The unspoken truth is, many relationships cannot ever change or grow.
Toxic men function in contrast to sensibility, but they also have very normal times, and can even have long stretches of time when they are very loving, kind, and accommodating, which leaves their partners conflicted over whether or not the guy is actually good or bad. Their inconsistent behavior creates a silent uncertainty in the partner's mind, causing the partner to stay put and try harder to make things work, and that is exactly what toxic men rely on.
In the beginning, women fall for destructive men in the moments the guy seems like a normal guy~or, when he appears to be a victim, because then he is seen as vulnerable, and women who get trapped by these guys are known to over-empathize, and to do so very quickly, never expecting that the victim story may have been staged to pull her in emotionally.
We have been conditioned to anticipate that relationships change and grow, and so we expect that every relationship can, but the unspoken truth is, there are many relationships that cannot ever grow, or change. Without expecting it is possible that we might be in a relationship that can't grow, we don't think to look for unsustained changes, and so we stay stuck for longer than we need to. When you start paying attention to the patterns of change in the relationship, as well as the way you respond to changes that don't stick, you can then assess the situation more accurately to determine if you are trapped in toxic love.
Toxic men have many game plans, and some are very tricky to spot unless you know what to look for. Here are some of the quirky strategies these guys employ:
He likes to call the shots and decide how communication happens; he may pout, retreat, or give you the silent treatment if you don't do things his way. There will be many cyclical arguments, twisting of what has been said, lexical meanings (isolating a word in your discussion, argument, or point and harping on it even out of its context, even weeks later). He will show inconsistent kindness, generosity and good nature, followed by the polar opposite~or, a sudden mood shift for no reason, and without warning. This can be subtle, it isn't just anger or aggression, it can be an eerie calm or quietness, or a sudden or senseless withdrawing.
The guy may be intense with various things (job, success, money, sex, romance...) or, just in one area (charm, or how he strives for eye contact in conversation). He will be friendly to others or in front of others, then seem different and less inter-active when no one else is around. He may "gaslight" you, which means, you are made to feel like you misunderstand things~that the conversation you had was not actually had~or if you don't repeat what he said precisely the way he said it when you question him on something, he claims to have never said it at all. He may claim that a promise made was not actually made, or that it wasn't made in the way you understood it~but you know better. Do you notice there is a lot of word play that goes on? Yep, it's common and it will keep you on your toes, and spinning, as you wonder if it's you who got it wrong, or him that made it up. It's exhausting.
Women in unchangeable (toxic) relationships typically have the same expectations that they would have of changeable (normal) relationships, and so they get caught up waiting and expecting the situation to get back to the "normal" they saw in the beginning. The tactics and actions I mentioned above play a total head game on her, and keep her second guessing herself and always wondering if she was right about the beginning and he changed, or if she had assessed him incorrectly right from the start, and he deceived her.
She cannot decipher which is the real guy~the vulnerable one she met in the beginning, the one who acts normal for the long stretches of time, or the nutty one who is playing head games? Or, she wonders, is it her? In the day to day moments, she questions herself because he acts like she is imagining all the stuff she is experiencing. She starts to wonder if perhaps she IS misunderstanding him. Privately, she thinks, "Could it have been my mistaken memory...did I forget...is he really right and he never did say X, or agree to Y..." but then she remembers he did....and the cycle in her mind continues. Again, it's a total head game and these warped guys are very good at it, and convincing.
If you notice these strategies or a pattern of incomplete follow through, start watching to see if there is a lot of word play going on, or if you feel he is being secretive. Watch to make sure the changes you requested happen, and if so, how long did they last, because improvements don't last long with these guys.
This is crazy-making stuff, and it's not easy to see when you're in it, but if you do, or if you notice it in hindsight, you are already a step ahead of most women, and on your way to breaking free, and finding a peaceful, normal relationship. It is not unusual for the breakup to be very difficult and unending, by the way, so expect a long journey, and if it starts wearing you down, check out my Women-Centered Start Over Programs to get yourself completely free and trusting yourself again quickly.
This article was originally published at Teagin Maddox. Reprinted with permission from the author.