8 signs of toxic masculinity & toxic men

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8 signs of toxic masculinity & toxic men

Update: 23.06.2024

You can't live with him or without him: the toxic man. You know that he's just not good for you, but you still can't get away from him. You feel strongly attracted to him, but he often drives you crazy.

All the alarm bells are ringing and yet you are paralyzed. But why? What does "Toxic" actually? And how do you deal with such a relationship? We have the answers to your questions!

Would you like to know more about the signs of toxic relationship then read our article about it: "Toxic relationship - Recognize the main signs".

8 signs of toxic masculinity in a relationship

Sometimes the toxic traits of a man only in the midst of a relationship. According to sociologists, you can recognize them by various signs, which we will now present to you.

1. disrespect

Probably the most obvious characteristic of toxic men is that they show you no respect. They demand a lot of it themselves. But they have none for you. This is how they want to exude dominance and show that they are the ones who have the power in the relationship. Your wishes, your friends, your Career - none of this is worth anything in their eyes. Equality? No way, they don't think much of it.

2. your needs are worth nothing

You are in the back of the line. Toxic men always want to be the main person and they don't care about what is important to you. They want you to be subordinate. Again and again you catch yourself canceling the meeting with your friends because your partner wants you to stay at home.

But he himself would never dream of staying at home with you when he has plans. And that is exactly right in his eyes. He is a free man who can do whatever he wants. But your Needs do not interest him (really).

3. you are the housewife

Of course, there is nothing against you taking over the household as a woman, even if this is a stereotype. But this is only true as long as you decide to do it voluntarily. Toxic men impose the work on you, because they believe that a real man does not pick up a broom or a wooden spoon. They simply assume that you will spoil them when they come home from work and they don't care that you have a job too. They rest while you continue to work after hours - for them.

4. you are property

Toxic men see you as their property. They want to control what you do, what you wear, who you date, what you eat, how much you weigh, and these are just a few examples. They comment on every step you take and want to take full control of your life. Sometimes they even make you do things you don't want to do at all. Yet you let them do it to you.

5. the man brings the money home

Toxic men see themselves as the main provider for the family. If you earn more than them, it scratches their ego. They may even persuade you to quit your job and take care of the household and the family. That way they can always hold it against you that they bring home the money and not you. In return, they want you to be incredibly grateful be. This is another point with which they want to drive you into dependence.

6. gaslighting

Of course, the literal translation of the term "gaslighting" has nothing to do with what it means. It refers to the play of the same name by Patrick Hamilton, which is about psychological violence. Toxic men manipulate you to such an extent that you eventually doubt your own perception and they can talk you into virtually anything they want.

They deliberately plant untruths in your head - in their favor, of course. You are completely irritated, no longer know what is right and what is wrong and these Uncertainty toxic men take advantage of this. They then stage themselves as saviors in distress and hold the strings.

toxic masculinity

7. toxic men: excessive anger

Sure, everyone is angry sometimes. But at a certain point, this anger is no longer justified and toxic men exceed this point. They become aggressive, want to intimidate you and may even become physical. If you become a victim of violence, get help - no matter how hard it is! There are numerous contact points, including help hotlines, to which you can also turn anonymously.

8. you are afraid to speak your mind

Toxic men always find fault with you. This makes you so insecure that you don't even know how to behave without them getting angry. But you also don't dare address them about it, because you have Fear from an argument that may escalate. Tell your partner that you feel cramped and just aren't happy anymore? Absolutely not!

That is much too risky for you. You know he'd make fun of you, ridicule you, and maybe even bully you. So you'd rather apologize immediately after you've tried to address something, butter up your toxic husband, and back off.

Is your Relationship toxic?

Find out, whether your relationship is healthy! Our free relationship quiz will help you see if you're in a harmful relationship - or if everything is in the green.

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What is toxic masculinity?

"Toxic" means nothing other than "poisonous". But then what should Toxic masculinity be? This term covers all stereotypes that are considered typically male and from which the closest people - especially the partner - suffer. These include dominance, control, insensitivity and aggression.

Toxic men show destructive behavior. They believe they have to be dominant and must not show any feelings in order to be considered true men. Anything else is considered weak. A person affected may think that men and women cannot understand each other or be friends.

Toxic masculinity describes behaviors and beliefs that exaggerate traditional norms of masculinity and cause harm in the process. These include the suppression of emotions, the promotion of dominance and aggression and the devaluation of female characteristics. The external appearance must correspond to an ideal masculine image (tall, muscular, broad-shouldered). If this is not the case, you are not taken seriously or even laughed at. These behaviors often lead to unhealthy ways of dealing with power, relationships and self-perception. Recognizing and challenging these toxic patterns is crucial for healthier and more respectful relationships and the well-being of individuals and communities.

