Why It’s Okay To Cut Toxic Family Members Out of Your Life

Okay To Cut Toxic Family Members

We get it, your connection with your family is supposed to be this mythical bond that nobody and nothing can break—however, sometimes it’s okay to distance yourself from or cut toxic family members out indefinitely.

You should never compromise your mental, emotional or physical health for the sake of tolerating a toxic family member.

Before you start blocking Aunt Susan and your second cousin, it’s important to recognize the signs of a toxic person:

Here’re 5 Signs of A Toxic Person:

1. They’re judgmental.

Constructive criticism is healthy, but persistent, unwarranted criticism can deteriorate anyone’s self-esteem.

2. They feed off drama.

Have you ever turned to a family member for some personal advice? Yet, somehow after you’ve shared your most vulnerable moments with them—someone you thought was a trusted ally—somehow everyone in your family knows everything about your personal life (including your distant cousin in Hungary, who you’ve never met).

3. They gaslight you.

If your family member continually claims they never said something, when you and everyone else knows they did, it might not seem that serious. However, this is a form of gaslighting, which is highly emotionally abusive behaviour. And, it’s okay to cut toxic family members out and protect your mental health.

4. They only talk to you when they need something from you.

Often, they’ll go to you for advice or emotional comfort. But once you turn to them for support, they dismiss your needs or hold your personal information against you.

5. They flip-flop between positive and negative reinforcement.

They can lash out at you, yell and insult you. However, once you ignore them after this senseless attack, they’ll likely coax you back into their trap by offering you pseudo-praise and support. Typically these positive interactions are short-lived before this individual goes back to their typical manipulative behavior.

Related: 24 Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers

If Anyone In Your Family Displays Any Of These Symptoms Of Toxic (i.e., Abusive) Behavior, They’re Putting Your Mental Health In Jeopardy.

Alithia Asturrizaga, a licensed clinical social worker at Alithia Psychotherapy Associates, P.C., explains, “I have worked with countless people who have lived their lives dealing with toxic family members and significant others. In fact, this is one of the chief reasons that many people seek therapy.”

Toxic Relationships, Even With Family Members, Can Drain You Emotionally, Which Can Impact Your Overall Mental Well-Being.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t accept this as the status quo.

“There are certain techniques that people can use to make these relationships more tolerable—these methods generally involve distancing yourself to a certain degree from the toxic person. However, in many cases, the best solution is to remove the toxic individual from your life completely. This is rarely easy and is often complicated and emotionally conflicting in the case of close family relationships, such as with a parent—but when situations deteriorate to the point of making it impossible to live a happy and liberated life, this course of action is usually the best,” Asturrizaga says.

This Abusive Behavior Isn’t Confined To Romantic Relationships Because Anyone Can Have A Toxic Influence On Your Life.

Shannon Battle, LPC LCAS for the last eight years at Families Services of America, tells Her Campus that the best way to approach a toxic person is first to establish boundaries.

To help stick to these boundaries, Battle suggests, “Anytime you deal with toxicity, understand there is a learning curve. There will be periods of uncertainty, guilt, and possible loss in relationships.

24 thoughts on “Why It’s Okay To Cut Toxic Family Members Out of Your Life”

  1. Avatar of George Jetton

    It is easy enough to cut out a cousin or Aunt/Uncle. Your own kid is totally different. TRY it. Enough time may bring your kid around. PRAY for them and yourself.

  2. Avatar of Anthony Hanson

    People are not toxic. Chemicals can be toxic, but people are not. Throwing people away because they are having a difficult time is bad advice. Help people by being an example. Ignore things that upset you and focus on the good. Many times those struggling will seem impossible to help, but being there for someone can change everything for them. People are complex and never toxic, unless they drank a bottle of bleach, in which case they need a hospital room and dont need to be tossed out of your life. If you have a struggling family memeber then helping them can help you find purpose. Dont give up on people, give up on shitty blogs who just want to sell you adds.

