(NOTE: The following are excerpts and notes from Tigress Luv’s new book, Toxic Love)
Do you ever feel like you are losing control; imagining things; having severe mental distortions of reality; or are completely, totally out of your mind? Do you often swing from elated feelings of happiness to severe feelings of deep depression? Are you sometimes struggling to smile? Do you think about your partner and your relationship all the time? Do you rehash moments with him and try to figure out what really happened, and if your perceptions of the situation were real or just in your mind? If you answered yes to these questions then you are with a toxic man.
Toxic Men slowly suck our happiness and our loving, nurturing spirit out of us. We become confused, insecure, depressed zombies…yet our Toxic Men walk around as if nothing has happened, and not seeming to notice our depression and unhappiness at all.
A Toxic Man is a combination of a narcissistic man, a commitmentphobic man, a codependent man, a histrionic man, a man with split personality disorder, a control freak, martyr, and an abuser, yet doesn’t really precisely belong to any one of these groups exactly. He is the TOXIC MAN!
The Many Faces of Toxic Men (Abusers)
The “Demand” Man
Feels entitled, ask for more than he gives back. Feels like you “owe” him. Exaggerates and overvalues his own contributions. Keeps a “mental list” of everything he’s ever done and wants constant payback for them. Thinks he is owed tremendous gratitude for meeting the ordinary responsibilities of every day life (and takes your contribution for granted).
When he is generous and giving to you – it’s only to prove to himself , and others, that he is a good person. If you need something he accuses you of being self-centered and he tells everybody how selfish and ungrateful you are, and acts hurt because of all he’s done for you. He gets furious if anything is demanded of him and switches it back to being about him.
Mr. Right (Arrogant)
Is an expert at everything. Talks in a condescending voice and acts like you are are an imbecile incapable of taking care of yourself.
Emits an air of superiority!
Any conflict is a clash between right and wrong – intelligence and stupidity – him being right, of course, and you being wrong.
He twists anything you say to make it sound wrong. Everybody is stupid to this person, as he is so certain of his own supreme intelligence. If you argue with him he will take it as a sign of your own ignorance and foolishness.
His partner will end up questioning their own intelligence.
He not only knows all the answers to everything, he tells you that how you run your own life is wrong. He knows ALL your faults. Mr. Right delights in correcting you in front of others (to point out his own intelligence).
He punishes you for having your own mind.
He imposes his beliefs and opinions, caring little about considering yours.
EWW! The Water Torturer! (Killing Me Softly With His Words!)
This man knows how to get under your skin. By remaining calm and level-headed to make you look crazy.
When arguing he will often have a superior or contemptuous grin on his face.
Uses a low, calm, stead voice to impose his psychological superiority over you, and often mimics you, laughs at you, or insults you.
Quiet calm, controlling acts against you. Talks to you as if you were a mental patient and he the doctor in control. Talks down to you as if you were nuts.
Accuses you of being abusive and out of control once he drives you to the brink. Claims you are irrational and acting crazy while he is in complete control and not starting an argument.
This man’s tactics are difficult to recognize and identify. When a woman can’t make a concrete evaluation and has nothing to label their partner with they can become extremely distraught and deeply scared. If someone hits you, you know it and can relate it to your friends, but when someone tries to drive you nuts, and appears to be rationale and innocent when doing it, you can’t describe it to your friends and end up feeling like maybe you are ‘nuts’. You most likely aren’t even aware of it, it being so subtle and appearing so sane. You can’t even describe something that’s going on when you don’t even know it is.
If you confront the Water Torturer he acts like he doesn’t know what you are talking about. To friends and even your children, it looks like he is so laid-back and calm (low key) and that you blow up over nothing.
He is oppressive and stifling. Cynical and cocky.
Makes you feel like you are crazy and out of control. You get ‘set off’ by anything and everything. Makes you look like you are the one with the problem and everybody else believes this, too.
The Prison Guard
Runs every aspect of your life, from criticising everything you do, to telling you where you can and can’t go. Dictating who you friends will be, how to cook and clean, listens to your phone calls, reads your emails, ask people (even enlist the children) to spy on you when he is gone, sets curfews, fathers you, and removes your freedom.
