Signs You're in a Toxic Relationship

David Marvin & Laura Eldredge | 06.29.20

Chances are, if you’re reading this you’ve got a sinking feeling that something could be off. Or maybe you just want confirmation you’re headed in the right direction with your SO. Either way, we’re glad you’re here.

Next to your decision to follow Jesus, the most important decision of your life is going to be who you marry.

This blog can’t replace the value of having other Christians speak up about your relationship, but here are a few telltale signs it’s time for a change in your relationship status.

1. When looks outshine character (Proverbs 31:30, 1 Samuel 16:7)
Looks fade. Believe it or not, your BAE is not the exception to the law of gravity. Even those of you who age like a fine red wine have bodies that will change–hair, abs, curves and skin…If you’ve got someone who is really hot but bends the truth, stirs up drama, hides things, or leans to the selfish side, you should start looking for a new boo.

Ask yourself, “what attracted me to this person?” If you can’t honestly answer things like, “I clearly see God at work in his life,” or, “her integrity is like none I’ve ever seen,” it’s time to reconsider.

The purpose of dating is to find a spouse suitable for marriage. Choosing what looks good in the moment over the long game is toxic.

2. When other people aren’t celebrating your relationship (Song of Solomon 1:4)
Here’s what’s scary: some of you have people in your life raising a red flag about your relationship, and you’ll never hear them. It’s understandable. You want what you want, and why should anyone else get in the way of that?

We could think of a ton of reasons, but we’ll give you one: because they care.

Good friends are friends who tell the truth (Proverbs 27:6). If your Christian friends are saying there’s something wrong, you should probably listen. If no one sees the ins and outs of your relationship, that’s also a problem.

If you have believers in your life, ask them these two questions (Proverbs 15:22):
• Does anything you see give you pause about us moving forward, honestly? About him, her, or this relationship?
• Do you think that we are good together?

Pro-tip: stop being the friend who celebrates a relationship you don’t think is healthy. Don’t like the IG pics, comment on how cute they are together, and go to the engagement party if you don’t think the relationship honors God or is best for them. Be the friend who tells the truth.

3. When one of you is not okay being single (Philippians 4:19)
The serial dater. We’ve all known that person, and LBH, a lot of us at The Porch have been that person. The one who jumps from relationship to relationship and just can’t be alone.

If that’s you or your SO, take a step back and ask yourself why. Uncover the reason you always need to be in a relationship, and start to bring those to God and to your community.

Unhealthy dependence on people, or being the person who needs to be depended upon is called codependency. And it’s sin.

Our generation will do anything to “feel okay,” but wounds left untreated don’t heal. Do your future self (and probably your future spouse) a favor and get healthy. Learn to be okay on your own. Deepen your relationship with Jesus and start forming healthy friendships.

Stop numbing and start healing.

4. When there is lack of clarity in the relationship (1 Corinthians 14:33)
Leaders remove confusion. Girls, you’re looking for someone who will lead you and the relationship. Men, you’re looking for a girl who doesn’t play games.

The emotional roller coaster of wondering, “will they text back?” is exhilarating…but it gets old. If you have to play games to get them now, you’re going to have to play games to keep them interested later. And trust us, you don’t want that in marriage.

If you’re not sure “what this is,” after enough time has passed, you need to have a DTR.
If one of you is still unsure, it might be time to pick up your dignity and take a step back.

Pro-tip: even if it hurts, it’s better to say, “I’m not interested enough to commit to you,” rather than continuing on in ambiguity. Care about the other person enough to be honest. Let that person date someone else if you’re not going to move the ball forward.

5. When you’re compromising sexually (1 Corinthians 6:18)
Sex is from God. Sex is good. Sex is a gift to be enjoyed. But sex outside of marriage is dangerous physically, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually.

If you’re compromising sexually, you’re not dating God’s way. You’re basically saying, “I don’t care what God says. I do what I want.”

Sex is a powerful tool, created by God to glue man and woman together. The Bible even says that it’s intoxicating, like getting drunk (Proverbs 7:18).

Don’t date drunk. It’s going to keep you in a relationship longer than you should be.

6. When you’re not “equally yoked” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
We don’t mean yoked like Chris Hemsworth as Thor, yoked.

In Bible times, oxen were attached to one another with a "yoke" to pull things. The Bible uses imagery here to illustrate the point. If oxen were unequally yoked, it meant one was able to pull much faster, farther, and stronger than the other–essentially that one was weaker than the other. Or it meant they were pulling in completely different directions.

The apostle Paul says most clearly in terms of dating and marriage, if you are a Christian, you should not be partnered together with someone who is not on the same page spiritually.

If you are dating someone who isn’t following God, or even someone who is “open to it” or “figuring things out,” you are setting yourself and your partner up for heartbreak and failure. If you don't have the same trajectory of faith, you are headed in two different directions, which will guarantee at least one of the following 3 things in marriage:

You will cap your intimacy with Christ. You’ll constantly be prioritizing someone who isn’t prioritizing God. The result? Loneliness.

You will cap your intimacy with your spouse. You’ll be living out godly things that they’ll never understand (1 Corinthians 2:14). The result? More loneliness.

The relationship won’t last. On this side of marriage, that’s a good thing (even though we know it’s painful). You may see marriage as a covenant relationship, but someone who doesn’t first have a covenant with God likely won’t.

Pro-tip: not everyone who claims Christianity is a true Christian. Look at their friends. Observe their character. Ask intentional questions. And pray for wisdom in your dating life.

7. When there’s abuse (Genesis 1:27)
Whether it’s emotional or physical, abuse is not okay. People who have suffered abuse often struggle with feelings of guilt or shame and may feel that they have no other option than to stay in the relationship. If abuse is a current or past part of your relationship, please share with someone and find your closest Re:gen recovery ministry.

You have infinite worth in God’s eyes, and you are not responsible for the abuse done to you.
There is no person who can love you more than the God who created you, and no relationship that can satisfy you the way God can (Psalm 84:11). We know that it’s hard to make big decisions. But we promise, surrendering your life and relationship to Jesus is worth it.

If you’re reading this and realizing that you may be in a toxic relationship, we're praying for you. Please feel free to reach out at theporch.live/connect.

For more, see our message Red Flags in Romance, Exit Signs in Dating, podcast, and other blogs on our website.

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