How to Spot 10 Common Toxic Relationship Patterns You Might Think Are Normal

Added Date - Feb 25, 2024

Check your social media, and you’ll see posts that look like perfect relationships. But are these patterns as normal or desirable as they seem? Many societal norms have toxic habits ingrained that could quietly erode the foundation of intimacy in your life until it’s too late to make any changes.


Let’s shed some light on some toxic relationship patterns that you might think are normal.



Ignoring Your Gut


Love may be blind, but ignoring red flags and your gut instincts can be a dangerous beginning. Once you get into a relationship, you may find yourself dismissing some of your partner’s words and behaviors to keep the peace. Maintaining the status quo with this toxic relationship pattern may prolong the alliance, but it is unlikely to make things better. Don’t ignore your gut because it prevents you from prioritizing your well-being.


Overstepping Your Boundaries


Healthy boundaries are an essential element of a healthy relationship. If you feel your partner oversteps, overlooks, or dismisses your boundaries, this is a toxic behavior pattern. You may find they invade your personal space, disregard your privacy, or cross emotional boundaries, leading to feeling suffocated and ultimately resenting your partner.


Problems with Communication



Good communications make every interaction better. But how do you know if you have problems with communication in your relationship? Watch for unresolved issues that get worse over time or that keep popping up over and over again. Communication breakdowns lead to disconnection and resentment, but you may also find yourself fighting feelings of inadequacy when you can’t get your point across.



Keeping Score


Who did the dishes last time? Whose turn is it to take the dog for a walk? Competitive relationships that keep score of chores (or anything else) set up an unhealthy dynamic. Genuine care for your partner means doing what will make them happy (while they do the same for you), not counting who did what to try to keep an even score or “win” the relationship game.


Emotional Manipulation


Manipulation could be guilt-tripping, threatening you or playing the victim. Watch for any time they use emotional blackmail to get what they want. “If you loved me, you’d…” or “If you don’t do this, I’ll leave you.” are examples of emotional manipulation. They say these statements to make you feel obligated, guilty, or scared and to pressure you to comply with their demands. This creates a power imbalance, undermines trust and respect, and erodes your well-being, often leading to resentment, anger, depression, and emotional instability.




You’ve heard of gaslighting, but is it happening in your relationship? A gaslighter uses a specific type of emotional manipulation that makes you doubt your own feelings, thoughts, memories, and, ultimately, reality. This pattern erodes your self-esteem quickly as it is designed to foster dependence on your partner to get their approval and validation.


Not Taking Responsibility


You’ve had a disagreement. You take ownership of your part in the situation, apologize, and develop a plan to not hurt your partner again. Or you would, in a healthy relationship. But some people refuse to own their part of any problem. If they apologize when they’ve hurt you, they say things like, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Deflection, blame-shifting, and even outright denying their responsibility only make problems worse and quickly erode trust.





Partners work together to build a healthy relationship, relying on each other with mutual support and respect. This type of interdependence is healthy, but excessive dependency, or codependency, is not. Your partner cannot be your primary source of happiness, validation, or basic self-worth because it puts far too much pressure on the relationship while stifling growth.


Lack of Flexibility and Refusal to Compromise


Every healthy relationship requires flexibility and compromise. When your partner digs in their heels and refuses to meet you halfway, the resulting power struggle undermines the stability and longevity of your relationship. If you find yourself being more inflexible than usual in your current relationship, it may be a reaction to your partner’s inability to compromise. This common pattern is often excused as an interaction between independent individuals. Still, it is not a normal part of healthy intimacy. 


Isolating from Others


In healthy relationships, many people focus primarily on their significant other. But they maintain a circle of friends, family, and colleagues for support and interactions. A toxic partner may feel jealous or fear that you will disclose details about them to others. So, they try to isolate you from your network to increase your dependence on them. It also makes it harder for you to get help if you need it.


Many toxic relationship patterns seem normal because they are so common. But just because problems come up often doesn’t mean they aren’t problems. The first step is to recognize these issues in your relationship. Then, work to address the toxic patterns while you shift your expectations to those of a healthier relationship. 

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