How do toxic men behave?

Toxic men simply swallow their emotions, because they believe that anything else would be a sign of weakness. They give everything to always be the dominant part and have no problem belittling other people - especially women. Feminism is a foreign word to them. Toxic men think in terms of gender roles, and feminism simply has no place there. So why should they bother with it?

Sexism is very pronounced in their mindset, often accompanied by dominance and a need to control. Nothing is allowed to happen without toxic men knowing about it and allowing it. In their eyes, only they have the power and no one else. This can also turn into assault - aggression and violence take over. Toxic masculinity also includes the area of sexuality. Men are convinced that a real man is always in the mood for sex and is ready for it at any time.

Not to be forgotten is the heightened sense of competition. In the eyes of toxic men, only they themselves are the only true number one and anyone who wants to stand in their way is pushed aside as hard as nails - sometimes even at almost any price.

How do men become toxic?

At this point, we first need to make something clear: Of course not all men are toxic. Nevertheless, there are always people who strictly follow stereotypical role models because they believe that these are the only true views. They were often taught the same thing in their childhood and adopted the pattern for themselves (as true and correct). And that has consequences: Even in relationships that appear incredibly loving on the outside, toxic traits can lie dormant. Sometimes, however, harmful ideas of masculinity only develop in the course of life. This can be the case after a traumatizing interpersonal experience, for example.

Not all men act this way on purpose. Often this view of true masculinity is deeply rooted in their Subconscious because that's what their parents and grandparents taught them. Of course, if a boy has been taught from an early age that things like vulnerability are clearly weaknesses that men are not allowed to show, sooner or later a disturbed perception will develop. They learn not to feel their own boundaries and then naturally have problems recognizing the boundaries of others. They quickly hurt others - sometimes without even realizing it.

What often falls by the wayside in the process are social skillssuch as caring or finding compromises, because these qualities tend to belong in the stereotypical image of women. According to these role models, real men are not supposed to put up with anything, while women are the ones who can definitely back down, if this long-outdated understanding is anything to go by.

toxic men recognize

Toxic man in the learning phase

In the dating phase, a toxic man can be recognized by excessive controlling behaviour, jealousy and a tendency to emotionally devalue their partner. They often initially show excessive affection, which can quickly turn into possessiveness. An inability to respect boundaries and a tendency to blame others for problems are also warning signs. Recognizing and addressing these behaviors early can help protect against further emotional damage.


Find out, Whether your relationship is toxic! Our free relationship quiz will help you see if you're in a harmful relationship - or if everything is in the green.

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How toxic masculinity can harm men's health

Toxic masculinity can cause significant harm to men's health by promoting emotional repression and making it difficult to access mental health support. Men who follow toxic masculinity norms tend to hide feelings such as sadness or anxiety, which can lead to increased stress, depression and anxiety. The pressure to constantly demonstrate strength and dominance can also lead to risky behavior, such as excessive drinking and violence, which puts physical health at risk and strains relationships.

Such a man in the immediate environment usually means anxiety and fear. The negative social aspects of toxic masculinity also result in health problems. Toxic men have a lower life expectancy, as their mentality encourages them to consume addictive substances and engage in risky behavior (e.g. driving too fast). The suicide rate is also considerably higher among toxic men. As they have learned to ignore their own physical and psychological needs, they are also less likely to seek medical help.

How to deal with toxic men

Do you have a toxic relationshipyou basically have two options: Either you learn how to deal with it. Or you take the final step and separate from him for good. Admittedly, both options are not easy. Why would you leave someone you love? But why would you stay with someone who is anything but good for you? Only you can decide which option is best for you.

Try to be clear about from which Motivation out you want to continue to be with this person. Is it love? Or Habit? Or possibly the fear of being left behind after the Separation to be alone again?

Why do I like toxic men?

Attraction to toxic men can often stem from unconscious patterns and past experiences. Individuals may be unconsciously drawn to behaviors that are familiar, even if they are unhealthy, because they offer a certain predictability and false security. Self-esteem and the search for approval also play a role; one may hope to gain love and esteem by "rescuing" or changing a toxic person. It is important to recognize and work through these patterns in order to promote healthier relationships.

How can I protect my children from toxic masculinity?

To protect children from toxic masculinity, it is important to create an environment that encourages openness, emotional intelligence and respect for diversity. Teach them to express emotions in a healthy way, challenge stereotypical gender norms, and demonstrate through their own behavior that strength lies in empathy and respect, not dominance or aggression. Encourage critical thinking and questioning of role models to help them develop their own healthy understanding of masculinity.


Is your relationship healthy?

Find out, Whether your relationship is toxic! Our free relationship quiz will help you see if you're in a harmful relationship - or if everything is in the green.
Only 4 minutes
Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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