Overly jealous, accuses you of cheating, questions even who you casually look at. Dislikes women, irrationally possessive and policing. It’s about possession, not fidelity, and thus so more than likely the Prison Guard is the one having an affair himself.
Watches you like a hawk. Denies you strength and independence.
It is difficult to get away from The Prison Guard as he monitors your activities to the max – even quitting his job, etc. He isolates you from friends and family. Removes your finances. Ruins your car. Holds you virtually as a prisoner.
Is overly in touch with his emotions and feels sorry for himself, blaming you for hurting him. He thinks he is a gift because, unlike most men, he is in touch with his feelings.
Comes on strong, good in bed, interest starts waning, he stares – ogles – at other women, you hear rumors.
You tend to get angry at the ‘other woman’ rather than The Player himself.
He makes you feel like you are the ‘special one’, and that other women are jealous of you, or angry at him because he turned down their advances, or because he dropped her. He makes all his past or ‘other women’ sound abusive, deranged, needy, or etc.
You can never really be sure of his faithfulness. He tries to make you jealous, then accuses you of being untrusting and insecure. You start to feel that every woman is a threat to you, your best friend, your sister, even your mother!
You tend to keep these other women away from you so as not to expose them to him.
You are put on a shelf, ignored, forgotten, and put away until he is ready for you again.
Ironically, he may get angry with you if you catch him cheating, even though he is the one that should have deserved the anger.
He sees all women as playthings or toys, rather than take them seriously. Most likely his mother “worked” for him and his father, rather than she was an equal partner.
He may believe that women are strictly sexual objects and that it is totally unfair to expect him to not be tempted by them.
(Should one avoid the ‘charming’ man who gets defensive if you question his actions that affect you?
Inability to accept disagreement and criticism is a bad sign. Not every charmer is an abuser – but many abusers are “pathological charmers”.)
Thinks he is the toughest guy in the world. Believes women need protecting and all females are inferior to men. Believes women are there as subservient slaves to wait on their men. Treats women as if they were ‘things’, possessions, trophies, harem. Thinks that men need to keep women in line.
The Victim (Poor Me!)
Life has treated him unfair. His exes were all terrible to him, and even try to keep him from his kids. He has been the sad victim of women, the legal system, etc. His exes are all “wicked”, evil witches.
Victims not only exhibit anger with their exes, but also DISRESPECT and CONTEMPT. Warning signs should be heeded when a man blames his exes for the entire demise of their relationship. Even if he admits to some wrong-doing on his part (“I cheated on her, but…”) he blames it on her saying her ‘evil’ ways drove him to do it. She is always the reason why he did something ‘wrong’. He takes no responsibility for any bad in his relationships! Most victims will claim that their exes were abusive, when in reality he was the abusive one. Most victims claim that their exes were controlling or wanted to wear the pants and be in power. Spoiled , demanding princesses.
Be warned, this is how he will describe you, should your relationship reach an end!
He is all about him, poor poor him, and he wraps himself up in self-pity, licking his imagined wounds, and tries to get other family, friends, and even the kids, to feel sorry for him. He claims no one understands him, and he may appear to assume the blame, but, in reality, he feels totally blameless. He can easily convince others that you are cruel, controlling, abusive, mean, angry, etc., and he is so wonderful and wounded.
He can mirror troubles and issues, easily reversing them to be the issues belonging to that of his partner. Whatever you see wrong in him, is the exact thing he ‘claims’ is wrong with you! “No, you’re the one who…”
Victims are prone to depression, which is the same as getting caught up in self-pity – the ‘poor-me’ mode. Victims feel so victimized at times that they become insomniac, anxiety ridden, antisocial, and even suicidal. They do not see reality, but distort it to be cruel. Victims become bitter, resentful, and vengeful.
Abusive victims often assume the mantle of victimhood and martyrhood. Acting the eternal victim allows them to garner sympathy and support, abuse their victims by proxy, and still feel morally superior.
The Narcissistic Abuser
Quite highly distorted self-image. They are unable to accept the fact that they might have flaws or faults, and therefore are unable to imagine how other perceive them. In public Narcissistic men are charming and confident. In private they are nasty and dismissive. Clues to the presence of this include:
- your partner’s self-centeredness is severe, and it carries over into situations that don’t involve you
- he seems to relate everything back to himself
- he is outraged whenever anyone criticizes him and is incapable of considering that he could ever be anything other than kind and generous
- he becomes hypervigilant to any ‘negative’ words that others might use
Nothing is ever his fault. He blames something or someone for anything that goes wrong. As time goes by, the target of his blame increasingly becomes you. This style of man also tends to make promises that he doesn’t keep, coming up with excuses for disappointing you or behaving irresponsibly and perhaps taking serious economic advantage of you in the process.