    1. Avatar of Brad Keith

      This is very well said. It is terrible advice. Usually those doing the blocking, ghosting and igniring are the ones with the judgement and drama. Giving up on people is mean. Not forgiving for what ever reason is disgusting. When you have provlems it is always hard to face and easier to blame. One needs to askmthem self is the one I thinkmhas problems having problems with everyone else. Funny the one you are blaming has friends and realitives everwhere that do not ageee. Look i. Tue mirror. Forgiveness if for you not the one you are forgiving.

      1. Avatar of Danielle

        I want to clear something up.After posting my July 29, 2021 comments that starts with the sentence “There are family members who are going out of their way……” I scrolled down to read further comments only to discover you guys are talking about a Danielle R. that had previously commented on this site and others were disputing what she said. I AM NOT THAT DANIELLE R.!!!!!! It’s a complete coincidence that I have her first name and last initial. I just discovered this website 20 minutes ago for the first time and felt compelled to comment. I don’t know an Aunt Susie or whatever her name was, I swear!!!!! and I have no opinion one way or the other about their situation because I stopped reading as soon as I saw my name!! But I will add that if you do read my July 29, 2021 comment you can see how difficult it in these situations on WHO TO BELIEVE and that the person who is telling the truth sometimes has to leave the family because it just becomes too much to deal with. I don’t know what the situation is or the real culprit in that Danielle R. situation but in MY Danielle R. (ME) situation I’m being victimized by a family member and I know in my case it is true, and you are told not to say anything because people won’t believe you and it will just divide the family. You are told to just get away from the toxic person and let people reach their own conclusions about who to believe, and that is so hard, not to be able to defend yourself! But you see what can happen when people speak out like what happened with the Aunt Susie here or whatever the hell happened. It just creates so much drama and you are advised not to speak out, just walk away and again, it’s so hard!!

      1. Avatar of Danielle

        I spent an hour commenting on this website and that was a complete waste of time, wouldn’t you say? You deleted both my comments! You invite people to comment and they detrimentally rely on the notion it’s a genuine invitation to participate, only to learn it was not. I wish I had spent that hour more productively! Live and learn I guess.

    2. Avatar of Danielle Roy

      There are people who are dealing with family members who are going out of their way to distroy them, alienate them from other family members, their own children in some cases, they try to get them written out of the will, they ridicule them and lie about them to others, and they may even be molesting them. YOU are the shitty person giving shitty advice. Why don’t you talk about something you know something about? If someone’s Uncle Ted was Ted Bundy would you say, “Oh, I don’t think your uncle is a toxic person, how dare you call him toxic?” YES, Anthony that’s exactly what you would say, because YOU wouldn’t understand the enormity of his crimes, what he is capable of, because outwardly he would seem like such a likeable person. And don’t say Ted Bundy is a rare, extreme example. There are plenty of shitty people like malignant narcissists, sociopaths, pedophiles, and other varieties and levels of toxicity that are healthy to distance yourself from who are NOT going to be rehabilitated because they don’t want to be rehabilitated because being an asshole has advantages they don’t want to give up. No self respecting social scientist/ therapist would agree with you on this one, Anthony. The word toxic is used to describe the effect someone who is trying to hurt you has on you psychologically, physically, socially, financially, and what’s worse they get their innocent victims to feel bad about themselves and think they are the problem, and often get everyone else to agree with them, that’s how twisted they are. And often the victim can’t reach out to other people in the office or the family or where ever the abuse is taking place because the toxic person has brainwashed everybody to think they are wonderful and get everyone to feel sorry for them so everyone starts attacking YOU, the real victim. They have trouble believing the toxic person is a bad person, because they are nice to everyone else, it’s just YOU they have selected to be their special target. It’s called Scapegoating, and the abuser is addicted to abusing it’s victim, because it gives them PLEASURE You are so naive if you think they are going to to give up something they love doing, that makes them feel powerful. They LOVE nothing better than when someone like you comes up and says “Oh, this poor toxic person isn’t playing this game! How dare you call him toxic!” so they can bat their eyes and look innocent further frustrating and isolating the victim. It’s evil. Bleach doesn’t LOOK toxic, it looks pretty innocent just sitting there until you ingest it, and then it’s effect on you is what makes it toxic. Being around people who are hurting you in this manner is so stressful it can make you sick and ultimately kill you, even if that’s not what’s written on the death certificate, and it happens more often than you think. Bad people don’t seem like toxic people, Anthony, because they keep their authentic selves hidden from you, so keep your opinions to yourself about this or any other website that’s reaching out to the victim’s of toxic people. Jesus said there are evil people, and he wasn’t afraid to call them by their real name either and Toxic is the least of what he called it.

