Woe Is Me! “How Do I Avoid Toxic Men?
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I just can’t get away from toxic men. It’s sad and draining, but I don’t know how to make it stop.”
— Searching For Sweetness
LG: Are you Britney Spears? If so, blink twice and finish this line – Oh, the taste of your lips, I’m _ – so we know to whom to send help. #FreeBritney is all about freeing you from toxic men. If you’re not, then, it’s probably wise to ask yourself why you’re addicted to toxic men. Why is that your type, especially when you don’t want it to be? If you have trouble answering that, a therapist might be able to help, and also to suggest ways to break away from the long line of bums in your life. And whatever you do, add Britney’s ‘Stronger’ to your playlist.
AM: The good thing is that you’ve realized that this is a problem that has a negative effect on your mental health. So, first things first, recognize who these men are and accept that they will never change. This will be the biggest step that’ll help you in moving away. Setting mental boundaries is also very important. There’s a limit to how much you can tolerate, and your mental boundaries should be able to guide you on when to pull away from that conversation. When you start ignoring them, their tantrums might increase, but a good way to not give in is to remember to keep telling yourself that you’re letting these people know that their old behaviors will not work. And of course, most importantly, surround yourself with healthy relationships. You’ll know you wasted space and mental capacity on these toxic people. Good luck!
SM: Hi! First, a hug. Second, you are not alone. We often get into patterns of behavior, especially when it comes to the relationships we form. We imbibe a lot of these patterns when we’re children, which makes them even harder to break. But I think it’s important to take a break for a bit, try and go to therapy/take therapy online, if you can afford it, and work through the specifics of why you can’t get away from toxic men, what are the similarities in their traits which make these relationships sad and draining, and most importantly, how can you recognize these traits early on, before you form strong attachments to these men.
DR: Oh, hi! Addressing this woe is like standing in front of a mirror, and talking to myself. About 80-85 percent of the men I’ve been attracted to in my life have been toxic. So, rest assured that I know where you’re coming from. But, speaking from experience, what really helped me is working on my self-esteem, and putting myself in charge of assessing my self-worth — it is not an easy or swift process. It will involve being less harsh on yourself, being more forgiving of your flaws, and knowing that you absolutely do not need to be controlled, or chided, to be a functional human being. Until you internalize these beliefs, you will not be able to give yourself the respect you deserve, which will, in turn, leave you more vulnerable to be emotionally exploited/manipulated by the breed of toxic men. Speak to a therapist, if you think they can guide you through this process better. In the interim, I would also suggest devising an early warning system with your friends, where they can wave a red flag at you the moment you start falling for yet another toxic man. Good luck!
KB: We’ve all been there! Sometimes with men, sometimes with toxic friends, but virtually everyone has experienced the bizarre emotional magnetism that toxic people put out. They suck you into their vortex of gaslighting and negativity, and once you’ve been ensnared in the gravitational pull of their emotional bullying, it feels impossible to break free. Remember, one of the reasons toxic people are so successful at drawing people in is precisely because they’re so toxic; by drawing you into their negativity — and punctuating it with moments of fun or affection — they convince you that they are the ones making you feel good while everything else around you is bad. They sneakily convince you that they are the only great thing you’ve got, and everyone else sucks. These people are everywhere, and they are very, very bad for you.
The good news is, the more of these people you experience, the easier it is to identify them, because they share similar DNA, and similar MO’s. It sounds like you’ve already met a bunch of these people, which means — good news! — the hard part is already over. Use your previous experiences with toxic men to spot the patterns, and once you do, learn to cut the cord immediately and run in the other direction.
RD: Haha, there are indeed too many to be able to be completely rid of them, to be honest. I’d suggest looking back on your experience and figuring out initial red flags that you set as rules for yourself — if you see those, you run in the other direction. For me, personally, I gave the benefit of the doubt too often, which meant it took me longer to identify and internalize their toxicity, by which time I was already drained and exhausted. Don’t stick around after a dude has touched upon some of those red flags. Bhaag le (run!).