How to Know When to Cut Contact With Family Members

3 min read
Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Source: Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Cutting contact with family members is never easy. With concepts like “blood is thicker than water” and “family first,” there’s often a lot of shame that follows when considering if it’s time to set boundaries or cut off contact with family members. Here are five signs it may be appropriate to set some hard boundaries and cut contact. Remember, cutting off contact doesn’t have to be forever.

1. You tried to set boundaries and communicate your needs but your family continues to ignore them.

You’ve tried using communication skills to identify and speak your needs and set boundaries when necessary. However, your family continues to ignore your efforts which makes you feel powerless and helpless in their presence.

2. Being around them puts you in physical, psychological, mental, or emotional danger.

If your family members are unable to control their anger or emotions and they put you in harm’s way, it’s valid to consider cutting contact. Just because they’re family doesn’t mean they have the right to hurt you without any consequences.

3. You’ve tried dialoguing with them but they don’t seem to be able to accept you and your needs for what they are.

Does it feel like no matter what you do or say or how hard you try, they just don’t want to accept you for who you are? Maybe they keep saying things like “we’re praying for you” or suggest you do things that are against your values. If you feel like they aren’t capable of unconditionally accepting you as you are, it’s understandable that you’d want some space from them so that you can feel free to be yourself.

4. You’ve spent months and years working on your relationship and issues in individual and even family therapy but being around them leaves you mentally and emotionally drained.

If you’ve exhausted your efforts in individual and even family therapy and nothing seems to have changed with them or with you, it might be time to consider taking a break, especially if you find yourself mentally and emotionally drained. You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself and how you respond. If they’re not changing, it might be time to take some time and adjust your expectations.

5. Maybe you just need a break from them to figure out what makes you happy.

Remember, cutting contact doesn’t have to be forever. If you’re from a family with codependent family dynamics, time and space away will probably be even more valuable for you because you’ve had to think about their needs before your own. After all, it’s hard to identify your own needs and values when you’re so focused on others’ needs. So consider this time apart a chance for you to prioritize yourself and your needs. Once you feel confident about identifying your needs and values, you can come back and clearly express and embody them around your family without feeling ashamed or guilty.

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