toxic love

High On A Bad Romance

Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

Unhealthy relationships are everywhere. Chances are you’ve either been in one, or you know someone who has. Or maybe, you’re in one right now?! Toxic relationships start out the way most do- everything seems great, but there are often little red flags that you choose to ignore. Why? Because you’re addicted to the dysfunctional highs and lows of the unhealthy relationship. Next thing you know, you’re ‘stuck’ in a codependent, one-sided relationship wondering how you get there.

Turns out there’s a scientific explanation for your attraction the bad boy (or girl… we are just as guilty) type.

You see, your heart may know he or she is all wrong, but your brain isn’t getting the memo. Your brain reacts when you meet someone you’re attracted to, regardless of whether they’re good for you or not. Your brain sends out a cocktail of love hormones and there’s no way to stop it. Which explains why we tend to lose all rationale when it comes to unhealthy relationships! You’re codependent.

Hooked On A Feelin’

Let me break it down for you. Bad boy comes in hard, all sexy and sweet and leaves you all feelin some kinda way. You exchange numbers, go on a few dates and now you’re into the honeymoon stage. Your brain is in love over-drive during the initial stage of a relationship, sending you a potent mix of hormones to make you feel things like passion, butterflies, fixation and even obsession. You’re hooked! This is the first phase of any toxic, codependent relationship. The high you’re experiencing is similar to that of drugs and alcohol, according to brain scans. Source. You’re wasted!

Your brain follows with a dose of cortisol to help you cope with the extra feelings. As your cortisol levels rise, your serotonin levels drop causing you to become preoccupied with thoughts of your partner. Studies show that people who are in the beginning stages of a relationship were no different from OCD patients, becoming addicted, fixated and even obsessed with their partner. Source. Explains why some get a little crazy… yikes!

Next you head into stage 2 and the sex is toe curling, mind-blowingly orgasmic. When the sex is good, the hormones you release are so powerful, they light up a brain scan like a cocaine junkie.

The pleasure we get from sex is largely due to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the reward center of the brain. Dopamine is also one of the chemicals responsible for the high people get on certain drugs.

After an orgasm you can be left feeling more attached than ever, thanks to… you guessed it- more hormones. Your hormones don’t care whether your partner is no good. This is why it’s so important to listen to your heart, not just your brain.

Relationship Red Flags

Next thing you know, you wake up and he’s gone… ignoring your calls for two days and you’re left devastated wondering what happened?! But then he comes back with some lame excuse about how he lost his phone and you know it’s a lie but you’re just so full of hormones you take him back. This is stage 3 toxic romance.

The highs and lows of an unstable relationship mixed with great sex are the perfect recipe for a toxic disaster sure to leave you incapable of making logical decisions. Your brain sends out extra surges of dopamine when you experience periods of pain followed by pleasure, making it so much easier to fall back into his arms even after he’s hurt you. You can get out and over it though. For good!

Here comes the tough part- withdrawal. Toxic, codependent relationship addiction is very real, and can produce the same withdrawal symptoms as any other addiction including loss of appetite, irritability, sleeplessness and desperation.

Toxic Love Rehab

You’ll need to create your own toxic love rehab. A place where you can find other, healthier, ways to get your dopamine fix.

Here’s some tips to help you recover. You can find more here. You have to treat it like any other addiction.

  • Spend time with people you love and who treat you well. Being around positive people, giving compliments and sharing kind words is a great source of dopamine and oxytocin- aka the feel good hormones. Source
  • Smile. When you smile you instantly feel better because you’re releasing those same hormones.
  • Only allow yourself to watch happy movies and listen to uplifting music.
  • Treat yourself to a little retail therapy, bubble baths, nature walks… whatever brings you joy.
  • Distance yourself from your addiction. The first few weeks/months are the hardest, so distance is vital if you want to recover. Don’t fall back into old habits.
  • Set boundaries when you are ready to meet someone new. This is where codependents can have difficulties. They often have a hard time standing up for themselves and their beliefs, making it easy for other’s to take advantage of them.

It’ll take time but it will get easier. And, hopefully you learn to listen to your heart and not just your hormones. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to another codependent toxic relationship. Recognize the signs of a bad relationship, instead of just ignoring them.


Steph’s Social Pie

Steph is a former reporter turned blogger. Steph's Social Pie is all about helping bloggers create the perfect branding and social media marketing strategy for a beautiful blog experience!


  1. The Eclectic Contrarian says:

    I was always the nice guy who got screwed over more than half the time… my highly analytic brain understands this as, the bad boy is the forbidden fruit so to speak. Something a girl can easily lose. But the nice guy is the dog that will be faithful no matter how much you neglect him. It sounds weird but I’ve found it true.

    1. That’s an accurate comparison! I should know lol but glad to say I’ve learned from my past and find so much more satisfaction is healthy relationships

      1. The Eclectic Contrarian says:

        It’s funny to listen to women sometimes about men. Women can be just as cruel as men!

