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Toxic Family Members: 15 Signs and Reasons To Cut Them Off For Good

There’s a saying that says you can’t choose your family, even if you really want to. So how do you deal with toxic family members and keep your sanity?

Toxic Family Members

Family is the most crucial relationship in your life *that’s what they say, right?*. They say blood is thicker than water, but what happens when that blood starts to get toxic? The thing is, toxic family members, make it hard to love them.

You want to understand where they’re coming from *even their toxicity, nagging, and criticism* but sometimes, enough is enough. Your family is supposed to support you and love you unconditionally, so when you’re met with the opposite of that, it’s a tough and sticky situation *both literally and metaphorically*.

[Read: 19 signs of emotional damage and ways to get past them]

How do you define toxic family members?

Before you go all out accusing your family of being toxic, let’s first define what toxic family members are.

When you say someone is toxic, they’re bad for you in every way. Perhaps they manipulate you, lie to you, steal from you, put you down, have an addiction problem, control you, or do something that makes your life just a bit *or a lot* more worse.

While it’s already difficult enough to leave a toxic relationship or friendship, it’s much harder to leave a toxic family member or confront them. *just think of the awkward family dinners and get-togethers!*

But it has to happen at some point if you want to keep your sanity and overall wellbeing. Not everyone gets dealt with the best cards in terms of family, and some of us are left to tolerate toxic family members.

[Read: 15 signs of a toxic relationship that’ll go from bad to worse]

15 signs and reasons to let go of toxic family members

We often feel an obligation to our family and while this is okay, sometimes it can go out of hand with toxic family members. It’s tough to balance what’s okay and what isn’t regarding how your family treats you. Even if family is your bloodline, if they’re toxic to you in any way, it’s best to cut ties.

Does it seem harsh? Not really, not when the cost is your emotional and mental wellbeing. The longer you tolerate your toxic family members, the more they’ll perceive their actions are okay.

Constantly trying to please them to no end, bailing them out of prison, or saving them from themselves, they leave you nowhere but broken, broke, and feeling awful. So here are the biggest signs your family member is toxic. [Read: I hate my family! How to deal with this when all you feel is hate towards them]

1. They abuse your kindness

Toxic people sense weakness and use it to their advantage. If you’re the peacemaker in the family, then a toxic family member uses your kindness as their kryptonite to make you do what they want, no excuses. They will leech on your kindness, no matter what.

So if you feel as if they’re constantly taking advantage of your kindness and your inability to say no to them, that’s a toxic family member right there! Maybe they keep asking you for money or expect you to drop your responsibilities to accommodate them constantly.

It’s not just a coincidence, but it’s in their nature to be toxic to you. [Read: Selfish people – 20 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]

2. They steal from you

We know what you’re thinking – my family would never steal from me, ever. However, maybe you never noticed it at first, but they steal from you in the most subtle ways. Sometimes in the form of bank or credit accounts or just knowing where you hide cash.

Watch for excuses like, “I thought you’d be okay with it” and “There was an emergency.” If your family member steals from you, then you have an obligation to cut them out of your life. The fact they steal means they can’t be trusted at all.

3. They talk badly about you

If your family member says terrible things about you or spreads rumors about you, then it’s time to call it quits. Someone who talks badly about you isn’t good for you and isn’t doing you any favors. Remember what we said about family supporting you?

If your family triggers your anxiety because they always put you down or pick on your flaws, they might be toxic! This isn’t someone you want to be around. Your family should be a safe space and if they can’t provide that, it’s best to cut ties *for good*. [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 breaks a family apart to gain an advantage is incredibly toxic.

This shouldn’t even be questioned, as it’s obvious that this is a clear sign of toxic family members. If they use your family member against another, you already know something isn’t right. 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 harmful to the people who care about them. [Read: 13 traits of toxic people that can hurt and emotionally damage you]

This is why children who have alcoholic parents or family members with substance abuse problems tend to look after them rather than the other way around. Their selfishness and lack of control now become your problem and their damage reflects on you, all because they project their brokenness on you.

It’s a screwed-up truth, but it’s a concrete indicator of a toxic family member. In fact, this doesn’t just refer to substance addictions, but it can go for money as well. 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 this applies to your family as well*. [Read: How to overcome codependency & thrive on your own two feet]

6. They gang up on you

If you have family members who always gang up on you or target you, you don’t want them around. Jealousy exists both inside families and outside. Family should be nothing less than supportive, so if they’re always trying to put you down *especially to ensure they’re above you*, then this isn’t someone you deserve to have in your life.

Jealousy exists both inside families and outside. After all, your friends can provide a much better relationship than a toxic family ever will. [Read: 15 qualities of a good friend that sets them apart from the toxic ones]

7. They use love as a control

The lines between control and love can be easily blurred, and toxic family members clearly know this. It’s either they’re oblivious to how they’re using control as love, or they clearly understand what they’re doing *which is even more toxic*. If they only provide love and support when you do what they want you to do, 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 with 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. [Read: How to handle controlling behavior in a relationship]

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. Addicted to drama? Probably. You can spot a toxic family member by their ability to stir up any kind of trouble in your life, just for the sake of it.

