Do You Need To Detox Your Relationships?

Posted April 18, 2013



The other night I went to a BBQ filled with 40-year-old men who’d all been friends since they were about six years old. How cute is that? Most of us have people in our lives that we’ve known for a really long time. Sometimes they ‘re people who knew our parents before we were even born. Maybe you grew up with neighbours or school friends who felt like brothers or sisters. Here’s the problem: what if you’re stuck in a rut, and the people you’ve known forever are actually quite toxic? How do you get rid of nasty childhood friends?

This is a decision we are all faced with from time-to-time – whether it’s a co-worker, high school friend, boyfriend or family member, there are always people in our life that are no good for us. As women, we tend to be people-pleasers and the last thing we’d EVER fancy doing is having a conversation along the lines of, “I’ve decided not to hang out with you on weekends anymore because I can’t handle your increasingly negative opinions.” So instead, we allow things to continue on for far too long… until we feel angry at ourselves and bogged down in all the unpleasantness and stagnant energy of a dead relationship.

And just to clarify, these ‘toxic friends’ I’m referring to don’t even need to be textbook bitches; they might just be people who are unmotivated, uninspiring, love to drain your energy or discourage you, hold limiting, fear-based beliefs, or simply don’t ever push themselves to personal greatness. As I like to put it spiritually, ‘You two are operating on different vibrations!’ We’ve all met the odd person like this, but if you’re spending way too much time in this sort of company, it’s time for a little spring cleaning.

Get real: just because you have history with someone, you don’t need to keep them in your life forever. Just because someone helped you out once upon a time, you don’t necessarily owe them anything now. You should NOT feel guilty, mean, or selfish about ‘dumping’ someone. If they no longer resonate with the truth inside your heart, then the universe supports your decision to move onwards and upwards. After all, it’s not only better for you, but you need to trust that it’s ultimately best for everyone concerned.

I know you can’t necessarily go cold turkey and never speak to your next door neighbour / sister / old friend again — that might be a little drastic and unrealistic! — but you CAN limit how much you see them, and perhaps you can even challenge some of their toxic behaviours, where appropriate. The main change you can make is to add some new people into your life; surround yourself with positive, uplifting, inspirational types who are doing, living, thinking, being the type of person you would like to become.


Do you have toxic friendships that you know you would be better off without? Be honest with yourself, and keep the conversation going in the comments below

Positive affirmation for the day: I am surrounded by positive, inspiring, amazing people.

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Pamella says:

I totally do! I have a friend that I have know for 34 years! Because she was my first friend in school, by default I continue to have her in my life. Our core values are completely opposite, I continue to take verbal and spiritual abuse from her and when I think about cutting the cord I feel guilt and responsibility for her. She is not liked by many and there is a big part of me that feels I need to be that one constant in her life. She travels a lot. When she is gone all is well. The MOMENT she enters my life along comes her being negative and making me feel guilty.

I have struggled to decide if I should tell her my feelings and let her go or just let her go?

Nicole says:

Wow what a time for me to read this! I actually have an immediate family member that is toxic. He is unreasonable, obnoxious and just an all round negative person.I decided to say something and it didn’t go down well, he said some horrible things to me.
So I decided to distance myself for a bit. However when it’s family it’s really hard to try to limit the time you see someone because I don’t want it to affect others in the family.
What is also hard is that I have a daughter, and I do not want her in this environment, but I want her to see her family.
Any advice on how to cope in this situation? I am happy to keep my distance, however it affects others and I feel guilty about that.

narelle says:

Doing things out of obligation and not from your heart….
Thinking that because someone is family you have to like them….
Learning when it’s time to let go…
Life is way too short for negative people to be around, make the shift, raise your vibration.
Get a life that you deserve and want
If you are making these changes in your life, my love goes to you – because I know how hard and emotional it can be to make the decision to want something better for yourself and make the changes.

This is always an interesting one…. It’s also good to be aware that sometimes this is bringing into our awareness some of our behaviours that we’re not taking ownership for… It’s very easy to be judgemental and blame other people and say ‘oh they’re so toxic’ but there must be a resonance or we wouldn’t be having those experiences. Sometimes it can be very subtle within us. For example if you keep having experiences where for example you feel like you’re being lied to/people not being honest then it’s very powerful to ask ‘where am I not being honest with myself’ Why do I keep having these experiences? Why am I noticing this pattern?’. It’s all such a learning process… Sometimes it’s just a great opportunity to see how healthy our boundaries are…..

Alexia says:

Wow, also an interesting time for me to read this as well!

