Things can get complicated quickly when it comes to affairs of the heart. Toxic relationships are destructive things that hurt one or both members of the couple.
Some toxic relationships show themselves through physical abuse, while others are full of emotional or mental abuse.
The songs in this list cover many types of destructive and abusive partners and are some of the best examples of songs about toxic relationships.
Top 25 Songs About Toxic Relationships
1. “No Children” by The Mountain Goats
“No Children” is a song about a marriage in which both parties are unhappy. They are so upset in their relationship that they don’t want to enjoy the little things in life; instead, they want everything to fail.
This song talks about not being able to leave and not being sure if the other person would allow the relationship to end, even if they found the will to give up on it.
The Mountain Goats tell the story of someone who feels hopeless and like everything in their life is spiraling downwards. The only solution they come up with is to hope everyone dies.
2. “Paralyzed” by Sueca
“Paralyzed” is a song about a guy who is with a quick-tempered woman. Her anger is destructive and unpredictable.
While the man acknowledges their relationship is toxic, he doesn’t want to leave because he enjoys even the bad parts.
This song describes the man as trapped, unable to fix his situation or back out of it.
3. “Call Me When You’re Sober” by Evanescence
“Call Me When You’re Sober” is about a woman who doesn’t feel loved or appreciated by her man.
The song talks about a guy who lies and plays games, pretending to care for the woman. However, he’s never physically present when she needs him, and instead, it feels like she’s always there when he needs it.
While he promises that he misses her, she doesn’t believe him because he only calls and says he loves her when drunk.
4. “Hate Me” by Blue October
“Hate Me” is an interesting song made up of three parts. The song begins with a refrain from a prior Blue October song called “Calling You,” where a man professes his happiness that the woman he loved chose to be with him.
The refrain cuts out and goes to an answering machine where the man’s mother leaves a message saying that she knows things have been hard on him lately, and she hopes to talk to him soon.
The third part of the song describes the fallout of his relationship and how he wants the woman he was with to hate him so that she can move on and be happy. He talks about his struggles with alcoholism and mental health during the relationship and the effects of the breakup on them.
5. “Grenade” by Bruno Mars
This catchy pop song is about a man who is overly devoted to the woman he cares about, but she doesn’t have any loyalty to him in return.
Mars promises that he’d expose himself to risks or physical harm if it were necessary for her safety and happiness, but he knows she wouldn’t return the favor.
Additionally, she physically assaults him, leaving him beaten and bruised. He knows what she’s doing isn’t right, but it doesn’t change his feelings about her.
6. “Lover I Don’t Have to Love” by Bright Eyes
“Lover I Don’t Have to Love” is a song about a couple who meet at a club and encourage each other to do risky and unsafe things.
They don’t try to form a healthy relationship and purposefully avoid sharing essential things with each other. They do meet a drug dealer together and skip out on going to work and other responsibilities.
7. “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish
“Happier Than Ever” is a song about a prior toxic relationship that occurred during adolescence.
Eilish sings about a partner who isolated her from her family and friends and never listened to anything she had to say. He engaged in risky and illegal behavior, even when she begged him not to.
She’s happy to be out of the toxic relationship, but it still hurts her when she has to interact with him. She can’t understand why he mistreated her when she did her best to make him happy.
8. “Kiss with a Fist” by Florence and the Machine
“Kiss With a Fist” is a song about a couple getting into a fight. What starts as a single blow escalates into a more violent battle until there are broken dishes and arson.
It’s not a one-time occurrence, and there have been worse fights in the past with major broken bones. Both relationship members are always hurt, bruised, and not getting enough sleep.
However, Florence sings that a physically abusive relationship is better than not being loved at all.
9. “This Is How I Learn to Say No” by Emeline
“This Is How I Learn to Say No” is about a former toxic relationship that the singer has no interest in restarting.
The relationship in this song is very one-sided, and the girl must be obedient, considerate, and unquestioning. Emeline admits that her attitude during the relationship wasn’t healthy and laments that being who she wanted to be wasn’t enough.
However, she learned her lesson. Even though she wishes she could have fixed her relationship, she knows it’s impossible and vows never to take the same man back.
10. “Two Birds” by Regina Spektor
“Two Birds” is a metaphor in song-form about gatekeeping to ruin a partner’s career.
This song tells the story of two birds who plan on seeing the world, but where one makes active plans and steps to fly, the other lies and makes excuses to hold them back.
The bird that won’t fly away won’t have an honest talk but instead just keeps trying to put it off.
In the end, the bird that wants to fly must acknowledge that they’re being lied to and that they’ll have to let go of the past if they want to actualize their dreams.
11. “House on Fire” by Rise Against
“House on Fire” is a song about staying somewhere destructive out of duty, loyalty, and love. Unlike most other songs on this list, the moral of this song is that staying in a toxic relationship is an honorable act.
The song talks about two people who are hurting each other, and while the singer has been waiting for something to change for a long time, they don’t see any signs that change will come soon. Despite that, they have no regrets and plan to stay out of love.
12. “Face Down” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Face Down is an outsider’s perspective on a physically abusive relationship. This song comes from the perspective of a friend who is watching his friend become covered in bruises.
The singer says that the girl has kept her mouth shut and hid her injuries in the past, but he knows that it won’t last forever. He has faith that one day, she’ll stand up and tell her man she doesn’t want to be with him.
13. “The Giving Tree” by Plain White T’s
“The Giving Tree” is a reference to a children’s book with the same title in which a tree gives its fruit, shade, and love to a boy, only for the boy to grow into a man that chops the tree down. At the end of the story, the tree isn’t sad because it got hurt; it is unhappy because it has nothing left to give anymore.
