How to Stop Being a Toxic Girlfriend

How do you know if you’re a toxic girlfriend? These 12 signs will help you see the truth about yourself. Unfortunately, you have to rely on your own honest, ruthless self-awareness to know just how toxic you are! Other people aren’t always willing or able to tell if you’re negative or critical, much less how to stop being a toxic girlfriend in a relationship. You’ll find my 8 types of toxic girlfriends helpful, in addition to the signs of a toxic person.

First, the definition: Toxic people are openly negative, critical and judgment. They exude negative energy and “steal” positive energy from other people. A toxic girlfriend is unsupportive, unhealthy, or even abusive. A toxic girl will drain the life right out of you. In fact, toxic people get their energy from others instead of drawing from their own internal, positive, healthy life source. Some people call this an “energy vampire.”

The good news? You’re here, willing to learn how to stop being a toxic girlfriend! That says a lot of positive things about you.

These 10 signs of a toxic girlfriend will help you see yourself more clearly. I also included two reasons women hide behind toxicity and protect themselves in relationships. The 8 types of toxic girlfriends will give you a deeper understanding of how you act toward your boyfriend, and how to love him better. Finally, I offer a few suggestions that will help you learn how to stop being a toxic person.

Are you a toxic girl?

Admitting that you’re a toxic girlfriend isn’t easy. In fact, it takes a great deal of intelligence and courage to see your weaknesses and admit that you’ve hurt people. But take heart, for you are not alone. You’re like the women who commented on 11 Ways to Stop Being the “Clingy Girlfriend” in a Relationship. You recognize your flaws, and you want to change. That is amazing!

What is a Toxic Girlfriend?
How to Stop Being a Toxic Girlfriend

If someone like your boyfriend or your best friend has already told you that you’re toxic, swallow your pride. Apologize. Then – in a nonthreatening, humble and genuinely curious manner – ask why they think you’re a toxic girlfriend. What specific words and actions are life-draining or energy stealing? Listen. Your boyfriend or best friend can see and hear your words and actions. They can help you change into a more loving girlfriend and kind best friend.

10 Signs of a Toxic Girlfriend

These signs of toxic women will help you recognize if you’re the “energy vampire” in a relationship.

A toxic person is someone who:

  1. Belittles, criticizes, condemns, and judges her boyfriend and other people
  2. Makes underhanded and even outright nasty comments. She ridicules, mocks, and bullies people
  3. Is hostile and angry, even to her boyfriend and loved ones
  4. Uses passive-aggressive comments and behavior instead of direct communication
  5. Condemns and demeans the character and personality of her boyfriend and others, instead of sharing legitimate complaints and concerns
  6. Shuts down, storms away in anger, or gives her boyfriend the silent treatment
  7. Refuses to admit she’s wrong
  8. Is often negative and depressing to be with
  9. Is sometimes physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually abusive to her boyfriend
  10. Sometimes lies, cheats and/or steals

Girlfriend, those are the most obvious and extreme signs of a toxic woman! You probably aren’t that destructive and you almost certainly don’t commit every “sin” on that list. One of the most typical signs of toxic girlfriends is the fourth one. It’s incredibly common, which is why I wrote How Do You Deal With the Silent Treatment in Your Relationship?

8 Types of Toxic Girls

Maybe you’re a control freak; many people are. We all want to feel safe – but controlling people are often anxious and fearful. They’re scared of the unknown and thus do everything they can to control the environment and others. In a relationship, a toxic girlfriend will try to control her boyfriend’s friends, activities, and even his words and actions. This is insulting and draining to men, which is why toxic people are often called energy vampires. It’s exhausting to be around them.

8 most common types of toxic girls:

  1. The control freak
  2. The opportunistic user
  3. The meddler
  4. The arrogant know-it-all
  5. The “me, myself, and I” narcissist
  6. The instigator
  7. The emotional “refrigerator”
  8. The liar

A man will withdraw and avoid a toxic girlfriend because her negative energy is powerful and draining. If your boyfriend told you that your relationship is toxic – or even asked you to stop being a toxic girlfriend – then at least you know what you’re dealing with. That’s good, even if he’s withdrawing from you right now. You can work on your personal growth and even build a stronger, happier relationship with your boyfriend.

Unfortunately, relationships get confusing. So do people! If you suspect you are a toxic girlfriend but your boyfriend says you aren’t, there may be another reason you’re having relationship problems. Read 5 Ways to Respond When Your Boyfriend Stops Texting You.

Why are you a toxic person?

You weren’t born to be a toxic girlfriend. Something happened to you. Someone hurt you, betrayed you, abandoned or abused you. Maybe you were bullied by kids at school, or constantly criticized or insulted at home. Maybe you have an older sister who beat you up or a little brother who got all the attention from your parents.

Sometimes a toxic personality or the tendency to be an energy vampire is related to feelings of low self-worth, low self-esteem, and even self-loathing. Toxic women who hurt and criticize others often don’t feel good about themselves. They don’t feel loved. They feel inferior, so they criticize and demean others so they feel better about themselves.

Girlfriends who have a negative self-concept or low self-worth often have doubts and anxieties about how much others – like their boyfriends – care about them. This can drive girlfriends toward defensive, self-protective behavior. Toxic? You better believe it.

How Do You Stop Being a Toxic Girlfriend?

You might start by stopping yourself from making negative comments or criticizing your boyfriend. Notice when you’re being judgmental or demeaning. This can be difficult because you may not even realize how painful your words or actions are.

True change has to come from your heart. If you want to learn how to stop being a toxic girlfriend, take a journey within. This means starting an honest, painful process of self-discovery. How you do it depends on your past, personality, and depth of pain.

