You can find many resources online about toxic and manipulative men. This article is to supplement other research you’ve done and to give you a clear list of signs and red flags you should look for before becoming too involved in a new relationship.
The more aware you are of behaviors specific to toxic, manipulative men the better equipped you are to protect yourself from one. The thing to keep in mind when reading the signs below is that most of these behaviors won’t show up early in a relationship.
Toxic manipulative men only show their true colors once they know you are emotionally invested in them. That is why I warn women to not become too invested in a man, too quickly. Protecting yourself from that kind of toxicity means being able to police your emotions and recognizing the signs when they rear their ugly heads. Good luck with that!
Here are 20 Signs of Toxic and Manipulative Men
1. Gaslighting and crazy-making.
Gaslighting typically happens very gradually in a relationship; in fact, his actions may seem harmless at first. Over time, however, abusive patterns continue and you can become confused, anxious, isolated, and depressed, and can lose all sense of what is actually happening. Then you’ll start relying on the abusive man more and more to define your reality, which creates a very difficult situation to escape.
If he says and does things that cause confusion or you to feel like you are crazy, you’re being gaslighted. If you’re being gaslighted you’ll feel self-doubt, question whether or not you are being overly emotional, become insecure in your role in the relationship and find yourself apologizing for everything that goes wrong in the relationship. It’s psychologically dangerous, get out!
2. Unable to see things from your perspective.
He says something or does something that causes you emotional pain. You attempt to explain to him how you feel but are met with a blank stare or annoyance. He isn’t someone who can see things from your perspective. He isn’t someone who can understand why his actions had any impact on your, negative or positive.
He is the kind of guy who says to you, “I’m not responsible for your feelings.” If he cheats on you, he wants you to get over it. If he doesn’t show up for a planned date, he accuses you of being uptight and controlling. He is a jerk!
3. The ultimate hypocrite.
“Do as I say, not as I do.” He has extremely high expectations for fidelity, respect, and adoration. After the idealization phase, he will give none of this back to you. He will cheat, lie, criticize, and manipulate. But you are expected to remain perfect, otherwise, you will promptly be replaced and deemed unstable.
4. Pathological lying.
Before you even question him about a subject or situation he’ll have a lie ready to tell you. And, when caught lying, he expresses to remorse or embarrassment. He just tries to lie his way out of the original lie. His life is one big lie and so are his feelings for you.
5. He focuses on your mistakes but ignores his own.
This guy needs you to be perfect and to view him as perfect in spite of his bad behavior. Your mistakes will be brought to your attention. He will expect you to be remorseful and to make changes as he sees fit. He, on the other hand, can do no wrong and you better not forget that.
6. The meaning of respect is lost on him.
Normal people understand fundamental concepts like honesty and kindness. The toxic man is childlike in his ability to grasp the concept of not only receiving respect but returning it.
He won’t respect your need for time alone or time with family and friends. He doesn’t respect your boundaries, your career or, your desire to go to the bathroom without an audience. You can tell him dinner is promptly at 8:00 and he will show at 9:00. This guy is downright unmannerly, course and contemptible. Get as far away as possible!
7. Needs to be the center of attention.
This guy wants all your attention, 24/7 your life is supposed to revolve around him. His demand for adoration from you is insatiable. In reality, this guy has no identity without you there to constantly build him up. And, it isn’t even about you. Anyone can give him what he needs…attention. You’re only there because you were the first of fifth he found to do his bidding.
8. Assigns false emotions to you.
He will dismiss your true feelings and assign you feelings that most often mimic what he is feeling. Psychologist and psychiatrists called this “projection.” Projection is a psychological defense mechanism in which he attributes characteristics he finds unacceptable in himself to another person…you.
For example, he may accuse you of wanting to have an affair or being attracted to a close friend or ex. In reality, it is him who may be having an affair or thinking about an affair or, attracted to someone other than you. He has projected his feelings of shame, guilt or desire for someone else off onto you because subconsciously he knows it’s wrong but can’t emotionally face that in himself.
9. Your gut is constantly telling you to investigate.
He has been caught in enough lies that you’ve finally gotten to the point of believing nothing he says. But you’ve also learned to doubt your own gut feelings so, your turn yourself into a private investigator and start stalking him on social media.