My partner and I recently had a baby and we decided it would be a good idea to move in with my family, for financial reasons and support. But my mum is on a completely different vibration to me (negative, jealous, angry, fearful), so much so that I had a rather large breakdown in the arms of my partner last night. He told me I just need to love and accept those around me and just focus on keeping my energies up, for myself and our daughter.

Thanks so much for posting this, I think keeping my distance while remaining in a positive state of mind, as opposed to ignoring her in an angry place, will help with my well being. And who knows, maybe it will encourage her to do the same :) x

Kel says:

I have been detoxing friends & believe it or not – family. My own twin sister, in fact. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth the sanity & my general wellbeing.

It’s definitely a great time for reflecting upon circumstances that keep arising. Like meeting more & more of the same people, being the friend you wish you had and not receiving it, or receiving a genuine person in your life & not accepting it well or have the belief you don’t deserve them in your life. It’s that vicious cycle that we can all learn so much from.

I’ve noticed that while I wasn’t tolerating certain behaviours in my ‘friends’, I was tolerating it from my twin because I felt I had a duty to. My (past) friends definitely reflected my family life and I have settled on the fact that I can’t have one rule for one person and another rule for another when their actions are very much the same.

I have applied this wisdom to all parts of my life and I find myself becoming less & less contradictory (in all aspects) as life goes on. I really have evolved so highly as a person and for that I couldn’t be more thankful :)

Sussi says:

In my experience, when you cut a person out of your life, e.g. a friend who maybe for years constantly demean you in a subtle way as the case may be, there is a great lesson to be learned about the feeling of relief and freedom, when you choose to be truth to yourself and not compromise your own dignity. For years I thought, like popular psychology made me believe, that I experienced people in my life as negative, because “in reality it had something to do with myself” – that it was my own shadow or something, I experienced. I even had a “spiritual” boyfriend that told me that if I had problems with him it had something to do with myself. Now I can see that in fact he was very abusive and used spiritual and psychological theories to manipulate me, and make me believe that I had problems and he himself had none. This almost resulted in a total psychological break down for me, because it trapped me in loop-kind-of-situation from where I could not get out, because no matter what I was thinking, I always ended up with the conclusion that something was wrong with me. If people make you feel bad – get out, it´s not YOUR fault. The lesson to be learned from a negative relationship can very well be that you need to love and respect yourself and your own boundaries more, and learn to react on warning signs and signals, better sooner than later. I think there are some dangerous tendencies in our time with this huge focus on personal development, that we confuse things for sensitive and delicate souls that are liable to turn things and responsibility inwards – and thereby make them believe that they are responsible for behavior that are out of their control. We should not abuse Carl Gustav Jungs theories. I totally understand your point Michelle Marie, but I also feel very deeply that this other side is important. Sorry for my a clumsy language – english is not my first language.

Alexia says:

Wow, also an interesting time for me to read this as well!

My partner and I recently had a baby and we decided it would be a good idea to move in with my family, for financial reasons and support. But my mum is on a completely different vibration to me (negative, jealous, angry, fearful), so much so that I had a rather large breakdown in the arms of my partner last night. He told me I just need to love and accept those around me and just focus on keeping my energies up, for myself and our daughter.

Thanks so much for posting this, I think keeping my distance while remaining in a positive state of mind, as opposed to ignoring her in an angry place, will help with my well being. And who knows, maybe it will encourage her to do the same :) x

Gina says:

I have in-laws that are very toxic which is very hard for me to deal with! They are very energy-draining and when I’ve spent a couple hours with them I feel like I am ready for a long nap and a week long vacation. It’s super hard when it’s family. I try distancing myself to see them only every few months but they catch on rather quickly and get very mad about not spending time with them! I try not to let it bother me and just let it roll off my back. It’s true life is too short to be worrying about other people’s negative behavior!!

Nathan says:

What a lovely article! Thankyou!
(I like how the name of your circle is “Aurora Circle”, my coming daughter is named Aurora, so I take that as a very welcoming message from the Universe :) )

Anyway, this is something that I come across a lot in friends, family, and clients, and personally in my past. I believe it is about being spiritually selfish, in the sense of realising your own needs, your own power and truths, and keeping a concept in mind of “loving and leaving someone”. Setting your own boundaries and being able to say no to these people we may feel so obliged to spend a lot of time with. Cutting cords is very liberating for yourself and other people involved as it gives you space to think and space to feel out what your own needs are.