Start by answering this question: Which type of toxic person are you? One way to learn more about yourself is to talk to people who know you well. People you trust, who will tell you the truth and help you move forward. Try to determine if you’re coping with low self-esteem or a fear of rejection. Commit to working on your emotional health.

Remember how I said toxic people get their energy from others instead of drawing from their own positive, healthy source of life? The best way to stop being a toxic girlfriend is to seek a healthy relationship with God. If you build your sense of self-worth on your identity as a child of God and follower of Jesus, you won’t have to “try” to stop being negative or critical. You will have a source of love, peace and joy to draw on.

Having a healthy personal relationship with Christ won’t guarantee a perfect relationship or happy life, or course. But it will give you a joy and peace that you’ll never get from any other person, relationship, possession or experience.

What do you think? Your comments – big and little – are welcome below. If you want to learn more about coping with toxicity and energy vampires, read How to Handle a Toxic Work Environment


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3 thoughts on “How to Stop Being a Toxic Girlfriend”

  1. I’ve been in this relationship for 7 years. We have a 2 year old son. In the past he cheated on me (a lot). Now he’s faithful and I’m sooo over him. I keep telling myself if I had a job that could allow me to pay rent on my own then I would break it off. I also sit and think about everything I need him for. I don’t like for him to touch me and his presence annoys me. I just feel if my life was in a better place he wouldn’t even be in it. I NEED HELP!!!!!!!

  2. I’ve been reading some of your articles about toxic relationships. I’m focused on the introvert/ extrovert ones in particular. I found most of them quite helpful.

    My boyfriend of almost a year is very introverted, I am normally introverted but I have found in our relationship that I have come out as the more extroverted person. To be honest, he still seems more comfortable in groups than I do.

    While reading your articles as well as others and comments about the articles, I found that most of the “toxic girlfriends” that were criticized for being too chatty, or even rude.

    I often feel like I am infringing on my boyfriend’s space no matter how much I try to respect it. He says that there are many traits I have that he envies. But he also says our relationship is bordering on toxic. I don’t think he knows how thoughtful and wise I am, or appreciates me.

    How am I supposed to know if I’m a toxic girlfriend? I want to understand and want to respect my boyfriend even if he desires space and alone time to recharge. I guess you answered it in your blog post. If my boyfriend calls me toxic then I need to look at my behavior 🙁

    1. To:
      April 27, 2020 at 10:23 am
      “I’ve been reading some of your articles about toxic relationships…”

      Hey Tanya, I read your comment and my heart went out to you.

      I just wanted to add to the conversation, that just because someone calls you toxic, doesn’t necessarily mean that you ARE toxic. Sometimes people use that term to create self doubt in you, or as a way to shut you down so that they can “win” an argument or get their way on a sticking point in a relationship.

      That doesn’t mean you should just dismiss what someone is telling you, but I’m suggesting that you’ve got to look at the big picture context as well.

      The very fact that you’re willing to look inward and self-assess, makes it seem like you are less toxic than you fear. You obviously care a lot about your bf and you’ve read a lot of articles and given it deep thought which indicates that you’re sincere and caring and desire to grow. Again, those aren’t exactly toxic traits – they’re the opposite! They’re healthy traits that are needed for a fulfilling relationship.

      I’m not saying to ignore your bf’s comments. And self-reflection, asking yourself the hard questions, looking for where you need growth is ALWAYS a good thing.

      I’m just suggesting, don’t let one other person define you or blindly take their word as law. Maybe ask your closest friends and family if they observe toxic behaviors in you, really ask their advice on whether they see areas where you could grow a bit. Ask a few people you trust who you’ve known a long time, have those individual conversations with openness and let their feedback be a part of your discovery process as well.

      Also, if your bf calls you toxic, you could ask (in an open minded way) for more details about exactly WHAT is being said or done that feels toxic to him, why it feels that way, etc. As he explains his perspective it might bring you guys closer or be enlightening. Or it might reveal where he’s being unfair, IF he is. I don’t know him so I don’t know his intentions.

      Sometimes people call you bad names to subtly control a situation, maybe without even consciously realizing what they’re doing, so it’s important to look at the context and at more data points than just one moment in time or just ONE person’s word, in order to understand if you’re toxic or not.

      I had a bf tell me I was toxic, and it really sank into my heart and made me feel horrible about myself. He also called me other bad names (liar, cheater, profane words I won’t repeat, stupid, ugly, overthinker, over-sensitive…on and on).

      He called me bad names and accused me of many things that weren’t true, because HE was toxic, emotionally abusive and trying to control me. My situation was more extreme but I also know sometimes people do this on a milder scale. He would accuse me of doing whatever he himself was doing, he would project his behavior onto me (lying, cheating, manipulating, gaslighting, being selfish, not listening, needing to be right, being mean, not being loving, etc)…and for a while I thought I was losing my mind, because I was sincere in the relationship and I took his words at face value, and I just didn’t see how he could possibly think I didn’t love him, or how he didn’t feel heard, etc, when I was trying so hard to be good to him.

      Eventually I realized he was manipulating me, and that he was toxic to me, and I left, but it took a long time to get free of him because he stalked me for over a year after we broke up. It was awful, and it sent me into therapy to heal from all that had happened.

      Anyway. I guess I’m sharing from the perspective of someone who has had words like “toxic” used against her to silence her and create a prison of self-doubt. Don’t sink into feeling bad about yourself, don’t let someone condemn you as a bad person with their words.

      If someone calls you toxic, investigate. Ask family and friends, do soul searching. But NEVER let someone diminish you or silence you with a label. Everyone deserves to be heard and there are always healthy ways to express your feelings. If you’re trying to grow sincerely, then you’re a good person. Hang on to that and keep growing!

      Wishing you all the best Tanya!