We’ve all met a toxic man. In fact, you’ve probably met a whole lot of them. And spent time with them. And dated them. And got all mired in relationships with them. And the real kicker? You probably didn’t even realized that dude you were dating was a manipulative, lying, super-clingy control freak.
“So many women are worried about hurting a man’s feelings,” says Dr. Lillian Glass, author of the book, Toxic Men: 10 Ways to Identify, Deal with, and Heal from the Men Who Make Your Life Miserable. “They forget to worry about themselves and their own emotional needs. A lot of woman are being abused and they don’t even know it.”
I don’t want you to be a woman ensnared by a toxic man (or woman—this book is for, people), just because you didn’t realize he was toxic. If in doubt, here are seven signs you might be dealing with a toxic man. If the guy you’re with sounds like the guy below, then heed the warnings—and get rid of him.
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1. He sounds too good to be true.
Yeah, he is most likely a toxic man. We’ve all been hurt before, but a lot of women will start to retreat to a vulnerable place in their love lives when it happens, making them especially susceptible to toxic men. These guys seem to sweep you off your feet for a whirlwindromance. Be careful, though. Does he say he’s ultra-protective because he loves you so much? Does he bring you gifts to smooth over his unsettling behavior? Does he seem to say whatever you want to hear, all the time? This dude could very well be one of Dr. Glass’s eleven types of toxic men, ranging from the Jealous Competitor, to the Seductive Manipulating Cheating Liar, to the Socio-Psychopath. Watch. Out.
2. He tells you he is a jerk, a bad boy, or buried in debt.
If a man tells you he is a certain way, just believe him. Don’t try to convince him, or yourself, that he is in fact different from what he’s telling you. He’s not trying to be complicated, or waiting to reveal more glowing facts about himself at a later date. All you need to know is in the words he’s sharing.
3. You’re already a toxic-man magnet.
If you think you can change a bad boy, find that you often feel sorry for the men you date, believe love conquers all, or have made up your mind that Mr. Right will look just like Prince Charming, you’re a toxic-man magnet. Make sure your thoughts about relationships are realistic, because toxic dudes will prey on those who may have an idealistic approach to love.
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4. You notice something, or he says something, that puts you off.
Let’s say the man you’re with makes an unguarded remark that seems… just plain wrong. Your red-flag sirens should be blaring wildly, so you need to dig deeper. Forget asking surface questions that will not get to the bottom of the situation. Ask questions to prod him toward more revealing answers. The book suggests things like, “Excuse me, I didn’t quite catch what you said,” or, “What exactly do you mean by that?” If his answer is something that seems bizarre, say so. Just don’t say that you’re the one who thinks it, to take the judgment factor out of it: “I know someone who would really question that,” or, “What do you say if someone tells you they find that hard to believe?” These conversations should give you tons of insight into your presumably (very) toxic man.
5. He exhibits strange speech patterns.
Backhanded compliments. Insulting you, and then saying, “Just kidding!” Talking like he’s in a high-speed chase. Repeating part of your sentence before he answers a question, as if he needs time to manufacture an excuse. A monotone voice. All these speech patterns are indicative of a toxic man. If you hear any of them, beware.
6. You’re beautiful, smart, talented, young, a mother, a teacher.
No one is immune to a toxic man. No woman is too brilliant, too beautiful, too kind or too amazing to avoid these guys if she doesn’t know the warning signs. Are you a talented pianist? A toxic man will never appreciate you. A genius doctor? A toxic man will not respect you. A kindergarten teacher? Be careful you don’t take a toxic man under your wing, because you love to shape lives. Lesson: Don’t think it can’t happen to you. It can.
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7. Your appearance has changed.
When you’re dealing with a toxic man, you’re storing negative emotions up inside you—but they don’t stay inside forever. Think about someone who upsets you for a minute, and then look in the mirror. What do you see? Pursed lips? A rigid stance? A furrowed brow? You’ll begin to appear this way if your relationship is turning into a nightmare. If friends start saying, “Are you okay? You seem upset,” on a regular basis, you may want to check your man situation.