Letting Go Of Toxic Relationships

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Eva Amurri shares how she's letting go of toxic relationships this holiday season

A huge lesson I’ve learned in the past few years is how to let go of toxic relationships.  Before anybody jumps to any (incorrect) conclusions, I’m not writing some thinly veiled post about Kyle here. In fact, both Kyle and I have done a lot of re-evaluating our personal relationships the past couple of years and we have both learned a lot and helped each other through a lot of our personal processes when it comes to this.  Kyle is far from a toxic person in my life, and for that I am eternally grateful.  Now for the good stuff:

Eva Amurri shares how she's letting go of toxic relationships this holiday season

In the past year, I’ve had to draw a firm line in the sand when it came to a few relationships in my life that were extremely toxic.  One pretty long term, and the other two more recent relationships.  The things these relationships all had in common were that they had become a huge energy and soul-suck that had gotten in the way of my preserving positive energy for myself, they were not at all fun to be a part of anymore, and most importantly: the people involved had decided on one or more truths about our relationship or about me that I was unwilling to agree with.  A big thing I’ve learned in the past few years, is that the only person who can make you feel anything important about yourself is YOU.  You’re in charge of knowing the truth about who you are, owning that truth, and that you have every right to set boundaries with people who try to tell you that you are otherwise.  Unfortunately the world will always be full of people who want to tell you who or what you are, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen.  But for goodness sake, if you have somebody in your LIFE trying to make you believe something negative about yourself, you have every right to do something about that! 

Eva Amurri shares how she's letting go of toxic relationships this holiday season

Becoming a Mom, and working through a lot of mental health struggles of my own, has really taught me that feeling and being my best has a lot to do with surrounding myself with people who also want the best for me.  As a parent, it’s in all of our best interest to be the strongest versions of ourselves in order to properly and safely take care of our children’s emotional and physical needs.  Our kids need and deserve us at our best.  It’s hard enough to forge our paths in life, but nearly impossible to do it with people purposefully trying to drag you down– or who try to project their own issues on to you.  It took me a while to let go of the anger towards those people, and to see it as a sad miscommunication.  But that is as simple as it needs to be.  Not everyone will like us, not everyone will love us, not everyone will wish the best for us– that’s life.  But everyone involved intimately in your life SHOULD NOT detract from your ability to love yourself. That is a must.  

Eva Amurri shares how she's letting go of toxic relationships this holiday season

So how do you recognize what the toxic relationships, if any, are in your life? My answer is that I’m 100% sure you already know which ones they are.  The fear of letting go of these relationships is much harder to process than the realization of which relationships are no longer serving you.  Or certain relationships that are toxic might be family relationships that are very complicated to disentangle from.  That’s OK.  Letting go of a relationship doesn’t necessarily have to mean cutting it out completely.  You can also elect to create strong boundaries that make it so that the toxic person can’t have as much jurisdiction over your energy as they used to.  You can create more structured time to see those people or to interact with them, and you can give less of yourself to them so that you’re not as easily hurt or disappointed.  The “letting go” can more be about letting go of what these relationships do to you.  My point is: protecting your heart and your energy is completely your right, and can be done in even the smallest of ways to make you feel more in control of your life.  Here are some tips that I’ve found to really help me through this process.

Eva Amurri shares how she's letting go of toxic relationships this holiday season
  1. Write some pages about why the relationship is toxic.  These pages are for yourself only.  Let your heart flow on to the page and write every single (big or small) thing that has hurt you as a result of this relationship, that has drained you, or that has made your life more painful or difficult.  Be as vulnerable and honest as possible.  Write until you have exhausted all the memories and feelings, and then spend some time rereading what you wrote.  Take a look at that pain and acknowledge that it’s real, and how difficult it’s been for you.  
  2. Speak your truth.  The next step is telling the person your truth, and speaking calmly, clearly, and firmly.  You don’t have to say every single thing you wrote down, or even any of them.  You can simply say something like “I’ve realized that our relationship is very hurtful to me for a number of reasons, and I’ve made the difficult decision that I need things to change.” You can also draw a more firm line and say “I don’t want to have a relationship with you any longer.” It’s perfectly within your rights as a human being to decide this, and whether or not they agree with you isn’t the point.  If it feels better to you to give some reasons for the ending of this relationship, you may. 
  3. Set your boundaries. The next step is being clear about what your boundaries are with the person moving forward. They can be very detailed or really simple.  They can be nuanced, or extreme.  (for example: “I’m not going to engage further with you. Please don’t call or email me again.”). It’s also ok to say, for example, that certain methods of communication will no longer work for you, but that you would welcome interacting with them in a different way.  There are a million different ways to set a boundary. The important thing is that you identify what will feel safe for you.  
  4. Don’t expect harmony.  This person will most likely not react well.  That’s ok.  You don’t need two people to set a boundary.  Even if the person disagrees with you, it doesn’t mean you can’t stand by your boundary.  You just have to stand firm in your boundary and feel the right to your truth. This isn’t easy by any means, but if it makes your life better and more healthy, it is SO worth it.  
  5. Congrats! You just made room for more healthy relationships in your life!  Recognizing what you need and deserve from a relationship is a huge part of personal growth.  Setting healthy boundaries will help you to draw healthier people in to your life.  Tough conversations are awful to have, but they are so worth it in the end!
Eva Amurri shares how she's letting go of toxic relationships this holiday season

