The Feelings You Have For That Toxic Guy Aren’t Love — It’s Addiction

By the time you realize you’re with guy who’s toxic AF, it’s almost impossible to be able to decipher if those intense feelings you have are love or if it’s just addiction, infatuation and destructive attachment. Here’s how to spot a toxic guy even when he has you completely mesmerized:

  1. He’s just filling a void. When you have unique personality traits that are often misunderstood by others but celebrated by him, he suddenly feels like your only shot at happiness. Or maybe he seems different in a positive and mysterious way compared to everyone you’ve ever dated. If he’s a legit potential mate, these things will never fade. If he’s toxic, give it two weeks before that shine turns to rust.
  2. You see the good more clearly than the bad. Nobody’s perfect, and flawed individuals are certainly more interesting to be around, but this is different. If you face a whole lot of bad moments with him or times when something just feels off and you proceed to ignore those red flags and cling to the good, then you need to break it off and run in the other direction. Now.
  3. You know deep down that he isn’t right for you. When you think about having a future with him or maybe raising kids together, you know it won’t work out. There are fundamental differences between you two that would make forever impossible and definitely volatile. So why are you staying? It’s not just casual sex, because there are established emotions that have already gone into it. Cut. Those. Ties.
  4. Infatuation is not love. Infatuation is intense but short-lived; love is intense, but less frenzied and manic. It also has staying power. You’ll burn out on infatuation and it’ll bring out the worst in both of you. You’ll be consumed with jealousy, doubt and self-consciousness because what you have with him can never last. Love is respectful, dependable and supportive. You’ll bring out the best in each other with love, and if you don’t, then it’s not love.
  5. You’re deathly afraid that he’ll leave you. You see him talking to or interacting with a beautiful woman and you’re instantly worried he’ll drop you and pursue her. Anytime you stand up for yourself or disagree with him, you consider walking it back because speaking your mind might scare him off. Sure, there might be some underlying confidence issues you need to work on, but something deep within you is telling you that he can’t be trusted — and that’s a feeling you would never have with the right guy.
  6. You feel compelled to do things to keep his attention. You go a couple days without hearing from him. Maybe his responses lately have seemed cold and somewhat forced. This shift in behavior doesn’t turn you off, though (as it should). Instead, you’re tempted to keep reaching out to him with inside jokes, random cute gifs or details on your bad days because maybe then he’ll show he cares if he knows you need him. Nope.
  7. Just when you think things couldn’t get worse, they do. You think those red flags and uneasy feelings are going to go away the more time you spend with him? Wrong. It’s only going to get worse. Toxic guys are great at being charming in the beginning, but their true hideous colors can’t hide for long. He’ll get more comfortable with you, he’ll see what you tolerate from him, and he’ll keep pushing you to see how little work he can put in and still string you along. F*ck that. You deserve better.
  8. You stop listening to your friends. Your friends love you and they can also see the situation more clearly than you can. You’ve told them everything and even painted him in a positive light and still they tell you to end it. Listen to them. Don’t push them away because “they don’t understand” or “they don’t see what you see.” They see it all, and they know you’re wasting your time.
  9. You’re always on the verge of icing him out. He acts like a loser (again) and you tell yourself that you’re done for good. You won’t answer his texts anymore and you’ll just ghost him because that’s what he deserves. You’re smarter than this, and you won’t tolerate his BS ever again… except then you do. Love is not a constant game of hot and cold. And if this is what you find yourself doing, it’s not love.
  10. You always let him back in. Even when you’re living in your strongest state of “boy, bye” he reaches out and you let him right back into your heart. He texts “hi” and your resolve melts into a puddle of self-loathing. Does this really sound like a potential soulmate to you?
  11. You never feel butterflies anymore, only anxiety.You had all the butterflies when he was on his best behavior. What a nice week that was. But not it’s only crippling anxiety that distracts you from work, keeps you isolated when you should be out with friends and has you too nervous to even eat. It’s time to block him on all accounts, meet up with your BFFs immediately and have a cupcake while you make plans to get away from him for good.
is a freelance writer for Bustle and Petcha, and editor for Wise Bread. She suffers from separation anxiety, and can't bear to be away from her dog for more than 20 minutes. Her dog doesn't seem to care either way. Sweater season is her favorite season.