I Don’t Like My Family: How To Step Back From Toxic Relatives
Most people have heard the cliché “blood is thicker than water,” often as an excuse to justify letting bad behavior slide. In reality, you shouldn't have to accept being treated poorly by someone because they're your family. Read on to learn more about recognizing toxic behavior in your relatives, distancing yourself, and getting support from a licensed therapist.
What Does It Mean To Be Toxic?
“Toxic” can mean many things, depending on who’s asked to define it. Generally, it refers to someone who consistently causes emotional, mental, or physical distress in the people they interact with through overwhelmingly negative words or actions.
“Healthy relationships are characterized by: compassion, security, safety, freedom of thinking, sharing, listening, mutual love and caring, healthy debates and disagreements, and respectfulness, especially when there are differences in opinions.
“Toxic relationships are characterized by: insecurity, abuse of power and control, demandingness, selfishness, insecurity, self-centeredness, criticism, negativity, dishonesty, distrust, demeaning comments and attitudes, and jealousy.” — Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D.
How To Recognize Toxic Family Members
Often, toxic behavior can be challenging to recognize because people exhibiting it can be either subtle and manipulative or openly needy, controlling, and self-centered. Explore signs that behavior in a family member could be toxic and harmful to you. While the following list is not complete, it can provide an idea of the behaviors you may see in toxic relatives.
Signs A Relative May Be Toxic
- Holding you to unrealistic standards
- Constantly harsh criticism
- Your needs are not met
- They control your behavior
- You don’t feel loved or respected
- They show no compassion
- Alcohol or substance use disorders
- Verbal, physical, or emotional abuse
- Chronic dysfunction
- Refusal to accept responsibility
- Preying on your goodwill or fear
- Gaslighting you
- Lying and manipulation
- Undermining your relationships
- Invalidating or ignoring your feelings
- Passive-aggressive behavior
- Creating drama and crises
- Yelling, cursing, and name calling
- Belittling beliefs or choices
- Playing the victim
What Are The Consequences Of Toxic Relationships?
It can be easy to go back on your commitment to cut ties with toxic people because they play an expansive role in your life. You may love them and don’t want to remove them from your life, but sometimes, you need to save your own health and well-being. Take a deeper look at the consequences toxic relationships with relatives can have on your physical and mental health.
“Every family has moments of discord when they argue or situations when they unintentionally hurt each other. Some families have a history of conflict or friction during every encounter, leaving family members worn out and frazzled when they are together. If you become the worst version of yourself around your family, you may have been raised in a toxic environment.” — San Antonio Behavioral Healthcare Hospital
They Can Take A Toll On Your Mental Health
Dealing with a family member’s consistently negative behavior can affect your mental health in many ways. You may develop symptoms related to stress, anxiety, or depression. If your symptoms persist longer than two weeks and cause significant distress or disruption to your life, please speak with your doctor or a mental health professional about evaluation and treatment.
Constant negativity in your close relationships or family members who treat you poorly can affect your self-esteem and damage your self-worth.
You May Miss Them—Or The Idea Of A Healthy Family
Studies show that some adults estranged from one or both parents reported experiencing a considerable sense of loss throughout their lifespan. However, the majority said they didn’t miss the estranged relative but rather the benefits and comforts of a healthy, supportive family dynamic.
Your Physical Health May Worsen
According to a 2007 study, toxic relationships can affect your physical health, putting you at a higher risk of cardiac events like heart attacks. Additionally, the stress, anxiety, and other negative feelings you experience can affect your physical health. Physical stress symptoms can include headache, stomachache, muscle tension, pain, and other problems.
Knowing When It’s Time To Cut Ties
- Their behavior has an intense impact on you.
- The relationship offers nothing positive.
- You recognize their behavior as abusive.
- You tell others about how you feel, and no one listens.
- They see no problem with their behavior and never apologize.
- They continuously make you feel bad about yourself.
Commonly Asked Questions About This Topic
Is it normal to not like my family?
Do you wonder, “why do I hate my family?” Your feelings towards your family are not “normal” or “abnormal”; they are simply present. It’s important to accept the feelings of hurt or even hate for what they are.
If it’s your relationship with your mother, for example, did you not feel safe growing up with her? Or was one of your parents physically abusive to their own children? Not everyone that dislikes their family was abused, but it’s common for children to develop feelings of hate and resentment as a method of self preservation when they were hurt by the toxic behaviors of someone they love.
When should I cut off my family?
Misery loves company, so if your family or your partner’s parents are dragging you down and leeching off your happiness, it’s better to go find your own path and cut ties instead of allowing toxic people to ruin your wellbeing. Lean on loving friends, therapists, and positive people to help you through this rocky transition.
How do you cut off your family?
If you’ve reached the point where you just don’t want to manage the toxic relationship and difficult emotions you have with your family anymore, you can consider cutting ties. Family estrangement is a very emotionally taxing thing to go through, especially if you think, “I hate my family”. If your parents, even just your mother or father, continuously exhibit harmful behavior towards you, it might be a good idea to cut off all communication. For added support, consider working through your situation regarding your parents or mother with a licensed therapist.
Is it OK to distance yourself from family?
Why do I feel no connection to my family?
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