It can be painful to say goodbye to the people whose stories are bound closely to our own. As Mighty contributor Harmony Yendys wrote, “Mourning is hard. It doesn’t matter if the person has passed away, is estranged from you or has chosen not to have contact with you. It. is. hard.”
The people closest to us are often the ones who know us best, but sometimes they can be the ones who hurt us most deeply. Sometimes you need to cut people out of your life as an act of self-preservation — whether it’s an abusive parent or a friend you’ve outgrown.
We asked people what signs told them it was time to let someone go. They spoke of feeling drained whenever the person was around, and of being put down to boost the other’s ego. They said they’d been hurt by their friends and family and then blamed for that hurt.
If you’ve ever had to end a relationship that was toxic, you’re not alone. As Yendys wrote, it’s hard to mourn the people you’ve let go of. But your relationship should not have to come at the cost of your happiness. It’s OK to leave someone who causes you pain.
Here are 21 signs that told people it was time to cut a toxic person from their lives:
1. A Gut Feeling Tells You Something Is Wrong
“When my daughter told me she felt sick because we were due to see this person. I knew this person had that effect on me, but realizing they had the same effect on my daughter made me take the necessary steps to cut them out of my life.” — Lisa R.
“If you have to ask the question ‘is this right?’ it’s wrong.” — Rochelle H.
2. They Take More Than They Give
“When a person only remembers your presence when he/she needs something from you, yet refuses to spend quality time.” — Pamela Jane B.
“When I start to feel responsible for their happiness and put it above my own happiness.” — Tammy P.
“When you find yourself constantly making concessions just to keep the other person happy.” — Kimberly M.
3. You Feel Drained When You’re Around Them
“When they suck the life out of you and they don’t bring you any joy, love and peace. There’s so much freedom in walking away and never looking back.” — Robin G.
“The energy vampire effect, where I feel drained, emotionally and physically; where if I get a text or their name comes up the screen my heart jumps into my throat, my stomach aches and gets in upset. It’s a hard decision to make, but when someone doesn’t understand they are hurting you, you have to step away to feel safe, happy and content.” — Hayley N.
4. They Make You Believe It’s Your Fault
“When he would blame everyone else for his mistakes and failures and not own up or accept he was at fault. There is lots more I could say but I feel that was the one that broke the camel’s back.” — Amy S.
“When they made me feel bad for the way they treated me and the hurt they caused me.” — Kristin S
“When they put the blame on you constantly and don’t take accountability for anything.” — Alex M.
5. They Put You Down to Feel Better About Themselves
“Gossip. Gossip was a bullseye sign in my family for toxicity. Manipulative, backbiting gossip — which I was often the subject, but never the participant. I put up with it for so long, took the ‘high’ road (which was really just being abused in the name of ‘family’) but one day it just clicked that these people had not a single nice thought or feeling about me. They simply did not care about how I was or felt at all, they only cared about being superior at my expense.” — Natasha Anna A.
6. You Don’t Like the Person You Are When You’re With Them
“When you do things that are completely out of character to make them happy. You feel a sense of loss over the person you were before them.” — Stephanie V.
“When you realize after years and years, that the time spent with them is painful, and that when you are with them, you feel like your your worst self. You can feel the negativity and notice yourself wishing you were home, without them.” — Rob V.
“When I realized I had become a completely different person from being with them and I was so unhappy with myself and who I was at that point. I had stuck with them throughout the harsh jabs disguised as jokes, through the flirting with other people, through the emotional distance, the abuse, but once I realized I was no longer me with my values, it was time to go.” — Jess L.
7. They Don’t Respect Your Boundaries
“When I repeatedly said something triggered me and they continued to do it anyway.” — Bryce A.
“Broken boundaries. If I tell you that my boundaries are ‘xyz’ and you continue to disregard them, that tells me you don’t really care about me.” — Crystal C.
8. They Make You Feel Lonely
“When you feel more alone with them than actually being alone. I cut out an entire group of friends because they were always making me feel like a horrible person because my anxiety wouldn’t allow me to do certain things.” — Ellen P.
9. They’re Never There When You Need Them to Be
“When people I thought cared about me were fed up of my depression and anxiety, I realized I was better off without them.” — Sally W.
“I was in the hospital after a suicide attempt and she told my sister she didn’t have time for my crisis.” — Nicole B.
“When you’re going through your worst time and they’re simply not there for you.” — Nikki S.
