I was a toxic man magnet, stuck in a destructive pattern. After dating a guy who nearly became violent with me, I finally realized I had to change. It wasn’t easy, but here’s what I finally learned to do to stop attracting bad men:
1. I STOPPED BEING SO NICE. I’m a nice person. I can’t completely change that, and I don’t want to. But I realized that I had to be much more selective about who I was nice to, because toxic men just take advantage of decent people.
2. I BECAME SUSPICIOUS. I wasn’t cynical about guys by any means, but to stop attracting toxic men, I had to stop being ready to give them the benefit of the doubt at the drop of a hat. If they didn’t act like good people or they told me stories that sounded like lies, it put me on guard so I could start protecting myself. Trust is earned, not given away to a guy just because he has a sob story.
3. I LISTENED TO MY GUT. I ignored my inner voice too much in the past, which means that when it told me that the guy I was dating was a little too selfish or probably had some other woman on the side, I tried to push it away. But then months later I’d realize my gut was on point. Now I listen to that nagging feeling fiercely.
4. I STOPPED BEING A DRAMA COLLECTOR. Toxic guys are full of drama, and they love it when other people step in and try to solve their problems for them. It’s screwed up and I finally decided I didn’t want to collect drama anymore because it left me physically and mentally sick in the past. So now if I discover the guy I’m dating has loads of issues, I step back and let him sort them out like a grown man. It’s empowering. It’s not my responsibility to “fix” anyone.
5. I STOPPED THINKING I WASN’T WORTHY. I never really believed I was worthy of love. It’s sad, but true. After dating men who drained me and made me feel like crap, I realized that I am worthy of love and deserve so much more than what I was getting. This self-love keeps the toxic losers at bay because they target people who don’t have a strong sense of self-esteem.
6. I FOCUSED ON ME. After dating a string of toxic men, I realized for the first time ever that I had to focus on what I wanted, not just let them do whatever they wanted and expect me to be in their lives. Toxic guys are selfish and make everything about them, but I realized I have a choice. Hell yes. I know what I want and I’ll stick to it because my happiness is the most important thing. I choose it over any guy.
7. I GOT MYSELF SOME STANDARDS. I took time to figure out what had gone wrong in my past relationships, because even though the men were toxic, I’d been settling for them. I was partly to blame. I thought about what standards I should have, and once I felt they were right for me, I promised myself not to change them. If a guy I’m seeing can’t meet those standards, then I can’t date him.
8. I SAW A THERAPIST. At first it was tough to break the toxic man cycle, so I reeled in some professional help. I met with a therapist a few times to try to unpack my issues and she taught me about setting boundaries. This was such a valuable lesson, and it changed the whole dating game for me. I now had boundaries that men were not allowed to cross and if they tried, it was a sign they weren’t right for me. Boundaries also ensured that I didn’t give more than I got. Relationships had to be fair, without exception.
9. I THREW MY LOVE INTO MY LIFE. I’d been drawn to toxic men because they were a distraction from my life. Instead of making my life amazing, I got caught up in their lives and issues, trying to fix or change them. It took so much energy. I realized that I wanted that energy for myself so I could create a life that made me proud. When I started to create a life that I loved, there was no space in it for negative, soul-crushing men, and there never will be again.
10. I TOOK TIME TO GET TO KNOW PEOPLE. In the past, one of the mistakes I’d made was to jump into a relationship with a new guy who seemed amazing. I didn’t realize that toxic men come across as perfect guys in order to reel people in. To prevent this from happening to me, I made sure to casually date guys for at least a few weeks to really suss them out before getting into more serious relationships.
11. I TURNED THE NEGATIVE INTO A POSITIVE.Instead of feeling down because I’d allowed toxic guys to hurt me, I wanted to use my experience in a positive way to make me stronger. I know the signs of toxic men, so now I can spot if someone’s going to be bad for me right away. Examples include if their words don’t match their actions, they seem to have loads of drama going on in their lives, and they have no friends or family who support them (which is usually a sign that they hurt a lot of people in the past). This empowers me so that I avoid toxic men — and luckily, I’ve managed to dodge them recently.