He is self-centered, and feels he does a lot more than he actually does. He takes more than his share of the conversation, turning every subject back around to him. He listens poorly when you speak, and chronically shifts the topic of conversation back to himself. Self-centeredness is a personality characteristic that is highly resistant to change, as it has deep roots in either profound entitlement (in abusers) or severe early emotional injuries (in non-abusers), or both (in narcissistic abusers).
He treats you like gold when anyone is watching, is angry with you and bitter and spiteful when no one else is around to see.
Tries to turn you against your family, friends, and even your children, especially if the children are from a previous relationship and they’re not his children.
Narcissistic men are highly resistant to change, as their inflated ego makes it difficult for them to see their real selves.
Narcissists are addicted to narcissistic supply (attention, admiration, adulation, being feared, etc.). They don’t take well to criticism and disagreement. They are easily slighted and develop narcissistic injuries. The narcissism reacts with narcissistic rage, hatred, aggression, or violence to an infringement of what he perceives to be his entitlement. Any insinuation; hint; intimation; or direct declaration that the narcissism is not special at all, that he is average; common; wrong; imperfect; or not even sufficiently idiosyncratic to warrant a fleeting interest will inflame the narcissism.
Narcissist often become abusive when faced with insults or derogatory remarks about their person. In most people abuse is bred by fear – fear of being mocked or betrayed, emotional insecurity, anxiety, panic, and apprehension – but in the NPD man, abuse is triggered by the very thought of facing the fact that they are imperfect. This fear can be exaggerated when they are with someone who knows them well, and can logically point out their imperfections in a realistic and truthful way. It is a last ditch effort to maintain their delusions of grandeur that the NPD man may become physically abusive toward any individual who may provoke them by relating personal insults against their character based on facts. The NPD man will often choose to not associate with anyone who has uncovered or exposed the NPD’s true ‘less-than-perfect’ self.
Toxic Men are notorious for turning and twisting grievances about them into them being the hero and you being the one at fault. There is no arguing with a Toxic Man because he sees arguments as wars and he has to be the winner. There can be no mutually happy solution to any disagreement – one where both parties walk away feeling heard and feeling like their needs were met and understood. Oh no! This is war and only he can win. There can be NOTHING wrong with him, and he must make you KNOW THAT! He can twist and insult and psychologically stage a verbal assault on you that will leave you wishing for a quick and painless death. After a while the partner of a Toxic Man stops coming to him and begins to keep everything to herself, and thus so, becomes withdrawn and depressed. And, this, too, he will even use against her. “Why are you always so mopey and depressed? I was embarrassed at the party last night – you looked like it was the end of the world!”
As I explain a typical situation that happened to me just recently, I’m sure you will be able to relate to it. My mate is a ‘Toxic Man’. Being a Toxic Man, everything is always about him. Of course, if confronted about this Toxic Man will deny this and claim just the opposite! He may not even be consciously aware of this, as most Toxic Men are extremely codependent and believe that they do and do for others, but everything always boils down to what he gets out of it. So, each and every one of my days is about supporting him in his career, patiently and supportively listening as he talks to me about his latest work, walking in his shadow in public, kissing up to him and listening to him talk, talk, talk about him, him, him. I am – as I’m sure you all can relate to – virtually invisible in his life and in our relationship. So you can imagine how excited I was that he promised me he would read a book I had written on the following Sunday. Sunday! It was going to be a day about me! A day just about me, Tigress, and not about him! The excitement lived in me for those few days prior to Sunday. Sunday was going to be a day he actually was going to notice someone else besides him him him, or show an interest in me me me, and acknowledge that there even was a ME!