If you have any advice about letting go of toxic relationships, or an anecdote to share, please comment below!!

Eva Amurri shares how she's letting go of toxic relationships this holiday season

Photographs by Julia Dags

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  1. Soph says:

    Perfectly said Eva!!

    12.23.19 Reply
  2. Leslie Priess says:

    Great post Eva! Thank you. Very timely. XO

    12.23.19 Reply
  3. Ann says:

    I’ve let go of a few toxic relationships in the last 10 years. It has been easy in some situations and very difficult in others. I am still trying to let go of negative feelings related to the last non-romantic relationship break up I went through, but my life is so much more pure and happy without those people in my life and I am a better wife and mother because of it.
    I think it’s important to remember that relationships don’t have to last forever; it is ok to have a relationship for a finite time of your life only to realize it’s not working for you anymore. Even if the other person doesn’t see it that way.
    Thank you for this post – it meant a lot to me!

    12.23.19 Reply
  4. Charlotte says:

    How do you know what’s true about yourself? When people kept telling you things that you don’t feel are true but you can’t know for sure they’re wrong, what do you do? How do you sort it out in your own mind and heart? How do you know who are outside these negative things others have ascribed to you?

    12.23.19 Reply
  5. Charlotte says:

    How do you know what’s true about yourself? When people keep telling you things that you don’t feel are true but you can’t know for sure they’re wrong, what do you do? How do you sort it out in your own mind and heart? How do you know who you are outside these negative things others have ascribed to you?

    12.23.19 Reply
  6. Anita says:

    I so needed to read this today. I’ve had several toxic relationships with my family that has escalated to the point where I no longer speak to them. That was the boundary for my sanity. I say sanity because I have been told so many negative things about myself from these people that I sometimes question am I crazy? Is this in my head. I thank God for my husband and best friends who raise me up and recognize the toxic relationships that have put such a strain on my mental well being.

    12.23.19 Reply
  7. Karla says:

    Eva, I LOVE that you discussed this topic! You touched just about everything that there is to it. In the past year and a half I have taken the steps to remove toxic relationships. Sadly, most have been family. However, I can tell you my personal outcome and peace I’ve had has been the best ever! I too have suffered from anxiety and post traumatic stress. While I have never wished them bad karma, I truly wished them the best in their journey (without me in it.) Thank you for being honest and speaking about REAL life situations!

    12.23.19 Reply
  8. April says:

    Love this article! As a counselor, I talk about this a lot with my clients. We aren’t born knowing what boundaries are or how to set them, it is a learned behavior. I treat it like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets and the easier it is to do. The reactions we get from others who do not like our boundaries, can make it difficult to stick to them. Boundaries are good though, because it shows others how we want to be cared for or what we need or don’t need. They also show us when someone isn’t going to respect our boundaries. Not all people are toxic because they don’t respect our boundaries, they just might not be used to having their own boundaries or others having them either. It depends on the value of the relationship to you, whether you want to work through that process of figuring out boundaries with them. I completely agree that the more you know and understand yourself and what you know of yourself, the easier to figure out when boundaries are needed or what kind of boundaries are necessary. Boundaries can be big or small and vary from moment to moment, but no matter what, should always be respected by others. Boundaries are healthy and meant for the good of those setting them and for those responding to them. If they are seen negatively or repeatedly questioned or ignored, the relationship may be toxic or not a positive addition in your life. Here’s to building our boundary muscles!