10. They Promise to Change But Nothing Happens
“When they say they will change, so you give them another chance, and they haven’t changed at all.” — Kari G.
“I don’t think there’s a sign as much as a feeling, and strength that comes from that feeling. When you finally realize nothing you do will ever change another person’s actions, that is the moment you know it’s time to cut them out.” — Kerry H.
11. They Don’t Put Any Effort In
“When they aren’t making the same amount of effort for you as you are for them. I don’t mean people who physically or mentally can’t for whatever reason. It is very hard when I see people who used to be a big part of my life posting how wonderful their lives are when they can’t even be bothered to get in touch despite knowing I’m struggling. When someone says they’ve been too busy, that’s when you know that it’s not worth it. If you meant more to them then they would make time for you.” — Rosie F.
“When I realized I was getting nothing out of the relationship. My motto for any relationship with anyone is to put as much in as you’d like to receive.” — Shayna K.
12. They Get in the Way of Your Progress
“Whenever I’d get a little bit of stability they’d come barging back into my life and throw everything out of whack and revel in me being a hot mess and use it to make themselves look good. It was really about me opening my eyes to the pattern and not being willing to compromise on the person I was building myself into just to ‘keep the family together’ simply because others thought I should sacrifice everything, including myself, to do just that.” — Devra R.
“They put down every attempt I made to improve my life and interfered with the actions I made.” — Sandra S.
“Gaslighting. I had numerous gut feelings that something was off, but they kept telling me it was my illness, that I was paranoid. Once they were caught in the lies, I learned a valuable lesson about how to trust myself.” — Liv H.
“When they called me toxic. All I did was support them unconditionally, then they put words in my mouth. They twist what I did, what I say and they force it down my throat. And the worst part, they are family.” — Jazzie M.
14. You Can’t Remember Being Happy Together
“I tried to remember a recent good memory I had with them and I couldn’t. It had been years since even a glimmer of something good stood out and I figured it didn’t make sense to hold on to someone when nothing good is coming out of the ‘relationship.’” — Mary T.
15. Being Around Them Affects Your Mental Health
“When text messages from that person would make me anxious, I would have panic attacks over their passive-aggressive messages. Their drama would affect me for weeks with lost sleep, a lack of appetite, increased migraines and just worse mental health in general.” — Mel T.
“When they bring more anxiety to your life than happiness it’s time to let them go.” — Danni D.M.
“When it gets to the point that seeing their name on my phone causes me anxiety because I know they’re only getting ahold of me to complain and take my spoons. That tells me the friendship hasn’t gone both ways in some time.” — Andréa B.
16. They’ve Become a Source of Dread
“When you think it would be easier to die than to be in that relationship one more minute.” — Fran M.
17. People Tell You It’s Time to Leave
“Multiple people told me I needed to leave the relationship. It had been a year of toxicity but I had become used to it. It became the new ‘norm’ and I was shoving my feelings aside to keep the other person happy. I had a big handful of friends tell me the same thing — he’s being abusive. Even my own therapist told me that I needed to leave, and that was what made me realize, ‘I’m not making this up, I’m not going crazy, my feelings are justified.’” — Remy L.
18. They Make You Doubt Yourself
“Whenever I thought something good about myself I heard their voice in my head telling me I was bad. I realized I had internalized everything they’d said to me in the past and want prepared to listen anymore. The first step in getting that person or of my head was getting them out of my life.” — Violet Emily S.
19. Being Around them Makes You Feel Ill
“When their presence makes you feel physically ill.” — Chandler Virginia D.
“I get actual migraines being in the wrong situation with the wrong person.” — Amanda P.
20. They Try to Control You
“Controlling. When my feelings, ideas and preferences are constantly criticized. I think the biggest hurt is feeling the only way these people are happy is telling me how to think and feel.” — Marcia S.
21. You Feel Better Once They’re Gone
“When you have done so much for a person, in this case a so-called friend, that you just don’t feel the want to do anything for or even see that person again, and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders, they do nothing but take, and drain your energy.” — Martin B.
“I realized afterward (because I still wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing) how much more simple my life was because they were no longer a part of it. It felt nice to know that I wasn’t crazy and that my trust in someone is valuable and not to be used for their own personal gain.” — Kelli C.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a toxic relationship, you’re not alone. You deserve to be happy and to feel supported by those close to you. If you’re ever in need of support, don’t hesitate to reach out on The Mighty’s #CheckInWithMe page and get in touch with people who understand what you’re going through.