There are many unexpected reasons toxic men are drawn to you and if they find you interesting, you can’t do much about it. They are charming at first and you fall for them without even realizing what happened. You fell hard and now you’re just confused, right? Well, for years on end I have been dating toxic men who were simply drawn to me for whatever reason but there are some lessons I have learned that made me smarter and helped me become stronger. I am sharing with you the lessons I have learned in order to make this whole experience a little bit easier—I hope.

1. You have to respect yourself

It sounds cliché but you have to respect yourself or no one will. The main reason why toxic men have the ability to come into your life in the first place is that they see an opportunity that gives them the freedom to act in any way they want, no matter how bad it is. They do it because you let them, because you don’t know how to say ‘no’ and because you don’t respect yourself enough to move away from a man who has nothing good to offer.

2. Pretending like everything is fine is the worst thing you can do

Pretending like nothing is bothering you only makes you feel even more sad than you already are. Pretending like everything is fine just makes your emotions bundle up inside you with nowhere to go and it will make you explode at one point or another. It also gives your toxic man the full ability to do what he wants with you, because you’re not reacting to it. But this method can be used in every aspect of your life because you really do need to speak up about everything that doesn’t feel right to you.

3. If you don’t love yourself you won’t be able to attract a good guy

With this I mean the good guy who comes into your life after your toxic relationship. A good man won’t fall in love with a woman who doesn’t know how to love and appreciate herself. Have you ever heard that you can’t love someone else unless you love yourself? Well, it really is the truth. Every good guy knows that a woman can only love him as much as she loves herself.

4. If it doesn’t feel right, leave

Every time I started a new relationship, I had this bad feeling about him and about us. It’s like my gut was telling me to just run away because it was going to hurt otherwise. That’s why I have learned to always trust what I am feeling. If it doesn’t feel right, I simply leave it behind.

5. It won’t change until you do

I have learned that I can’t change the fact that I attract toxic men, at least not until I change myself. How have I done that? I decided to stay single until I am able to love myself enough to never let anyone take advantage of me. I have learned that it’s only me who can change my bad luck with men. Since that day, I decided to put myself first and to dedicate time and energy into finding out what I want in my life and in my relationships.

6. If you don’t react in time, it will continue

If you don’t act in time, if you don’t try talking to him or just leaving when you see the first signs of toxic behavior, he will continue. It doesn’t just stop by itself. It’s something he has learned and something he continues doing, simply because you didn’t tell him right away about how you felt. You never spoke up about it clearly, so how could he know that he would lose you if he continued?

7. Nothing and no one is more important than me

The most important lesson I have ever learned is that no one is as important as I am. There should be no one on my priority list above me. I am my own biggest priority. I have been giving myself too much to men who brought nothing but damage with themselves and that’s when I got to know that I put them first, never seeing that I was the one who needed my own attention the most.