Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Page from Men, The Missing Owner's Manual:
Just Avoid the Toxic Waste Dumps that Litter the Manscape

Two of my favorite bad boys are involved in relationships now, with very different, but wonderful, people. I'm going to write about bad boys at some point, but this post is about the how to avoid the men who are just bad news.

There are men who are good, men who can be house broken, and men who are just never going to be any good. Or at least, if they ever decide to change, it will be because of things completely beyond our control. And yet, well, and yet, how often I hear friends complain that their last several relationships have been destructive and toxic. Once was a moment of weakness... twice, is a bad sign... more than that, and you've got a problem, toxic man addiction.

Let me start by saying I have no excuse for the toxic men of this world. That's why the responsibility is all ours. Like not giving out your bank routing number to some guy from Nigeria who says his uncle left millions stuck in a bank account, your only protection is to just not go there. Toxic men, are toxic men, are toxic men.

So why do so many of us have toxic man addiction?

Well let's start by talking about the difference between a man who is a bad boy, and a man who is bad news. A bad boy breaks the boundaries, but he seldom breaks the Rules. He does things that are not safe, that go outside of the approved space, and he often gets hurt, badly hurt. But not because he doesn't know where the boundaries and rules are, and why they differ. The boundaries say not to stare, the rules say that being stared at can feel really flustering and really good. The bad boy knows when, and how, to lay his eyes on someone. The bad news man just stares.

This is the heart of the difference. A bad boy is aware, the bad news man doesn't really get that there are other people in the world, or if there are, they are no different than tables, chairs, or cars. Things to be pushed and knocked about. Being treated as an object can be very exciting and sexy, the letting go can. And bad news men are often very good in bed. Really truly good in bed. But often they aren't.

The bad boy often dislikes himself, because he has standards. He really is a good boy underneath it, but knows that people who are good boys all the time don't get the things they want. So he is often guilty. He has standards, and he measures himself, and he knows he often falls short of those standards. He often punishes himself for that. His darkness comes out of looking up and seeing the light. I'll talk about what that means some other day.

The toxic man may hate himself and be self destructive, or he may be completely oblivious to his faults and have an enormous ego. This sort of looks like the bad boys angry moodiness, but in reality, there is a big difference. The bad news man wants to take others down with him if he is self-destructive, and he wants to push others down in any event. This can make hims successful in the world of business or competition, as being completely selfish and willing to do anything to others, and knowing how to get away with it, are often big pluses.

These are the two things that bad news men trade on: they are successful, and they can drive us crazy when they have their hands on our bodies or minds. They are very much masculine in their ability to compartmentalize and drive. They look like they might be good providers, or good sex partners. And yet, after a short time, the other defects become obvious, and they drive us to despair.

I'm going to say though, that these surface traits aren't why we fall for them, because even bad news men who are not good in bed, and not successful, often have women in tow.

The reason is because many of us have toxic man addiction, which is to say, that it is the very thing that makes them toxic that draws them to us.

I don't think i am revealing any secrets when I say that insecurity is a trait everyone has some of, and negative emotions about what we are insecure about is part of the human experience. The woman with toxic man addiction goes to him because he validates her insecurities and self-loathing about those insecurities. It's one thing to be with a man who loves you despite having a fat ass. It's a better thing to be with a man who thinks your fat ass is wildly sexy. It's toxic man addiction when he needles you constantly about your fat ass and makes it clear that you should feel grateful that he is willing to tolerate it.

The toxic man's hook then, is he makes us feel that he could do so much better, and reinforces this by saying things that eat out or own sense of our own faults and failures. The ones that hold us back.

It is a matter of validation. A relationship can be an important part of feeling validated. Attention is validating. We all have to validate ourselves as people, but we also need others to do it too. Some of us more than others of course, but there is always that role. Validation is good when it reinforces our strengths, and tells us to overcome our flaws, and reach for better things. Validation is bad when it validates our sense of helplessness and despair.

Now, men can often feel validated by abstract and impersonal success. It's harder for us to feel that way. Companionship is a big part of feeling that we are validated. There are basic drives for this, but it is the individual person who decides how that happens. You should never believe that companionship and attention are the beginning of being validated, and being proud of your uniqueness as a goddess in this world. There, I said it. The beginning of being able to kick your toxic man addition,is to realize that you are the moving embodiment of a goddess, and that goddess is your best self.

That doesn't mean you should not lose weight if you need to, study harder, learn more, be better at dealing with other people, practice dancing or whatever else it is you do. Being better at expressing that goddess is what makes you feel better. But it's like dressing sexy. You know it when you do it, not because someone stares.

The toxic man wants to break us of that inner goddess, and we get toxic man addiction when he eats at exactly the places where we despair of ever being that inner goddess in this world. The more we feel that our analog or digital avatar falls short of ourselves, the more the toxic man eats at us.