Maybe they want to make your life a living hell, or they’re probably just bored. Who knows? Family is about finding home and comfort, and if your toxic family member isn’t just not giving comfort, but continually stealing it away, then it’s time to let the relationship go. [Read: Attention seeking behavior and why some people go looking for drama]

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’s 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.

If they always notice your flaws and shortcomings faster than your strengths and accomplishments, it doesn’t matter if they’re family, you need to cut ties.

These people will always see your faults so despite showing good, they’ll always put you down because of your flaws. [Read: How to recognize and end toxic relationships]

10. You experience mental, emotional, or physical abuse

It doesn’t get any more obvious than this. Emotional and mental abuse make just as much impact as physical abuse, so don’t overlook them. If they’re constantly trying to manipulate you, gaslight you, make you feel inadequate, eliminate your voice and opinions entirely, dismiss your feelings, or are possessive towards you, that’s a clear sign of an unhealthy relationship.

In that case, these are all signs of emotional abuse. Your family should never be the people you experience any form of abuse with because otherwise, it leaves a trauma that can be quite difficult to recover from. [Read: Emotional abuse signs – How to spot an emotional abuser]

11. They don’t respect you

Respect is highly tied with love so if they don’t show you any form of respect, it means they also don’t love you. Do they continue to dismiss your opinions, cross your boundaries, or avoid respecting your boundaries?

Someone who has a toxic family member might find this hard to believe, but all these things aren’t normal in a healthy family.

If they don’t respect you, they’re bound to be toxic to your sanity and overall well-being. Your family won’t agree with everything you believe or think, but they should at least let you have your own individuality. Otherwise, what’s the point? [Read: How to set personal boundaries & guide other people to respect it]

12. They harshly criticized you as a child

Watch out for criticisms they pass off as a joke. Maybe they told you how you’re too fat or aren’t smart enough, but when you act offended, they’ll say, “it’s just a joke, lighten up.” It’s a classic gaslighting move so don’t ever buy this, not even for a second. No family member should ever be harsh to a child, even when reprimanding them.

You can tell them nicely how their actions were wrong, but don’t attack their insecurities and flaws. This will grow on them as they mature, which is why toxic family members are so self-destructive and bitter. [Read: 8 ways to be less critical of the people around you]

13. You were expected to be nothing less than perfect

It’s absolutely not normal to be handed unrealistic expectations as a child. Maybe it’s expecting you to not have failing grades at all, or the expectation to do all the household chores.

Children are not meant to carry a parent’s burden, so if you have a family member who expects perfection out of you, it’s better to cut ties with them than trying to break yourself trying to deliver an impossible standard.

You’re not perfect – and they clearly know this. So why are they expecting something they can’t deliver from themselves?

14. They’re always right, and you don’t get a say

Your family should help you grow into an individual, which means they shouldn’t impose what they want on a child. For instance, they push you to take this degree *because it’s their dream and it makes a lot of money*, but you clearly stated it isn’t what you want.

This is just plain toxic, which leaves a lot of room for resentment and anger. You have a right to live your own life that isn’t based on their wishes. So if they’re incapable of letting you make your own decisions and mistakes without their input, that’s when it becomes unbearable and plain toxic. [Read: Narcissistic abuse – 16 subtle signs a narcissist is abusing you]

15. They don’t care about your beliefs

Children with toxic family members are people pleasers for a reason – they’re forced to believe in the same things their family does, even when it’s not genuine. Whether it’s your faith system, values, or principles, if you have any of these that are different from your family’s and they put you down because of it, that’s what a toxic family is.

Your family doesn’t own you, so they shouldn’t be using the fact that they raised you as a card every time you do something different. It’s called unconditional love for a reason, right? [Read: 20 signs you’re a people pleaser but just don’t realize it]

How do you deal with toxic family members?

We’re supposed to love our family – that’s what they always say. But there are situations where our family is beyond change and is no longer good for us. If you have a toxic family member, the first instinct is to try and change them into someone better.

Maybe if I confront them, they’ll change. Maybe if I help their addiction problem, they’ll be a better parent.

These are the thoughts of someone with a toxic family member, which rarely works out the way they expect. Even if there’s a possibility, it’s not supposed to be your obligation or responsibility to change them.

They’re the adult, which means they should do better than trying to lay off their damage on you. So how do you deal with them? The best thing you can do *at least until they change their actions*, is to cut ties with them. Stop seeing them for their potential and just draw the line.

Cut them out of your life for good. It’s going to be hard, but if it’s for the sake of your sanity and inner peace, then it should be worth it.

[Read: How to spot gaslighting in a relationship & shut it down for good]

So, what are toxic family members?

They’re the family that’s supposed to love you unconditionally but instead, they mistreat you, affecting your overall being.

Whether it’s in the form of manipulation, control, gaslighting, criticism, or unrealistic standards, having a toxic family leaves you with deep-rooted trauma that’s pretty tough to recover from.

You have other people in your life who serve just as well as your family. So don’t tolerate toxic family members. Instead, cut them off and find a better chosen family in your life.

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