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When Is It Time to Cut Family Ties?

Everyone has a distinct interpretation of what it means to be a part of a family. For some, family is a source of comfort and a sense of belonging; for others, it is a cause of misery and distress. Because family members are a part of your history and identity, you are likely to keep them in your life even if your relationships are difficult. However, at some point, you may wonder if it is time to cut ties.

Given that you are likely afraid to distance yourself from your family, you may find the questions below useful in thinking through this difficult problem.

Is the connection so damaging that it isn’t worth saving?

Although you may be highly loyal to your family, you believe that some breaches of trust or undesirable actions have rendered the connection irreparable. Many victims of incest, emotional abuse, or physical abuse, for example, legitimately feel this way.

Have you attempted to correct the problem?

If you’ve tried to mend a toxic relationship but haven’t seen any positive results, it may be time to consider ending it; you can’t keep trying forever. Adarsh’s sister, for example, had a significant drug issue. He finally admitted to himself that he couldn’t “make” her change her ways after years of attempting to help her and having her take advantage of him (such as stealing from him).

So he chose to give up on attempting to save her, even though he was more than willing to help her again if she made genuine attempts toward healing and rehabilitation.


Whatever your specific situation, you may decide it’s time to separate yourself or cut relations if your efforts to solve a major problem fail.

Is the issue you’re experiencing likely to be time-limited?

Your relationship may feel more unpleasant than positive at times. This can occur as a result of a specific conflict. If you or a family member is going through a difficult period, the tension may spill over into your relationship. Because family is so crucial in certain instances, you could be better off working through the issue or weathering a storm rather than removing that family member out of your life. (This is presuming that the problem between you is not inflicting irreparable damage.)

Is your relationship becoming more distant than it used to be?


Relationships (with family and friends) may no longer mean the same thing to you as they once did. This can be upsetting, but it does not necessitate removing them from your life. For example, after Jonathan’s brother’s wife gave birth to their first child, Jonathan’s regular conversations with his brother became only infrequent.

Jonathan accepted the change in his relationship and adapted to its new place in his life after admitting that his efforts to converse more were futile. He even increased his efforts to be an involved and caring uncle, which allowed him to see his brother more frequently.


When you are honest with yourself about the nature of an issue with a family member, you may determine whether it is time to break ties, accept your relationship as it is, or make some changes.

Read: Is It Possible to Save Your Marriage After an Affair?

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