I Always Dated Men Who Talked Down To Me—Then I Realized What I Was Doing Wrong

Any guy who talks down to a woman and makes her feel worthless is toxic, yes, but I have to take some responsibility for the fact that I always ended up dating condescending men. After a lot of self-reflection, I finally realized what I was doing wrong—hopefully it can prevent mansplaining, know-it-all guys from entering your life too.

  1. I let the first time slide. The first time a guy talked down to me, I should’ve told him I didn’t like it. Instead, I let it slide and said nothing, thinking it wasn’t serious. Big mistake. All it takes is one time for the guy to think he can do it over and over again and get away with it.
  2. I bought the “nice” excuse. It’s not like the guys would shame me indirect ways. Often, it was done in sneaky ways so that they weren’t coming across as complete jerks. For instance, one guy I dated tried to give me advice on how to achieve my dreams. It wasn’t “nice” of him— he was basically talking down to me by implying that my way was bad and therefore, I needed his help. What BS.
  3. I spoke down to myself. It’s so true when they say you have to show people how to treat you. I was always treating myself badly by calling myself an idiot and putting myself down, and that was probably showing guys that it was cool for them to do the same to me.
  4. I was too niceI wasn’t nice to myself but I was super nice to these jerks. I always turned a blind eye to their crappy comments, thereby allowing them to treat me badly. I don’t know what in the hell I was thinking! Thank goodness I know better now.
  5. I let them mansplain me to death. I’m sorry, but if a guy mansplains something to me now, I tell him to get over himself. In the past, however, I’d let it happen. I’d nod and smile, too embarrassed to tell them to get out, which just made me seem like the idiot I was calling myself.
  6. I didn’t see it as malicious. I never imagined that the guys I dated were being mean to me when they interrupted me or looked at me like I was crazy for voicing an opinion that was different from theirs. The reality is that it was mean—it was a way for them to control me and feel superior to me.
  7. I was fooled by positive actions. I thought that since these guys were treating me well in our relationship, the hurtful things they said weren’t a big deal. Hey, maybe they were “just kidding” when they said something sexist or degrading, as they claimed. Hell no! Their methods of talking down to me were signs that these guys were actually douchebags.
  8. I felt “crazy” if I spoke up. Even though I felt hurt by their behavior, I didn’t tell them to stop doing it. I was worried they’d call me “sensitive” or “crazy” and I didn’t want to create drama. Screw that. I’d rather have drama than be afraid to speak my mind.
  9. I felt worthless. I had no confidence when talking to guys since I’d been single (and shy) for so long. I feared I didn’t know as much as the guy I was dating (yeah, right) or that I was going to say something and make a fool of myself. This lack of confidence was clear for guys to see and use against me. When they spoke down to me, it’s like they were just reinforcing beliefs I had about myself.
  10. I thought I was rising above it. Since I wasn’t speaking up about how their behavior was hurting me, I internalized it. That meant trying to rise above it and not let their comments get to me. That’s such a waste of time! I should’ve allowed myself to feel hurt and tell them to stop making me feel so crap. I should’ve defended myself more. Hell, no one else was going to.
  11. I wanted to be the “cool girlfriend.” I didn’t want to rock the boat or be disliked. I wanted to be fun and easygoing—and some men did say it was such a relief being with me because I was drama-free. What they were really saying is that they could say or do whatever they wanted. How convenient.
  12. I had no boundaries. A guy who disrespects a woman by talking down to her is stepping over a line. I made it too easy for these guys to talk down to me because I had no boundaries to begin with! It was easy for them to disrespect me because I wasn’t holding them to any rules or standards.
  13. I wanted to lie to myself. If I admitted that guys were talking down to me and being douchebags, I’d have to face up to the reality that I didn’t want men like that so I’d have to dump them. But they were otherwise great guys so I didn’t want to. But here’s the thing: guys who are great except for talking down to me aren’t great guys. They’re toxic and I’m done with them. I learned this the hard way, but thank goodness I finally did.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.