For many of us, it can be difficult to acknowledge when a relationship becomes toxic; however, if someone is treating you cruelly, is manipulative, is always criticizing you or is emotionally abusive, then it may be time to remove that relationship from your life. Whether this toxic relationship is with a friend, family member or coworker, it is important to recognize when a relationship is causing you undue harm and in turn, amplifying depression and anxiety.

While the thought of removing a relationship from your life can feel overwhelming, it is important to recognize that your mental well-being comes first. You can’t change how people treat you, so how can you remove toxic people from your life? Here are a few tips to consider if you want to end a relationship that isn’t healthy so you can improve your mental health.

Identify Toxic Relationships

The first step is identifying who in your life is causing you harm. For many people, this may be immediately obvious, for others, it takes more thought. If that’s the case for you, try to think if there is anyone in your life who consistently tries to control you, manipulate you or belittle you. Do you ever feel anxious around certain people or dread receiving a call from a particular person? If so, this may be a good indicator of a toxic relationship. If someone in your life constantly leaves you feeling anxious, depressed or doubting your self-worth, then it may be time to re-evaluate the relationship and consider removing it from your life.

Be Firm

When cutting a toxic relationship out of your life, it is important that you are firm and stand your ground. A toxic person isn’t likely to just go away if you tell them that you don’t want to see them anymore.  They may even try to dig their heels in deeper and refuse to leave you alone. That is why you need to be upfront with the person and clarify your intentions for moving on with your life. Stand your ground in a diplomatic way, where you’re not overly nice but aren’t coming off mean-spirited. While it won’t be easy, it is important to stand firm and explain clearly how you are feeling.

Set Boundaries for Yourself

Once you make the decision to cut out a toxic relationship, it is important that you set boundaries for yourself so that you do not risk accidentally letting them back into your life. For instance, if you have ended your relationship with someone toxic and you have made up your mind not to respond to their messages, don’t. If this is the promise you’ve made to yourself, stick to it and don’t call or text back. Instead, call or text someone within your support system.  Also consider blocking their number, email address or social media accounts to help create more distance from the toxic individual. It is just as important for you to maintain your boundaries with them as it is for them to respect the boundaries you have set.

Forgive but Don’t Forget

You may decide that, as part of your healing process, you will want to forgive the toxic person that you ended a relationship with. However, it is important that you remember that you are not doing this for their sake; forgiving a toxic person is about letting go and moving on with your life. This doesn’t mean that you approve of their behavior or want to reconnect; deciding to feel forgiveness for a toxic person is merely an opportunity for you to let go of any anger, frustration or sadness that you may be holding onto so that you can heal properly. However, it is important to remember that forgiving someone does not mean that you have to give them another chance. Forgiving is merely about choosing to let go of the past and move on with your life so that the past does not continue to affect your mental health.

Find Your Support Network

Removing a toxic person from your life can be a difficult and emotional process, which is why it is important that you find a support network that can walk you through this difficult time. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you and lift you up and who can be there for you. If you are having a hard time cutting a toxic person out of your life, or you are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues as a result of a toxic relationship, you may find it beneficial to speak with a mental health professional.


At Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program, we see the person behind the diagnosis. We provide various levels of care for people experiencing depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. Our personalized, evidence-based treatment from supportive experts give people the tools they need to manage their emotional well-being and live a happy, rewarding life.


If you’re a VEST member struggling with relationships or anything else, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Care Center for support!

You can find access to the Care center by downloading the VEST Care app and entering your organization code. Email us or talk to your HR department to get this code if you don’t already have it.

If you have any questions about how VEST can help you improve your culture and provide your employees with the emotional resources they need through our Proactive-EAP, don’t hesitate to contact us at (866) 258-6688 or go@vesteap.com.

We are here to help!

Disclaimer: VEST content is not therapy and is not designed to diagnose or treat any condition you may be experiencing. Please contact a medical or mental health professional for treatment that is specific to your needs.