Have you ever been asked why you were dating a guy who was clearly a total jerk? Maybe you felt embarrassed because knew the person asking you was right about him. That is, until your toxic guy called you up, desperate to see you, and charmed your pants off… literally. What gives? Why do toxic guys, bad boys, and unavailable men have such a hold on good women?
They’re a temporary cure for being bored. Sometimes when you’re bored with your life or having a dry spell, you need to make like Stella and get your groove back. What do you reach for? Not the stable guy but the unpredictable, wild one. Of course, to people watching you, it seems strange to get with a guy just ’cause he’s amazing in the sack or makes you feel special for a limited time only before he leaves. But you’re living in the moment and relishing every inch of excitement. Soon, the excitement will turn into disappointment or heartbreak. Maybe next time you’re keen to spice things up, go on a road trip or take a dance class, m’kay?
You fear something real. The nice, stable guys are the picture of committed relationships — but if you’re not looking for that right now you’re going to turn away from them and go for something different, like the guy who would rather pierce his own eyebrow than be exclusive. You feel you can leave your heart at the bedroom door and have some fun without risking pain. You might even say, “Hell, I don’t want a relationship with him or anyone, so this setup works for me!” But does it really? Could you perhaps be secretly pining for him to become boyfriend material. Which brings up the next point…
You want to be the one to tame him. You might not like nice guys, but have a secret passion for the bad boy who’ll turn nice for you. So you choose a toxic guy and decide you’ll be the one to change him, make him see the light, decide to commit, and love you forever for it. Plot twist: guys like that rarely change, so save your grand makeover skills for your beauty box.
You’ve got something to prove. Bad guys can help you prove to yourself that you’re worthy and lovable. Yes, even though all those other guys in your past treated you badly or your dad wasn’t around to love you, this bad boy has changed all that and will validate you. Um, any second now… okay, maybe by next week. The danger is that bringing more bad boys into your life just puts you at risk of further rejection. It’s only your fault because you keep opening the door for them when you should be slamming it in their faces. Screw needing validation from anyone! You can give it to yourself for free.
You think there are no good guys left. Good guys sometimes feel like they’re on the endangered species list, so love in the time of a male shortage means that you’ll stick with the guy who leaves you hanging, keeps pissing you off or cheats on you. You reckon that this is as good as it’ll get. Until you dump him and see that you can actually do way better than him!
You’re caught in an attraction-frustration cycle. When a guy gives you loads of attention and makes you feel special, your brain squirts dopamine, a feel-good hormone that surprisingly flows more when there’s erratic reinforcement from the guy. When a toxic guy is all over you one minute and then going AWOL the next, you’re pining for him to return so you can get that hormone hit instead of getting away from him as you should. This is similar to how you’d behave if you were addicted to drugs and in need of your next fix. Time to go cold turkey on the tool, no?
You’re tempted by the forbidden. You could partly blame Fifty Shades for this one. Bad boys are like devilish chocolate cake you choose to eat instead of going to the gym. They’re deliciously forbidden because you know that they’re bad for you, but you can’t help but have some. In the same way you might push aside calorie concerns, you’ll sweep away your intuition that’s telling you to back away from the bad boy so your heart doesn’t get hurt. But it will, so stop after one bite.
You want hot sex. A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that you’re not mistaken when you associate that bad boy giving you the eye at the bar with loads of fun in the sack. When researchers asked college-aged women what they thought about nice guys, they found that although women like going on dates with nice guys, they turn to the bad boys for mind-blowing sex. Guess it has something to do with those tattoos and can-do attitudes, huh?
Water seeks its own level. You can tell a great deal about someone by the company they keep. People who love themselves are surrounded by others who are full of love. If you don’t have a strong self-love muscle, you attract others who are baffled by the idea of real love. Once you change your ways, your taste follows suit.
