“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot more forward.” – Steve Maraboli, Behavioral Scientist and author of Life, the Truth, and Being Free

The truth is we all have an opinion on how best to handle “toxic” people. (“Toxic” in this context describes individuals who inflict (mostly emotional) harm onto others). Indeed, this subject evokes plenty of passion – and rightfully so.

Something of which the majority of us agree is that our emotional health suffers (thus, our physical health) when interacting with toxic individuals. We believe in the premise that a person who’s healthy and positive is more apt and willing to leave a positive influence – on people, in their life, and in the world.

The excruciating hardships one faces – both during and after a toxic relationship – cannot be overstated. Often, these individuals have been subject to control, criticism, judgment, and abuse; yet, despite these extremely adverse circumstances, some may find it hard to move on. A good heart continues to long for the other person; with memory of the “good times.”

In this article, we discuss some hard truths of toxic relationships – and why it’s always best (no matter how difficult) to let go.

(Note: while we explain toxic behavior and its repercussions mostly in the context of an intimate relationship, the information can apply to other relationship types. A little more about this later on.)

How To Release Emotional Attachments To Toxic Relationships

First, it is important to understand what makes “reversing” a person’s toxic nature difficult. The need to feel in control of a situation (here, a relationship) and subject (here, a person) is the among the more conspicuous personality traits of a toxic person. 

Psychologists attribute a voracious need for control to one’s childhood experiences. Such individuals see others (e.g. parents) toxic behaviors; resulting in an accumulation of events stunting their ability to develop interpersonal relationships. Toxic people often lack empathy, compassion, kindness, and respect. Unfortunately, these traits often carry over into intimate relationships.

Another particularly troubling habit of toxic people is the proclivity to pick and choose warmhearted, susceptible individuals for a potential relationship. The types of people who seemingly always put others first and have a fierce sense of loyalty. In other words, the type of people who are likely to tolerate or look past someone’s toxic behavior.  Unfortunately, good people of this variety are often more willing to cede control.

In a normal, healthy relationship, love is a reciprocated emotion – it’s given and received. Further, love and other healthy feelings are  unconditional; requiring a drastic change of circumstance to fade. When the other half of a pairing is toxic, however, “love” is withheld and replaced with intentions that are anything but benevolent.

toxic people

During the initial phases of a relationship, it is common for the victim to rationalize their loved one’s behavior. This rationalization becomes more difficult in that the toxic person will often iterate their love. In fact, some toxic partners will justify their behavior as “an act of love” (i.e. “I’m just doing this because I love you.”)

Twisted, manipulative conduct will inevitably worsen over time, as the toxic partner’s innate nature kicks in, shifting the blame onto the other, innocent partner, who will be told they’re too needy, jealous, insecure, weak, foolish, etc. – and that they are creating and worsening any relationship problems.

This abusive cycle repeats itself again and again.

The truth is that love is a relatively straightforward emotion in its purest form. Little contemplation is required of the love received from your Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, brothers, sisters, or close friends. We know love when we feel it. There is no ulterior motive.

Another important truth is that people despise hurting someone who they care about and love. When’s the last time you heard a loved one call you stupid or worthless? When’s the last time you were meant to feel less than human by the people who actually love you?

When “love” does not possess the qualities that make it recognizable, it is not love. When someone needs to try and justify a toxic person’s devious and cryptic conveyance of love, it’s time to part ways.

Parting ways

Walking away from anyone you’ve loved, no matter how badly that loved was betrayed, can be an excruciatingly difficult thing to do. With that said, here are some important things to keep in mind during the separation process:

– You may choose to “keep the door open” in the event that a person realizes a change of heart. (Consideration should be the type of relationship (platonic or romantic) and the magnitude of it’s events)

Related article: Why It’s Hard to Walk Away From A Broken Relationship

– Setting boundaries is often a necessary component of when dealing with a toxic person. Boundaries must be unambiguous and non-negotiable.

– If the loved one is a parent, sibling, or someone else close, someone will almost always have some “inside information” on their state. Take this information into consideration before making any significant relationship-altering decisions.


Steve Maraboli. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.stevemaraboli.com/aboutsteve
Young, K., MA. (2016, September 03). When Someone You Love is Toxic – How to Let Go, Without Guilt. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.heysigmund.com/toxic-people-when-someone-you-love-toxic/
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