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7 Ways to Remove Toxic People From Your Life

Throughout life, you will encounter toxic people. Whether it's a pessimistic family member, a friend who doesn’t respect your time, or a manipulative boss, it’s just unavoidable. While this may just seem like an inconvenience, the truth is these types of individuals can be dangerous to your health and well-being.

For starters, they can eat up a lot of your time and energy. For example, when you come home from work you may spend the rest of the evening complaining about a co-worker with your partner -- which may put a strain on your relationship.

Another example would be a friend who has a habit of arriving late. So, if you were meeting them for lunch, that means the rest of your afternoon has to be adjusted because they didn’t show up on time.

Additionally, they may cause you to lose your temper, which in turn leads to negative feelings like anger, resentment, and even poor self-esteem. And, this could create more stress in your life. Perhaps that’s why those with more toxic relationships in their life are at greater risk of heart disease.

Even worse? Toxicity is contagious. The reason is that it’s a natural defense mechanism. As Howard Bloom explains in The Lucifer Principle, increased toxicity was one of the earliest evolutionary adaptations -- this bacteria had to become more toxic in order to survive.

At the same time, because this term is thrown around too loosely, you should first be able to spot the warning signs before taking any further action. According to Barrie Sueskind, a therapist in Los Angeles who specializes in relationships, these include:

  • self-absorption or self-centeredness

  • manipulation and other emotional abuse

  • dishonesty and deceit

  • difficulty offering compassion to others

  • a tendency to create drama or conflict

If you know someone who displays any of these, then you may want to remove them from your life. It won’t be easy. But, it’s in your best interest.

How to eliminate toxic people from your life.

1. Let them know how you feel.

While you do not owe them an explanation, this is probably more for you. After all, you don’t want to keep your feelings bottled up. If you feel like severing the relationship, let them know calmly and do not sink to their level if they fight back. If it makes you feel more comfortable, you may want to do this in a public space.

2. Put some distance between you and them.

You may want to completely put an end to the relationship. If so, you might just want to go with the pull-off the band-aid approach. This means cutting off all contact from them.

If you don’t want to go to that extreme, especially if it’s a family member, then try to put some space between you and them. Maybe you could unfollow them on social media or only plan to see them once or twice a year. If they ask to spend time with you, let them know that you have other plans and you’ll have to do a rain check.

3. Set hard boundaries.

“Toxins have to be met with a powerful force,” says Tara Mackey, author of Cured by Nature and founder of The Organic Life. “It's likely that they won't just respond to ‘Go away,’ and will perhaps even dig their claws in deeper if you try to create a separation. Don't let this discourage you.”

Be clear with your intentions and maintain the boundaries that you’ve established.

“Stick with your boundaries long-term or [toxic people] will use any weakness overtime to sneak back into your life,” says Mackey. “If you told yourself you wouldn't respond to their texts, don't. Block their number and block them on all social media. Don't send them any e-mails and don't check in six months from now.”

4. Don’t be pulled into a crisis.

Even if you’re standing your ground, toxic people have a way of pulling you back in. Maybe they’ll call you because they’re going through a family emergency and need you. There’s a good chance that this is just a ploy to get you back into their life. While it’s going to sting, stay strong, and do not fall into this trap.

Remember, it’s not your responsibility to always be their shoulder to cry on. And, if they are truly in need, direct them towards the appropriate resources.

5. Spend more time with positive people.

Instead of spending your time and energy on toxic individuals, spend more time with people who are positive and supportive. In short, they should accept you for who you are and make you feel good about yourself. Most importantly, they should be people that you actually enjoy spending time with.

Does this mean that they can never be critical? Of course not. But, it’s constructive criticism meaning that both positive and negative feedback is delivered in a friendly manner.

6. Talk to someone.

You might not think of it this way, because whenever you remove someone from your life, you’re breaking up with them. As a result, you may grieve the end of the relationship. To help you cope with these feelings, connect with your support system or a trusted mental health professional.

7. Forgive but don’t forget.

“Forgiveness is about letting go and moving on with your life,” writes Steve Spring in a Medium post. “It doesn’t mean that you approve of the behavior or forget how it has affected you in the past. It doesn’t mean that you are giving them another chance. I just mean that you are letting go and moving on with your life.”

169,631 views17 comments


I'm in this mess right now because of my own doing, I trusted too much again and even if I see the red flags I just ignore it. It was the best 1st year with this person and after that, it was just all about them. I try to end our relationship by expressing how I feel but I'm manipulated back into the hole. I proposed to her 2yrs ago but I'm afraid it will be the worst thing to do if I marry this person. Sad life..


May 25

Seems like I may be in one of those relationships all seems good most of the time, but I don’t know


nettie j
nettie j
May 31, 2023

Felecia_roseley, I feel every ounce of your pain, anger, confusion on what steps to take and how to get rid of and over that monster. I also have a monster that has destroyed me and my life. I'm close to my solution after 12 long miserable expensive lieing cheating abusive years. I hope you will in turn find a solution. I'll pray and manifest that hope and dream for you. Dealing with a NARCISSISTIC SOCIOPATH that denies the ABUSE he's inflicted is a double whammy. Hard to get over and hard to forgive. My goal when I'm free from being a hostage to this MONSTER is to live well. In spite of the abuse lies cheating chaos and destruction h…


You and only you control what happens in your life once you turn 18 years old,Everyone makes mistakes and thats' totally normal,What you do after a mistake is up to you,It's your life only yours no one cares just you If you cant forgive and move on then you contribute to their abuse of you your not perfect , nobody is,Nobody gave you a book on how to live your life . YOU are beautiful,You are smart and Your important ,My God is an awesome God he's been with me since day one and he's the very best friend you'll ever have And he'll be the first to tell you life is yours take it.enjoy it, fall in lov…


May 18, 2023

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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