Family of origin patterns run deep. If you come from a family of utter dysfunction in terms of relationships (or anything else, you begin to emulate your experiences in your outside relationships. You learn to yell when you don’t get your own way, cheat when you’re upset, and excuse awful behavior. It takes a real toll on your relationships.
Women are really taught to be submissive. We’re told our bodies aren’t good enough and that we’re only performing well if we’re pleasing a man. It’s total crap. We get signals to be submissive by letting guys do whatever they need to do to be happy. Because of this, we excuse toxic guys and their inexcusable behaviors. It’s not okay.
You Feel Bad About Breaking Up With Them. Why is it that you feel guilty when deciding to dump someone? Sure, you can be compassionate about the other person’s feelings, but at some point, you’re going to have to take a look at YOUR needs. Your job is not to solely make another person happy and prevent them from feeling pain. You’re entitled to happiness and having your needs met fully too.
You Think You Can Change Their Behavior. Sometimes you’re drawn to those that may not be fully equipped to give you what you need within the relationship, but a part of you believes that this time they’ll be different. Think about how hard it’s been for you to break a habit. Did it happen because someone else encouraged it or because you wanted it to? Shifts in behavior can’t and won’t happen until we’re inspired to make a change ourselves, so trying to change someone else’s probably isn’t going to be successful… unless they are totally on board and in complete agreement with what you’re telling them.
You Hate Change. Relationship routines can feel super comforting, even if you aren’t totally into the guy anymore. A shift in routine may mean you have to move out, find new hangout spots, or give up certain friendships. I get it — it’s definitely not easy, but is not liking change a good reason to keep seeing someone? Think about what it is you’re really afraid of. Maybe feeling alone, being nervous about not finding another partner, or being the only single person in your friend group sounds daunting or overwhelming. Keep in mind that change usually creates awesome opportunities for growth.
You Don’t Know What Healthy Relationships Look Like. If you don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like, you’ll likely have a more difficult time finding one. If your partner continues to behave in a way that gives you a bad gut feeling, trust it! Most of the time your gut instincts are right on. If your red flag signal comes on more often than not when you’re with this person, take it as a cue to investigate what’s really going on. Remember that words are BS, behavior tells all.
You Don’t Think You Can Do Better. Typically when this thought comes up, there’s some self-esteem stuff lurking beneath the surface. Think about why you don’t believe that you can do better, especially if your partner is admittedly toxic. Does it mean that you’re a bad person too? If you’re not, you deserve to be with someone who treats you with respect and as an equal partner in the relationship, not a subordinate.
You’re Using Them To Work Out Your Unconscious Stuff. If you find yourself time and time again with similar types of terrible partners, some self-reflection would be greatly beneficial. Think about what these partners have in common, and not in terms of looks. Then think about the earliest relationship you can that reminds you of this partner. More often than not, early familial relationships come up. If this seems kinda gross or weird, don’t worry. Everyone is unconsciously working out their stuff in one way or another. One of the biggest differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships is insight.
You Don’t Know What You Want. Think about why you want to be with this person. If the bad reasons outweigh the good ones, why are you staying with them? Most people don’t take the time to consciously address what it is they want from their relationship and from their partner. Getting to know this part of yourself on a deeper level will help quite a bit when it comes to picking partners to date in the future.
The Relationship Feels Sentimental. Sometimes old school flames just stick with you, even if they aren’t the healthiest person for you. They may become a symbol etched in your memory of a simpler time, a time where you didn’t have to be as responsible as you are now. Your perception of this person for better or worse is going to be tainted with the charge of this time in your life. You have to move on.
Things toxic guys say and what they really mean
While being a matchmakers means that I have the pleasure of meeting hundreds of fantastic gentlemen, I also interact with a lot of basic bros and hear plenty of nonsense. Here are some of the things toxic guys say and what they mean so you can stop wasting your time.
“Are you on the pill?” What they really mean is, “Is there a chance I will be able to get away with unprotected sex in the near future?” This guy has a lot of unprotected sex. Proceed with caution.
