Toxic Relationships: Friend and Family Estrangement

January 30, 2018 Emily J. Sullivan

Toxic Relationships, Friend and Family Estrangement

Toxic relationships don’t typically begin as such; they develop with time, often leading to loss of friends and family estrangement (See how abusers isolate victims). Of course, they don’t begin this way because if you met a potential partner that made you swoon but then informed you that you’d likely lose all of your best friends and family members because of him or her, well, that’s an easy deal-breaker. So why do we ever allow toxic relationships to lead to friend and family estrangement?

The Red Flags of a Toxic Relationship, Warning Estrangement Ahead

Girl meets boy. Boy charms girl with his best behavior. Girl falls madly in love with boy. Girl looks the other way regarding all of boy’s slowly revealed, yet glaring character failings. Alas, a toxic relationship is born.

Technically there’s more to it than that, but you get the picture. When you’re in the beginning stages of your relationship and the terrain isn’t terribly rocky yet, it may feel normal to spend more time focused on your new beau and spending less time with friends and family. As conditions within the relationship begin to change, red flags may pop up here and there and you sail right past them, or they may be waving rapidly right in front of you, impossible to ignore. These signs of a toxic relationship may be your boyfriend repeatedly finding something wrong with your friends, pigeon-holing them, or suggesting they’re promiscuous, moody, or a bad influence. He may be rude directly to them, causing you embarrassment. Other patterns of behavior to be especially cautious of is when your partner suggests ways your friends or family are allegedly mistreating you, manipulating you, or taking advantage of you. These are actions that purposefully steer you adrift and lead you toward becoming estranged from friends and family.

Not every aspect of friend and family estrangement directly correlate to a specific action of your partner. When a relationship turns toxic and things progressively get worse, you may find yourself reaching out to close friends and family for comfort and emotional abuse support. While reaching out to your support system is normal under typical circumstances, it may cause your friends and family to grow weary and frustrated in the case of a toxic relationship because the grievances are occurring so frequently. Naturally, the people closest to you may feel angry and fed up when hearing about someone hurting and mistreating you. They’ll likely push you to leave your partner and if you’re not ready or open to hearing that kind of advice, it may create a rift in the friendship. If this happens repeatedly, you may feel uncomfortable looking to these friends for support, knowing they’ll likely become agitated and that you’re not ready to leave.

The Dangers of Toxic Relationships and Estrangement

Toxic relationships that cause friend and family estrangement are dangerous for a multitude of reasons. When you find yourself alienated from the world and the only relationship that you have left is your toxic, romantic relationship, it will become increasingly difficult for you to leave. When you have horrible blow-up fights, it may feel like you have no one to turn to, no one to confide in. The feelings of value and love that you received from your friends and family will seemingly dissipate, making all our your lows sink that much lower. These are serious dangers to a person’s mental health and wellbeing -- to his or her heart.

If You're in a Toxic Relationship, Family and Friends Are The Lifeline You Need

However toxic a relationship may be, it does not have to reach the point of losing friends and family estrangement, and if it has already reached that point, don’t worry -- this does not have to be permanent. There are measures you can take to preemptively combat tarnishing the relationships that make you whole, the friendships and familial relationships that often become collateral damage to toxic love. If you still have your friends and family in your life, hold them close and nurture those relationships like the lifeline that they are. When you sense frustration on their end, rather than become defensive, try to be understanding. They are likely feeling upset because they love you and it saddens them to see you suffering.

If you are currently feeling marooned by your family or friends, or if you have withdrawn yourself, remember it is never too late to start patching up those wounds. These people know who you were before your toxic relationship, they see your value and worth and they will likely be open to reconciliation -- with a little labor. Rather than wait for someone else to reach out and make an effort to see you, try making an effort yourself and see what happens. More often then not, when a person recognizes someone trying, they return the sentiment and try harder themselves. Beautiful things can happen in a relationship when you focus on trying to be better yourself rather than hoping someone else will. Don’t give up on them. Don’t give up on yourself.

**Men can be victims of emotional abuse too. This article may refer to a female in a relationship with a verbally and emotionally abusive male, but the genders in these scenarios can just as easily be switched, with the female abusing and the male struggling with toxic love and friend and family estrangement.

APA Reference
Sullivan, E. (2018, January 30). Toxic Relationships: Friend and Family Estrangement, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Emily J. Sullivan

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Maria Martinez
January, 23 2024 at 9:25 am

I control everything and everyone... I have no real relationships not even with my current bf. I trapped him into getting me pregnant bc I know he's a nice guy and would stay. The guilt is eating away at me.

January, 24 2024 at 9:12 pm

Hello Maria, I'm Cheryl Wozny, the current author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog. I applaud you for reaching out and recognizing how your actions affect those around you. The fact that you feel guilty is a positive reaction, helping you to start the healing process and find peace and love in your life. I encourage you to visit our Resources page here… for more information on supports in your area. I wish you luck and healing as you begin this journey for better mental health.

Liliana Karski
March, 1 2023 at 8:42 pm

My daughter is in a toxic relationship, & I feel so helpless. My heart is breaking.

February, 1 2018 at 11:03 pm

This also resonates very highly with me as this is exactly what my spouse did with friends, co-workers, and family members, namely my daughter that I’ve talked about in depth in your adjoining article you’ve commented on. Anything having to do with my daughter and I spending time together was a problem with my now ex. I spent money on my daughter and granddaughters like most parents/grandparents would do from time to time. He hated that and any time spent with them. He did everything he could to keep me away from them as possible, for one, it likely left him home alone, (we know narcissistic people do not like being alone). He was absolutely no exception. He’d often times try to include himself and make me feel bad about going to lunch or anything that he wasn’t included in. It wares you down. It brakes you down. I didn’t want to tell my daughter these things because it hurt to admit it. Eventually he’d win most times and then make it look like I’d cancelled with her to do anything but spend time with her. As I look bank I see all these things that I struggled with so clearly that weren’t always so clear then. More that my daughter will find hard to believe after having listened to his lies about me for I’m not even sure how long! I’m not even sure of all the lies! What I am sure of is that they were huge enough for her to disrespect me verbally to where I was speechless. She’d never done that to me ever before all of this horrific thing happened and unwound and I was left without the most important people I’d loved unconditionally all of their lives and still do. I need her back. I feel she was stolen from me and I don’t blame her for believing him because I believed so much nonsense and lies and deceits and betrayals without a second thought until the facts of him cheating were in my hands. And even that was made out to be my fault as he told overtime I had been neglecting him as a husband. The lies never cease to still amaze me, but they’re facts of what is all lies.

Linda F Trawnik
January, 30 2018 at 1:37 pm

Great Article!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 31 2018 at 10:44 am

Thanks so much for reading!

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