Well, you guessed it. Friday comes along. Him. Saturday comes along. Him. Sunday comes along. He didn’t even mention the book. Not one word. IT DIDN’T EVEN COME INTO HIS HEAD! He said he was going to work on his hobbies a little. Do some yard work. Drive to the store and get something for his hobby. Maybe download some more ‘this and that’ for his ‘collection’. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, the hurt I went through was tremendous! I couldn’t even speak. I was crushed! It wasn’t going to be about me, not even for one day, for one afternoon, not even for one friggin’ hour! I felt like I had been killed on Wednesday and he had just stepped over my decaying body as nonchalantly as if he were walking around a mud puddle.
It was hard to talk to him. I got depressed. I couldn’t hang around the house, but yet I couldn’t find the energy to leave. It was as if my whole world had just collapsed and my will to go on sucked out of me. I know this sounds dramatic, but when you are ignored and stuck on a back ‘the-annoying-bitch’ burner for so very long – and then you get that hope that sometime very soon he will ‘see you’ – it is devastating when that hope vanishes. Hope is what keeps us going. Our hopes and dreams are what makes us want to wake up in the morning. But Toxic Man has no clue. Because he cares not. He is completely ignorant to his hurtful ways. He just can’t see beyond himself. He has no empathy, no compassion, for other’s emotions. He doesn’t even think they have emotions or feelings. He hasn’t even considered that fact because to Toxic Men others are just extensions of him, him, him.
Eventually, a couple days later, I mentioned to him how much he had hurt me. I regretted doing it almost immediately. Why hadn’t I just kept it to myself, like I have learned to do so many times before? He denied it! He denied doing it. He denied my pain. Like he knows how I feel. He dismissed it all. Made me feel like I was the reason he didn’t read it. He made up excuses off the top of his head, grasping at anything in order to NOT feel he did something wrong, and then he rationalized his excuses…”I thought you said you lost it….” He was right – I had said that, but he also knew that afterwards I had found the book, after all, and he even saw me sitting on the couch reading it! “I couldn’t find it“…Huh? Did you look? Did you ask me? Wasn’t it right there on the bed stand all week? Then he became all agitated and angry with me, as Toxic Men will do when you have any sort of grievance with them. He started yelling at me “Then go get the damned book and I’ll read it right now!!!” Oh, ouch – would you think that that would have made me want to jump right up and go get the book? Would it have made you want to? Of course not! Later he claims to have ‘begged’ me ‘over and over’ to let him read ‘the damned book’. And I’m sure he believes he did that very thing, too. Maybe when he was screaming at me like I was a baby throwing a temper tantrum. “Then go get the damned book and I’ll read it right now!!!” But after living with the Toxic Man for a while you do begin to get an attitude yourself. You can’t stand to look at him. You feel loathe for him more often than you feel love. You feel just so… so…. EWWWW!!!!! Why can’t he ever see you or show an interest in you? I mean REAL, GENUINE interest and inquisitiveness. Not a fake, “how are you today?” and then start talking about himself before you can even open your mouth to tell him. Why can’t he ever say something nice and actually feel those nice thoughts? Why is it always him, him, him? Here’s an example: the other night we sat together for a long time and he talked about him, his work, his what-if’s and wouldn’t it be funny if he … yadda, yadda…. the same as we do almost nightly in his ‘Side of the House’. During these hours I said exactly two things that were about me. Both of the times that I opened my mouth he immediately cut me off. The first time I started to speak I said “The other day I found this old ring I had and…” and he cut me off right there and said “hold that thought” and then he left the room. I never returned to my ‘thought’ when he returned, and he didn’t seem to notice or even mention it, probably because he didn’t even hear me talk to begin with. The second thing I went to say he cut me off again, and started on about him. I didn’t speak about me again after that…as I haven’t for months. Who would listen, anyway? Now I can talk, mind you – and I do talk, but never about me. That holds no special interest to him at all. He would yawn and within seconds turn the conversation back around to him.
Here is a typical argument with Toxic Man:
Her: It breaks my heart that you apparently don’t care about hurting my feelings. You haven’t even apologized.
Toxic Man (Angry and defensive [as usual] when confronted with a grievance): APOLOGIZE!? FOR WHAT? I didn’t do anything! I begged you repeatedly to let me read the damned book, for crissake!
Her (not wanting to get verbally slammed, like she knows, from past history, is now surely coming her way): Never mind. Forget it.
Toxic Man (Still angry and sarcastic): I’m sorry… I just don’t get it… I don’t have a supreme ANALYTICAL SUPER BRAIN like you!
