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.

You have to determine the level of sacrifice you are willing to make to protect your emotions and those that trust you to protect them as well. Sometimes, you have to hurt one to help another. The hurt is never intended to be malicious, but always done in love and respect. Behavior is choice-driven.”

Although you might feel an innate impulse to keep your toxic family member in your life, especially if that family member is your parent, it’s important to understand that keeping a toxic person in your life will have damaging effects on your mental health.

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

  1. 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. 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. 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.

  3. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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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