      2. I agree it goes both ways! I’ve had toxic relationships with both men and women but the men were romantic relationships and the women were toxic friendships. The women were worse!

      3. The Eclectic Contrarian says:

        Y’all have a conniving cruelty lol! I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m married to an excellent woman now, but the scars from the past still tickle …

  2. You just described my late teens, early 20’s. It’s so hard to see when you’re in the midst of it. Great read with great advice on changing the pattern.

  3. You just described my late teens/early 20’s. It’s so hard to see when you’re in the midst of it.

  4. Florence says:

    Well written!

    1. Great article! I really aggree with your opinions, being in a toxic relationship is never a great thing and finding the right person to love is a must.

  5. Loved reading this article. I could relate to almost everything, especially where you talk about the red flags.

    1. It’s like you know it’s bad and you’re hurt, but so happy they’re back! For me, now it’s all about setting boundaries and sticking to them. No more broken hearts, k:)

  6. it can happen when you are older too.

  7. This is a great wake up call. Great explanation of why people keep attracting the wrong partner. Thank you for putting together such a great piece! 😉

  8. I wish I could teach younger girls to know that these men are the men to stay away from. You cannot fix a broken man. They will only use you and abuse you.

  9. What a great article full of very important information. Sometimes it’s hard to see the red flags until you have them laid out in front of you.

  10. EDWARD Vegz says:

    Alot of adults would mostly aquire this specially during summer. This is a very useful info for precautionary measures

  11. Gervin Khan says:

    Great article and it was an important things that all women need to know. I personally had a bad guy in my life but I am thankful that I woke up early and choose to love myself first before loving others.

  12. I know many young people who falls in the trap of bad relations.this is so helpful for them

  13. So many people can fall victim to these types of bahavior. So important to understand the signs!

  14. Wow, i totally enjoyed this post. I’ve been in a toxic relationship before and it was so hard. I could relate to everything you wrote. I am sure this will be helpful to anyone currently going through it.

  15. Oh my goodness I can relate to this article in some many different ways. In my early 20’s I always went for the “bad boy” but then I realized that those relationships were not only toxic, but abusive as well. I’m just glad that learned it’s better to be alone then mistreated, and it’s important to recognize the signs. It can save you a lot of time and unnecessary heartbreak.

    1. Elizabeth O says:

      Many teenagers now are a victim of this toxic, codependent relationships. Even older persons are not excused with this kind of relationship. You are right there when you say the best thing to do is to follow our mind first before the heart.

  16. Thank you for the red flags to watch out for. I know a handful of women who stay in toxic relationships.

    1. It’s tough! I stayed for years in bad relationships:( It’s harder than people think to just leave!

  17. It’s sad to see how many people don’t notice the warning signs. You know what they say, love can be blind.

  18. Really great points shared….I loved reading it

  19. I do believe we learn most from our mistakes and that includes unhealthy relationships…they allow us to know what we do not need and what we want

    1. Totally agree! It’s good to get the bad relationships out in our 20s, so we can settle down in a healthy relationship in our 30s!

  20. It can be very difficult to see the red flags when you don’t want to. That’s where having a good support system of friends can be very helpful.

  21. This could be a plot right here for a CW series. But hey bad guys, good girls , good guys and bad girls. They add fun and excitement to dating!

    1. They definitely do! Plus the bad ones are usually smoking hot! lol

  22. amy says:

    all point are all true/relatable to some people, this is a great article, tha k u for sharing

  23. alexandra cook says:

    got a great read with this article, great article! thank you for sharing this

  24. Owen G. says:

    Love this blog, the comparison is so accurate, it was such a great read and your advices is so nice.

  25. Geraline Batarra says:

    So many important informations in here. Such a great article. Sometimes we get blindly inlove we didn’t notice the red flags.

  26. monidipa51 says:

    I have been with wrong people so I know how it is. However, when we are blindly in love we always ignore the red flags!

    1. So true! It doesn’t help that they usually put on a show in the beginning:( The little red flags are oh so important, before you get stuck!

  27. This is very true! Toxic relationships will just make you miserable and like you said “You are better than that!”

  28. I needed to read this, I had a bad break up yesterday. Thanks for sharing. Some helpful tips you got there.

    1. Sorry to hear about your breakup:( probably for the best though I’m assuming it was of the toxic type? Make way for mr right! But for now, enjoy the YOU time darling!! xo

      1. It was too toxic

  29. Ellie Plummer says:

    This is such an interesting read. I bet it’s so common to feel comfortable in a toxic relationship but coming out of it is the best feeling ever.

  30. zhynaia says:

    ive been in to many toxic relationship before learning a lesson.. my therapy?? same as yours.. self care, be with the people who love u …

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