It's tough to cut toxic people out of your life, but sometimes it has to be done. Toxic people can make you feel bad about yourself and take up a lot of your time.
You may not even know who they are until you start thinking about it. Cutting toxic people out of your life will help you create more space for the good things in life and have more energy for what matters to you most.
Related: Love Bombing
Did you know that toxic people can be more dangerous to your health than smoking cigarettes?
A study by the University of Rochester found that negative thoughts and emotions from others can have a detrimental effect on our physical bodies. When we're around someone who is angry, sad, or fearful, this negativity and stress creates an inflammatory response in our body as if it was under attack from germs or bacteria. This leads to higher levels of cortisol which reduces feelings of happiness and contentment with life.
How do I know if my relationship is toxic?
One could be part of a toxic relationship with a friend, family member, or a romantic partner.
The golden rule with toxic relationships is that if people are not contributing anything positive to your life, you do not under any circumstances have to dedicate any time to them. Yes, that includes family members too.
If you aren't getting anything positive out of the friendship or relationship, and you're finding it is having a detrimental effect on you - whether it be someone;
- putting you down and making you feel awful about yourself
- using you for money
- who only hangs around with you as a last resort but who expects you to be for them 24/7
- who is extremely negative
- rude to you and other people
- always gossiping or trying to bring other people down
Then, chances are you are finding this behavior very hard to handle and quite draining to your mental health. My friend, it is time to get out of there. Run while you can.
Cutting toxic friends out of your life
You could discuss it with them, like a friendship breakup. Of course, given that they have been displaying toxic behavior and aren't the nicest person, they could react in a vindictive manner.
Or, you could do a soft fade away - just gradually backing away from the situation by being "busy" more and more when they reach out to you. Eventually, they will get the message and/or will get used to life without you.
By slowly reducing interactions until there aren't any left, helps pave the road towards inevitable separation, without making anyone feel hurt right away.
Okay, so it's not the nicest way to end a friendship, but it's a viable option if you need to get out. And hey, they are not nice with you either!
It gets trickier if you share a circle of friends.
If there was a rift between you and people picked sides, would you find yourself to be the one that wasn't invited to events anymore? Is their toxic behavior bad enough to warrant the possibility of putting yourself on the outer?
Or is it a better option to just have a polite and courteous 'hello, how are you?' relationship with them, where you acknowledge them.
Cutting toxic family members out of your life
If the toxic person is a family member, it's a little bit different again.
To cut a toxic family member out of your life, you must:
- Recognize it is abusive.
- Stop hoping that they will change.
- Get support from a friend or expert.
We hear phrases like "blood is thicker than water" all the time, but why should family always come first in a case like this?
If you have a family member treating you poorly, they do not get a free pass just because they are biologically linked to you.
The sad truth is it's not a guarantee that you will love or even like them, just because you have some DNA in common with them. You can have friends who become family and family who become strangers.
There are implications for more important people and factors to consider, like are you the only person who has an issue with this family member? How close are they? Is it a parent or sibling to you, or someone a bit further removed that you have to make small talk with at Christmas?
Similarly, with the shared circle of friends, if you only need to see them rarely in group situations, perhaps it's best to maintain a civil relationship for the greater good.
How to remove toxic lovers from your life
- Decide if they’re toxic or not. If you can, take a break from interacting with them for a few days and reevaluate what you want in your life.
- Take the time to grieve the loss of this person even though it may only be one sided because there are no winners when someone is being hurt emotionally by another person.
- Make an effort to fill the void left by cutting out that toxic lover by connecting deeper with yourself or reaching out to other people who have similar interests as you like joining clubs, taking classes together, etc. The more self love and support we give ourselves through these changes then we will feel stronger and more confident in ourselves.
Cutting ties with a lover is not an easy thing and you can't make that decision lightly. The person is important to your life or has been for some time, but their behavior may be causing a lot of pain in the relationship which makes it unhealthy.
Related: Does He Truly Love You?
It's always hard when someone we care about hurts us but sometimes its best to end the relationship before we get hurt even more.
If you find yourself in a toxic relationship it is important that you take care of your mental health by removing this person from your life and finding ways to love on yourself instead.
Remember, don't be too kind and forgiving to the toxic person, they will only take advantage of it.
The toxic person will only take advantage of your kindness and never appreciate it. That's because they are not a good or nice person to begin with, so you can't expect anything different from them. This is why no matter what you do for the toxic person, they'll have something negative to say about it, which isn't cool at all.
You might have done something to help them out and they'll still be ungrateful. And on top of all this, they will probably take credit for anything good happening in your life or project too!
General tips on getting rid of toxic people
- If you can't avoid them, limit contact to only a few minutes. This will help keep your guard up and maintain the separation in terms of time rather than distance
- Try not to talk about anything personal or sensitive topics with this person either because they'll just use it against you later on
- Get someone else's opinion, especially someone who isn't emotionally invested in the person. A friend can help support your decision.
- Develop hobbies and interests that don't involve them
- Block their number, email address, or social media account so that you can't be contacted
- If you need to contact them, keep it short and don't get into any personal topics so there's less of chance for conflict. Just make sure the conversation doesn't last too long because that will only fuel their negativity
- Try finding other things to do and other people to spend time with. The less you see the person, the easier it will be for them to stop crossing your mind
- If this person is someone who has a hold on you due to something in your past then work on changing that part of your life so they don't have any power over you anymore.
- If the toxic person is your partner, then be honest with them and give a gentle nudge to help them change their ways. However if they refuse to listen or are abusive towards you then end the relationship as soon as possible so that they cannot harm you any more than they already have done
Cutting a toxic relationship can be the best thing you'll ever do, but the effects can last a long time, and it can get messy if it is not handled correctly.
Whatever the case may be, you deserve so much better than to be surrounded by negative people who drain all of your energy and sunshine from you and give you nothing back in return.
It may be uncomfortable or awkward to cut ties with a toxic individual but think of the life you can have when you take a stand and choose only to have positive people around you.
There is always the possibility that you walking away from them may be a wake-up call. They may realize their wrongdoings and change for the better. You may have a new and improved version of them back in your life one day - you just never know!
If you have any fears about your physical safety, before making any plans to leave, seek professional resources. There are so many people and organizations around who can help you safely remove yourself from a harmful situation.
Nicole Graham is a relationship expert at Womenio.com. She is helping women grow into their best selves so they can be confident and bring more love, passion, and purpose to their lives. Nicole enjoys studying the psychology of love and is passionate about writing on them. She offers helpful tips and advice to help overcome any relationship issue, whether you’re single or already in a relationship.