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Toxic Family Members: How to See the Signs and Cut Them Loose

Toxic Family Members

You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. Sometimes you need to cut ties with toxic family members for your own mental well-being.

My mother used to say, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” But there are times when people are so close to us, they feel like family and other times when toxic family members seem more like your worst enemies.

It isn’t just societal pressure that makes us feel for our “kin.” It is something innate in us that drives us to want to protect and help those genetically tied to survive. But the problem is, just because you care about a family member’s well-being, that doesn’t necessarily mean they care for you, family or not.

9 signs and reasons to let go of toxic family members

There is an obligation that we feel to our relations. The need to go that extra mile and help out. When they aren’t good for us or hurt us, it is a difficult situation. The only true obligation you have is to you. So, if someone is toxic to you, then you’re obliged to take care of you.

If someone is related to you by blood, marriage, or any other type of family tie, if toxic, it is time to move along. Leaving the herd is one of the hardest things to do. I’ve been there, trust me. If someone is more hurtful to your life than helpful, say goodbye and move on, whether related to them or not.

Toxic people are those people that make our lives hell. Constantly trying to please them to no end, bail them out of prison, or save them from themselves, they leave you nowhere but broken, broke, and feeling awful. [Read: 15 types of toxic relationships to watch out for]

#1 They abuse your kindness. We all know that family member who has no shame in asking you for money, expecting you to practically raise their kids, or ask you to do things that no one else would, just because they know you will.

Toxic people sense weakness and use it to their advantage. If you are the peacemaker in the family, then a toxic family member uses your kindness as their kryptonite to make you do what they want no matter how much it puts you out. They simply don’t care. [Read: Selfish people – 15 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]

#2 They steal from you. Toxic family members have the advantage of gaining access to your financial information. Sometimes in the form of bank or credit accounts or just knowing where you hide cash.

If your family member steals from you, then you have an obligation to cut them out of your life. The cornerstone of a good relationship, family or otherwise, is trust. If you can’t trust them, then it doesn’t make for a good relationship, whether there is blood involved or not.

#3 They talk badly about you. If your family member says bad things about you or spreads rumors about you, then it is time to call it quits. Someone who talks badly about you, isn’t good for you and isn’t doing you any favors.

The longer you remain close to them, the more access they have to things that are private and don’t want other people to know. If we can’t rely on family providing us safe shelter and to have our backs, then who can we? [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel in a healthy relationship]

#4 They divide and conquer. Toxic family members usually gain control by doing something called dividing and conquering. Like the mother who calls one daughter to tell her about what the other daughter did. Someone who uses breaking a family apart to gain an advantage is toxic. And definitely someone that isn’t good in your life.

Sometimes you make a break and stop letting toxic family members come between you and your other family members. Just refuse to be a pawn in their scheme by cutting them off. [Read: How to say no: Stop pleasing people and feel awesome]

#5 They have an addiction problem. When someone has an addiction problem, they are no longer themselves. Someone addicted to something outside of themselves is not only toxic to themselves; they are toxic to the people who care about them.

I know how hard it is to see a family member hurting and not be able to help. Continually giving in or even providing haven and money to support their bad behaviors isn’t helping them. It makes it worse.

As hard as it is, sometimes people must hit rock bottom to understand how far they fell and try to pick themselves up. No one saves someone but themselves. So, it is time to let them work it out without the protection you provide that keeps them stuck.

#6 They gang up on you. If you have family members who always gang up on you or target you, then you don’t want them around. Jealousy exists both inside families and outside.

Don’t let someone continue to gang up on you. Don’t spend your life trying to convince someone you aren’t who they say you are. It isn’t worth it. Let them have it and move along. Find friends to take their place instead of continually fighting a tidal wave. [Read: How to be dominant: 15 calm and firm ways to be the real alpha]

#7 They use love as a control. Toxic family members use things like wanting acceptance and love to control you. If they only provide love and support when you do what they want, then that doesn’t help you.

It only gives you a screwed-up sense of what love is. Family is supposed to be around to provide you unconditional love when no one else is there to do it. If they use love as a tool, then that hurts way more than it helps. Family doesn’t have to give you unconditional love, but that is kind of the whole point. And, if they aren’t, then it is time to let the relationship go.

#8 They stir up trouble just to stir up trouble. Toxic people don’t like it when there is harmony. If you have a family member whose sole purpose is to stir up shit, then they are toxic. You don’t need them in your life.

Family is about finding home and comfort, and if your toxic family member is not only not giving comfort, but continually stealing it away, then it is time to let the relationship go. [Read: How to stop being manipulated in a relationship]

#9 Nothing you ever do is good enough for them. If you have a toxic family member who makes you feel like nothing you ever do is good enough, then let the relationship go to salvage yourself.

Whether it is your mother, your father, or even extended family, your relationship should be about acceptance and loving someone not in spite of their weaknesses, but because of them.

[Read: How to recognize and end toxic relationships]

You have other people in your life who serve just as well as family. So, don’t hold onto toxic family members out of obligation or definition.

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Julie Keating
Julie Keating

A writer isn’t born, but created out of experiences. No lack of subject matter, my life reads more like fiction than anything that could have been imagined...

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