For the sake of your own wellbeing, sometimes you just have to cut people out of your life and start burning bridges. Cover that bridge in petrol, light a match, and burn that bridge down. There is nothing wrong with burning bridges and cutting people out of your life; I’ve done it several times myself. However, there are plenty of people who think they can’t do this, and I hope this article shows you that you have every right to do it, if that’s what you want.
Toxic Relationships And Burning Bridges
One thing you hear a lot about when burning bridges and cutting people out of your life is, “but they’re family”. Being family makes no difference. If they’re toxic, you can cut them out of your life for good. You owe nothing to anyone. That includes all your family members, including your parents. Just because someone’s family, that doesn’t mean they have special permission to treat you like trash, to take liberties, and making you feel like you’re worthless.
Don’t let the idea that blood is thicker than water keep you trapped with family that cause you nothing but harm. Family members will use this to get away with abusing you. You’re mental wellbeing is more important.
Healthy relationships with our families and friends are valuable because they allow for a flow of information, support, and resources, trusting that this will be reciprocated if needed (Del Real, 2019). If your relationships don’t function on this basic ideal, then maybe it’s time to consider if the relationships are worth it.
A toxic relationship can come in many forms, but the basic concept is a relationship where there is a disparity in the relationship, where one person is subservient to someone else (Solferino and Tessitore, 2019). This usually means the dominant one is taking more out of the relationship than they’re putting in, while the other one is putting more in than they’re taking out.
Another example of a toxic relationship is bullying, which could be in the workplace from a boss or coworker, or in education from a fellow student. Here you’ll see the need to not only dominate the other person, but to do so with emotional and psychological abuse, and sometimes, violence.
The scientific literature is clear, toxic relationships have a negative effect on our health, while a healthy, supportive relationship will have positive effects on our health and wellbeing (Racionero-Plaza, León, Iglesias, and Ugalde, 2020). The outcome of remaining in a toxic relationship is damage to your health, wellbeing, and self-esteem. And the best way to get out of situations like this is to remove yourself from the situation all together and removing any pathways of return: AKA, burning bridges.
However, if the toxic relationship you need to end is a domestic abuse situation, then there are other steps to take to make sure you’re safe instead of just burning bridges. Please check out my article on domestic abuse by clicking here.
Burning Bridges And Ending Relationships – My Story
I’m more than willing to cut people out of my life nowadays. Before, I would always put other people before my own needs. My friends came before everything else in my life, even my romantic relationships. To me, that’s what it meant to be a friend. But the reality was I was just a people-pleaser. My quality of putting my friends before myself was never returned. As such, my self-esteem and my ability to trust plummeted.
I grew more and more resentful as I bent over backwards for the people in my life, but all they made me feel was that I was being used. I felt unwanted. I was something that was useful to them, but I doubt I would have been an afterthought to them.
If you’ve read my previous post “My Experience Of Making Plans With Poor Mental Health” or “Did Poor Mental Health Cause My Unhealthy Relationship With Food?” then you’ll be familiar with some of the issues I’ve had with my friends in the past. But that was only a taster.
Although I’m going to take you back to my childhood, I won’t go into my history of racial abuse and bullying here. I’ve talked about it a lot in my articles, but if you’d like to read about it, you can do so by clicking here.
Right back to my earliest memories, I’ve felt unwanted by those around me, but I was desperate to fit in, so I buried that feeling. Friends at school would talk behind my back because of my colour, and I knew about it, but what could I do? I couldn’t have no one at all to play with at school. Two faced friends were better than no friends at all, especially when you’re being abused by bullies and teachers.
But the one that hurt the most and for the longest was caused by my oldest and longest friend. This friend moved onto my street when I was four, and we’d known each other since then. However, throughout my childhood, they would only play with me if I had the newest game console or video game they wanted to play. I’d often see them walking past my house to go to another kids’ house further up the road when my video games weren’t of interest to them anymore.
It hurt, like everything else in my life at the time, but I endured. But I thought we had become genuine friends as adults, that is, until my mum got cancer. Although my relationship with my mum is strained at best (I make zero effort to contact or see her), when my mum told me she was in hospital with cancer, I planned my trip home. And I hate going to my racist hometown with a passion. While I was back, I contacted my friend to see if they wanted to meet for a pint, telling them my mum had just been diagnosed with cancer. They couldn’t meet, which would have been fine, but they never asked about my mum’s cancer during the call or ever. I cut all ties after that.