The song talks about a man who was extorted and used by the girl he loved. He gave her everything he had and would’ve given her more if he could have. However, she left him when she was done with him.
“The Giving Tree” talks about being happy in a toxic relationship and fears and sadness because they couldn’t keep that imperfect relationship.
14. “Devil Doesn’t Bargain” by Alec Benjamin
“Devil Doesn’t Bargain” is a song about advising a woman in an abusive relationship. The singer tries to persuade the woman not to return to her prior lover.
“Devil Doesn’t Bargain” says that you can’t change the foundation of a person’s character. The song says that bad people can’t become good overnight and that it’s foolish to think love can work miracles on someone who doesn’t love you in return.
Benjamin warns that if the woman keeps returning to the same relationship, she will keep getting the same results.
15. “I Don’t Love You” by My Chemical Romance
“I Don’t Love You” is about a relationship with many flaws that often falls apart and gets back together.
The song is from a man’s perspective. It starts with his loved one leaving him, but it isn’t the first time, and he hopes that maybe this time he can move on before they decide to come back.
He describes his partner as worthless, violent, and cowardly. The song implies that they were taking money from him but that he doesn’t mind the money as much as everything else.
The worst part of this toxic relationship is that he knows she doesn’t love him in return, and he’s mad that his partner doesn’t dare to be honest about it.
16. “I Miss the Misery” by Halestorm
“I Miss the Misery” is a song about the aftereffects of a toxic relationship. However, in this song, the woman wishes that she could get back with her guy.
She knows that their relationship was unhappy. Their relationship was violent, and the man she was with was controlling.
She muses that she doesn’t miss the love or good parts of the relationship but has become addicted to the drama and doesn’t know how to let it go.
17. “Blank Space” by I Prevail
Initially performed by Taylor Swift, I Prevail’s version of “Blank Space” does a better job of stressing the toxic elements of the relationship the song describes.
This version of the song is told from the man’s perspective as he manipulates a relationship through lies and slowly builds trust to get control. He becomes a different person once he has his hooks in the girl.
While I Prevail’s version of this song is primarily punk, there are dual metalcore vocals that help stress sections of the song where the guy is purposefully being destructive and harmful for a more impactful performance.
18. “I Told You I Was Mean” by Elle King
“I Told You I Was Mean” is a song about a woman who warned the guy she met that she’d make him fall in love with her and break his heart.
He didn’t believe any of her warnings, and then she was sweet and lied to him until he fell in love. As soon as she got bored, she left him.
The song talks about how she warned him this would happen, even if he didn’t believe her.
19. “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder
“Lips of an Angel” is about two toxic relationships. The song is about a couple who are both cheating on their partners to be together, and it’s told from the perspective of the cheating guy as he talks to the cheating woman on the phone.
The man hides what he’s doing from his current girlfriend, lying and keeping secrets. The woman he’s cheating on his girlfriend with isn’t as good at keeping secrets, and her man knows what’s going on.
She calls the man that isn’t her boyfriend to feel better, and they talk about continuing to lie and be unfaithful to their partners.
20. “It’s Not Me, It’s You” by Skillet
This song about a toxic relationship could apply to romantic or familial relationships. The song is sung by a man who has been lied to and gaslit until he thought he was the problem each time he didn’t accomplish his goals.
“It’s Not Me, It’s You” is a song about self-actualization and realizing that you don’t have to believe the verbal abuses that you get piled with.
This song says that once you’re out of a toxic situation, it’s much easier to see the truth for what it is and to heal.
21. “Bye Bye Beautiful” by Nightwish
“Bye Bye Beautiful” is a song that Tuomas Holopainen, keyboardist and composer, wrote loosely on Tarja, the band’s former lead vocalist.
The pair had a romantic relationship, but Tarja split off from the band for personal reasons.
“Bye Bye Beautiful” is an angry song about a relationship with a lack of communication where one of the partners was angry and volatile.
The song seems conflicted on whether forgiveness could ever be possible, saying that he will eventually learn to embrace and love his loneliness, but also that he’ll be waiting for her to return.
22. “Painful Truth” by Em Beihold
“Painful Truth” is about realizing that you don’t know how to leave a toxic relationship. A woman sings about how she knows that her man is destroying her life and bringing her more pain than happiness, but she’s addicted and doesn’t know what to do.
The song talks about how becoming stuck in a relationship creeps up on you, and you don’t always know right away what’s happening until it’s too late.
23. “I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace
“I Hate Everything About You” is a song about a love-hate relationship. While the man notes that he and the woman he’s with yell at each other all the time and don’t have anything in common, they love each other anyway.
The song is about the blurring lines of love and hate and how sometimes the feelings are indistinguishable.
The singer can’t understand how it’s possible to feel the way they do, and he doesn’t know how to fix the problem.
24. “Wicked Game” by Stone Sour
“Wicked Game” is a song about unwanted dependency. The song talks about not having anyone else to turn to and love growing where it shouldn’t.
Additionally, the song talks about how wanting someone can make you be a fool. Being unable to control who you fall for makes things difficult when you can’t put space between yourself and the object of your affections.
25. “Heavy in Your Arms” by Florence and the Machine
“Heavy in Your Arms” is a song about knowing you’re the problem in a relationship but being unable to fix it.
This song tells the story of a woman who clings to a man so tightly that she drowns him. Florence complains that the man was the one who took her to the water, and he wasn’t able to prevent her from drowning either. However, she also admits that it was her fault they both drowned.
However, this song has a happy ending by comparing the relationship described in this song with her new relationship and saying how much less of a burden she feels in the new relationship.
Relationships are complicated, they can go wrong in many ways, and people can hurt each other.
It’s a sad occurrence, but it happens so frequently that there are a lot of evocative and beautiful songs on the topic. This list only covers a few, but they are some of the best!