    12.23.19 Reply
  9. Mary G says:

    First of all, I want to say that you have piqued my curiosity. Were there among those toxic people in your life any close family members, for example from Kyle’s part ? Because when you realise that some friend is toxic you can easily cut them off and avoid them or see them much less but the true challenge is when this toxicity comes from close family members or associates, especially from those that you have to meet (involuntarily) almost daily.How do you hold your anger, how do you hide your annoyance, how do you handle those relationships when in some cases you hardly stand the sight of this other person ? I try to do it with cold politeness with hardly giving anything from myself, my feelings or thoughts when I know that in any case all those toxic people love to “use anything you might say against you” or ignore you whatsover and speak only about themselves (yikes)! I believe that it is pointless to declare your intentions to those people unless there was a fight and the rift is inevitable.I think that toxic people just do not listen and will probably treat you like crazy or overly sensitive.Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!

    12.23.19 Reply
  10. Nic says:

    A well thought-out, wise and much-need perspective on an all-too-common but often ignored subject – especially important at this time of year.

    My add-on advice: do it now. You will not regret the new feelings of peace that come from setting healthy boundaries. Healthy people respect your boundaries; toxic people do not. Setting such boundaries are not only beneficial the whole family, but are super important for our children to see us do. That way, they learn from a young age to do the same.

    Please write more posts like these. ❤️

    12.23.19 Reply
  11. Jennifer says:

    I think one of the things I’ve learned with setting boundaries is you don’t always have to tangled up with the u healthy person explaining your new boundaries, you can just start to shift & change accordingly.

    12.23.19 Reply
  12. Jamie says:

    I had a friend for over 30 years that has always been a very strong personality. While her heart is in the right place, she has constantly imposed her will/values system on everyone around her under the auspices of being ‘helpful’ and routing that she just want the best for those she loves. When I was in my 20’s and so unsure of my place in the world it seemed so helpful. Over the years it felt more intrusive and more annoying but I couldn’t even start to set boundaries until the last few years, which she continually crossed or made excuses for. A few months ago, she finally got me to the edge when she took it upon herself to go behind my back to my engaged son and give him her take on what my role in wedding planning should be. As a Mom we all know, mess with my kid… you’re done. I have finally pulled a plug that should have been long ago. Thanks for the opportunity to share this long winded story Eva! Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year! ❤️

    12.23.19 Reply
  13. Sarah says:

    This is so true! A few years ago, I had to let go of a best friend because of the toxic, one sided relationship we had. They were selfish and the friendship was not a good one. Letting go and having that conversation was the hardest thing ever but I can’t tell you how much better my life is now! Know what is best for you and go for it. Trust your gut when it comes to what people you want to have and keep in your life.
    My friend was good for a time but I should have let go of them sooner. The red flags were everywhere!! ? ?
    One piece of advice that I have is to stay with your set boundaries!! I went back on mine and started talking to the friend again a few times but it was a bad idea. It hurt them and me when I cut off communication again and again. Remember: you made this choice for a reason. Trust your gut.
    Thanks Eva! I needed this reminder 🙂

    12.23.19 Reply
  14. Susanna says:

    Your post reminded me of one of my favorite poems.

    Love After Love
    Derek Walcott

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

    12.23.19 Reply
    • Wendy says:

      Ahh! One of my long-time favorite poems as well. Thank you for the reminder, and thank you Eva for starting this conversation. ♥️

      12.24.19 Reply
  15. Holly says:

    I LOOOOOOOVE this! 100% agree. I practice this in my life and sometimes it is easier than other times but always very important.

    12.23.19 Reply
  16. Heidi says:

    This was a wonderful post, and a much needed one right now. Thank you for this, Eva!

    12.23.19 Reply
  17. Jordy says:

    I 100% agree on removing toxic relationships that are even just friend-based. I think when you are younger, you want to have tons of friendships, you want to have a lot of people to hang out with. Perhaps going into adulthood, you also feel that you should. But I have certainly realized it’s far more energy to sustain friendships that are toxic, and it can affect your mental health. Even minor things, it’s just not worth it to me. I value deeper friendships rather than a quantity.

    I’ve started to not foster relationships in the beginning stages, if I begin to recognize signs of a disconnect. I just can’t invest my time and heart when I know it’s not right. It’s one thing I’ve learned now that I’m 30.

    12.23.19 Reply
  18. Isy says:

    Thank you Eva from the bottom of my heart! This post is everything I needed today! Merry christmas ? xxx

    12.23.19 Reply
  19. Eva! Thank you so much for this post. It is especially timely given the holidays. Hearing about boundaries, and being reminded that other people have them, is so comforting to me as I’m going through a huge transition with some family right now.

