It's so easy to fall for it....but don't.
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, so we expect that every relationship can. But the unspoken truth is that 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. 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:
1. 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).
2. 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.
3. He 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).
4. He will be friendly to others or in front of others, but seems different when no one else is around.
5. He may "gaslight" you.
This means that 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 they would have of changeable (normal) relationships, so they get caught up waiting and expecting the situation to get back to the "normal" they saw in the beginning.
His tactics and actions play a total head game on her and keep her second-guessing herself, 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.
In the day to day moments, she questions herself because he acts like she's imagining all the stuff she's 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 agreed 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's a lot of word play going on or if you feel he's being secretive. Watch to make sure the changes you requested happen, and if so, how long did they last? 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're already a step ahead of most women and are on your way to breaking free, and finding a peaceful, normal relationship.
This article was originally published at Teagin Maddox. Reprinted with permission from the author.