How I learned to trust my instincts and stop dating toxic men

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Let me get this straight— I am not drawn to toxic men. I abhor them.

But it’s just that when it comes to love, I was a little bit too optimistic and forgiving, so I was able to look the other way even when the signs were in front of me.

I decided to change all of that. I don’t want to hit 50 going from one toxic man to another! And I can say I’ve made a huge improvement. I’m in a totally healthy relationship now and I’m so happy.

If you don’t want to be with toxic men anymore, you might want to do the things that I did.

1) I stopped gaslighting myself

Back in the day, I used to ignore that little voice inside of me when it said “hey, this man is a player” or “be careful about this guy, he’s abusive.”

I would make excuses like “oh, he’s just friendly” or “nah, i’m sure he’s just joking” instead of stopping to consider the possibility that maybe—just maybe—my intuition was right.

But I’ve since learned better and now, whenever my inner voice tells me that I should be careful with someone, I keep it in mind.

And once I’m in the right headspace to reflect, I try to go over them to see whether my suspicions hold water… and when I do, I don’t try to make excuses.

As women, we’re programmed to doubt the voices in our head. People tell us we’re being paranoid, or we’re just plain crazy.

But sometimes, the only one that can help us is someone who’s been with us since the beginning—our inner voice.

2) I paid more attention to red flags

Almost all of us are blind to red flags especially when the relationship is still new. At the beginning, we’re wearing rose-colored glasses—so the red flags are just…flags.

This is especially true when you’re someone who’s just kind at heart and likes to see the best in everyone.

But that just won’t do, because ignoring red flags is an easy way to get sucked into a relationship that’ll damage you for years to come.

So what changes did I make?

I now familiarize myself and pay close attention to red flags and yellow flags.

Of course, I won’t break up with someone or stop dating just because I’ve seen a few yellow flags, and will try to do my best to see if I can work things out.

But if I see genuine red flags? I’m definitely going to take that as a sign that I should get out sooner or later.

And oh, I now pay attention to what my friends and family say about my partner.

You see, even with my vigilance, I can’t trust myself to spot every red flag being thrown my way, so I pay attention to what they are saying. Chances are that they might have seen something I’ve missed.

3) I examined my dating habits closely

People say that wisdom comes with age and experience.

I say NO—I was already in my thirties when I got roped into the most toxic relationship I’ve had yet, and I know people in their 60s make stupid decisions in love.

There’s a third ingredient that you should not forget… and that is introspection.

Let me tell you why it’s so important.

See, I kept making the same mistakes in love, and three of the four men I dated were toxic as hell. But surely it can’t be that there are simply that many toxic men in the world, right?

So I sat my ass down and decided to think about what I am doing wrong, and why I keep on getting into relationships with toxic men.

This kind of self-reflection isn’t always easy, of course. There’s this thing called bias, and I had to ask for outside opinions to help me see through them.

If you’re having a hard time with reflection—like, say, being a bit short on perspective or needing someone to check your biases—I strongly suggest Relationship Hero. They’re a site where you can get in touch with highly trained relationship coaches.

They helped me work past biases I never even realized I had and helped me face some really tough questions I needed to face myself to improve my love life.

Thanks to their help, I now have a better idea of my bad habits when it comes to dating. And now, in my fifth relationship, I managed to find a man who’s drama-free.

4) I started healing from past traumas

As much as we’d like to think that we think freely, it can’t be denied that our past has a strong say on the thoughts we have and the decisions we make in the present.

Once I learned about this (or rather, once I realized it was more serious than I thought), I went all out in trying to work through my past.

I asked myself how the relationships of the people closest to me—especially my parents—have impacted how I choose romantic partners.

I asked myself if I was bullied and whether it has affected my self-esteem in such a way that it would make me attracted to certain types of men.

I asked myself how my previous partners affected how I view love.

Sorting out trauma is a very big deal, and that’s why I not only consulted with relationship coaches, I also tried talking to a licensed therapist. There are just times when you need as much expertise working on you as possible.

5) I learned to trust myself more

I wondered why I always doubted myself—and I still do, it’s a work in progress—and came to the conclusion that I simply didn’t trust myself enough.

I used to always doubt my ability to think clearly and make sound decisions, so when other people said “it’s okay” even when my intuition told me otherwise, I pushed my feelings aside.

This, unfortunately, blew up in my face plenty of times.

It wasn’t and isn’t easy, but I tried my best to learn how to trust myself.

There’s probably 20 different ways you can do it but what worked for me was I reminded myself of the times my intuition was right.

I remembered the time that my intuition said “He’s cheating on you” and the guy actually was.

I remembered the time my intuition said “Go left” when I’m trying to find something, and it was right.

I remembered the time I just had a bad feeling about someone and they turned out to be despicable people.

By reminding myself of the many times my intuition was right, my subconscious gets conditioned to not dismiss it whenever I feel something is “off”.

6) I started focusing on my long-term happiness

It’s really hard to properly consider my instincts when I focus on the short-term and let myself seize and live in the moment.

I always get a bit too excited about what’s in front of me and that unfortunately drowns out that voice in the back of my head.

I realize that in order for me to be able to listen to my instincts more clearly, I have to think long-term…even if there’s something very delicious and exciting in front of me.

So now, instead of being lost in romance and passion, I control myself and think “So how will my future self think about what I’m doing now?”

And that’s the time my intuition gets loud and clear.

7) I started having more male friends

Honestly, one of the best ways to know men is to be friends with them. If you don’t know how men tick, then you’re going to misunderstand them left and right.

Now, I didn’t start befriending men simply so that I can understand them—I just decided to open myself up to knowing more people, and I managed to find some men I got along with.

This not only helped me understand how men act, it also helped me see men as not some kind of scary “other” whose thoughts are cryptic and hard to understand, but as fellow humans. A little different from women, sure, but fellow humans nonetheless.

Because of this, it became easier for me to relate with men. And so when I went out in search of love, I had a better idea on what I should look for… and what to avoid.

8) I developed an abundance mindset

A trap that a lot of us ladies fall into—younger women especially—is that we get stuck in a scarcity mindset.

We would excuse our men being toxic and neglectful towards us because we would be so lovestruck we’d think “there’s no one else like him!”

While it’s easy to get stuck in this mindset in the heat of the moment, trust me when I say that we’ll all eventually laugh at ourselves for even thinking that way after we’ve gotten out of that relationship.

Truth is that there are billions of people alive on this Earth, and it’s preposterous to assume that you simply can’t find another man who’ll treat you better.

Last words

It’s important to note that men are not toxic by nature.

However, society’s expectations for men unfortunately pushes men to become toxic, and make women expect that same toxicity as “normal.”

Learning how to stop finding and dating toxic men means that you need to stop and reconsider a lot of beliefs and expectations you might have held since you were a little.

But once you figure it out, it will save you from a lot of trouble.

There are more good men than you might have realized, you just have to stay away from toxic men to finally find them.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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