People on my postgraduate cause asked me constantly for an update about my mum’s cancer, but the person I’ve known the longest and thought had become a close friend, never asked once. But that wasn’t my only close friend to do that. I asked another close friend if they could meet. Again, they couldn’t, which again would have been fine, but they also never asked about my mum’s cancer or how I was doing. No then, not since.
This friend I’d financially supported a lot. I’d helped keep them fed when they couldn’t afford to eat, and I’d constantly write off money they owed me because I didn’t care about money. So it hurt when they couldn’t even offer some basic empathy. It’s a weird experience when people you barely know care about you more than your close friends do. You just can’t call them friends after that. The close friendships I thought I’d had were all one sided.
It took me a long time to server those friendships. But they weren’t the first to be cut. During my undergraduate degree, I became close friends with someone. I even helped them get a job where I was volunteering. But things were going to change. They got into a relationship with someone who was extremely racist and proud. However, my friend gave their soon to be partner an ultimatum, that they had to stop being racist or there would be no relationship.
My friend’s new partner gave up their racist ways, and we all became good friends. However, they started to slip into their old habits out of the blue. They started supporting and spreading BNP (a far-right, fascist and white supremacist political party) material online. I gave them a chance to explain themselves several times, but they weren’t interested in talking abut it. To put this into perspective, they own a Johnny Rebel record. They even played it for me a few times because they wanted to show me who they used to be, but not anymore. It was the most racist thing I’d ever heard.
Because they wouldn’t talk to me about it, I tried talking to my friend who previously had a zero tolerance about it before the relationship. However, they didn’t see it as a problem. Thus, I burnt that bridge down. I’m too old and too tired to deal with racism again. I’d already been made to sacrifice my childhood to racism, I wasn’t giving it anymore.
I didn’t stop at cutting my friends out of my life either. I cut ties with my mum, but didn’t burn the bridge down as they’re my connection to the rest of my family. I’ve given my mum opportunities to fix our relationship, such as with the letter I sent her. But my mum has never once be interested in trying to repair our relationship. The only thing that matters to her is her god, which has left her completely alone, except for the kindness of my family. I won’t see my mum again until she’s dead or in the hospital, and I won’t talk to her unless the call is an emergency. That’s all that’s left of our relationship.
however, burning bridges had to be deployed with my aunt because they kept sharing content from white nationalist pages on Facebook, pages that promote the white replacement theory. Again, I gave them a chance to explain why they kept doing that when they have black family members, but they didn’t stop. So I blocked my aunt along with my mum. My hometown is just a breeding ground for racism and hate.
Much like I said in ‘The Dangers Of People-Pleasing‘, don’t be scared to remove the toxic people in your life. They’re not worth your time and energy. Which is what I do now. The costs of not doing that results in you just getting hurt time and time again and feeling used, time and time again. Everyone is fair game for the chopping block. I’ve felt loads better since adopting this approach. Burning bridges can be so cathartic.
How To Cut People Out Of Your Life
This doesn’t have to get complicated because you don’t owe the other person an explanation. It can be done by simply ignoring them and blocking their numbers and social media accounts. But if you really want to go out in a blaze of glory, you can lay it all out to them first.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with burning bridges and cutting ties with people in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget to bookmark my site and if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Del Real, D. (2019). Toxic ties: The reproduction of legal violence within mixed-status intimate partners, relatives, and friends. International Migration Review, 53(2), 548-570. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0197918318769313, https://doi.org/10.1177/0197918318769313, https://escholarship.org/uc/item/42b0c8jm, and https://escholarship.org/content/qt42b0c8jm/qt42b0c8jm.pdf.
Racionero-Plaza, S., León, J. A. P., Iglesias, M. M., & Ugalde, L. (2020). Toxic nightlife relationships, substance abuse, and mental health: is there a link? A qualitative case study of two patients. Frontiers in psychiatry, 11. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.608219/full, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7874131, and https://dx.doi.org/10.3389%2Ffpsyt.2020.608219.
Solferino, N., & Tessitore, M. E. (2019). Human networks and toxic relationships. Munich Personal RePEc Archive, No. 95756. Retrieved from https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/95756 and https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/95756/1/MPRA_paper_95756.pdf.