When You Realize a Relationship Is Toxic and It Needs to End

You know who treats you poorly, you know who tears you down instead of building you up. What you may not know, is how to remove these toxic people from your life.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
Hand writing Time for a Break concept with red marker on transparent wipe board.
Hand writing Time for a Break concept with red marker on transparent wipe board.

"Sometimes you don't get closure, you just move on." - Karen Salmansohn.

It is a very difficult thing to examine our relationships and let toxic people go from our lives. It is often helpful to focus on the healthy relationship we want to have, and ones that help us grow as a person. So many of us walk around hoping for that apology to come, the apology they think will finally give them the closure they are looking for. They hope for an admission that the other person was wrong, treated them badly, and that now, they just want them to be happy. That would be magnificent, almost ideal, but when that apology and insight never comes, they end up feeling more hurt than ever.

In reality, that apology almost never comes, and we end up feeling worse about things than we did when the conversation started. We cannot control anyone but ourselves, and we can only control our own desire for growth and change. No matter how much we want someone to change or adjust their behavior, they are the only ones who can alter their lives. It hurts us to see people be self-destructive, to hurt us with their words and actions, but they must see that what they are doing is not working. We can wait around, but that time may never come. This is when we need to find the closure in ourselves, and for ourselves. We need to truly understand that we did not deserve the poor treatment, and that the best thing we can do for ourselves is to move on and genuinely know in our hearts that we deserve better. While this is more easily said than done, it is essential for healing to begin.

There are so many types of toxic people in people's lives, and maybe now would be the time to get our personal relationships in shape. Remove the toxic, and to appreciate the people who build us up instead of break us down. Toxic people are often competitive, negative, resist and even sabotage your growth and change. These people may have a number of motives. Some of them think that you will no longer want them in your life if you are to grow and get healthier as a person. For the context of this conversation, that is mostly true. They might feel like your improvements point out the areas of in their life that need serious work of their own. Or, sadly, they might simply be jealous of your successes. Those friends and partners who cannot let you be healthy. These are the people who tear you down to build themselves up.

We should make a point of adjoining ourselves with people who care, and embolden our bliss and development, and not try to sabotage it. You know who treats you poorly, you know who tears you down instead of building you up. What you may not know, is how to remove these toxic people from your life. This is another frequent topic that comes up in sessions. People want to know if it is acceptable to let these people go from their lives, especially if the person has been in their lives for a long time. Often they can even be a partner of a family member. The answer to this question is, "yes," you can let someone in your life go who treats you poorly, tears you down, and does not have your best interests at heart.

So how do you let this person go from your life? There are direct approaches where you tell the person directly why you are removing them from your life. However, they may not be open to hearing this, and the explanation may fall on deaf ears. This is the simplest way to go, but you have to surmise for you if this is someone who you can be so direct with, and that this will not cause you further trouble. A letter is another option, as many of us express ourselves better in writing than we do in the spoken word. You can also edit writing and be certain you are saying what you want and need to say. This clearly would not be an option for a live in partner.

Another method is what I like to call "successive approximations." The name is based on a famous psychological term, but I have put my own twist on it for toxic relationships. By successive approximations, I suggest to the person that they cut the person out of their lives little by little until they are gone. Take longer to return calls, emails, and texts. To be unable to meet up when they would like too, and to hope that eventually they will either get the picture, or just give up. This might be surprising advice, and it might be advice that does not work well with people lacking introspection, but it can be a safer route for some people and certain dynamics.

If you decide to go the route of addressing things head on, keep things as brief and clean as possible. You do not owe them some long and drawn out explanation. Simply let them know they will not be in your life and why. Do not argue, do not engage, state your point and move forward. My suggestion is do this in a public place to hopefully avoid a scene, and to be certain of your safety. If possible, block them from being able to get a hold of you, meaning block their phone number, email, and of course social media! Close the avenues with which they can contact you and abuse you.

No matter what route you decide to take to cut toxic people out of your life, you will feel much better once it is done. We build up so much tension and anxiety leading up to an event that I always encourage people to deal with things as quickly as possible. People almost always say how much better they feel for having dealt with it quickly, and started the process of moving on. This choice sets you up for greater happiness by making the conscious decision to only surround yourself with positive people in your life. When you create a world where you only allow positive people into your inner circle, you create a life with unlimited potential, and a system of support.

"Sometimes it's better to end something and try to start something new than imprison yourself in hoping for the impossible." - Karen Salmansohn

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.

Go to Homepage

MORE IN Divorce