What Is a Toxic Relationship? A toxic relationship is one that makes you feel unsupported, misunderstood, demeaned, or attacked. Signs of a Toxic Relationship. Toxic vs. Abusive Relationships. Sometimes, this behavior occurs without the person even realizing they're doing it. In addition, toxic relationships may be more subjective than abusive ones. Toxic vs. Healthy Behavior. Types of Toxic Relationships. When a partner is constantly cheating: If an intimate partner lies and cheats without even trying to change their behavior, it adds a toxic element to the relationship. Narcissists and sociopaths. Narcissists feel a need to one-up people and make them feel "less than" in a quest for superiority. But if their behavior is consistently making you feel bad about yourself, you'll need to distance yourself from this person, or at least accept that you need to be on your guard if the person has to be in your life. Family and Friends. Effects of Toxic Relationships. Toxic relationships may cause real damage to your self-esteem and your overall mental health and your physical health. Toxic Relationships and Mental Health. Coping With Toxic Relationships. If you find yourself in a toxic relationship where you bring out the worst in one another (or simply cannot bring out the best), work on the relationship and change the dynamic—particularly if there are other benefits to the relationship. How to Leave a Toxic Relationship. When dealing with any type of toxic relationship, it's important to focus on your health and well-being.