“Am I toxic?” If you’re in a relationship right now and you’re asking yourself that question, let me give you a pat on the back. It takes courage to ask yourself the hard questions.
If your woman has been complaining more and more about your relationship, you might be wondering right now: “Am I the problem?” And it takes guts to do that instead of blaming other people, things, and situations—which, sadly, most men do.
But let’s not jump to conclusions. First, let’s find out if you really are toxic. Then, if you are, let’s find the reasons why you’re that way. And most importantly, we’ll talk about how to change yourself into a stronger man and a better partner.
Am I Toxic?
First of all: Are you toxic? To find out, check your relationship for any of these eight warning signs:
Sign #1: You're always in an argument
Do most of your conversations with your woman end up in an argument of some sort? Or does your relationship feel like one long fight with periods of silence in between?
If so, then yes, you might be toxic.
Now, you might also wonder: “What if she’s the toxic one?”, which is a fair question to ask. And yet there’s not much you can do about her, but you can make a world of difference in your own personality, discipline, and inner strength.
And I strongly advise focusing your efforts on what you can control—yourself.
Sign #2: Your sex life is suffering
Has it been months since you had sex with your partner? If so, that’s a problem—it’s quite possible your toxic behavior has created a dead bedroom situation.
Foreplay starts outside the bedroom. You turn her on with your behavior. But if she find something about you lacking, then that’s definitely not going to put her in the mood.
If she’s no longer interested in getting intimate with you, you’re in trouble.
Sign #3: You're stressed, angry, or tired all the time
Do you seem perpetually stuck in a bad mood? You might feel burnt out, frustrated, or angry all the time, and your relationship is suffering for it.
If you suspect stress is the cause of your toxicity, here’s a bit of trivia: Stress isn’t the problem, as it’s an irremovable part of life. Instead, the problem is in the methods we use to relieve stress. And sad to say, the modern man’s go-to methods of watching TV, surfing the net, smoking, drinking, etc. create more stress than they relieve.
To learn the proven, time-tested, and manliest ways to relieve stress, read our guide on stress relief here.
Sign #4: She goes to someone else for support
When she needs someone to talk to, does she go straight to you... or does she go to someone else? If it’s the latter, it could be because you’re too toxic for her to trust. When a woman can’t get her emotional satisfaction from her man, she’ll look for it elsewhere.
The same goes for her physical satisfaction. So if she hasn’t had sex with you for months on top of this, that’s bad news...
Sign #5: Your family and friends are making comments
Have your family and friends been making comments about your behavior? Have they been giving you some unsolicited advice on how to treat your partner? Do you constantly find yourself relating to the assholes on r/AITA? If so, maybe it’s time to pay attention. Your toxic behavior has gotten so bad even third parties are noticing.
Sign #6: You're not letting her have a life of her own
Have you been keeping your partner on a tight leash? Maybe it has something to do with emotional baggage from past relationships. In some cases, you might even know that you’re keeping her way too close because you’re jealous of her past. If you’ve been limiting her freedom for whatever reason, it’s likely why she thinks you’re toxic.
Sign #7: It's never your fault
If something goes wrong in your relationship, do you act like it’s never your fault? Is your girlfriend, or the economy, or the government always to blame?
If so, it’s a sign you’re not taking responsibility for your relationship. And that’s a sure road to failure.
Sign #8: You don't let her make decisions
Lastly, if you don’t let your partner make even the tiny decisions in your relationship, then yes—you’re toxic. It’s just no fun when you have no say, right?
So—how many signs apply to your relationship? If you got two or more, then there’s no doubt about it. You’re toxic, and your relationship is suffering for it.
Again, good on you for asking the tough questions and recognizing your own toxicity. Now it’s time to fix things.
Why Am I Toxic and How to Change
The first step to fixing your toxicity is to understand why you’re toxic in the first place. As the saying goes, “Only hurt people hurt people.” So the next tough question to ask is this: What hurt you?
Causes of toxic behavior
Check yourself for any of these three big causes of toxic behavior:
- Physical or Emotional Trauma. Were you hurt, bullied, or abused in the past? And has it caused you to have difficulty trusting other people—even if it’s the woman in your life?
- Bad Family Ties. Did you come from a broken family? Did you grow up starved of love, acceptance, and support? Did you end up with feelings of guilt, shame, and unworthiness?
- Addiction. Are you hooked on drugs, alcohol, porn, video games, etc.? Does your addiction take a higher priority in your life than your woman and relationship? (NOTE: For a good kick-start in overcoming any addiction, read this guide.)
Look back and see what broke you so badly that you had to compensate with toxicity. Knowing the root of the problem is half the battle.
How to change for the better
So how do you stop being toxic? Strap in: It’ll be a long and tough road, but it’ll be worth it.
Address your underlying causes
From the previous exercise, have you uncovered the root cause of your toxicity? If so, congratulations—you’ve identified your “demons.” And until now, you’ve been trying to live with your demons or forming your life around them.
It’s time to break the cycle, and you do that by facing your demons and making them your slaves. What are the fastest, surest ways to address your demons? Find them and put them into action—not tomorrow, but now.
- If low self-esteem has plagued you throughout your life, and it’s caused you to be unnecessarily toxic to others, read our guide on how to build your self-esteem. It’ll teach you how to replace fake self-esteem with the genuine kind.
- Meanwhile, if you feel your problem is rooted in toxic shame—that is, unresolved feelings of guilt and unworthiness over events in your past—check out our guide on overcoming shame. Spoiler alert: It’s not your fault, but it is up to you to get up, recover, and begin on the road to getting better.
This is probably the most important “battlefront” among many for you. Unless you address your underlying causes, it’s not just your relationship with your woman that suffers, but all your other relationships, as well.
Let’s make the rest of your life the best of your life, shall we?
Take care of yourself
Get some good, old-fashioned self-care into your routine. Start eating right, sleeping right, and getting enough exercise. Stop doing what feels good and start doing what’s right for your body. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest you start building the skills every man should know.
Exercise deserves a special mention here. Every self-respecting man needs to work out—there’s no excuse not to. If you’ve never had a consistent workout routine but would like to start now, here’s a great guide to get you started.
Exercise will be tough and grueling, but that’s a good thing. Think of it as “paying your dues” for being so toxic to your woman for so long.
Commit to becoming a better man
No matter how toxic you were or how bad your relationship has become, there’s absolutely no problem in your life that can’t be fixed. There’s always room for improvement, and you must commit to becoming a better man: Not just in your relationship, but in other areas of your life, as well.
We have a guide on becoming a better man. In it, you’ll learn:
- How to find a new, compelling, overarching mission for your life
- How to start taking more responsibility
- How to become a true leader
- How to defeat toxic shame
- How to start making and managing money
- And more
It’s a long road, but it’s one every man needs to walk.
Get professional help
Lastly, consider seeing a professional about your toxicity. They might be a therapist, your psychologist, a fitness coach or life coach—someone who has the guts to force you out of your toxic comfort zone and get better.
Remember: If you’re toxic, it’s probably not your fault. It is, however, your responsibility. That means you can change things—and you should. Hopefully, these tips will give you the direction and motivation to make what might be the most important change you’ll ever make in your life.