  3. Avatar of Diane Whitlow

    While most of these posts are about parents there needs to be something said about children also. I was going thorough some old family pictures a few days ago and there were many in there of my beautiful daughter and grandson. My daughter is 45; grandson is 21. As I sat there looking at their sweet beautiful faces I couldn’t help but ask what happened to make them think they needed to depend on drugs to live. Daughter is extremely abusive to her son, mother, brother and step dad. Grandson is abusive to anyone with authority like teachers (.1 grade average in school), never tell the truth, keeps turmoil in the family by lying to the other members turning them against each other, and has a severe anger management problem. Daughter is narcissistic. Probably grandson also. Their home burned and they came to us saying they had no where to live even though she received more than enough insurance money to purchase another home however, out of the love he had for his step daughter, my husband (since we have a small plot of land) told her she could build her a house over here if she wanted but we could survey it off now but could not deed it to her because we were still paying on it. We went to an attorney and had the legal papers drawn up to see that she would inherit the whole place when we passed if she wanted it or she could sell the part she doesn’t want and just keep what her house is on. We have made our life insurance benefeciaries to our policy to pay off the land when either or both of us dies and the rest will go to our son. Shortly after they moved in here, they had a knock down drag-out over there and neighbors called the police. Both were arrested. When they were released they came over to our home accusing us of calling the police and grandson said if we ever called the law on him again he would kill us. Daughter called us every SOB and name she could think of. She drove back up the driveway in the $7000 truck my husband bought her with his money he got when he came home from Iraq–oh did I fail to mention he is a 60+ permanently and totally injured veteran and that I am 71 and disabled. They had told us they wanted to move here to help us. They have been here over 5 years and all we’ve ever gotten is cussed on FB, our cell phone, messenger, our land line and notes in the door. There isn’t time here to explain why we have complete shut them out of our lives. PTSD is a terrible thing that our soldiers come home with after seeing the ravages of war and I have diabetes and fibromyalgia. It is too much to have to deal with the drama they bring here. I would make them move but my mother’s heart can’t. My husband who used to love the daughter he never had is hurt by her more than he can say. We are looking for a place to move.

    1. Avatar of Suzie Lawson Dunson

      Many of us grandmoms can completely relate to every word you said…I cut my oldest addict daughter out of my life after 17 yrs of hell…every part of my being was at risks…once I landed in the e.r and couldn’t get out of bed for weeks..I got coinciding and got out of the chaos…i feel like this, i don’t do drugs so why would I live in drug induced chaos.. I have had it…I’m sorry your in this too….

  4. Avatar of Danny Young

    Cynthia Evans, (the writer who posted this article) this comment is for you. It appears you may have been contacted by a Danielle R. of Benton Pa. and mislead regarding her Aunt Susan. I know her Aunt and have been a lifelong close friend to that family. You wrote this article mentioning an Aunt Susan and Danielle R. has used it on her Facebook page to continue harassing and slandering her Aunt. Danielle has problems which were a result of her mother and father’s bad marriage and very nasty divorce. Admittedly, Danielle’s father has many problems and was not always a good parent to Danielle, add in that her mother ran around with other men during the marriage and then became pregnant by a man she had a fling with, then the home life was nothing but trouble. Danielle blames her Aunt Susan for never being around and in her life at the time of all this turmoil. That is because Aunt Susan was smart enough to stay away from all that dysfunction which she could do nothing about. Danielle needs to come clean and tell the whole truth and stop spreading lies and rumors. The fact is, she never lived one full day in her Aunt’s life, so she knows nothing about Aunt Susan. I however, have been close to both Aunt Susan and her husband for many years and they have consulted with me many times. May I suggest an idea for you? Maybe you could begin contacting the other party and hear from them before you outright post an article with a title referring to anyone’s Aunt, by their first name. That way, when people like Danielle R use the article on their Facebook page to continue slandering and harassing an Aunt she is obsessed with, at least the other person will know about the attack. Thank you for allowing me the space on your page to leave a comment. Have a blessed day.