Strangely,one of the toxic man's best tactics is to make general or generic or vague praise, and go after specifics with acid precision. The toxic man often talks about how wonderful we are in general, but never seems to have a good word about anything we do in specific.

Now. Kicking the toxic man addiction means three things. And all of them our under out control. The first is not not need companionship for basic sense of validation. It should enhance that, not provide that. You do this by sensing your self, drawing a deep breath that runs up from your pelvis, through your midsection, to the lungs and then pops out of the top of your head. Seriously. Sit down and do this now, draw a breath, and feel it roll up your body.

There first step to kicking the toxic man addiction, because that moving sensation is the feeling of you in all of your wonder.

Second step to kicking toxic man addiction, is to understand that your flaws are not barriers to what you want and need. Maybe we will never be able to change certain things. You can buy boobs, but short is forever. Sigh. However, focusing on what cannot be changed misses the point that if it can't be changed, it is not a fault, but a fact. We fix flaws, we face facts. If it can't be changed, and we are fixated on it, then the flaw is not the fact, but that we are fixated on not going around it.

Notice I have not talked about the man here? Remember, the toxic man cannot be changed. There's nothing we can do about him. So the only thing that matters, is to get the strength to walk out, and the wisdom not to walk into another one.

So the third step, is to be the goddess. That's hard. It's something we do every day. And some day's it is harder than others. But, it is also where we are in our lives. Each time we bring out that inner beauty, reward ourselves with a moment of recognition that we have done it. That recognition, that smile, is the reward of validation. Now, when we are with someone who makes us feel that way, that's positive.

The bad news man, never does that, or does it only just often enough to keep us hooked. We give him that power by fixating on what we feel we can't fix. He pokes and hurts that point of weakness. We are with him because he validates our feelings of helplessness, and because he gives us permission to give up. He wants to wave his superiority in our face, and we suck on it, because we want to feel inferior. I just got finished chatting with a toxic man, who wanted to bombard me with his assertions, and felt that when I wasn't interested in his bombast, that I must be insecure. This is the search mode of the toxic man: if a woman bends herself around to accommodate him, then he knows she has a need for toxicock.

This game then has steps:

  1. Wave cock in face.
  2. If we return by praising something as a way to get to criticizing, take the praise as proof that we've admitted superiority and repeat step 1.
  3. If we return by pointing out some flaw or failure, assert unproven, or undisprovable premise, and repeat as step 1.
  4. If we show irritation, use this as proof that we've insulted him, even though he's waved his cock in our face rather bombastically. Wave this as cock in face, return to step 1.
  5. If we ignore him or tell him to go away, use this as proof that his massive intellectual superiority has left us speechless. Use this as cock, return to step 1.
  6. If we get angry, blow up at us, showing that this proves our bitch-hood, and use verbal or even physical force to show he is superior. Use this as cock to wave in our face, return to step 1.

The reality with the toxic man game is that he scores a point each time he goes through the cycle, no matter what we say or do, until we capitulate entirely and do whatever it is he says. The toxic man game cannot be won, only avoided. Score yourself one point each time you simply end the toxic man game and don't worry about him again.

The temptation is to struggle with it, maybe he can fix it, maybe we can help him. We talk, we engage, we compliment, because that is what we do to get men to listen to us. He feeds off those compliments. His next gambit is to get more arrogant if we don't accept. This is why it is a game not to play. He will always declare himself the winner no matter what. Appreciate him, and he will tell us that that appreciation makes him superior. Tell him off, and he will say that he's won because he made us uncomfortable, and that we are mental inferiors for not bending over for him. Ignore him and we are told that it is because we are afraid. The toxic man, because he does not feel anything about anyone other than himself, will always find a way to twist it into proof of his superiority.

To be immune to toxic man addiction then, is simple, and that is to always understand how lucky each and everyone of us is to be with our selves, and to express that good fortune in what we do, and radiating it, allow ourselves to luxuriate in it. Never be with a man who cannot do this with us, and who does not understand that he is with a luminous being.

The same thing flows in the other direction. We often become toxic. We become toxic when we eat at his fears and insecurities, and seek to unman him. A man can be a man as a submissive, but he cannot be a man if we take away from him that sense of his reach and possibility. Because often, the reason the toxic man is attractive, is because he gives us an excuse to be toxic in return, or toxic to ourselves.

So ask yourself, what has he said specific about us that is positive today, or recently. When was the last time his face glowed when he saw something we did. When is the last time he basked in that. If you can't answer that question, then maybe toxic is creeping into your relationship, even if it wasn't there to start. That's another fact I find from my clients. Many of them didn't start out toxic, but they ended up there.


  1. Some good advice, as usual. We help make each other, the question is what sort of man or woman we are helping to make.

    Or, if you will, unmake.

  2. I can't tell you how many times I've talked to a friend after a break up, and had them say something along the lines that their last five, or more, relationships were bad for their self-image and self-esteem.

    It's heart breaking... and maddening too.