Avoiding Toxic Men

In the past, I’ve been attracted to bad men. Yet, each time I meet a new guy, I think he is different—until I get close to him and find out he’s no good for the long haul. How can I tell if a man is for real?

Dr. Catherine Gildiner 0
We’ve all been there. You meet a guy who seems too good to be true and—guess what?—he is. Here are the top five signs you might be involved with a rat:


When charm leads to alarm
Did he come on strong and fall madly in love with you right away? When this happens, most women think, “Aha, I’ve finally found my Prince Charming!” Seeing Joe Millionaire in a castle and calling it “reality TV” doesn’t help to destroy the myth. We’re usually so flattered we fail to ask ourselves, “What does he really know about me?” Once he realizes you’re more complicated than a one-dimensional fairy-tale princess, he may tell you he’s not sure why, but his feelings for you have died. So, the man who sends you a dozen roses at work because “every day is Valentine’s Day” has seen too many Hugh Grant movies. These guys last about as long as most Hollywood relationships.



Lots of flash but no cash
As one of my patients said, “I should have known he was trouble on our first date when his Visa card was rejected and he got really angry at the restaurant owner.” It’s true—seeing how he handles his finances is a great litmus test. Does he have designer clothes and a fast car to match but nothing to show for his years of work beyond status symbols? The bottom line: pay attention to the little things and don’t make excuses for his irresponsible behaviour.



Tomorrow is another day—not
I’m leery of the man who has big plans for the future. Often these guys start things but don’t finish because they’re always looking for the next project. If he says, “I left university because I wasn’t learning anything” or “I sold insurance but there was too much negativity,” it’s a big warning sign. His past may show that he’s making excuses because he’s simply afraid of hard work, either in his career or in his relationships.



How he treats his mother matters
Take a hard look at how your guy treats others, whether it’s a stranger in a parking lot or his younger brother. Does he have close lifelong friends? What is his relationship to his family? If a man says his family is totally screwed up and he had to give up on them, be careful. Of course, there are some times when it’s best to cut off toxic friends and families, but that is usually the exception.



If you want the truth, look at the ex-wife
The expensive messy divorce is usually a bad sign. If the guy you’re dating has no access to his children or hasn’t seen them in a long time, he smells like a rodent to me. Even if half of what the ex-wife says is true, it’s enough to bring out the rat poison.

If your man has one or two of the above traits, it does not certify him as a rat, but if he has more than two, I’d call an exterminator.

Dr. Catherine Gildiner is a clinical psychologist in private practice. Too Close to the Falls (ECW) is her memoir.

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