TikTok Says You Need to “Stay Toxic” to Get Laid, and Here’s Why I Disagree


Just when I thought we’d banished toxic dating advice like “treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen”, the #staytoxic trend on TikTok erupted, threatening to send us very far backwards.

And I’m not having it.

When I was in high school, I was pretty sure ignoring someone would get them to like me. That, or hooking up with their best friend, not replying to their texts for days at a time, or acting aloof in their presence. And it did, most of the time.

Dating felt like a game that I was constantly trying to win at. I didn’t feel like I was free to act how I wanted to. Instead, I felt forced to be this character people would desire.

Since then, our conversations about dating have come a long way. We’ve learnt terms like “love-bombing” and “gaslighting“, we’ve witnessed people speak publicly about what toxic relationships look like and their repercussions, we’ve partaken in global conversations about emotional abuse and we’ve seen a lot more representation of healthy relationships in the media.

All in all, I’d say that we’re doing pretty well. No longer do we live in a mainstream society that doesn’t allow us to share our truth, or limits us to the gendered stereotypes that once plagued heterosexual relationships.

So, when I noticed that my TikTok feed was overtaken by this new #staytoxic trend, I felt that teenage trauma tremble inside of me.

The #staytoxic trend is essentially toxic dating advice. It’s a recommendation for how to date, move on, get someone’s attention etc. It’s worth noting, though, that some users mean for the advice to be interpreted ironically and not for it to be taken literally.

Some videos, such as the one above, coin their #staytoxic advice to a made-up piece of literature called the Book of Toxicity, referencing it similarly to how the bible is referenced.

Now, I think it’s pretty obvious why this trend is… toxic. Why are we spending our time making or consuming videos that recommend toxic behaviour as a positive addition to our lives? Especially when it comes to dating, as this behaviour doesn’t just affect us — but someone else too.

This made me question my own relationship with toxic behaviour. Am I attracted to it?

According to Normal’s in-house sex coach Georgia Grace, it’s common for toxic behavioural traits to be confused with feelings of attraction.

“There is a range of things to examine within our attachment styles,” Grace tells POPSUGAR Australia, “such as someone who is anxious or avoidant — these toxic dating behaviours may feel familiar to them; even comforting.”

“We’ve also got to look at trauma, both in past relationships and in their life in general. People who have experienced trauma are often drawn to those same situations time again, which can be mistaken as being attracted to someone.”

The most common toxic behaviour when it comes to dating is not texting back. This can occur in varying levels of extremity, from taking hours to text back on purpose, to not replying for days at a time to keep someone waiting to ghosting them all together.

This plunges us into the unknown, says Grace, which then can intensify our feelings based on the uncertainty surrounding where you stand with that person.

“When we feel uncertain, we might get feelings of nerves or “butterflies” — which is actually our nervous system knowing that it isn’t safe, and reacting.”

But with 351.3M views, the #staytoxic TikTok trend is gaining momentum at an alarming rate.

It’s really taking me back to the days when I would go for sleepovers with my friends and we’d all huddle up on the couch together with snacks and swoon over the toxic tension between Carrie and Mr Big. Or Carrie and Burger. Or Chuck and Blair from Gossip Girl. Or all of John Tucker Must Die.

I can’t stress this enough: we don’t want to go back there, babes.

Healthy relationships with open communication may sound boring, but they’re a much better place to be.

But, if you catch yourself watching these #staytoxic videos and think to yourself “that’d probably work on me”, don’t be alarmed. Being attracted to toxic behaviour doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with, it just means it’s time to do some work.

“Unless you’re really working through those behaviours — whether you’re accepting toxic behaviour, or the one that is stuck in toxic behavioural patterns — those might stay there,” Grace says.

“I would absolutely recommend reflecting on what you’re experienced with a trusted friend, journaling, or seeking professional help. It’s important to remember that there’s usually a reason for our toxic behavioural patterns; but that they are a choice.”

And maybe don’t engage with the #staytoxic trend on TikTok, even if you’re hurting. Toxicity is not a strength, lovers.

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