“Let’s see what happens.” This is basically code for, “I’m currently unavailable for a relationship, but I would like to see how much sex I can get from you. If you withhold sex, I may end up agreeing to a relationship later down the line. ” Alternatively, “I’m seeing a few different women and I’m not willing to pick you right now, but I also don’t want to let you go.”
“I’m looking for more than just sex, but not exactly a relationship.” In other words, “I want all of the benefits of a relationship but none of the responsibility.” Too many guys out there want someone to be their therapist, mother, and consistent source of kinky sex but they’re not willing to commit, provide you with security, or even reciprocate the emotional support. Some very dangerous guys even enjoy playing boyfriend. They might take you out on nice dates, unload their emotional trauma, talk about introducing you to the family, and take you on romantic getaways. The, the moment you mention future plans or a relationship, they bolt, making you feel like you were out of your mind for thinking something more serious was happening. If you find yourself in an almost relationship, walk away. Almost just isn’t good enough.
“I want someone down to earth.” Oh, come on. More like, “I want someone who doesn’t take her standards seriously. I want someone who won’t make me feel bad for my many failings or expect me to be better. I want someone who will always have a great attitude and go down on me no matter how terribly I have behaved.” Mmm, that would be nice, wouldn’t it? Sorry guys, to get that you’ll either have to date someone significantly younger than you with no self-respect or wait until dating robots are a thing.
“You are so sensitive.” One of the most obnoxious things guys say. What he means is, “I don’t have the energy or emotional intelligence to process your feelings, so I’m going to make you feel guilty for presenting me with something I don’t understand.” When basic guys feel inadequate, their go-to move is to belittle you. A real man will appreciate the challenge to be a better person, but a lot of guys will just try to shame you into silence so they can return to their false sense of power and superiority.
“This was never a problem with my ex.” “I’ve never dated a girl who held me accountable to my actions, so why are you?” Being a mature adult is a lot of work. It requires examining your own actions and faults, which can be pretty painful. If guys have gotten used to girls who don’t challenge them to be better or hold them accountable, many of them aren’t going to choose to be with someone who makes them work for it. So what’s the answer? We as women have to collectively hold men to a higher standard and call them out on their BS, whether it’s directed at us or someone else. We also have to educate our younger sisters so they don’t put themselves through the same crap we did or enable the guys we’ve rejected.
“You’re overreacting and being nuts. Are you on your period?” Ugh. “I like danger and playing with fire. I am daring you to go into a blind rage and pull a Lorena Bobbitt on me.” This is a guy with no emotional intelligence, no respect for your feelings, and probably not too much experience with women. This question doesn’t deserve a response. Instantly walk away, delete his number, block him on social media. Get in your car (resist the urge to plow through his living room) and drive directly to your nearest coven to cast a spell on him.
“I don’t like going down on girls.” “I’m a selfish bastard with no sexual charisma. Please break up with me and date someone who knows how to give you multiple orgasms.” Life is too short and too stressful to date a guy who doesn’t think dining on you rivals every Michelin starred restaurant in New York City. Whether it’s in the bedroom or not, date someone who proves to you every day that being with you is a privilege and an honor. As a matchmaker, I promise you that guy is out there—you just need patience, high standards, and maybe a little outside help to find him.
Things guys like this don’t want you to know
You attract them when you’re a fixer. Toxic guys are drawn to partners who will take care of them, deal with their drama, and be an emotional support for them. This is why they’re so draining. If you send out signs that you’re a fixer or a yes woman, that tells them they can drop their issues on your doorstep.
They’re bad liars. Although toxic guys can lie with a straight face no matter what, making you doubt yourself instead of them, they slip up when it comes to one important thing: they can’t keep their stories straight. When you ask them what they did on Saturday night when they weren’t answering your calls, they’ll change the story the whole time to keep you guessing. They think they’re in control but they don’t realize how stupid they look.
