I’ve dated quite a few toxic men and the experiences always left me wondering WTF happened. Sure, they were the damaged ones, but I eventually had to wonder if I was doing something to make them think they could con and hurt me. Turns out, I totally was. Here’s what I realized I’d been doing to attract the toxic men.
1. I was too nice. I was always polite and understanding, perhaps too much for my own good. I was the girl who would say it was okay that the guy hadn’t called or stood me up yet again. This is just perfect for the toxic guy because he likes to take advantage of niceness. Sadly, too much niceness made me a doormat for bad behavior.
2. I gave the benefit of the doubt. I always try to see the good in people, but honestly, that shouldn’t be the rule with toxic people. I gave toxic guys the benefit of the doubt even when their stories seemed ridiculous and I had a gut feeling they were lying. I was always willing to compromise while they never gave me the same courtesy because they were selfish and self-centered.
3. I was their hope of change. I’m a decent woman who leads a healthy lifestyle. This can be quite alluring to a toxic guy who knows he should change his bad habits, like an alcoholic, because he thinks my good habits will rub off on him. I once dated a recovering addict who actually said one of the things that had attracted him to me was that I was healthy. But the problem is that the toxic guy never changes — and that recovering addict was soon back on his drug of choice, forgetting all about me.
4. I was a fixer. I was the kind of girlfriend who would try to change toxic men. I was accustomed to saying, “If he just wasn’t a druggie, then things would work” or “If he just held down a job, our relationship would be great.” The problem, again, is that a toxic guy will never change. He’s broken, but he will stay broken — and expect his GF to pick up the pieces every time. I did that, hoping to get love in return, but it doesn’t turn out that way. Damaged people don’t know how to love.
5. I am too empathetic. Toxic guys lack empathy, but I would feel so bad for them when they’d dish out the sob stories. (Toxic guys love to play the victim role and could win an Oscar for it.) I let my emotions get in the way instead of seeing the cold, hard truth: these were guys who would throw on the waterworks to get what they wanted. One toxic man I dated gave me a lengthy sob story about how his mother didn’t have money for her rent. I gave him the money to help her out and then minutes later received a text message he’d accidentally sent to me that was meant for his friend: “Got money for the party tonight.” What a user and loser.
6. I had given up on love. Toxic guys don’t want to be with a woman who has a healthy view of love because then she wouldn’t waste her time on them. After some bad experiences, I had become jaded about love — and toxic men can smell that from a mile away. So when the charming but toxic guy came along and paid real attention to me and seemed to be such a great catch, it was easy to fall for it and think he was going to be an amazing man. He could then use that to his advantage to get what he wanted from me.
7. I didn’t have healthy boundaries. I was too much of a giver and became a relationship martyr. I would take on the guys’ problems and drama, neglecting myself and my needs. It was too easy for the toxic guys to make the most of this for as long as I stuck around.
8. I was a good listener. A toxic man loves nothing more than to talk about himself for hours. I’ve always been a good listener, which I find makes people want to talk to, and confide in, me. But with toxic men, I became saddled with their self-talk because they knew I was the type of woman to give them the time of day. Of course, they never listened to me because they only cared about themselves.
9. I was too laid-back and easygoing. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to put demands on people or relationships. I like to go with the flow and don’t mind the guy I’m dating to take the steering wheel. But this makes it really easy for toxic guys to overstep their boundaries or push their luck.
10. I didn’t value myself. I didn’t have much confidence or self-love, which made me the perfect prey for the toxic man. If he could see that I wasn’t a woman with high standards and lots of self-respect, then he could easily expect me to put up with his bad behavior. If I didn’t value myself, I would put up with others not valuing me. Luckily, I now value myself a lot and wouldn’t dream of anyone not showing me the love that I give to myself.
11. I stayed in situations longer than necessary. A toxic guy usually does his homework when finding the right GF to screw over. One of the things he’ll notice is if the woman he’s got his eye on puts up with a lot of crap in her life. During one toxic relationship, I was dealing with family members who were quite difficult but I couldn’t sever the relationships with them because of the blood connection, and yes, I moaned about it to him sometimes. The toxic guy used this info to his advantage: he saw he had a good chance of screwing me over and getting away with it because I loved him and would therefore feel obligated to help him. Toxic men are manipulative bastards.
By Giulia Simolo for Bolde