There is no such thing as a perfect family. Just as all human beings are unique and flawed, every family is complex and sometimes difficult.
For some, family relationships are a source of pain and heartache.
Though we are all raised to believe family comes first, sometimes our loved ones are detrimental to our well-being. This is especially true if you’ve grown up in a toxic household or have experienced trauma at some point in your life.
Hating your family doesn’t make you a bad person unworthy of love and respect.
However, to set healthy boundaries, you must first evaluate and identify where these emotions are coming from in the first place. That way, you can learn (or re-learn) self-love and build healthy relationships in and outside of your family.
In this article, we’ll go over some common toxic traits in families, why you may hate your family, and how to create and maintain a healthy distance if needed.
Is My Family Toxic? How Can I Tell?
It can be difficult to identify, much less accept, a toxic family life. This is especially true when it’s all we know.
Our family members are meant to be the people we can rely on during hard times, from whom we can expect unconditional love and support—and this may still be true, even in the face of complicated relationships. However, no amount of love, respect, or duty justifies bad behavior or abuse.
Whether you’re embroiled in family drama or spending less time at home, here are a few signs to look out for that may indicate your family is toxic.
Sign: You don’t enjoy being around them or their company.
When a volatile family member is present, you may feel uncomfortable or agitated. You have trouble relaxing around them and try to maintain a physical or emotional distance, even when they’re being nice or affectionate.
Sign: You don’t spend much time together as a family.
“Family time” doesn’t exist in your home. Or if it does, it’s rare and feels awkward, perhaps forced. When you do spend time together, fights break out. Although not every family can get along 24/7, a complete lack of quality time makes for an emotionally distant family.
Sign: They put you down, and you’re constantly being criticized.
Families can be our greatest source of self-judgment. However, there is a big difference between unwanted opinions and blatant disrespect. No matter how well-meaning someone’s intentions are, harsh and unnecessary comments are always that—harsh and unnecessary.
Sign: You feel like you are rebelling or avoiding them.
To cope with toxic home life, you may try to maintain a physical or emotional distance and act out of character. To do this, you unconsciously or consciously spend as little time as possible with your family. You may stay in your room all day, leave the house frequently, break curfew, or do things you know will upset them.
Sign: There’s substance use involved.
Drugs and alcohol do not inherently make someone belligerent. However, alcohol lowers inhibitions, leading to choices a person would never make while sober. This includes inappropriate comments and, sometimes, physical violence. Drug use also facilitates aggressive or out-of-character behavior that may make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Substance abuse often goes hand-in-hand with harmful behavior, even if the toxic family member seems “better” the next day.
Why Do I Hate My Family?
Though it may feel shameful, hating your family doesn’t make you a bad parent, child, or sibling.
Your hatred may be borne from a difficult situation, such as a death in the family or betrayed trust, and isn’t necessarily permanent. Alternatively, your feelings may be the result of years of fraught relations and conflicting personalities.
Whatever it may be, there is always a cause behind negative emotions.
Here are some possible reasons to keep in mind while evaluating your feelings:
Reason: They don’t respect my boundaries and constantly push me around.
Just as you are entitled to your own life and hobbies, you are entitled to privacy and respect. This applies to parent-child relationships where emotional and physical boundaries are easily blurred under the pretense of discipline and protection.
For example, it’s inappropriate for a parent to go through phones or belongings. It’s also unhealthy to be emotionally available to them 24/7. You were not born to be your parent’s best friend and should be able to function outside of that relationship.
Reason: We don’t share the same values and perspectives.
Differing beliefs often create tension within families. Though you may have been raised to think or act in a certain way, this is not the deciding factor on what you choose to support later on in life.
Reason: They neglect or avoid me and constantly leave me out of things.
A caregiver is not only meant to provide basic needs such as food and education but also love and attention. If a caregiver, or another family member, treats you poorly by neglecting your wants and needs, feelings of resentment and hatred can brew.
Reason: They put an enormous amount of pressure on me.
High expectations from parents can lead to stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem in children. This also affects adults, who grow up to become perfectionists and are highly critical of their self-worth.
Reason: They are emotionally and/or physically abusive.
Abuse is not limited to physical violence. Name-calling, throwing items, inappropriate sexual contact or comments, gaslighting, and controlling behavior are all forms of abuse.
If you experience or have experienced physical, verbal, psychological, or sexual abuse from family members, your negative emotions are the result of trauma.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and in need of help, please reach out to one of the crisis resources listed here.
How Do I Distance Myself in a Healthy Way?
It’s easy to tolerate bad behavior from family when it’s the norm. However, this does not give them the right to treat you with disrespect or unkindness.
If a toxic or abusive person is unable to make up or apologize for their past mistakes, the healthy decision is to create distance.
To do so, you must first set boundaries—with yourself and with loved ones. By setting boundaries, not only are you prioritizing your mental health, but you’re strengthening self-worth and managing realistic expectations.
Here’s how to safely create and maintain distance with toxic family members:
Identify who is toxic and be aware of your triggers.
Constant fighting and gaslighting are all traits of a dysfunctional family. These traits may be caused by the actions of specific persons in the family. By identifying abusers and/or enablers, you can better understand the root of negative emotions, such as low esteem and self-hatred.
Seeking outside support can also be helpful. By working with Emote’s highly qualified and flexible mental health services, an online therapist or counselor will be able to help you identify triggers, manage emotions, and navigate volatile situations.
Limit your time around them.
Spend as little time with them as possible. Family members may try to persuade or gaslight you into spending time with you but remember, you are not their property. You should not be forced to speak or see them if you don’t want to.
However, if you must see a potentially abusive family member, bring a close friend along with you or meet in a public space where they’re unlikely to act out. That way, you have more power in the situation.
Walk away from high-intensity situations.
Detachment isn’t easy, but sometimes, it’s necessary.
By practicing emotional detachment, you’re less likely to be reeled into family drama. Present yourself as calmly as possible and speak in a calm voice. As soon as you can, simply walk away.
Although this may irritate or anger them, you’re setting a clear boundary on what you will and will not accept from them by refusing to participate in their bad behavior.
Cut off online communication channels (social media).
Create further distance with toxic family members by limiting contact online. To do so, you can block them on social media and change usernames and other relevant information. Disable the option for phone contacts to find you on social media.
If necessary, you can also change your phone number or block theirs to cut off contact entirely.
What Should I Do If I Hate My Family?
From a young age, we’re taught to accept the good and bad from family. Unfortunately, sometimes the bad outweighs the good, and we need to prioritize our needs before others.
Emote offers you the chance to not only work on yourself but to improve your well-being and cultivate healthy boundaries with a toxic family.
You’re also free to communicate privately. Through text or private video chat sessions, Emote’s secure chat system will fly under the radar and ensure ease of access, day or night.
Whatever your goal is, remember that Emote is a safe, non-judgemental space dedicated to helping you improve. With Emote, you’re not alone.
Start now and gain exclusive access to our flexible, affordable therapy services. Get matched with a therapist today, and your first week of therapy will only cost $35. Continue working with us, and you’ll gain access to our flexible subscription plans and personalized therapy experience.