    The part that resonated with me the most was when you said:

    “But everyone involved intimately in your life SHOULD NOT detract from your ability to love yourself. That is a must.”

    It can be so hard to recognize this and purge your life of the toxicity of some relationships. Thank you so much for the reminder that you can hold a boundary, especially as far as communication is concerned, even if the other person chooses not to respect it.

    Also, sorry you had to preface your post the way you did. We all have friendships and other relationships that are just as key as those intimate ones. To me, I can tell what a healthy relationship you have with your ex. Keep it up girl! You’re setting a beautiful example for your munchkins.

    Merry Christmas!

    12.23.19 Reply
  20. Jessica says:

    I have one friend in particular who, since childhood, has manipulated me and controlled me. Unfortunately, I have also allowed her to do that. She has a child now and another on the way and we aren’t as close as we once were because life. We also have another mutual friend and the three of us have been very close since childhood. However, the one who is toxic plays the “perfect” woman. She pretends she hasn’t done a million different awful things. I maintain the friendship because I’m afraid to let go given our long history. I also worry about losing the other friend who has known the toxic one longer and they grew up next door to one another. I hate change but I’m also not happy and secure in my current friendship with this person. I don’t trust her and I hold all of this resentment with how she has treated me in the past – up until two years or so ago she had moments where she was horrible to me. I’m not a perfect person by any means but I also know this isn’t what a friendship is supposed to be.

    12.23.19 Reply
  21. Jamie says:

    Thank you Eva for writing this. This year has been very challenging for me. My daughter has 3 open heart surgeries and I myself have been battling breast cancer. I want to focus on the good and joy in life especially after this year.
    I have a toxic relationship with my sil.. and your post has given me the strength to set boundaries and say I don’t need to do this any longer.
    Thank you

    12.23.19 Reply
  22. Amy says:

    What a fantastic blog post- so completely relevant. Recognizing, facing and managing a toxic relationship has been one of the toughest things for us personally. One thing I’ve realized is you get what you tolerate. If you hold yourself in high regard and you have someone making snarky comments that undermine your self – worth chances are you will either kick that person to the curb or be mindful about how much you let them into your life. Wish it was that easy truthfully it’s been a process – and usually it’s pretty painful- as you’ve laid out above. But you have to teach people how to treat you! If you don’t stand up for yourself no one will ! So true! Sorry to hear you’ve been going through this but you are not alone. Just remember you guys rock and you are a sane person living in an insane world!

    12.23.19 Reply
  23. Tracy says:

    I love this article. It is so so important to recognize that you can not control other peoples opinions, assumptions or actions. Actually you have very little control in life, if you think about it. However, we have 100% control over our thoughts, opinions, self worth..you get the picture. So important to realize that many times the toxic person probably is struggling with their own insecurities and the backlash comes from their sadness.

    12.23.19 Reply
  24. Lizz says:

    Thank you for this. My family and I will not be spending our traditional Christmas with my extended family due to toxic relationships. I was feeling very down about it especially since I have two little girls that don’t quite understand why we won’t be at grammas this year. But as you wrote, I am standing strong in my boundaries. I woke up to your blog and it was exactly what I needed. Thank you! For always being so open about your struggles and victories. Happy holidays! ❤️

    12.23.19 Reply
  25. Correy says:

    So many YESSES to this blog post.

    12.23.19 Reply
  26. Jimmy says:

    I’ve had to let go of a very toxic friendship and it was very hard and hurtful to get over. It’s taken almost a year and half to get over that hump but I’ve done it with a newly formed boundary. It is just being disciplined enough to keep those boundaries and new principles intact that is the hardest, especially when you have a weak moment. Great piece.

    12.23.19 Reply
  27. Liz McFadden says:

    That was so thought provoking and perfectly said. Thank you for sharing.

    12.23.19 Reply
  28. Maddie says:

    Thank you for this. Great reminder about honoring your own boundaries. Much needed before the holidays and toxic family members. Happy holidays!

    12.23.19 Reply
  29. Collette says:

    Great post. Thank you for your honesty and tips. Definitely needed to see this in print. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Cheers to new beginnings!!

    12.23.19 Reply
  30. Glenda says:

    Very well said. I’ve put boundaries in relationships and feel so much better. Boundaries for me are out of respect. How we want and deserve to be treated. And when it’s a family member distance is very good. Be cordial when you see each other but that’s the extent. It doesn’t mean I want to hang out with said toxic family member. Merry Christmas to you all! XO

    12.23.19 Reply
  31. Denise says:

    Letting go of a toxic relationship can be physically painful. After a long time in the mess we develop a unhealthy addiction to the drama. I have walked away from a 17 year relationship that ended in violence. Starting over even with a career can be the most difficult thing. I have struggled to pay attorney fees and even simple things like changing over a utility service can be overwhelming. The only thing I have figured out is take it 1 day at a time. Sometimes 5 minutes at a time. Each day gets a little better and eventually turn into weeks and months. God bless anyone who is walking away to do what is best and Merry Christmas.

