Sometimes it's necessary to take the big step and cut unhealthy, toxic relationships out of your life completely. Toxic, in this context, doesn't mean "doesn't agree with you" or "disapproves of your smoking habit," or even "doesn't have much in common with you any more". It means that they damage your self-esteem, your health, your happiness and the peace and love you deserve. They could be passive-aggressive, abusive, untrustworthy, addicts, cruel, disruptive, or simply disrespectful and mean, but you don't have to deal with that sh*t. Need to do cut them out? You can.
I have cut three people out of my life in my own way: two close friends and an ex. All three were very different people, and involved radically different strategies, from agonizing break-up talks to abrupt no-contact cut-out-of-life plans. I'm currently planning to radically limit contact with somebody else — and if you're doing the same, a practical guide is going to be your friend. And no, I have no regrets. Not now, anyway.
The key part is to remain honorable, stick to your guns, and be prepared for things to get nasty. It's a rare relationship that can be severed with one blow; you may need to do a lot of untangling first.
1. Remember That Talking Sometimes Doesn't Help
Get an action plan, and be realistic about it. Explaining why you've come to the decision that you shouldn't be in contact any more will likely not go down well. Trust me. I've done it. It can lead to confusion, guilt trips, hysteria, threats, violence, and a return to the cycle you've just left.
2. Be Prepared For Vitriol
3. Don't Allow The Opportunity For Control
This is your decision. If it's one that you're fully and utterly reconciled to — and you will need to give this thought before doing it, because full-blown withdrawal of contact is a serious thing — then don't let yourself be pulled back in.
4. Contact On Your Turf And Terms, At All Times
5. Manage Mutual Contacts Diplomatically
Not everybody needs to know that this person has been cut out, and it's often not fair to expect that mutual friends or family will do the same. Make sure you keep track of what you tell whom, because it may be relayed back to the person in question. People need to know enough to make sure you're not in the same room, and if they start accusing you of being histrionic or arguing, just say something about your adult right to make decisions about your contacts. Phrased nicely.
6. Don't Expect Anybody To Be On Your Side
7. Consider A Slow Fade
A giant blow-up and everlasting silence thereafter? Sometimes it works like that. Sometimes, however, it doesn't. If you're in a position to simply let things trail off, and you don't mind that the person in question may never know exactly why you're doing this or what happened, then think about gentle relinquishment as an option. It's less confrontational, but it may also make you feel like a coward. Weigh that one up carefully.
8. Repeat To Yourself Why You're Doing This
If you've got to this point, things must have been very serious. A serious limitation of contact isn't something you do for a sulk. But it can be difficult to hold onto the feelings that made you convinced that this was the right plan — particularly if the results are deeply hurtful, or you're asked convincingly to take it all back.
9. Have A Support Network
Hopefully there will be people in your life who know you and only you, and don't have ties to this other person. Get them to rally round. Even if they don't need to know the full details, it's good to have support on board for tough times, and this will likely be pretty tough, though hopefully worthwhile in the end.
10. Change Your Contact Info, If Necessary
11. Remember That Contact Is In Your Control
The most important thing for any contact is that it is your choice and under your control. I am assuming that you're making this decision because you can't feel healthy with them around, so tiny amounts of contact may be tricky. Assertiveness and support will be your lifelines here.
12. Involve The Law If Absolutely Required
13. Don't Go Back Unless You're Really Ready
You've cut them off. Things are actually OK for a while! You're happy! And you think — maybe they weren't so bad. You're stronger now, you're more together: maybe you could handle a bit of their presence?