Lisa (Yrlocalmarkets) says:

Hmm. My sister in law, unfortunately. She is pretty negative about most things and very judgmental of others. In fact. not long ago after my mum went out of her way to help her, she had a go and my mum, and then me and I’m still smarting from her vitriolic words. We put up with it for the sake of my dying mother in law, but now that my MIL has passed, I see no reason to allow her to act in this way. She’ll be visiting my family over the weekend and I feel quite uncomfortable about just acting like nothing happened (which was situation normal before) so I’m actually thinking of having “another engagement” so that my hubby & kids can see her but I don’t have to.

I don’t want to start WWIII but equally don’t want to be around her. Sheesh – this is like an agony aunt session. Anyone have any suggestions?

Lisa :-)

Claudine says:

I can totally relate to this situation. Recently i had an old school friend visit who i hadnt seen for sometime. I had always felt she wasnt a genuine person and her morals werent align with mine,but i had kept in touch as i thought we all need as many friends as possible and what if i were left with none.We also had had some fun times in the past. When she visited it was as if the timing was created for me to let her go,as i found out something she had done in the past involving my ex partner and also her step daughter while staying had stolen from me. This was the push i needed to let her go and wasn’tdifficult as she lives in another state. I thought i did not need her as a friend so when she texts me i do not reply and i have taken her off my facebook friends. I feel a kind of relief and a strength for not needing a toxic person in my life. I’drather have no friends, it is a good feeling to finally let go of something i deep down knew all along wasnt right for me.

e says:

Yes!.. though she isn’t toxic.. my neighbour and I have become VERY close, almost too close.. she has been FANTASTIC.. when i went through my break up she was there, she feed my cat when I went travelling, been an amazing friend… though I need my space!, i don’t need to see her every day, when it’s the same thing, work, gym etc. She said she understands, + she has been keeping her distance, though when we do see each other she seems put out and quite hurt. I understand she seems hurt, though I’m now starting to think whatever, that’s her problem if she doesn’t understand.. then that’s something SHE has to deal with.

Courtenay says:

Thank you SO much for posting this. It is exactly what I needed to read right now and has given me the confidence that I have made the right choice in distancing myself from a very toxic group of people!

theresa says:

I agree with this post totally and I have only a few friends but I do wonder sometimes about the ‘toxic’ people – what if everyone cuts them off and they have no friends left? Thats not a good thing is it?
Also, if I happened to be going through a bad patch and leaned on my ‘friends’ and unknowingly dragged them down a bit with me, would I then become toxic and get ‘dumped’?
I do tend to depend on myself a lot as life has shown me that I am the only one I can rely on……….

Sarah says:

Oh Theresa, that’s just not true! you’re not the only one to rely on. You can ALWAYS rely on God, He’s always there waiting with open arms for you. I went through a bad patch in my life, when I felt like I had nobody. But when I found God, I was filled with joy and He gave me so many wonderful friends! And He’s my friend too- its so awesome :) I hope you find Him one day, believe me, its the best step you’ll ever take. Just call on Jesus.


Linda DC says:

When I had my son 12 years ago I changed my priorities and hadn’t realized how much I was accommodating people who were not actually good for me. The hardest to let go was my brother who is so negative and draining to be around. My family think I am being hard,but I found out what was best for me and my son. After everytime I see him I feel so tired and lacking in calmness,and sometimes physically sick,so I avoid him as much as possible,I even refused to go to my mums for christmas day,which was hard but the rest of the family ended up accepting my choices and even came to visit later in the day. Don’t be afraid to stick to your choices of friendship,after all look up the word friendship to remind you what it actually means.

Celine says:

Actually this morning I was talking to an old friend telling her that I have issues with my partner, my house and my health. Instead of making me feel better, she was totally projecting herself in my situation and reacting as if it was her. She made me feel worse and I shut her up on Skype! I definitely agree on the fact that we need to be surrounded by uplifting and happy people, especially in hard times.

tranquil says:

While I don’t think you should go out of your way to nurture a toxic relationship or be in an abusive, draining relationship, let’s not forget about unconditional love and being the bigger person. Maybe these people are in our lives to help us learn patience and other virtues of character. This quote from Eckhart Tolle says a lot to me, “relationships are not supposed to make us happy, they are supposed to make us conscious. and if we can get that right, then they can make us happy too.”

Lead by example. Life is not always easy, but take the higher road and learn to find peace within yourself in any situation, and only then will you be truly happy. When you cut off a relationship with a person, particularly someone close like a family member or someone you see everyday, you are not healing those hurts, just repressing them. Those hurts will stay haunting you in the back of your head and who knows what or when will bring them out, unresolved and still full of raw undealt with negative emotions, only making yourself toxic in the end.

