signs of an unhealthy relationship

4 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

How do you know if your relationship has become unhealthy? I often see couples stay in unhealthy relationships out of the fear of being alone. Others normalize their rocky romances; they convince themselves that their relationship, while tumultuous at times, is just like everyone else’s. No romance is perfect. All partners go through ups and downs together, but here are a few signs of an unhealthy relationship:

1. There is No Trust

Trust is difficult to earn and quite easy to lose. If your partner is checking your phone when you leave the room, or you find yourself becoming anxious if they come home late, there could be cause for concern. Trust can certainly be rebuilt, but it takes effort and honest communication from both partners.

2. Your Needs Are Not Being Heard

Communication is such an important part of any relationship. You should be able to express what you need. If your partner ignores your requests and makes no effort to satisfy your needs, that should be an indication of trouble.

3. Emotions Are Not Validated

Being able to express emotions to a partner is an essential part of any relationship. When we feel open about our feelings, a sense of intimacy can grow. Belittling a partner’s emotions is a surefire way to break the fragile bond of intimacy and cause mistrust. This process can also be known as “gas lighting”—in which a partner convinces their significant other that the emotions they are having are wrong or even crazy. Read 3 Skills for Validating Your Partner’s Feelings. 

4. Your Partner Wants to Change You

Wanting someone to become a better cook or like your favorite TV show is one thing, but demanding that your partner be a different person is another. When you enter a relationship imagining that you can transform your partner into an entirely different person, this inevitably causes tension, animosity, and fighting. At the core, your partner should love you and accept you for who you are.

If any of the items above resonate with you, your relationship could be stuck in a negative cycle. Unhealthy relationships can be repaired through open communication and support. If both partners are invested in developing a more secure bond—particularly by committing to the process of couple’s therapy—there is always hope.

What are some other signs of an unhealthy relationship that you see?

Ryan Jacobs - NYC Therapist

Ryan Jacobs - NYC Therapist

Psychotherapist at myTherapyNYC
Offers individual, couples, and group counseling in NYC. He facilitates the Gay Men's Therapy Group on Wednesday evenings. He specializes in LGBTQ, grief & loss, trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
Ryan Jacobs - NYC Therapist

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6 replies
  1. Zach
    Zach says:

    Fantastic post, Ryan! You nailed it. Trust, acceptance, validation, and listening are crucial components of any healthy relationship.

  2. Omar
    Omar says:

    Great post! I especially like the last one. I find the topic of trying to change your partner coming up A LOT in various conversations I’ve had with couples.

  3. Cate
    Cate says:

    Excellent points! I love the focus that these things can be addressed and repaired as long as both parties are willing to work on it.

  4. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    Great post! I also find Gottman’s “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” – a summary of negative styles of communication in an unhealthy relationship (criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling) – a useful frame of reference in this area.


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