They can’t hide their true selves forever. At first, the toxic guy who enters your life will seem to be straight out of a fairytale. He’s charming, kind, and so into you. But spend a bit more time with him and you’re sure to see his real side come out. For example, when someone upsets him, he’ll bring out his nasty, sarcastic side.
They crumble when confronted. When you challenge the toxic guy by calling him out on his lies, he’ll fall apart. He might lose his temper (bear in mind some toxic guys can be dangerous so confronting them is probably not a good idea) or burst into tears to play the victim card on you. They’re cornered and have to think of some way to come out on top, as they always want to be in control.
They’re nasty. The last thing a toxic guy wants you to think is that he’s a horrible person, which is why he tries to seem like Mr. Charming. He knows he’ll have better chances to attract you by being nice, at least until he has you where he wants you.
They’re incredibly insecure. They might seem to be confident and always think they’re right, but deep down toxic men are little insecure man-children. When no one else is around and they don’t have to try to be the life of the party or they’re not trying to make you prove yourself to them as though they’re the voice of authority, they feel pretty crappy about themselves, as they should.
They won’t change. Even though they’ll promise you that they’ll become better people and even change for you, the truth is that they’ll continue their damaged little cycles. You might think there’s hope, like when they go out and finally get a job and turn their lives around, but they’ll always go back to showing you that they’re not going to change.
They think little of you. While they might tell you that you’re the most amazing person and the only one who’s ever been there for them, don’t let their flattering words get to your head. They’re just with you to serve a means to an end. They’re trying to gain something from you, such as your money, time, sympathy, or love.
They’ll be fine without you. Although you might worry about the toxic person in your life and fear that without you they’ll be broke/get kicked out of their apartment/go back on the booze, the truth is that they’re master manipulators who always survive. They’ve survived for years before you came along, after all, so don’t buy into their act.
They know how to reel you back in. When you’re fed up of dealing with your toxic partner’s drama and you want to get out of the relationship, he always manages to reel you back in. How? He knows how to throw on the charm and be dreamy again. But, he also knows that he’s slowly breaking down your self-esteem by playing these games, and that’s exactly what he’s after. Do yourself a big favor and break the cycle!
How to change your habits
I realized my worth. Toxic guys like to be around people who will let them get away with their bad behavior but they quickly lose interest in those who call them out. When I realized my worth, I learned that I deserved much more than the crap I was putting up with on a daily basis. I reminded myself that I was worthy of love, and with a boost in self-esteem, I have managed to repel toxic losers. I don’t need their drama and you don’t either.
I stopped making excuses for toxic guys. We’ve all heard someone say “He’s not that bad! You just need to get to know him!” to excuse a toxic guy’s behavior. That’s not true at all. You already know him and these are his true colors. Good people don’t need time to prove their goodness, so the next time you hear someone say that, nod and smile politely and realize that they’re talking utter BS.
I set strong boundaries and enforced them. I’ve realized that the moment you stop enforcing your boundaries, a toxic guy will treat you like a doormat and walk all over you. To change your dating game forever and to repel toxic guys, learn to set strong boundaries and enforce them no matter what. Boundaries will help you maintain a healthy balance in your relationship so your niceness isn’t being taken advantage of. If a guy crosses a boundary you’ve set with him, be quick to put your foot down.
I stopped being nice. I was raised to be a nice person and I’m not going to change that because a few losers like to take advantage of my decency. However, I learned to be nice only when the person I was seeing was nice. It was a tit-for-tat for me because I learned that only I was responsible for my comfort, safety, and happiness. Learn where the line lies between being nice and being a pushover – you don’t owe anything to these guys.
I developed high standards and haven’t lowered them. This was a tough challenge to conquer. I often managed to reel in toxic guys because they were that good at pretending they met my standards of an acceptable person to date. What happened then? They weren’t meeting anything – I was settling for them. This is when I promised myself to never lower the standards I had happily set for myself. You can be Prince Charming for all I care, but if you can’t meet my standards, we’re not dating.
