10 Things I Learned From Dating A Toxic Guy That You Need To Read

Once upon a time, I dated a misogynist. He was a Nice Guy — let’s call him Nice Guy Dan. Dan was a bad dude, but he hid his inherent awfulness very well at first. He wore normalcy like a skinsuit, but like that messed up alien from Men in Black, he couldn’t maintain the illusion for long. The only good thing about my relationship with NGD is that I can reveal to you the insidious signs of misogyny, so they don’t waylay you in the future. You’re welcome.

Looking back, his charisma was canned.

I didn’t know he was a misogynist at first. He was charismatic AF and said all the right things — for me. That boy zeroed in on my insecurities with the kind of precision that can only come from practice — or, you know, a deep-seated but secret hatred of women. The point is, I was 19 at the time, in a new town, insecure, recently separated from my high school boyfriend, and during the lead-up to our first date, he said everything I needed to hear. Beware of charismatic boys whose platitudes sound too perfect. They are. Those boys are Spam.

He flashed his Nice Guy card at every opportunity.

It was a selling point at first, then it became a sticking point. When we first met, he sold himself as the opposite of my lost teenage love, although his status as a heterosexual was sufficient. To be honest, my ex was much nicer than Nice Guy Dan. NGD declared his status as a Nice Guy as an automatic response to any rebuke about his behavior or the things he said. No, he certainly wasn’t embarrassing me in front of my friends because he was a Nice Guy and Nice Guys don’t do stuff like that. Protip: real nice guys don’t have to tell you how nice they are.

The gender-based assumptions never stopped.

I didn’t think much of it at first because I was used to hearing it. “Wow, you’re going into medicine, that’s cool. You’re going to be a nurse, right? Oh, you’re going to be a doctor — that’s hard work, you know.” His stereotyping never stopped, though. He immediately got off on the wrong foot with my parents because of his reaction to discovering that my mom, a nurse, made more money than my dad, a manager at Home Depot at the time. Only jerks make assumptions.

He blatantly judged other women in front of me.

I didn’t get jealous when he openly ogled other women and commented on their attributes. It gnawed away at my insecurities, though. It wasn’t just the casual mentions that I could have an ass like that girl if I just listened to his training advice and the diet he kept telling me about, though. One of my best friends, who didn’t shave her legs and didn’t care about it, was promptly dismissed as a “hairy feminist dyke.” Upon meeting my best friend, he told her that her nose stud looked like a booger. No one should ever need to disparage another human being that way.

In his language, “no” just meant “persuade me.”

Nice Guy Dan didn’t take no for an answer. It was just a starting point for negotiations. That was true for choosing what to eat, what movie to see, and where to go. It was also true for sex. In memory, it happens in flashes. Making out somehow morphed into dry humping that did nothing for me and not enough for him. I faked an orgasm in the hopes that it would be over, but it wasn’t. We were dating, though, and for far too long, I believed that meant it was okay — just a thing that happened. Disrespect for consent is never okay. It should never be just a thing that happens.

My wardrobe became his business.

It began on our second date when he informed me that the jeans I wore on our first date made my ass look like a pancake. I didn’t wear them again until we finally broke up, but I never felt confident in them afterward. They were one of my favorite pairs and I let a guy ruin them for me. Never let a guy ruin anything for you. Never let a boy have a single say in what you wear either.

He used sex as a way to control me.

Let me just say that the woman I am today wants to shake the girl I was for even seeing Nice Guy Dan again after that disastrous, forceful first date. It’s kind of humiliating to talk about this, but it’s a lesson, so here I go. NGD always controlled our sex life — obviously. In addition to deciding, you know, that we were going to have sex in the first place, what we were doing, where we were doing it, and which positions we were doing it in, he also used it as a means to literally control my actions. NGD told me that if I lost 15 pounds, he would go down on me “as a reward.” Any guy who ever says anything like that to you is a misogynist and a dumpster fire.

Every emotion I expressed was the fault of my period.

Every time we had any kind of fight, he asked if I was PMSing or close to my period, which is bad enough. However, we were once having an argument because he called a friend of mine a “flaming fairy,” and straight to my face, he seriously said that I had to be on the rag or else I wouldn’t be upset about something so stupid. I almost punched him in the face. A woman’s feelings are not all tied up in her menstrual cycle, damn it.

Slut-shaming was his favorite pastime.

He slut-shamed every woman ever. If he read about a celebrity in a new relationship, he had comments about what an easy woman she was. He was relieved I’d only been with one other guy before him because he didn’t want to deal with a “used up vagina.” His own mother started dating a new man, and he expressed genuine remorse that she felt the need to “whore it up” so much since divorcing his dad. Beware of guys who talk about women like this. They’ll talk about you that way, too.

I said I wanted to break up and he said I needed a psychiatrist.

Near the end of this crap show, we had a run of two weeks when we did nothing but bicker. We were miserable with each other. At the end of a particularly bitter fight, I said I wanted to break up, then I went to sleep in the guest room. The next morning, he woke me up with a smile, brushed back my hair, and very gently suggested that I needed to see a psychologist to deal with my hysteria. I was hysterical for wanting to get out of a relationship we both hated. Nah, buddy. I was hysterical for wanting to get into it.

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