How To Take Back Your Power From Toxic Guys & Terrible Dating Trends

Ghosting, benching, submarining… It seems like every day there’s a new dating trend to make you want to buy 20 cats and throw in the dating towel for good. But screw feeling powerless. Here’s how to take back your power and get back on the top of your game.

  1. Take a deep breath and calm the hell down. It’s easy to expect men to be jerks even before you’ve met them, but that’s crazy! For instance, just because 16% of 65 men admitted to ghosting their partners, according to an Elle study, it doesn’t mean every guy’s going to do that. What about the other 50-odd guys in the study who wouldn’t? Let’s think about the “good guy” stats we never hear about.
  2. Remember that there’s no epidemic of toxic guys. Liars, players, and other toxic guys have been around for decades. We’re giving them fancy names like “ghoster” and “bencher” now but they haven’t cropped up out of nowhere, so don’t think there’s some sort of epidemic going on. It’s the same guys as always—we’re just paying more attention now
  3. Know that you can walk away at any time. You might start dating a guy you really like only to get a whiff of shadiness a few weeks or a few months in. Maybe he’s acting a little distant and you fear he’s going to start fading you out or something. Well, you’ve got the power. You can walk away from him before he hurts you. You don’t have to wait until the ship sinks before you swim away.
  4. Avoid some of these dudes altogether if you want. No, I’m not implying that you ghost guys before they ghost you. What I’m saying is that you can totally prevent some dating trends from striking you by simply fiddling with your cell phone settings. Take the trend of men airdropping dick pics to your phone, for example. By changing your settings, you can totally block anything nasty like that from happening. Same goes for the guys who never answer your texts. You can unfollow, delete, and block the losers.
  5. Know that beating yourself up won’t solve anything. Crappy guys happen to every woman at some point in her life—yes, even if you’re totally clued up on how to spot the losers who cushion or love-bomb you. The important thing to remember is that they’re the problem, not you.
  6. Learn from your bad experiences so you don’t repeat them. It’s worth remembering that things happen for a reason. Not to sound trite or anything, but you’ll learn a heck of a lot more from the toxic guys who date you than from Prince Charming. Embrace the lessons and think of them as dating training wheels. That’s the best way to get your power back: by growing even stronger and more badass.
  7. Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Seriously, you’ll be brokenhearted after a guy treats you like crap but then you’ll get back up and move on. Besides, once you realize that you don’t need a man to be happy and you’re 100% fine on your own, you won’t even entertain fears about toxic men. They can’t hurt you if you don’t allow them in.
  8. Take a step back for a little while. Every now and then, it’s a good idea to take a break from dating. It prevents dating burnout and helps you stay in tune with what you really want. It also stops you giving off a whiff of desperation to toxic guys, which is like a giant red flashing light on your forehead saying that you’re open for business—the business of getting manipulated.
  9. Take control of how you feel. A guy can treat you like total crap but you know what? He can never make you FEEL like crap or have low self-confidence unless you allow him to. Fact! Tell yourself you’re not letting these jerks have power over you anymore and don’t let them. It’s really as simple as that.
  10. Let them do you a favor. When you look at the bigger picture, a guy who stops taking your calls is actually doing you a huge favor. Imagine being in a long-term relationship or marriage with that sort of coward. Ugh. Remember, those breakups can be blessings in disguise. Who needs all a toxic man’s issues?
  11. Trust your gut. No matter how much you read into a man’s behavior, remember to listen to your gut. It’s wiser than any toxic gameplay. Even if a guy seems amazing, he might actually not be good for you. He might be a fake love-bomber. Your gut will tell you to run in the other direction, so listen to it.
  12. Live your fabulous life. You might get down about how guys are going to con or hurt you next but honestly, don’t give them so much attention. The more you think about them, the more you’re giving them power. Dim the lights on what they’re doing and brighten the rest of your life. When you focus on making yourself happy, nothing a man does to you can really hurt you for long because you’ve got too many sun-soaked days to look forward to.
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.