I separated myself from the drama. If you’ve ever dated a toxic guy, you know they’re full of BS and drama. They love it when others step in to help solve their problems. It was a neverending cycle of crap that left me mentally and physically drained out. I learned that I was never going to “fix” anyone’s issues, and if a man I’m dating comes with emotional baggage, I’ll let him sort them out. It’s actually really empowering.
I surrounded myself with good, positive, and supportive people. It can be hard to recognize toxicity in others if you don’t have examples of what healthy, positive relationships should be like. I automatically began repelling toxic guys after I started surrounding myself with positive and supportive people. The ‘Karens’ were replaced with supportive friends who were quick to spot toxicity in a guy, sometimes way before I did.
I stopped being afraid and called out toxic guys out. Want to repel toxic guys forever? I know that’s the point of this article, but I can’t stress enough how important this step is when you truly want to break out of the destructive toxicity cycle. When you spot toxicity in the guy you’re seeing, don’t be afraid to call him out and hold them accountable for their actions. They need to know that you won’t tolerate any BS anymore. If the guy doesn’t mean to be toxic, he’ll accept what you have to say and may even realize the harm of his actions. If he is toxic, he’ll quickly dismiss your concerns, make empty promises, or simply leave.
I made myself a priority. Toxic guys love it when you make them your priority even when they treat you like trash. It’s time to reverse this. Whether they make you their priority or not, make yourself a priority. You come first, not him, especially if he’s toxic. Love yourself and learn to say no. Establish your boundaries now and kick the toxic freeloader out of your life.
How dating toxic guys helps you grow
They help you get over it. You come out of a long-term relationship and feel really depressed and low on confidence. The toxic guy could give you back your mojo. He’ll shower you with attention and even though he’s temporary, he’ll show you why you’re amazing. It’s just what you need to go back into the dating game with renewed strength and confidence.
They remind you that love doesn’t have to last forever. You might always be keen on long-term relationships. However, these guys prove that sometimes good times with someone can be just that. Romance doesn’t always have to last forever to be an awesome experience.
They remind you of what you don’t want. Stick with a loser and you’ll quickly see what you don’t want in a partner! These douchebags tend to be self-absorbed and afraid of commitment. After dating them for a while, you’ll remember what types of men to avoid when hunting for a real relationship in future.
They make you respect yourself. Nothing teaches self-respect quite like an a-hole who’s not respectful! When a guy you date flirts with other women or acts like a jerk, stop. Take a deep breath and you’ll realize you have to respect yourself. Leave him at the club and getting a taxi home. Most importantly, delete his number.
They decrease your tolerance for BS. If you tend to give people second chances, a toxic guy will change that. Since he might disrespect you, you’ll see that getting hurt once is more than enough and you’ll be able to move on for good. They remind you of your standards so you won’t forget them when dating other guys in future.
They prove single life is awesome. You might end up falling head over heels for the POS. Ouch. You might be heartbroken, but it’s the perfect opportunity to take a dating sabbatical. You’ll learn to love yourself and that you don’t need a man. In a weird way, the drama the toxic guy brought to your life showed you this.
They remind you to have fun. These guys are so popular because they’re charming and fun. They’re the life of the party and can make you feel like a million bucks. But after spending time with them, the fun starts to fizzle. You’ll see that you want more than a fun partner, but you’ll be glad for the times they made you put your hair down.
They make you change your type. If all you’re dating are liars, players, and other toxic dudes, getting screwed over by them will show you it’s time to change your dating type so you put an end to the drama. Yes! After one too many losers, you’ll start to appreciate the really decent, nice guys.
You’ll remember the red flags. Although these guys seem like a giant waste of time, they teach you loads about spotting them in future so you can stay the hell away from them. For instance, one of their big red flags is giving mixed messages, such as when they make plans but then fail to commit to them. So annoying. You won’t be putting up with that crap again!
