you're letting the other person down. You have to love yourself before you love other people after all. 

In toxic love, the primary focus is on the relationship itself, sometimes obsessing over how the two people involved interface. So, neither party is improving one another, just scrutinizing the bigger picture. 

RELATED: 4 Types Of Toxic Relationships You Need To Avoid (& How To Spot The Signs)


2. Freedom

In true love, there is comfort in separate interests. We can have our own friends and meaningful relationships outside of our romantic relationships. We can pursue interests and ideas without fear of reprimand. You should be allowed to find interest in other places besides your partner. 

In toxic love, there is total involvement in one another's lives. One can't go anywhere without the other. This is codependency. Codependency slows down any individual progress and forces the couple to be with each other excessively. 

3. Individuality

In true love, there's no struggle in embracing the individuality of your partner. You know what you signed up for and there's no reason to change that person. 

In toxic love, there is an obsession with trying to change your partner into someone you'd rather be with, instead of loving them for who they are. Which means you will never match or live up to what the other person wants. 


RELATED: 9 Signs You're Definitely In A Soul-Sucking, Toxic Relationship

4. Intimacy and sex

In true love, intimacy is a free choice that grows from love and trust and caring and friendship. Intimacy isn't just about physicality but everything that happens before and after sex. 

In toxic love, sex is something you feel pressured over, due to fear, insecurity, and feeling as though you have to conform to the sexual desires of your partner. Being pressured to have sex should never happen. 

5. Communication

In true love, every conversation is constructive, trying to understand and help or convey affection to your partner. We all need healthy amounts of constructive criticism. 


In toxic love, conversations are intended to blame, defend, or manipulate your partner. Manipulation is the biggest flaw in a toxic relationship, no one is trying to improve themselves, just change the other person. 

RELATED: How To Leave A Toxic Relationship When You're Still In Love

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