We interact with different people every day – our parents, children, spouse, coworkers, significant other, boss, etc.  How those interactions play out severely affect how you see yourself, your career, your parenting style, your relationship, and just life in general.

We all can agree that a good relationship must be based on trust, healthy communication, respect, honesty, and setting boundaries for ourselves and others.  Building and maintaining those aspects of relationships requires effort, time, and commitment.  You must value that relationship. What happens when that foundation begins to break or was never built in the first place?

An unhealthy or toxic relationship creates bad energy between yourself and the other person.  Usually, toxic relationships have clear signs from almost the beginning. What are 7 signs that reveal bad energy in your relationship?

What is a toxic relationship?

Lillian Glass, a psychology expert who claims to have initiated the term “toxic relationships” in her book Toxic People, defines toxic relationships as “any relationship [between people who] don’t support each other, where there’s conflict and one seeks to undermine the other, where there’s competition, where there’s disrespect and a lack of cohesiveness.”  It is important to note here that she differentiates toxic and abusive relationships.  She clarifies that an abusive relationship is one where one person is exerting control over the other through physical abuse, psychological tactics, verbal abuse or some combination of each.

Bad energy (or toxic energy) in a relationship equates to negativity. People learn negative thinking and behavior through various circumstances: their childhood, a mental illness, traumatic experiences, or a fear-based mentality. According to Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D., author of Dealing With Negative People, a fear of disrespect, the fear of being unlovable, and the fear that the world is a dangerous place can create negative energy in relationships. Fear and love cannot coexist in a healthy relationship.

Now that you know a little about toxic relationships, we’ll go over some signs of bad energy in your romantic life.

7 signs of bad energy in your relationship

1. You argue all the time

As stated above, healthy communication is one of the building blocks for a foundation of a good relationship. Being unable to agree or compromise and always reverting to an argument means that you don’t know how to communicate effectively with each other.  People disagree all of the time, but eventually, most people come to a compromise. Constant arguing points to a problem in how the information is being relayed or understood. This is especially true if the arguing includes disrespect, insults, and failure to reach a mutual agreement.

2. Constant complaints about each other

Needing to occasionally vent to a friend about relationship problems is normal. After all, some situations arise in relationships where an outside party could provide helpful advice. It usually aids us in burning off stress and helping to understand the other side.  The negative loop becomes obvious if you or your partner is chronically complaining, never seeing the other perspective, or stressing about trivial matters.

3. No longer sharing about each other’s day

Sharing with people about your life is a natural way people connect with others.  Whether it is updates on performance at work or school, funny or frustrating things that happened, or a passing joke, these are all ways to connect with one another.  If you and your partner find you know nothing about each other’s day, then you are no longer investing in each other.

4. You don’t feel happy and/or comfortable around your partner

Why do we have relationships?  Basically, we have an inherent need to feel emotionally close to someone. We choose the relationships in our lives because the person makes us feel happy, important, and comfortable in our own skin.  Feelings of nervousness, defensiveness, or tension around each other demonstrate a lack of happiness and comfort in the relationship.

If you choose someone out of loneliness or desperation, for example, you might start having negative feelings around them due to a forced connection.

5. You manipulate each other’s emotions

Passive-aggressive behavior consists of behavior that is punitive in nature while not stating the cause. This may include purposely going out of the way to avoid someone, giving them the silent treatment, withholding affection, or making them jealous or guilty.  This behavior is extremely damaging, as it causes the other person to feel that they have to bend over backwards to tend to the other person. They are being punished, yet they don’t know what they did and therefore don’t know how to correct the behavior.

6. Lack of affection or intimacy

Physical intimacy is crucial to the emotional wellbeing of all people.  Giving hugs and kisses, putting your arms around their shoulders or waist, offering small touches on the arms, legs or back, and initiating sex are all forms of affection and intimacy with a person.  It demonstrates a closeness and a connection to that individual.  No longer desiring to relay that affection demonstrates a rift in most relationships.

7. No longer offering compliments or positive statements

Part of wanting to make someone happy or encourage positive behavior includes complimenting them.  It is a sign of appreciation for what they did or the care they took in something.  This includes complimenting each other for a raise at work, a job promotion, a new haircut, a well-made dinner, and other daily accomplishments.  If you no longer notice these things or are purposely not sharing these positive comments, then negativity is brewing under the surface. Thus, the other person is going to feel uncared for and unappreciated.

How to handle bad energy in your relationship

Recognizing bad energy in your relationship can create a wealth of emotions including guilt, anger, helplessness, or feeling trapped.  Usually, by the time you’ve recognized it, you have been an unwilling accomplice in the relationship’s demise.  Does this mean the relationship is irreparable?  No, but it will take time, energy, and patience to heal it.

1.      Self-Care

Usually, by the time one recognizes the bad energy in a relationship, some damage has been done to their self-esteem.  This lack of self-esteem also drains energy and morale.  Begin to take time to care for yourself through exercise, appearance, meditation, affirmations, a spa day, or a short vacation to refuel yourself.

2.      Therapy

Going to individual, marriage, or family therapy can help everyone voice their feelings with a therapist present to mediate and put things in perspective for both parties.  Oftentimes, emotions are so raw and high that being able to speak to each other without reverting to the negative habits is impossible.  After all, your relationship is now defined by this negativity and dynamics have been in play allowing it to function.

3.      Be more positive

You can’t change the other person, but you can change yourself.  Consequently, by changing yourself, their reactions to you will change.  The best way to combat negativity is through positivity.  Build your own positivity by writing affirmations for yourself, making a list of “gratitudes”, meditating, and listening to positive videos or podcast.  Give the other person compliments and make sure to reward them for improvements or positive things they do, no matter how small.

bad energy

4.      Be Compassionate and Listen

There are many reasons why a person may be negative.  Often, it is due to fear – fear of not being enough, fear of abandonment, and the fear of being unlovable are just a few.  When someone is being negative with you, ask them to explain.  Don’t argue with them – just listen and show compassion.  Show them that you are safe to talk to and that you care about them. This will open up a dialogue where you can both be open and honest without judgment.

5.      Don’t blame the other party

It is so easy to blame the other person for why the relationship no longer works, why you are unhappy and why everything is negative.  However, remember that a relationship takes two people in order to work. Try not to blame them for how the relationship turned out, but make sure to voice your concerns and feelings in a healthy way.

6.      Take responsibility for your part

There’s an expression, “It takes two to argue.”  It takes two to build a relationship with bad energy as well.  Look at yourself and how you contributed to the negativity. If you chose to combat negativity with your own negativity, that is on you. That is a tough lesson to learn and one many do not like to accept.  It is part of taking responsibility for yourself and your role in the relationship.

We all deserve a loving, healthy relationship.  Recognizing and changing the bad energy in a relationship is not easy; in fact, it’s much easier to just walk away. However, remember that bad energy can be transformed to positivity. You and your significant other can grow and learn from the negative experiences together to build a stronger relationship.