You learn when to move on. You might date losers and spend too much time with them, hoping they’ll commit and become better guys (good luck with that). You might even ignore your gut feeling to GTFO of the relationship. But it’s cool. Once you ignore it, you’ll learn never to do it again, which makes you a stronger person with higher standards.
You see what real love is like. What these guys do really well is be an example of what love shouldn’t be. It’s not about trying to persuade someone to like you, dealing with drama, or feeling like you’re not good enough. You might do or feel these things with the toxic guy and end up with nothing to show for it. But at least you’ve learned some valuable lessons so you won’t give your heart away to toxic people who pretend to be in love with you but just want to take advantage of your feelings.
They remind you to hold onto your boundaries. It’s easy to fall for the jerk’s charming and sweet act, which might make you erase your boundaries for him. So when he calls you at midnight, you let him in even though it’s late. And when he needs money to fix his car, you’ll give it to him and then never see it again. Ugh. You get taken advantage of because these jerks make lazy boyfriends. They don’t rise to meet your standards – they only promise to – so having a good set of them in place and strong boundaries that don’t budge are musts to weed them out of your life. You’ll reach a point in your life where only grown men need apply to be your boyfriend. Hell yeah.
Lessons you ultimately learn once you change your ways
Your luck won’t change on its own—you have to do it yourself. If you want to stop attracting the wrong guys, you have to get real with yourself about what you want and don’t want in your life. While you may eventually end up with a great guy who’s the complete opposite of your dream dude, you should rule out dating anyone who lies, cheats, refuses to commit, etc. After all, it’s better to be alone than with someone who isn’t worthy of you.
You have to value yourself or no one will. This was a tough concept to wrap my head around because I thought I was a great catch and I assumed this meant I valued myself. I was wrong. After a lot of self-reflection, I discovered that knowing you’re attractive doesn’t necessarily mean you respect and appreciate who you truly are at your core. It’s no wonder guys walked all over me—I was letting them!
Acting like you’re cool with toxic behavior/trying to mirror it will always backfire. Sometimes we like to pretend that nothing bothers us. We tell ourselves we don’t care if a guy cheats or dates around. We’ll simply do the same thing to “get even,” so to speak. Don’t fool yourself here. Being a player, having a huge ego, and acting like a badass doesn’t make dating easy. Trying to be someone you’re not will always backfire in the end.
Numbing yourself to toxic guys’ BS only makes them think it’s OK. This seems to be one of the best skills we as women have cultivated in recent years. We convince ourselves that all guys are the same and that if we don’t want to be alone, we’ll just have to get over it and learn not to care. This is a terrible idea. The more you accept narcissists, cheaters, and players as just par for the course, the more they’ll think it’s OK to keep on doing it.
Good guys will never be attracted to a woman who doesn’t love herself. If we’re truly honest with ourselves, what we really want is love. Love is a basic human need that nourishes us and can help us flourish. It sounds cliche, sure, but it’s true. The only way to achieve a loving, committed relationship is to love and respect yourself. That radiance spreads like wildfire and the good men will come running for you.
The more terrible experiences you have with toxic guys, the more desperate you become in dating. The more crappy relationships you have, the more desperate you become. Desperate to find one of the elusive good guys you’re not entirely sure exist (but hope does). Obviously it’s not that simple. You end up becoming a serial dater with more empty, unfulfilling “relationships” under your belt. Take a deep breath and a step back. Everything you need to have a happy life is already inside of you. You don’t need a guy to complete you.
If a guy doesn’t add to your life, he should get out of it. When you’re in a healthy, happy relationship, your partner should enrich your life. While he shouldn’t be the source of your happiness, he should definitely increase it. He should push you to be the best version of yourself. He should cherish you by showing you love, respect, and loyalty. If he doesn’t, why are you with him? The more you start asking yourself this question, the more you’ll start repelling toxic guys instead of attracting them.