Her (fully aware now of the verbal onslaught that is going to take place): “Supreme analytical super brain”?
Toxic Man (still sarcastic and angry): You have to analyze everything to DEATH! It is hell living with you. You can’t ever let anything rest!!!
Her: I don’t analyze everything to death.
Toxic Man: Yes you do. And you always have an attitude. People are always coming up to me and asking me what’s wrong with you. ‘What’s wrong with your girlfriend tonight? Is it okay if I go sit with her? She won’t get mad will she?’ They’re even scared to go sit down by you! They are just being polite when they do.
Her: They are not. You’re making that up.
Toxic Man: No I’m not, you’re just too stuck on yourself to see. You think you are better than everybody else. And you mysteriously can switch from bad health to good health when you’re mad, which you always are. You are an angry, ANGRY woman. A VERY BITTER WOMAN! WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS SO ANGRYAND BITTER?!
Her (regretting the fact that she even brought it up to begin with): I’m not always angry. I’m lonely and you’re always mad at me and yelling at me.
Toxic Man: LONELY! HA! I’m with you all the time. What do you want me to do? Handcuff myself to you?! You are so damned controlling, everything has got to be about you and what you want. AND I NEVER YELL AT YOU, THAT’S ALL IN YOUR DAMNED HEAD!
Her: Never mind. You just don’t get it.
Toxic Man: No, you just don’t get it! You think everything is supposed to be about you, and if someone doesn’t wrap themselves around your stupid life you get all in a tizzy about it. Everything has to be your way. You. You. You.
Her: Let it rest, will ya?
Toxic Man: Let it rest? You’ve had it in for me ever since you woke up this morning. You can’t ever give me a restful minute without being in my face about something I did wrong again. The list goes on and on! You’re always playing mind games with me. You’re always on my ass about something. YOU ARE NEVER HAPPY! I’m sick and tired of you always being on my ass! You can stay here, I’m going into town, I can’t stand to be around you anymore. Here I’m just the houseboy for a bunch of lazy, spoiled kids, anyway.
And with that Toxic Man sulks off, feeling sorry for himself. And she feels as if she has been slapped in the face. All she wanted was him to sincerely have empathy and compassion for her; a real, genuine interest in her life; and to acknowledge that he did something that did have a negative effect on her emotions and self esteem. But what happened instead was that she was verbally and psychologically abused, and she was chastised and punished for having a grievance against him, even if it was a legitimate grievance. And to make matters worse she can’t even go to her friends and get comforted because even she can’t explain to herself what just happened. Seriously, what would she say? That they had an argument and he called her analytical and sulked off? It sounds so trifle. No one could possibly understand that she was just emotionally battered and left to feel uncared for and alone… and to know for a fact that he truly didn’t feel he did anything wrong. And it was his Toxicity Issue that caused the argument (which she got blamed for) to begin with. A normal, non-toxic man would have felt really bad for her and bad about his part in causing her pain, and he would have sincerely apologized for his ignorance and his thoughtless behavior.
To summarize this argument – and every argument with a Toxic Man – is this: first off, he denies being angry by accusing her of being full of anger herself (projection*). Secondly, he turns his having an issue with control back over to her. He accuses her of being controlling, when, in fact, he is using his anger, his insults, his loud male voice, and his male dominance over her as a means of which to control her. Thirdly, he accuses her of making everything about ‘her’, yet fails to realize he has turned the argument around from her having an issue with him, back to him and his issues with her almost from sentence one. Next, he patronized and belittled her by telling her that she fakes illnesses to suit the situation; that she is over-analytical; and that people don’t like her, but that she’s ‘just too stuck on herself to see’. Then he says that she is the one that is mistreating him. And finally, he is forced to leave because of her mistreatment of him, putting him in the position of being the victim of her selfishness, and he can further add more to his self-pitying and self-justification by having to leave his own home and go to town just to get away from her. Now mind you, in my arguments with my Toxic Man I have recently – on occasions – become somewhat verbal, myself. I first started doing this a few months back to show him just how hurtful words can be. Now I sometimes do it just to hurt him back. I know, childish, huh? But sometimes you can just take so much. Ironically, although Toxic Man can sling a book of insults at you, he won’t recognize it in himself, but say just one bad thing to him and he will go ballistic. He will stretch it way out of context and distort it just to fit his self-pitying victim justification. What this means is that if he goes on and on insulting me and I call him a name back, he will dwell on it, reword it to sound much worse than it really was, and then conveniently forget everything he said to me. Now I guess you can say I ‘verbally abused’ him too, but in reality I was doing three things: number one, trying to show him how words can hurt; number two, fighting back instead of just standing there being a victim; and number three, trying to repeal his battering of my soul.