      1. Avatar of Danny Young

        Well, she is listed as such under the title of this article at the top of this page. In addition, she is listed as the author at the bottom of this page which this article appears on. I made screen shots of this page. So if Ms. Evans is misleading the readers that is not my problem. Now, as far as the use of “Aunt Susan” It is my understanding that Danielle R. may have written into this WordPress created website and complained about her Aunt Susan. Please note: Danielle R only has one “Aunt Susan” and Danielle has shared this article with her friends and the public in general, on her FB social page. I’d say that by adding a name of any person to this article, only helps others to use it against someone in their own family. Why fuel the fire and help someone slander another innocent person? Have a good day Cindy.

  5. Avatar of Grace Pearsall Barbo
    Grace Pearsall Barbo

    Ghosting should have been on there to, it always follows the insults, belittling & criticism. When I get enough and shine light to the behavior they ghost.

    1. Avatar of Linda Stanley

      I am living it now, have been living it for three years. My granddaughters have been cut entirely out of my life. One we haven’t even seen yet. When you come from a close family and go to no family….

  6. Avatar of Daniel Sebold

    It’s amazing to come back from living overseas for twenty years to find out how much most of your family hates you. You scratch your head and wonder if that’s how it was when you left, and, if it was that way, how did you stand it, and, how did you forget how bad it was, and, now, how what a ridiculous dark comedy it all is–all because you are an eccentric, which is why you left, so you could literally be an outside-the-circle eccentric with complete impunity overseas.

    1. Avatar of Brad Keith

      The issue is them, not you. It is terrible advice to treat others this way. Usually those doing the blocking, ghosting, hating and igniring are the ones with the judgement and drama. Giving up on people is mean. Not forgiving for what ever reason is disgusting. When you have problems it is always hard to face and easier to blame. One needs to ask themself is the one I think has problems having problems with everyone else. Funny the one you are blaming has friends and realitives everwhere that do not ageee. They need to look in the mirror. Forgiveness is for you not the one you are forgiving. Do not let others even family make you feel.like you have done wrong or you are bad.

  7. Avatar of Steven McMillian

    Another sign is when they have nothing nice to say to you and are rude, mean, and nasty to you even though you have been nice to them. Also, when they disrespect you all of the time and treat you like a doormat.

  8. Avatar of Esther B

    I think it is very important to first analyse oneself before cutting people out. If you really care it is really difficult just to cut people out. Especially close relatives. What I noticed is that usually those with difficult behaviour themselves cut people out. Cutting people out can also be an abusive technique in itself. It is very damaging to someones who is not aware of your feelings to cut them out. Maybe just distance yourself, cutting out is really a last and final option.

      1. Avatar of Deanna Dubbin

        I agree Kathy! When someone’s mental and emotional survival and future happiness depends on leaving a toxic family relationship, and the person that left, becomes happier and healthier, the simple conclusion should be that the ‘love’ language of those involved was incompatible. Which really goes back to the, ‘if you love someone, set them free’ quote.

        Why would family members want to keep someone entrapped in a family system that causes another emotional pain? That’s not love. That’s control.

      2. Avatar of Belinda Moore

        Exactly, you have to at some point decide who’s mental health and emotional well being is more important to you, YOURs other the abusers. One things for sure continuing to allow the abuser his/her way with you sure is not healthy for them either. It’s a lose lose situation you can NEVER change them (most don’t even want to change or think they need changing) So why continue to suffer? CUT THEM LOOSE!

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