    12.23.19 Reply
  32. Deb Reed says:

    Eva, you are a wise woman. This post was so important to read at the end of the year and the end of a decade. This year I did set healthy boundaries and healthier people have come into my life. When I let my true nature shine instead of “trying” to fit in with a group, I attract people on the same path. At this point in my life, I couldn’t care less what others think of me or their opinions in general. P.S. I can tell Kyle is not toxic, he’s just grew up in this culture and it’s difficult for all of us to be.

    12.23.19 Reply
  33. Camilla says:

    Thank you for writing this… perfect timing. I had to make the difficult decision to end relationships with 2 very good friends recently. It’s very difficult, especially around the holidays. They both had a cluster 3 personality disorder. My intuition tells me it’s for the best. I admire your inner strength and courage and your resilience. You’re such a positive role model to so many people. Sending blessings your way.

    12.23.19 Reply
    • Camilla says:

      Edit* cluster c

      12.23.19 Reply
  34. Grace says:

    I hate to be blunt but the truth is. Sometimes we are the toxic people that others must let go of. Life is a two way street. I think it’s unfair of any of us to put the burden on others to fullfil us or fill a void in our lives. Sometimes we suck the life out of others trying to get them to meet our needs.

    12.23.19 Reply
  35. Luz says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post. This will be great for my friend who is going through a hard time. I feel so sad for her, but also I know she is a fighter and strong. I hope this will help her

    So thank you ?

    12.24.19 Reply
  36. Very well said. Healing from toxic relationships is so important. Thanks for providing some good examples on creating boundaries.

    12.24.19 Reply
  37. Andrea says:

    Oof- that’s some tough stuff. I haven’t been the most mature with ending toxic relationships. Usually I just avoid that person as much as possible.
    I’ve been working on boundaries, though, and I’m pretty proud! I have an excellent relationship with my mother these days but at times she tells me things that are emotionally draining and inappropriate- not gross stuff- but issues with family members. I’ve been going to counseling and have encouraged her to do the same. She says she doesn’t have anything to talk to a counselor about and I told her to talk with them about the things she tells me. I’m hoping this clicks with her. I think she would be happier and I certainly would be happier knowing less about family issues that shouldn’t be any of my business!

    12.24.19 Reply
  38. Debbie Hovey says:

    Thank you for this! It’s been a struggle for me and since I’ve decided that 2020 needs to be all the positive I will use this post to help me. ?❤️

    12.24.19 Reply
  39. Victoria says:

    I just sent the entire second paragraph starting with “In the past year” of this blog to my 13 year old daughter at school who is struggling everyday with friends and friends that “aren’t friends” if you know what I mean. I’ve been telling her all her life to “never let anyone tell you who they think YOU are” but sometimes when you can send it from someone else, someone they think “is pretty cool with great style” it penetrates a little more. Great blog! Thank for this!!

    01.31.20 Reply
  40. Jen says:

    Thank you for this. Sadly this describes both of my parents and it has been a lifetime of grief and loss. Thank you for the validation, reminding me of what I deserve and the inspiration to exercise that. As always, love your blog and your words!

    09.04.20 Reply
  41. Thank you for showing a different way to manage these kind of situations it helped me a lot .now I’ll try to focus in myself .?

    09.24.20 Reply
  42. Carolyn says:

    I have to end 2 toxic friendships. Both took a lot of therapy, soul searching, and journaling. Thank you for sharing your truth.

    03.09.22 Reply
  43. glg says:

    Omg this.. “You’re in charge of knowing the truth about who you are, owning that truth, and that you have every right to set boundaries with people who try to tell you that you are otherwise.”

    I have had 3 horrible toxic interactions with people in my life in the last month, 1 a business relationship and 2 from a colleagues.

    I know my truth and I know myself and I am not going to allow anyone to tell me any of that is wrong.

    Thank you for re-sharing this, much need, I feel freer.


    01.30.23 Reply
  44. Melanie says:

    I needed to see this today. It just affirmed something I have been feeling about a relationship for some time now. The way you explained it was perfect! Again, thank you!

    01.30.23 Reply