Family ties are supposed to be unbreakable, and cutting them is very hard—it leaves scars that never heal. After all, family members are people who are expected to always be there for us, ready to help out, show their love and support.
However, sometimes even the closest relatives can become toxic for our mental health and emotional state, to the point where you’re really better off without them. Taking care of number one still ought to be your top priority.
There is no reason to tolerate people who hurt you just because you’re related.
How to tell you’re dealing with a toxic family member? Here are the 5 most common traits of toxic people:
1. They can’t be trusted.
Have you ever turned to a family member for some personal advice? Yet, somehow after you’ve shared your most vulnerable moments with them, somehow everyone in your family knows everything about your personal life. Avoid them like the plague!
2. They constantly criticize you.
Constructive criticism is healthy, but persistent, unwarranted criticism can deteriorate anyone’s self-esteem. Stay away from people who do that.
If the only thing your family members do is criticize you, they’re best avoided.
3. They’re only there 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.
Do you really think you need someone like that in your life? Someone you can’t rely on for anything? Think again.
4. They switch back and forth between positive and negative attitudes.
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.
Such people hate being ignored and will do anything to regain their control over you.
5. They lie to your face.
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.
If anyone in your family displays any of these symptoms of toxic behavior, they’re putting your mental health in jeopardy.
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,” says Alithia Asturrizaga, a licensed clinical social worker at Alithia Psychotherapy Associates, P.C.
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.
While you might try to convince your family member that what they’re doing is emotionally harmful to you, it’s possible that your family member won’t change—and that’s okay.
Even after you distance yourself from that toxic person, it will still take time to recover from that abuse, and that’s okay, too. 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.
Make sure you follow this advice. It will make your life easier—and healthier, too!