But Toxic Man cannot take any insult at all. You can build up his ego constantly, and tell him dozens of compliments a day, but say one bad thing once a year and he will never forgive you. My Toxic Man can slew insults and sarcastic innuendoes at me all day, but if I say one thing in return, or in self defense of my wounded and battered soul, he dwells on it forever. And I mean forever. He remembers one bad name said to him years ago, yet can’t remember the thousands (millions) of good things said to him. He remembers his ex-wife called him selfish. He remembers his ex-wife called him a hypochondriac. See. Two words in 17 years of marriage and he still holds it against her.
(FOUND ONLINE: Men who are Toxic rarely consider that they might be abusive, even if the stresses of the relationship lead into what might be considered reactive abuse, anyone who honestly tries to adjust to the other person’s actual needs, actively listens to the other person, and makes every attempt to stop such behaviour, probably is not an abuser. Abusers do not take responsibility for their own actions, and in fact often blame the abused. When the abused person reacts to the abuse, the abuser calls that reaction abuse, and will use guilt to try to get the abused to feel responsible for the arguments or difficulties, as well as for the abuser’s actions [you made me do it, it is ALL YOUR FAULT!].) This is one of the reasons getting away from your Toxic Man is so important. Everything clarifies then.
So now we have the ‘abusive’ Toxic Man. Toxic Man Trait Number One: abuse. But Toxic Man doesn’t just mean an abuser. Oh, no, there is more…much more! But before we get into that, let me assure you that – and as you pretty well know if you have your own Toxic Man – just like with all abusers, there are some awesome loving periods in between his Toxicity! He can be the most wonderful man in the world. But, even in those ‘normal’ periods you know Toxic Man is but just ‘one-wrong-action-on-your-part’ away, and you find it increasingly more difficult to enjoy the good times!
Another issue that I have found escalating (because of his increased abuse) is that of insecurity, mistrust, and jealousy. See in the beginning – when he was in the courtship stage – I felt secure and loved. Now, when he shows so much disrespect and uninterest in me, it is only logical for me to feel very uncomfortable when I see another woman by him. Plus, the Toxic Man, by his very nature, is a charmer and has deep needs of getting his ego stroked. Once he reveals his Toxic Nature to us, he no longer gets his ego stroked by our adoration of him, and this makes him very susceptible to getting his ego stroked by an outside source. Toxic men often become sex addicts and chronically unfaithful mates.
*PROJECTION: Toxic Men often have a way of twisting things around, and turning issues around, so much so that you start to feel like you are going crazy. One of the ways they do this is called ‘projection’. This is a process where they take their own issues, faults, or flaws, and project them onto you. It is strange how well they can do this. If you think about it, isn’t it more likely that what your Toxic Man accuses you of, is actually what he, himself, is guilty of? The problem is so many of us eventually begin to believe that we are horrible or crazy. This is what happens to victims of emotional, verbal, psychological, or mental abuse. We start to feel depressed, inferior, etc. You don’t see it happening…it sneaks up on you so slowly that you don’t even hear it coming. We walk away from the confrontation – or the relationship – feeling ugly; shameful; needy; insecure; incapable; clumsy; inadequate; can’t measure up; unlovable and unloved; nagging; jealous; brow-beating; over-controlling; fat/skinny; butchy; bitchy; insulting; uncaring; stupid; unpopular; and more. Believe me, the words that are said to you by a Toxic Man can more readily apply to him… Think about it! Take every bad thing your Toxic Man says about you and then ask yourself, does that description more easily describe him or I? I bet it’s him! Go ahead–try it! What does your Toxic Man accuse you of being? Controlling? Angry? Bitter? Manic-depressive? Self-centered? Self-pitying? Self-absorbed? Demanding? Never happy? See!
All works by Tigress Luv