As a general belief, the family seems to be a bond that we shouldn’t break but once in a while, it may be required for your benefit and peace, to keep a distance from a specific relative.
What’s a family?
A family isn’t your blood or DNA. In just a few words, the family defines us. It’s a significant part of who we are to the core. An interesting thing about families is that people can tolerate more bad than good, and even a strained relationship can still be considered satisfying for both people.
Families can be the ones who drive you nuts but are also there by your side in tough spots. Family members are the ones who’ve seen us at our best and worst, and the love is consistently and unconditionally there or should be. The key ingredients in a healthy relationship are acceptance, love, the ability to agree to disagree at times, and mutual respect without having to change or control each other.
A family isn’t about blood. It’s about who’s willing to hold your hand when you need it the most.
Sings of a toxic family member
A dangerous relationship can burn you out completely and affect your mental health and wellness. You should never negotiate your mental, emotional or physical health for the sake of enduring a toxic family member.
Before you start blocking a specific relative, it’s important to recognize the signs of a toxic one:
- They’re judgmental: Constructive criticism is healthy, but persistent, unwarranted criticism can deteriorate anyone’s self-esteem.
- They feed off drama: Have you ever asked a family member for some personal advice? Yet, somehow after you’ve shared your most vulnerable moments with them and everyone in your family knows everything about your personal life.
- 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 behavior.
- They only talk to you when they need something from you: Often, they’ll go to you for advice or emotional help. But once you ask them for support, they ignore your needs or hold your personal information against you.
- They flip between positive and negative behavior: They can lash out at you, yell and insult you. However, once you ignore them after this senseless attack, they’ll likely get you back into their trap by offering you false praise and support. These positive interactions are short-lived before this individual goes back to their manipulative behavior.
Cut the dilemma out
Although you might feel an inborn instinct 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 harmful effects on your mental health.
It’s okay if the toxic family member in your life never changes. Though you might become fanatical with getting them to change, this fascination can also negatively impact your mental health.
Just because someone shares same DNA with you they get to misbehave? Call you names? Demean you? Sabotage your life?
When is it the time to say goodbye?
It’s time to say goodbye when —
- The relationship is physically or mentally abusive.
- It causes enough stress that it affects important areas of your life, like work or home life.
- You find yourself spending a lot of time thinking about the bitter relationship and losing sleep over it.
- The relationship is one-sided when there is no valid reason why there isn’t some effort made by the other person.
- The relationship is only about borrowing money.
- The family member is taking you down with them or constantly demanding favors or asking you to take them out of trouble.
- The person is using gossip to manipulate and control you or other family members against you.
- All contact with them is negative. They only call to bring you down and put you down, too.
- There are negative consequences every time this family member doesn’t get what they want from you.
- They play childish games — the silent treatment, blame games — and there’s no talking to them.
Even after you distance yourself from that toxic person, it will still take time to recover from this situation, and that’s okay, too. The family is a subjective term so you can form a new family from your supportive friends. Surrounding yourself with supportive people will help you reinforce the positive change that you need in your life.
After all, toxicity is harmful, and you don’t need that kind of behavior killing your mental health.