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Listen to Your Body: 9 Physical Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Listen to Your Body: Physical Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship

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Relationships, ideally a source of love and support, can sometimes turn nasty, leaving us struggling with emotional distress that can manifest physical warning signs of a toxic relationship.

Understanding the physical warning signs of being in a toxic relationship is crucial for recognizing when a connection has taken a toll on your well-being.

In this article, we will talk about nine physical symptoms that may indicate a toxic relationship, and on how our bodies can become the silent messengers in matters of the heart.

Physical Warning Signs I Experienced in My Toxic Relationship

I’ve been married for 30 years now. To say it’s been “rocky” is an understatement. Around 2015 or so, I started feeling a lot of weakness everywhere — as if my limbs were made of concrete. My job was very physical at the time, and life was difficult dealing with it. 

I kept thinking it was my lifestyle, so I stopped drinking and started eating healthier. Nothing helped. Every morning, I’d pour myself a bowl of cereal, take one bite, and be running to the bathroom. It was like an instant replay of the day before. 

In November 2016, I started getting flu like symptoms, and it burned like crazy every time I had to go #2. The pain got worse to the point where I felt like rocketing off the toilet seat every time I went. I started keeping a towel in the bathroom with me, so I could scream in to it when eliminating. I didn’t want my kids to hear it, but they heard anyway. 


I was finally able to get to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. As soon as I came to, he told me the news. “You have Crohn’s Disease.” Crohn’s is an autoimmune disorder of the digestive system, causing inflammation and pain. There is no cure for it.

While I can’t totally blame my relationship, I do think that played a big part of it. My dad had passed away earlier in 2016 and the grief I felt was unbearable. That seemed to be what really pushed things over the edge for my health. I think I was unknowingly a “carrier” of the disease for several years before that, but losing my dad made the worst symptoms finally come out.

The point I’m trying to make, is how our body “keeps the score” when things are going wrong in our lives and relationships.

9 Physical Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Here are some physical symptoms that may be telling you your relationship is toxic or things need to change in your life for the better.

Woman with headache

1. Persistent Fatigue:

Toxic relationships can be emotionally draining, leading to persistent fatigue. The constant stress, anxiety, and emotional turmoil can take a toll on your energy levels, leaving you feeling physically exhausted despite adequate rest.

2. Digestive Issues:

The gut-brain connection is well-established, and emotional stress from a toxic relationship can manifest as digestive issues. Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, or stomach cramps may become more prevalent in such situations.

3. Sleep Disturbances:

Unhealthy relationships can disrupt your sleep patterns, resulting in insomnia or irregular sleep cycles. Constant emotional tension or fear of confrontation may contribute to restless nights, impacting your overall health.

4. Changes in Appetite:

Emotional distress can affect your eating habits, leading to changes in appetite. Some individuals may experience emotional eating, seeking comfort in food, while others may lose interest in eating altogether.

Physical Warning Signs of a Toxic Relationship Infographic

5. Muscle Tension and Pain:

The stress and tension from a toxic relationship can manifest physically, leading to muscle tightness and pain. Chronic stress may contribute to conditions like tension headaches, neck pain, or even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

6. Weakened Immune System:

Prolonged exposure to stress hormones can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Individuals in toxic relationships may find themselves falling ill more frequently or experiencing a prolonged recovery period.

7. Skin Problems:

Emotional distress can manifest on the skin, leading to issues like acne, eczema, or psoriasis. The skin, being a sensitive organ, often reflects internal turmoil, and persistent skin problems may be indicative of an unhealthy relationship.

8. Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure:

Elevated stress levels in toxic relationships can contribute to increased heart rate and blood pressure. These physical responses are the body’s way of coping with heightened emotional stress, but when chronic, they can lead to cardiovascular issues.

9. Headaches and Migraines:

Emotional tension and unresolved issues in a toxic relationship can trigger frequent headaches or migraines. The persistent mental strain may contribute to the development or exacerbation of these painful conditions.

Recognizing the Signs: How Do I Know I’m in the Wrong Relationship?

Identifying when you are in the wrong relationship requires self-awareness and a willingness to acknowledge the signs. Here are some questions to help you assess the health of your relationship:

1. Are You Constantly Stressed and Anxious?

If you find yourself constantly on edge, anxious, or stressed due to your relationship, it may be a sign that it is taking a toll on your mental well-being.

2. Do You Feel Drained After Interactions?

Healthy relationships should leave you feeling supported and uplifted. If you consistently feel drained, exhausted, or emotionally empty after interactions with your partner, it may be a red flag.

3. Are Your Needs Being Met?

Assess whether your emotional, physical, and psychological needs are being met within the relationship. A lack of fulfillment or constant compromise on your values may indicate an unhealthy dynamic.

4. Do You Fear Confrontation?

Fear of addressing concerns or confronting issues in the relationship may indicate an underlying toxicity. Healthy relationships thrive on open communication and mutual understanding.

5. Are You Experiencing Emotional or Physical Abuse?

Any form of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse is a clear sign of a toxic relationship. If you feel unsafe or mistreated, seeking help and support is essential.

Physical Warning Signs: How Do You Know if Your Body is Rejecting Someone?

Our bodies often communicate what our minds may overlook. If you are experiencing physical symptoms that align with the warning signs mentioned earlier, your body may be trying to tell you something. Pay attention to these signs and consider seeking professional support if needed.

Recognizing the physical warning signs of a toxic relationship is the first step toward reclaiming your well-being. Our bodies are adept at signaling distress, and understanding these signals empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their relationships.

If you find yourself grappling with the physical toll of an unhealthy connection, seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals can be instrumental in navigating the path toward healing and self-discovery. Remember, your well-being is paramount, and prioritizing it may involve making difficult decisions for the sake of your mental and physical health.

If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend this book, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. He is a top researcher on how our bodies react to trauma and how it tells us when things aren’t right. You can check it out at the link above. 


This post contains affiliate links. I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases.

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