11 Soul-Destroying Mind Games Men Play & How To Avoid Them

Mind games are toxic behavior in disguise.

Woman confused by mans mind games  Scopio Imagesvia Canva | Liza Summer via Canva  

Burn out from dating often develops because so many men play mind games. You can quickly get sick of feeling duped by someone who acts as if he’s interested and then ghosts you or suddenly changes his personality once you have given him a commitment.

There are plenty of good men who are sincere about their intentions. Don’t let the actions of a couple of men get in your way of finding lasting love.


If you’ve ever had a bad meal, it’s not like you’d never go out to eat again! You just wouldn’t go back to that restaurant. If you find yourself feeling duped and heartbroken because a man misrepresented himself, let’s get to the bottom of what’s really going on…


RELATED: If These 7 Behaviors Sound Familiar, He's Likely Playing Mind Games With You

The mind games men play aren't any fun.

A man who leads you on either isn’t honest with you about his feelings or he isn’t mature enough to be in an intimate relationship. Reflect on your relationship and see if there were any red flags you may have missed. The key is being able to recognize a man who plays mind games so you’re able to break this pattern.


Moving forward, it's important to embrace slow love — there is no reason to rush through dating to exclusivity. Be sure to set boundaries and communicate your needs and expectations clearly through the dating process.

Don't settle for someone who plays games with your heart or makes you feel insecure. Being patient and taking things slowly will actually speed up the process for you to find your beloved.

You deserve to be with someone who treats you with kindness, respect, and compassion.

Mind games are toxic behavior in disguise.

Obsessing over the mind games men play won’t serve you. In reality, both men and women can play mind games and exhibit toxic behavior. When someone plays mind games, it creates a power dynamic in which one person is trying to exert control over the other. This can be extremely damaging to your mental and emotional well-being leading to feelings of confusion, frustration, and insecurity.


It's important to recognize these toxic behaviors so you can set boundaries to repel these men who play mind games. Healthy relationships are built on trust, respect, and open communication.

Unfortunately, a manipulative person will seek easy prey so it’s up to you to protect yourself by examining their behavior over time. Men who play mind games won’t stick around if you stop going along to get along.

It's okay to disagree, to assert your individual tastes and desires, and to make requests. You deserve to be with someone who treats you with love and respect, and who values your feelings and opinions. Don't be discouraged by men who play mind games, instead learn to spot them quickly to repel them or avoid them altogether.

Recognize these behaviors quickly and set strong boundaries to protect yourself from toxic behavior.


11 mind games men play and how to identify them early

1. Here comes the love bomb.

Love bombing is when someone showers you with excessive compliments, gifts, and attention at the beginning of a relationship to quickly win you over. It can be a sign of emotional manipulation and you shouldn’t trust it as sincere.

Men who love bomb are more excited about the idea of you than they are about getting to know the real you. Usually, he will disappear after the first disagreement or conflict between you.

2. He cancels plans at the last minute.

Canceling last minute is a sign this man isn’t serious or can’t manage his work-life balance. He will frequently cancel plans at the last minute or not show up at all, leaving you feeling confused and uncertain about the relationship.

These men are time wasters so don’t invest your heart until he’s proven that he’s in it to win it with you. This mind game men play proves that he’s not serious about a relationship and he’s only looking for something convenient.


3. When he purposefully tests your boundaries.

Some men will deliberately cross your boundaries to see how much they can get away with. It can be a way for them to gain power and control in the relationship. It can also be a sign that he has co-dependent tendencies and rushes to emotionally merge with you.

Men who test your boundaries can’t be trusted with your heart. It might be easy to confuse the excitement you feel as chemistry, but it’s not going to lead to an emotionally healthy dynamic between you.

4. Gaslighting you into self-doubt.

This mind game is a form of psychological abuse. When someone gaslights you they make you question your own reality — your thoughts, feelings, and memory. Gaslighting can be subtle at first and become more prominent once he has you convinced you can’t trust your own eyes and ears.

If a man negates your experience or tries to convince you that what you know isn’t true RUN! He will prey on your insecurities and work to undermine your confidence. This mind game men play is a serious red flag that you must extricate yourself from immediately.


5. When he sends mixed signals.

Men who send you conflicting messages and alternate between hot and cold can have you feeling uncertain and confused about their intentions. While not typically deliberate, mixed signals are a sign that he’s not invested in creating a long-term relationship with you.

Whether he is unsure about his own desires or just enjoys the convenience of your company without making an emotional investment, men who send mixed signals aren’t going to wake up one day and decide you are the love of their life. Don’t waste your time while he tries to figure out what he really wants.

6. He won’t take responsibility.

If he refuses to take responsibility for his actions or blames you for his mistakes, then it’s impossible to resolve conflicts or miscommunication in your relationship. When conflict is pushed aside or ignored because he won’t own his behavior, it becomes a landmine that will consistently blow up into more conflict.

You can also end up walking on eggshells like you can’t do anything right as he pushes responsibility for his moods and behavior onto you. Shifting blame is a sign of emotional immaturity and will not allow lasting love to grow.


7. When he stonewalls you.

Stonewalling is when someone shuts down and refuses to communicate or engage in conflict resolution. It can be a way for them to avoid taking responsibility or to maintain control in the relationship. This strategy is commonly used by a person with an avoidant attachment style.

It’s one thing to need to take a break and calm yourself down during an argument, but this mind game men play doesn’t allow for you two to repair and reconnect. He’s hoping as time passes that you’ll calm down and he can behave as if nothing bad happened. Ultimately, you’re left wondering when (not if) he’ll shut you out again.

