I Can Spot A Toxic Man From A Mile Away—Here’s How

Thanks to dating so many toxic guys over the years, I can now sniff them out before the first date is over —and run like hell in the other direction. Here are 12 tell-tale signs I always keep my eyes peeled for.

  1. His life is a disaster. He’ll be quick to talk about how dramatic and stressful his life is. He lost his job, he’s going through a rough patch, his ex doesn’t let him see his son. OMG, there’s enough drama there to write a trilogy.
  2. He compliments me when he doesn’t know me. He’s been speaking to me for half an hour and already given me roughly 10 compliments. Geez, he’s trying way too hard to make me feel special. Why? What’s his hidden agenda? He clearly has one, otherwise, he wouldn’t be desperate to sweeten me up and make me like him.
  3. He copies my hobbies and interests. This one links up to how toxic guys want to be liked. The toxic man will pretend to be my dream guy by loving all the things I love. If I’m into reading or scuba-diving, he’s going to tell me that he loves the same things even though I haven’t seen any evidence of these hobbies in his life or dating profile. It’s just his way of trying to make me think that we’re so alike we’re destined to be together.
  4. He only has negative things to say about people. He’ll tell me about how terrible his boss, best friend, or ex is when I barely even know him. This is the sympathy card toxic guys play to show how they’ve been the victim of manipulative, selfish people. Meanwhile, they’re the ones who are to blame for why everyone has walked out on them!
  5. He’s a walking advertisement for himself. While the toxic man will tell me how crappy everyone else is, he’ll try to sell himself positively. He’ll call himself a nice, good, honest, loyal person, but a dude who really is all those things doesn’t have to tell people about it.
  6. He tries to buy my love. I’ve learned to be wary of the guy who rocks up to our first date with a massive bunch of roses or a bottle of my favorite perfume. He’s hoping I’ll walk away after the date thinking how charming he is, but what I’m really thinking is that it’s kinda shady that he can’t impress me with who he is and has to resort to gifts.
  7. He pushes boundaries. A toxic guy tends to try to push boundaries right from the start. If he knows I don’t like to drink, he’ll try to persuade me to go to the bar after dinner on our first date. He won’t take “no” for an answer, either. This raises red flags because I want a guy who respects my choices and doesn’t try to get his way all the time.
  8. He steals the show. A toxic guy won’t give me a chance to sneak many words into the first-date conversation. He’ll shut me down, interrupt me, talk over me, or try to get the conversation back onto himself as quickly as possible. It’s all about him and there’s clearly no room for me in the relationship. Next!
  9. He always wants to win. If I mention that I’ve traveled to Greece or won a sports competition, the toxic guy will have done those things and more. He’s jealous and competitive, so when I see early signs of this in the form of him always having a better story to tell people than mine, it’s a red flag. Toxic people often tend to be attention seekers and they can’t bear when someone else is in the spotlight.
  10. He’s always around. Although I want a guy who’ll text and call a lot, it doesn’t feel good when a guy comes on too strong. That’s what the toxic man does, not because he loves chatting with me but because he needs me. Maybe he’s lonely, bored, or jealous about where I am without him so he feels the need to “check in.” If he’s always trying to dominate and control my time, he’s toxic AF.
  11. He’s unpredictable. If we’ve gone on a few dates and I can’t seem to pin him down because his mood and behavior changes from one minute to the next, it’s a bad sign. He could be unstable in some way. I’m likely to get mixed messages from him too. For example, he might be all over my phone for a few days, then disappear and not have a straight answer for why. Nope!
  12. He tires me out. When I leave the first date, I should feel excited and happy, not exhausted AF. Maybe I’m tired because he talked so much or gave me unsolicited career advice or he was super negative. Whatever the reason, I refuse to write off these feelings. They’re clues that I’m getting to know someone who has the potential to drain me of my energy, which is the hallmark of a toxic guy. A second date will definitely not be on the cards!
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.