Corinne says:

So beautifully said. Whilst I agree with detoxing relationships, I couldn’t agree more with your comment about rising above it all – particularly when it comes to people that are difficult to avoid such as family members and neighbours etc. xx

Rachael says:

This is very good advice, but I do think we have to take a close look at ourselves first. What if it turns out YOU are the toxic one? Could it be possible that in some relationships it’s not a matter of one person being “toxic” but just that the two people don’t bring out the best in each other? It can be very limiting to label. I like to believe that everyone is constantly growing and changing. Maybe it’s ok to limit our contact with a person who continually proves to be difficult, but is it worth cutting them off completely forever? If we can easily slap those labels on the people in our lives, we might find we just as easily stick labels on ourselves that are harmful to our own growth. I’m in agreement with taking care of our own mental, spiritual and physical health first. If someone continually harms you in one of those areas I do agree that limiting contact is ideal as long as we realize why we do it.

Lara says:

This has come at a perfect time for me as well! I have a ‘friend’ I really don’t enjoy spending time with. We’re just on different wavelengths but I’ve kept her in my life as I don’t have many friends (I live in a different country than where I grew up to be with my partner). I don’t have the heart to be blunt with her so am just using the excuse about how busy I am to avoid making plans with her. I’ve been feeling bad about it but this has confirmed I am doing the right thing and hopefully I am attract some new like minded friends into my life. :)

anon says:

I do have a friend that I’ve been thinking is rather toxic. I think it depends on who they are, I would happily cut my MIL out because she is so toxic but I found if I meditate before visiting and try emitting a feeling of love (sounds crazy but I constantly thought of love for the whole visit) I got through it and didn’t take away any of her negative feelings or attitudes like I normally would. I also turned everything she said into a positive, this can be really funny if they are super negative or trying to bitch to you about someone.

I think with family its worth a try but to be honest I can’t keep up the pretence with my friend. I’ve tried but we have changed too much, I think it will be easier to let go. There is a nice way of doing it though, cooling things off not cutting off completely and if she asks why I’ll tell her the truth.

Habibi L'amour says:

HEY I am not a “people pleaser” despite being biologically a “woman”….I am trying to figure out if I am a woman on the inside or agender, I just don’t know. But I am grateful that I can’t really relate to this, these days if someone is toxic for me then I learn this and ignore them before I get close to them…surely they can read the bad vibes between us too….especially a certain gender essentialist bitch who lacks the social independence to not be influenced by her boyfriend but will happily shove her sexist bullshit in my face.

Mr. Lasse says:


Im a new reader and rushed to read this very interesting post!

I have a few things to contribute based on my own personal experiences with this highly relevant issue.

Let me start by saying that it would be very wise to first and foremost get rid of the imature tendency we all can have to demonize other people. Especially the person you feel is toxic to you. This is importatn, not just because it is generally an unsympathic trait, but also because it is a major opstacle to get moving in your own life. It is another form of bonding, that is really counterproductive if you want to get going from your stagnant position. So if not to suppress your own unsympathic traits, it will help you help yourself to get rid of that person or situation that you despise so much.

That said, I believe we all have to make a ‘spring clean’ once in a while. But what do you do about family? The techniques that work with former friends or acquaintances often doesnt work with sisters, brothers, parents, etc.. And many people are in fact struggling with toxic family relations (myself included). It can really tear you apart and drain you of ambition, joy and initiative. And that holds true whatever age you have. So what to do?

I myself, have read some books on sibling rivalry and sibling jealousy, giraffe language, gestalt therapy, etc. with some success. I have supplied with meditation, exercise and yoga and a general focus on healthy living. It have helped my manage my problems somewhat, but when it comes to family the world is round and they will always return and haunt you whereever you go and whatever you do in your life. You can only try to make yourself stronger, act more intelligent and strategical in your relationship with them and try to connect and buidl something without them, that someday might elevate you and propel you of of your misery and pain. But its not easy and the struggle never ends. Hope my post and angle on the issue can be an inspiration to someone in need.

I would love to get more suggestions and comments… :-)

Nicole says:

I have broken up with a best friend in the past. It was hard, it felt cruel, there was so much guilt. But I could not go on like that. I was smothered and my true nature was stifled. Leaving her was even harder than breaking up with a boyfriend in some ways, we had shared so much, we had seen each other through so many break ups and rough patches, our friends were the same. But the relief and freedom I felt when it was done, was so worth it.
I have been a bit more careful since this relationship. My spirit is my priority and I attract people who have the capacity to support this.
A stifling of spirit is a deal breaker.