8. He subtly criticizes you, and may deny he ever did it.

This mind game men play is one of the most insidious because he makes subtle comments or criticisms about your appearance, behavior, or personality, leaving you feeling insecure and inadequate. Your self-esteem will slowly erode, and eventually, you won’t believe that you deserve more from your man.

Notice if he supports you and tries to lift you up, or if you’re often feeling bad about yourself hearing his criticism. A partner who wants you to be your best will inspire you not admonish you.


9. When he is "poof" gone like a ghost.

Ghosting is when someone abruptly ends all communication and disappears without explanation, leaving you feeling hurt and confused. You may waste time searching for what you did wrong or chase after him, either way, you’re throwing away your most valuable resource.

Ultimately, men who play this mind game are showing you who they are — and it’s not an emotionally mature man. Men who ghost disappear because they can’t be honest and tell you they’re not interested in a relationship. This has nothing to do with you!

10. He won't introduce you to their friends or family.

This subtle mind game men play keeps you separate from their social circle because they don't want to integrate you into their life, which is another sign that they're not serious about the relationship.

If he’s not integrating you into his life, then he’s not moving the relationship forward. By keeping you out of his inner circle he’s showing you that he’s not interested in a future with you.


11. Power-tripping to control your behavior.

Attempting to control your behavior, choices, or actions, is a form of emotional abuse and must be taken seriously. Controlling men may come across as strong and decisive at first but they’ll become bullies over time.

This mind game men play comes from a need to manage their environment and to make sure that they get their way. Over time you’ll have to acquiesce to his demands, or you’ll be in constant conflict with him.

These mind games men play are a sign that this man is not a good match for a thriving relationship. You deserve to be with a healthy and supportive partner where you're treated as an equal. If you're experiencing any of these mind games, you must reexamine the relationship. Communicate your concerns and set clear boundaries. If the behavior persists, it may be necessary to end the relationship for your own well-being.

RELATED: If You Notice These 15 Things, You're About To Be Ghosted


How to avoid the men who play mind games

If you’re single and looking for long-lasting love, the best way to avoid the mind games men play is to date the way you want to mate. You teach people how to treat you from the moment you meet them. Turning away men who play games leaves the opportunity for a relationship-ready man to show up in your life.

1. Practice slow love.

It may sound counterintuitive but slowing down the dating process can speed up the time it takes to meet your soulmate. Most people date backwards and give the benefit of the doubt to a stranger. Don’t let feelings of attraction and chemistry cloud your judgment. Take red flags seriously and never excuse away mind games men play.

Don’t get swept up in the intense emotions of a new relationship. It’s important to see how he behaves when there’s conflict between you (not just when things are good). Give yourself time to assess and evaluate if this new person is an ideal match for the long term.

2. Date more than one person at a time.

It’s essential you gather enough data about yourself and the men you’re dating by going on dates with multiple people. Most people are combing through profiles looking for reasons to say “No” to a date with someone. Too short, wrong color hair, no college degree, any excuse to weed him out.


Instead, look for reasons to say, “Yes” to a date. Stop creating barriers to meeting new people. Every person you meet gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself, to get a clear picture of what you want in a beloved partnership, and opportunities for you to be authentic and ask for what you want and need.

By dating multiple people you’ll avoid investing your heart quickly in a man who seems too good to be true, avoiding men who play mind games.

3. Set clear boundaries.

Creating and maintaining healthy boundaries develops strong self-respect and self-esteem. Lacking self-esteem will make you a target for the mind games men play. You may ignore his manipulative behavior or have a false belief that you have to tolerate it. Respect is the healthy boundary that comes with real love.


Clarify your deal-breakers and keep all the promises you make to yourself. Use dating as a tool to cultivate discernment so you can deselect those who aren’t a good match for you. Show up authentically and express your desires.

Lasting love occurs when two whole and complete people come together to form a third entity: the relationship. When you set a boundary you’re showing that you count and matter.

4. Actively make requests.

If there's something you need or want from your date make a request. You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask. It may feel uncomfortable to speak your truth, but it’s worth the effort. Even if you don’t get what you want, you’ll feel better about yourself for speaking up.

The man who wants a relationship with you will want to know how to win your heart. By speaking up you’re letting him know how to please you. By making requests you’ll ensure that your needs are being met and that you're not being taken advantage of.


5. Respect yourself (Don't tolerate people who don't treat you with respect).

A healthy, loving relationship with yourself is a key element to having a healthy, loving relationship with your beloved. To break the pattern of falling for the mind games men play, learn how to take a stand for yourself. Respect yourself by not putting up with less than what you truly deserve.

Always remember you deserve to be treated with love, respect, and kindness in a relationship. Don't tolerate behavior that makes you feel less than, not accepted, or criticized. The right partner will want you to feel good about yourself!

6. Keep your heart karma clean.

Your heart karma is created by the actions you take in your relationships. When you act out of integrity, you create the space for others to do the same. Cultivate positive energy in your life by taking actions in alignment with your values. This will keep you from getting caught up in the mind games men play.

Clean up your past heart karma by practicing forgiveness with yourself and with those who’ve hurt you. Vow to do better in the future. Treat your dates with the respect they deserve and expect the same in return.


Remember, the most important thing is to stay true to yourself and your values. Don't compromise your boundaries or your self-respect for anyone. With the right mindset and strategies, you can avoid the mind games men play and build healthy, fulfilling relationships with a man who is worthy of your love.

RELATED: 6 Clever Ways To Beat Toxic People At Their Own Mind Games

Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches who have been featured guest experts on Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker. Their dating strategies report, The 7 Steps To Soulmating is available via their website.