Evaluating the Relationship

Just because someone shares some DNA with you they get to take your stuff? Call you names? Demean you? Sabotage your relationships and career? No way!

— Dr. Phil McGraw

Chances are you’ve been evaluating the strained relationship for awhile, but committing to cutting the ties brings on feelings of guilt, failure, shame, emptiness, doubt, abandonment, and even grief.

Deciding to face these feelings and manage them is a brave step.

No matter how strained, intolerable, and/or abusive the relationship is, it’s a difficult decision to make. Asking yourself the questions below can help.

  • What’s the history? Psychologists have an old saying: “The best prediction of future behavior is past behavior.” Having extensive history is what hurts the most when breaking up with a family member, but if that history has been chronically negative, this can make it easier to make an informed and intuitive decision. It will be hard to let go of the relationship or put some distance between you if there were good times along with the bad. It can still be difficult to cut ties if it’s been a long, torturous road. Even familiar abuse and patterns are hard to break. Sometimes it helps to put it all on paper— one column for positives and one for negatives—so that you can see both sides objectively. Or give a point system to each good thing and each bad thing. Sometimes a really bad thing is much worse than 10 good things. Watch our for patterns that show the relationship is getting progressively worse. Also, if they keep insisting they’ve changed, then keep your eyes open to determine if their actions show that is indeed true. Even if they have changed, the relationship dynamic can remain the same.
  • Who else is affected by this relationship?
  • Consider the kids.
  • How is the stress effecting your personal life and current family?
  • What’s your role?
  • How do they feel about you? T
  • Are there any boundaries?
  • How close are you?
  • Is resolution possible?


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