Hi guys,
I’m really thrilled at the rich discussion my article has opened up, and some of you have raised some really excellent points. Theresa asked, “What if everyone cuts [toxic people] off and they have no friends left?” It doesn’t happen — ‘toxic’ people need plenty of drama to feed their game-playing habits, so are excellent at finding new victims and targets to power-play with. And at the end of the day, we can’t be worried about other peoples’ friendship statuses… they will learn from their own mistakes. We have to worry about our own.
To that end: How do you know you’re not just blaming and pointing the finger at other ‘toxic’ people / running away from your own problems? There are many, many relationships karmically placed in our path that are purposefully messy and challenging, because they are helping us to learn all sorts of valuable soul lessons. That said, there are some people who we have either ‘finished’ growing with — they genuinely have no more to teach us — or who are just plain nasty and soul-destroying. In both cases, you have the universe’s permission to walk away. Their interfering negativity is only keeping you drained and distracted from the other relationships you are still in the middle of working on, and all the other lovely things in your life. x

Jenn says:

I’m struggling with the idea of cutting ties with friends because I feel like I’m being judgmental by even thinking about cutting them out of my life. Maybe I’m a bad friend because I’m tired of watching them make the same poor choices over and over. I see the great qualities they possess, but where’s the line of being a supportive friend and having people in your life that drag you down? Struggling…

Isaac says:

I had friends in which were my only friends at the time and we all went to school.
Almost 2 years ago i formed myself a relationship with my girlfriend that my mates were proud of, well one of them ended up being jealous because he saw everyone else in a relationship when he has not been in one for 7 years.
My ex-friend K at the time we had alot in common at one point becuase we we’re all miserable in our own lives, but we joked around, went clubbing etc etc… one day he got himself jumped by people at a station and was never really the same, very paranoid and ended up telling me these storys that i felt were nothing but deceptive lies just to hide how he really felt with his life, at first the BS stories were a laugh for me by the end of the night but then it got very draining after awhile and some of the stuff he said i was expecting.
Anyway one day he explains to me that i can do better then my current girlfriend and that hit the red flag and i explained later that i did not like what he said which was a bit uncalled for.
Then he went off his nut saying all the things i was doing infront of him that he didn’t like was uncalled for blah blah blah, and all this attacking back at me was not relating to the fact that he could not admit that what he said was wrong, then he said our 8 year friendship was over and i did not talk to him for while.
Later another mate of mine H wanted me to come to K’s 21st because he missed me, which i ended up doing just to expect an apology.
All i got was “I never hated you” so after his pathetic 21st party which was only at a club with a few other people. i never bothered to call K, i never wanted to see K but only if i was obligated too, and i still disliked seeing him. and even my other mate H which i was constantly hanging out with was also losing his cool when he cheated on his girlfriend on K’s 21st, the girlfriend left him then he went on this self-destructive life by almost getting himself killed in a car accident (without insurance) and that had a big psychological impact in him, so he spends most his weeks going clubbing and getting wasted and is motivated by this song
After that all happened there were a few things i did not like out of him, he one day text my girlfriend asking if he could hook up with my gf’s friend emily which he was very interested in but has not met emily in his life.
I like to DJ a bit and post on soundcloud and my mate was trying to add himself in my credit for what i mix.
And he one day drove me home after clubbing (and getting his licence back) and he left a little gap between the two on coming cars which was almost enough to scratch the car, and i felt like he still did not learn his lesson and felt like getting out of the car, but when i did i said “See you soon but hopefully not to soon”
After all this i was totally done with the both of them, having the intention to live flawed lives while i’m sky high trying to reach success.
It took them awhile to notice that i started giving them the silent treatment and when they did notice the phones started ringing, sometimes even tried to buzz my apartment number a couple of times during the week and even have the pathetic mind to come to my workplace which i totally ignored them all while they were trying to get my attention, i texted them ” don’t ever buzz my door or come to my workplace again” K texted me “We get the picture we’re dead to you now so you’ll never see us again” and i was all like “Best news I’ve heard from you all year”
while my other mate H was not taking the news of not being friends very well, so he intended on threatening me and warn me to watch my back through a social website so i took pictures of it, and he sent some nasty things to my girlfriend via facebook inbox which shes got for proof… havent heard from them since and if i do hear from them or even see them rock up at my place or work i will grab all evidence i’ve collected and report their arses to the cops for verball harrasment and stalking.

It has been a 9 year friendship that i gladly ended recently with a huge relief and no emotional feelings of loss. No guilt….Nothing
They are considered to me as a learning lesson, and i now get along better with the people i work with and i have my girlfriends company, so that sums up my all my happiness.