No contact: How to protect yourself from toxic people

no contact, toxic people, boundaries

Have you ever had to go no contact with someone? Or wished you could?

Maybe you’re stuck in a relationship right now that’s causing you a great deal of pain. The person treats you in emotionally damaging ways.

Every interaction leaves you feeling ashamed and confused. They behave in bizarre ways, then hold you accountable for your normal reaction to that behavior.

You may be dealing with what we call a toxic person or relationship.

Here are three ways to deal with toxic people.

1. Tell them how you feel.

Let them know you come away from them feeling bad about yourself. Give recent examples of things they have said that hurt you.

Ask them what they meant when they said those things. It’s possible the person will respond positively to your query.

They may not have known how their words hurt you. Or they may be willing to do some work to understand why they behave the way they do.

Your courage to confront can be a great catalyst for personal growth for both of you. Yay, you!

Unfortunately, this scenario is rare when difficult people feel challenged. Bringing your concerns to the person, no matter how lightly you tread, may not work.

Truly toxic people have no interest in changing. They point the finger at others and never at themselves.

Truly toxic people have no interest in changing. They point the finger at others and never at themselves. Click To Tweet

They will say you are too sensitive, imagining things, or lying about what they have said or done.

A toxic person turns around and unfriends you because you had the gall to stand up for yourself. She slings mud about you to mutual friends or family.

This brings us to the second way to deal with toxic people.

2. Go no contact.

You’ve done your part by making the brave move of confronting the person. They’ve refused to acknowledge your feelings. Or the chance they could have done anything wrong.

It’s clear they care more about holding onto a false image of themselves than their relationship with you. The obvious answer is to leave the person.

You may decide to tell them of your decision to end the relationship. But based on their response to your truth-telling, you my choose not to.

Why expose yourself to more of their negativity and blame?

This will be excruciating if you’ve become enmeshed or codependent. You will need support to follow through with your decision.

Stop phoning, texting or emailing them. When they contact you, refuse to reply. It might be easier on you if you block their emails and phone numbers on your devices.

There’s no need to tell anyone of your decision. But if you have trusted friends or family that would understand, enlist them to help you stay strong.

Resist the urge to explain. You’ve done nothing wrong and don’t need to defend yourself. Focus on moving forward rather than revisiting this dead relationship over and over.

But what if it’s a close family member bringing the toxicity? Getting up and leaving may not be the optimal solution. In this case, no contact feels extreme or impossible.

You want to leave the door open to a possible reconciliation. Or avoid a family crisis over the issue.

Caveat: if someone is threatening you physically or emotionally, then it’s time to get help or make plans to leave. This post deals with situations that don’t have you in immediate danger.

3. Limit contact.

An alternative to estrangement can come in the form of a psychic adjustment. It means relating to a friend or family member in a new way.

Rather than deal with the fallout of a severed tie, would you be willing to spend one or two hours with this person in a controlled environment?

Perhaps meet them in a coffee shop and make small talk. This might sound superficial. But it keeps alive a relationship that’s not so simple to dissolve.

It also buys you time to decide whether to continue the relationship for the long haul. You get space to arrive at a healthy conclusion about whether you can tolerate this person in your life.

If you’re dealing with the pain of a toxic relationship, I’ve created a free resource to help. Simply enter your email below and I’ll send the 4-step guide to your inbox.

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