1. He’s addictive.
Yes, love can feel compelling, alluring, and even enchanting. But love should never feel like you’ve snorted cocaine. When we feel addicted to someone, we feel that we can’t separate ourselves from them without some psychological withdrawal. Their attention feels more like a hit of a serious stimulant—more like a dose of danger—than a soothing salve of love. Because unconsciously, you recognize it as such: a dangerous, dangerous trap.
If your guy is addictive, you’ll know it. You’ll know it by the way seeing his name flash across your phone sends shivers up and down your spine. You’ll know it by the way your entire being morphs into a manic energy that overtakes your mind and your mood.
Another glaring warning sign is that for him, you are willing to do things you otherwise wouldn’t. An addictive, toxic guy is capable of completely confounding you; with him, you go into a sort of trance that transcends morals and right and wrong.
You push the limits of who you’re willing to become in order to get your fix. That, my friends, is not love: that is addiction.
2. He brings out the worst in you.
A cup of toxic tea tastes sweet as the sun—but it is poison. A toxic guy will bring out a side of you that feels terrible but electrifying all at once. You don’t know whether to enjoy the sensation of warmth that comes along with it, because after all, it’s the result of being electrocuted.
With him, you’re suddenly acting out all the facets of your shadow self. Carl Jung describes this as the animus, the subconscious male part of the female psyche that contains all her deepest, most repressed “male” aspects. The toxic man who fits her perfectly will be an uncanny representation of all that she’s repressed: aggression, control, jealousy, sexuality, even cruelty.
The animus, when activated, allows for the expression of your darkest self. You release your inhibitions, you come completely undone. It’s like you’ve been possessed by a demon, but really, it’s the mere unleashing of the repressed part of your psyche. A toxic man will unveil this part of you—the part of you that is primal, seductive, wanting, craving.
3. He makes you question who you are.
As a toxic man gains a firmer foothold in your life, he makes you wonder, who have I become? Suddenly, you don’t recognize the person that you’ve become since he entered your life. For a while, you blame him, and you shuffle your bizarre behaviors onto his conscience. I was better before you, therefore it’s you who’s to blame, not me.
But the blame is not absolved so fast—you also begin to doubt yourself. Maybe this is who I’ve been all along, maybe this is who I really am. And of course, it’s exactly who you are, but it’s not all of you, just a repressed and fragmented part.
A toxic man is not going to destroy you because of who he is. A toxic man will destroy you because of the person you become in his aura, because of the unique and terrible way he infects your mind and stimulates your soul.