Mental Health: 5 Signs That You Need To Walk Away From Toxic Family Relationships


How can we not talk about family when family is all that we got- Wiz Khalifa

For many of us, the family is the most important aspect of our lives and rightly so. They are the people who are bonded to you by blood. It is because of this that we often give our family members a pass to things we would otherwise not give to other people. This includes even the negative things such as hanging around them even if they are toxic to our well-being. Toxic family relationships can drain you mentally and physically.


Toxic Family Relationships: Image from

Often we can delude ourselves into thinking that it is our obligation as family members to interact with all our family members because they are just that – family. You allow them into a big chunk of your life and their toxicity can end up hurting you even more than toxic relationships with other people. Alithia Asturrizaga, a licensed clinical social worker states that most of the people she has worked with seeking therapy due to having toxic relationships with their family members and significant others. So how do you spot a toxic family relationship?

They are judgmental

One of the most unhealthy environments one can put themselves in is an environment where they are attacked for everything they do. To a point, one feels like they have to hide who they are so as to please the people around them. Family members can sometimes be very judgmental. Always criticizing you for the choices you make in your life. Healthy criticism is welcomed but some criticism is harsh and not warranted.

Some of our family members do mean well when they chip in to advise or talk to us. However continuous unwarranted attacks on a person’s life choices can affect one’s self-esteem negatively. To a point of adjusting your wants and needs to fit their opinions and that is very unhealthy. Learn to detach yourself from family members who make you feel that way.

Only want to interact with you when they need something

This is often a very one-sided relationship where only one of your benefits. These are family members who call you up to meet up and hang out only for them to ask you for help with something. It can range from emotional support to financial support. However, when you reach out to them for the same, they tend to brush you off and avoid you. In extreme circumstances, when you try to detach yourself from them, they get very abusive and irrational. This is because they believe they have a right to your help by virtue of being related to you. Stand your ground. You can say no to their requests. If you can, explain to them why you are not willing to help.

When jokes are taken too far

The people who know you more than most people do are your family members. So it becomes very easy to goof around and call each other out on some of your flaws. However, it is meant to be harmless fun. Things escalate when a family member constantly teases you then blames it on just mere fun and games.

Alternatively, they can say something today, then deny ever having said it in the future. It may seem like harmless fun but if taken too far it can turn to be emotionally abusive behaviour. Even though we are family, we are still humans who struggle with our personalities, flaws, and shortcomings. Constantly poking at these issues can affect one’s state of mind.

They meddle in your life

Often we look to our family members for advice on aspects of our lives. When all else fails, the family is meant to always be there for you. However, some family members take it a little bit too far. It is not enough to share their opinions and advice, they want to take control of the situation and ensure that it goes as they have planned it. Their constant meddling can cause you to feel like you do not have control of your own life. It can also strain your other relationships if your family member insists on meddling in them too. If let to do as they please, these family members can be toxic in your life. You need to stand your ground and be clear on your boundaries so that they know not to cross them.

Unpredictable Behavior

This pertains to those family members who have ever-changing moods. They can be really nasty to you one time, hurl insults at you, say things to bring you down, and share information you told them in confidence. After you distance yourself from them, their mood reverts. They suddenly become very welcoming, loving and seem to care about you. They coax you into letting them back into your lives until they get bored or tired then it is back to the nasty behaviour they exhibited at the start. This never-ending cycle can drain you mentally and breeds a very unhealthy relationship. Distance yourself from such family members and avoid letting them into your life whenever it suits them.

Separating yourself from family members is not that easy. However, if your mental health is at stake it is okay to walk away from them. Even if it’s a parent. No good can come from nurturing a relationship that suffocates or stresses you out. You can express your feelings to the members you feel are being toxic. However, if they do not listen to you, it is time you take yourself away from the situation.

Here are 7 Ways To Handle A Toxic Relationship

Sometimes we need a reality check because we could be the toxic people in our children’s lives.  Here are 10 Tips to Avoid Being A Toxic Parent

If you have dealt with a toxic family you may need counselling. Check out 6 Ways To Make The Most Out Of Your Therapy Sessions and also 6 Things They Don’t Tell You About Therapy

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