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Everyone says family is so important. Family values, family ties, etc. Yes, this is true, unless your family is toxic.  I believe the term family can be interpreted differently. A strong family can support you and get you through tough times, but it doesn’t have to be your blood family, it can be any group of people you choose to be a family. Close friends, coworkers, support group or even a meet-up group.

Sometimes your maternal family is toxic and not loving or supporting. They can be manipulative, controlling, addictive, abusive and negative. In these cases family is not the best to be around. Instead you need to distance yourself. You may not even know your family is toxic yet your unhappy and depressed and can’t figure out why.

Does your family make you feel guilty all the time if you don’t put them first or not want to work for the family business? Is it their way or the highway, no negotiating? When you talk about what you want to do with your life do they laugh at you or tell you you’re crazy? Do they get too involved in your dating romances causing problems in your relationships? If so, try to distance yourself physically. Put some space between you and them. Set your boundaries and be firm.

Controlling family members will have a hard time with this. Like the saying goes, “cheaters only love you when they’re cheating”, control freaks only love you when they can control you. Once you put your foot down and decide to not let them control you anymore, they will get uneasy, upset and even angry. They might even say bad things about you to other people. Don’t let it get to you. That’s how they try to break you down. These types of people probably have never had anyone stand up to them, confront them or tell them directly to their face,” I won’t let you control me.”

If you have put physical distance between you and the toxic relationships and they’re still hanging on tooth n’ nail not letting go, you have to be the one to cut the umbilical cord. Get some balls and just do it!

How to cut the cord:
1) Only speak to them once a week on the phone for an hour most
2) Don’t add them on FB , if you’re already friends hide your posts from them
3) Don’t allow them to put guilt trips on you
4) Meet with them only when you want to and it fits in your schedule
5) If they get crazy on the phone (trying their manipulating or guilt trips) hang up and end the conversation
6) Send an email instead if phone conversations get difficult, though don’t engage in endless emails
7) If they try to give advice on your relationship, say thanks but it’s between me and my significant other
8) If you know they won’t support you in your accomplishments don’t tell them what you’re doing, talk about them and what they’re doing instead

Pay attention to how you feel after an interaction with toxic family members. Are you all of a sudden tired, lethargic and want a nap? Do they suck all your energy like a vampire? Or do you just start feeling down and negative about yourself? If you have any of these reactions after spending time with anyone, limit the time to when you “have” to see them. Your time and self-esteem is way too precious to waste on people like this no matter who they are, even if they are family. These situations are harder to deal with but limit them greatly to save your sanity.

Surround yourself with like-minded positive people that will support you, make you feel appreciated and valued. There’s nothing like positive energy to make you happy. You can feel what type of energy radiates off people. Either they help lift you up or they drag you down. Choose to be with the ones who lift you up. Make your own warm and fuzzy family no matter who it is. We all need support in our lives even if we weren’t born into the perfect family.  We can take our life into our own hands and make of it what we want to. It’s our choice. Make the positive one for you today.

Tara Richter

Tara Richter is an Internet Dating Coach in Tampa Bay. She is the author of “The Dating Jungle Series” and an Internet TV Show Host.

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