Cutting People Off: When It’s the Right Time and How to Do It

Sharing is caring!

A huge part of self care requires setting boundaries about who you let into your life and surrounding yourself with people who are a positive part of your growth. 

This means that sometimes it’s necessary to cut people off who are detrimental to your growth or even your health. Sometimes we need to put ourselves first and make a decision to let these people go for good. 

Cutting people off isn’t always an easy decision, though. Most of us have unfortunately been in one of those relationships where we know the person is no good, yet we just can’t seem to let go…

Something keeps us clinging on and we find ourselves trapped by the fear of being without them, even if we’re not happy in the present moment.

So cutting people off isn’t always easy, nor is it always black or white, but with a few tips you can become aware of when it’s the right time to let go and how to do so effectively. 

How do you know when it’s right to cut someone off?

So how do you know when it’s right to cut someone off?

It may take a bit of work to come to the realization that it’s time to let go, but if you look out for the following signs then you might be able to save yourself a lot of time and heartache... 

  • You feel like you can’t be your true self around this person or express your feelings openly due to their reactions towards you
  • You feel stagnant around this person and like the relationship has no fulfilling purpose
  • You feel like you’re the worst version of yourself around this person and like they trigger all of your negative qualities
  • This person has betrayed your trust and continues to do so
  • This person ignores or disrespects your boundaries
  • This person neglects you and you feel like your needs are not being met
  • You feel sad or depressed in the company of this person

Disclaimer: some more obvious signs for cutting someone off are the presence of emotional, physical or sexual abuse. 

However, in such cases the advice in this post may not be right for you. If you fear for your own safety if you leave a relationship then please seek advice from the police and/or a domestic abuse charity.

woman holding paper that reads goodbye


How to cut someone off nicely

Sometimes we can have people in our lives who are really no good for us, but we know that they’re not necessarily bad people. 

In these cases, it can still be necessary to cut them off if they’re really making us unhappy and this is a last resort.

I’ve experienced a situation like this myself, whereby a relationship was truly toxic and the person made me extremely unhappy, but I knew deep down that it wasn’t their intention to cause me pain.

Distancing myself wasn’t an option in this case because the person had such a negative affect on me, so I knew the best course of action was to cut them off.

Despite this, I didn’t want there to be any resentful feelings and it didn’t feel appropriate to just “ghost” this person either. So I made the decision to consciously cut all ties and I informed the person of this decision.

If the person truly cares about you then they’ll understand and respect your decision to cut ties.

In my case I sent this person a message telling them my reasons for doing so and they accepted and respected my choice.

It’s worth noting that you can only be so nice when cutting someone off. While you may not want to hurt this person, you still have to assert your boundaries and this is always going to trigger their ego.

As long as your intentions are pure and you try to go about it in a respectful way then you have no reason to feel guilty about your decision. If the person isn’t respecting of your decision then you may need to take extra measures.

How to cut someone out of your life forever

If this is a truly toxic person who likes to have control, it’s unlikely that they’ll listen to any requests not to talk to you. They want things on their terms, after all.

If you’ve tried the polite way and the other person isn’t cooperating, the easiest way to prevent your boundaries getting crossed again is to block all contact.

In the age of digital technology this means blocking their number and all of their social media accounts to ensure they have no means of contacting you.

Take as many precautions as necessary to ensure that there is nowhere they can slip in (yes, I’ve even had exes message me on clothes selling websites).

If this person does find a way to contact you then don’t feel like you have an obligation to reply. Simply ignore the message and block them - you have already asserted your wish for them to not contact you and it is their responsibility to respect that.

If this person lives locally or is a family member, know that there is some possibility that you may run into each other in the street or at certain events. Again, it is okay to ignore them if they attempt contact.

If you do feel it is appropriate to respond then try to avoid arguing but instead simply reinstate your boundaries.

woman smiling holding scissors


Why it’s not always right to cut negativity out of your life

Something I do want to discuss is that cutting people off isn’t always the right course of action.

I feel like as people have begun to discuss the importance of self care more it has become a sort of trend to cut off anybody and everybody who doesn’t make you feel good.

While in some cases (like the ones above) it is necessary to cut someone off, sometimes it is simply a sign of your own avoidance. We don’t like the negative feelings a person can trigger for us so we avoid them all together.

But it’s important to note that if a person triggers certain emotions, this isn’t always a sign that they’re toxic but instead might be a reflection of our own insecurities and areas for growth.

For example, maybe you have some unresolved trauma or repressed emotions that come to surface in the presence of a certain individual. By cutting this person off we’re not facilitating our growth but instead hindering it.

Unfortunately we cannot avoid all negativity in our lives, nor should we want to. Relationships aren’t about being easy breezy all the time and challenges are what help us to grow. 

If we cut someone off the second they make us feel challenged then we’re doing ourselves and that relationship a disservice.

Think about it: where might you end up if you used this challenging relationship as a tool for growth and connection, rather than throwing in the towel as soon as things get tough?


Want access to weekly newsletters full of exclusive content and freebies? Sign up below!

How to distance yourself from people

With that being said, if the relationship in question causes you distress, but cutting said person off isn’t the appropriate action, then maybe distancing yourself would be a necessary move to make instead.

Some ways that you can distance yourself from a person who is hindering your wellbeing are:

  • Vocalize to  this person that you need some space for your own wellbeing and that you need to prioritize your own needs
  • Only engage with this person when you feel like you’re in a stable mindset
  • Gradually stop agreeing to as many engagements with this person
  • Begin seeing other people who make you feel uplifted more regularly
  • Engage in self care activities to ensure you own cup is full

So as we’ve gathered, sometimes cutting people off is a necessary part of our growth and wellbeing.

However, in other cases, distancing ourselves may be the better route to take.

Don’t fall into the trap of getting “scissor-happy” and cutting off anybody who makes you feel slightly uncomfortable.

Instead, really evaluate your relationships and look at how they can serve your growth before you make any hasty decisions.

Let me know your thoughts about this and if you’ve ever had to cut someone from your life for good!

And don't forget to pin this post to spread the word!

cutting people off: when is it okay?

About Esther

Esther is the founder of Through the Phases.  Her mission is to guide others to grow to their full potential and create their dream life using spiritual and personal growth practices. Read more about her story here!

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top