Or, maybe following him after work or driving by his home when you two aren’t together. You’re seeking answers to questions and doubts you have that you just can quite explain.
10. Everyone around you thinks he walks on water.
Everyone but you! But there must be something wrong with you if you’re the only one questioning his values, morals, and sincerity. Here is what you need to keep in mind. You’re the only one engaged in an intimate relationship with him. No one sees the side of him you see.
His relationship with those other people is superficial and that is why they don’t see what you see in him!
11. You begin to fear expressing your feelings.
Normal couples argue to resolve issues, but toxic men make it clear that negative conversations will jeopardize the relationship, especially conversations regarding their bad behavior. Any of your attempts to improve communication will typically result in the silent treatment. You apologize and forgive quickly, otherwise, you know he’ll lose interest in you.
12. He disrespects your boundaries.
Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around her and how she will respond when someone steps outside those limits.
If he is repeatedly crossing your boundaries, he isn’t willing to discuss boundaries with you, or you notice he is guilt-tripping you for even having boundaries, your relationship is likely very unhealthy and could become abusive if his behaviors continue and escalate.
13. They belittle and dismiss you.
If you point this out, they call you sensitive and crazy. You might begin to feel resentful and upset, but you learn to push away those feelings in favor of maintaining the peace. They withhold attention and undermine your self-esteem. After once showering you with nonstop attention and admiration, they suddenly seem completely bored by you.
They treat you with silence and become very annoyed that you’re interested in continuing the passionate relationship they created with you. You begin to feel like a chore to them.
14. You’re supposed to be a mind reader.
He doesn’t communicate his needs or plans with you. If he gets pissed because you fail to do something he wanted but you didn’t know about, you’re on the hook because you failed to read his mind.
Guys like this are non-communicators. They are immature romantics who believe, “if she really loved me, she’d know what I need.” You can’t win with this guy because they like to play the victim and what better way to do that than leave you to wonder what they hell they want and need from you.
15. You feel anxious but can’t define why.
Bad relationships will eventually cause anxiety. If you find yourself suddenly feeling unexplained anxiety take a long, hard look at the dynamics of your relationship with him.
If you’re in a relationship with a toxic man you’re most likely constantly stressed out over the state of the relationship, or over-analyzing the constant conflict in the relationship. You probably don’t need meds for anxiety just a new relationship partner!
16. He has a dysfunctional past.
Some toxic men have serious mental health problems and they always have someone to blame them on. If all his exes were bitches, his parents were neglectful and his childhood friends and work friends are all defective…according to him, you can bet his dysfunctional past isn’t about all those people and all about him.
This guy is so messed up that you can bet he will fuck up any relationship he engages in, romantic and otherwise.
17. Stirs the pot, loves conflict.
He is a drama queen! He is always putting his nose into other peoples’ business and conflicts. He isn’t happy and doesn’t want anyone else to be either. He will not be able to get along with your girlfriends. He won’t have friends of his own because he ran them off with his meddling.
This guy is addicted to the adrenaline rush he gets from engaging in conflict. If there isn’t conflict going on, he will find a way to start it.
18. He is in LOVE!
When you first meet, things move extremely fast. He tells you how much he has in common with you—how perfect you are for him. After the first date, he has changed his Facebook status to, “in a relationship.”
He constantly initiates communication and seems to be fascinated with you on every level. You met him on July 3rd and he is already planning a Christmas getaway for the two of you after only two weeks. He is all about pinning you down quickly.
By Christmas there will be no trip, he will have lost interest and you’ll be licking your emotional wounds because you fell for his game, hook, line and sinker.
19. Compares you to other people.
They compare you to ex-lovers, friends, family members, and your eventual replacement. When idealizing, they make you feel special by telling you how much better you are than these people. When devaluing, they use these comparisons to make you feel jealous and inferior.
20. Your admirable qualities become deficiencies.
At first, they appeal to your deepest vanities and vulnerabilities, observing and mimicking exactly what they think you want to hear. But after you’re hooked, they start to use these things against you. You spend more and more time trying to prove yourself worthy to the very same person who once said you were perfect.