7 Reasons to Cut Ties with Toxic Family Members

When Should You Cut Off Toxic Family Members?

How much contact you have with toxic family members is one of the most critical decisions you will have to make.

While being in dysfunctional relationships might be draining, breaking off all contact with family members is not always the best option. Completely ending contact may end any possibility to settle problems and clear the air. It may also further damage your connection with that toxic relative. Cutting off toxic family members who have productive and consistent relations with your children can be harmful to them and the toxic family member. You can see why all shutting off family requires real thought. 

Most of the time, removing harmful relatives from your life is not a straightforward choice. There is so much to consider because the decision does not involve solely you. You are still part of a family, and when there is a strained relationship between relatives, it can be stressful for others who may feel compelled to take sides. However, there are some circumstances in which cutting off toxic family members is necessary in order to protect you and others from poisonous family members. Here are 7 reasons you may have to ax toxic family members.

Reason # 1: Unchanged Behavior

When toxic family members refuse to change their behavior and do not apologize for causing harm, you may need to cut them off. You have to set the limits on what you will tolerate and what you won’t. You cannot leave that decision with the person who is unpredictable and toxic. It’s important to realize that damaged individuals will never change until they feel sorry for their behavior. If toxic relatives continue to behave the same way they always have, showing no signs of change, it may be essential to remove them from your life.

Reason # 2: Levels of Toxicity

There is such a thing as a person doing and being too much. When toxic family members pose a threat to you or others physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, you cannot overlook their actions. If you brush off extreme behaviors, it could escalate quickly. While toxic people may never entirely change their harmful behavior patterns, they can occasionally make minor changes. If dysfunctional relatives become more hazardous to people around them over time, whether through violence, emotional abuse, bad habits, or other means, it may be necessary to shut them out of your life to protect yourself and others.

Reason # 3: Inappropriate Around Children

A parent’s first duty is to protect and provide for their children. When toxic family members behave erratically in front of your or any children, take immediate action to remove them. If you were raised in a dysfunctional family, you know how unhealthy adult behavior can be towards children. Adults have a tremendous effect on children, and when they model harmful behavior and attitudes, it can remain with those children for years. If toxic relatives’ negative behavior is being displayed to your children, particularly if this has occurred frequently; and you have urged them to change, and they have refused, put distance between you and them. Your responsibility to your children demands that.

Toxic Family Member Arguing in Kitchen

Reason # 4: Spreading Discontent

Just because you have a conflict with one relative does not mean your issues should extend to other family members. But a damaged person wants to cause you hurt and isolation, so they may spin a narrative that elevates them and drags you down to the rest of the family. When these toxic relatives interfere with your relationships with other family members, you need to limit your contact with them. Broken relationships and gossip often spread like wildfire through families and social circles, affecting each person who has ties to that damaged relative. If toxic relatives are actively attempting to ruin your relationships with other family members, it is time to break ties with them.

Reason # 5: Choose You First

The first rule of self-love and self-care is to put yourself first. You should not accept anything or anyone, including family, who does not serve your highest good. When toxic family members wreak havoc on your life for years on end, you have to preserve your sanity. Poisonous people may lead you to have negative ideas and emotions over the course of your connection with them. If toxic relatives have introduced too much unhealthy behavior into your life, stop engaging with them. This is especially true if you notice your responses and energy mirror that of your unhealthy family member.

Reason # 6: Selfish Interference

As adults, you may be in positions that require you to care for others like children and in-laws. When toxic family members make demands on you that effect your ability to care for yourself or others in your life, you may have to end the relationship. Toxic relatives will attempt to manipulate you into giving them what they need at the expense of your peace of mind and ability to care for the other people in your life. If family members place unreasonable demands on you, and you deny them, and they respond with insults, accusations, gas-lighting, verbal abuse, or other harmful conduct, that’s a good sign it may be time to cut them off altogether.

Reason # 7: Going After Your Bag

We all have to make money to survive in this society. When toxic family members compromise or attempt to destroy your finances, don’t blink, and don’t leave a farewell letter. End your ties. Playing around with your money is an obvious violation of boundaries. If someone in your family is actively trying to destroy your ability to have a livelihood or take money from you through deception, you know you have to limit or end contact with that person. Sometimes, toxic family members will even attempt to ruin your career, or confront you at your job to embarrass you. Do you need me to spell it out? G-E-T-O-U-T.


If toxic family members try to ruin or sabotage your work, relationships, opportunities, or success, it may be time to cut them off entirely. While it may not be the best choice, sometimes you must end ties with harmful relatives. Family members whose destructive behavior jeopardizes your life and happiness should not have unrestricted access to you. Give your toxic family members one last opportunity if it makes you feel better, and if they don’t alter their poisonous ways, cut them off.

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To learn more about ending dysfunctional families, buy my book Choosing to Stop the Madness. It will change your life!

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