We hear the words ‘social distancing’ over and over again these days. But sometimes the reasons for staying away from people have nothing to do with the threat of a virus like COVID-19. Loved ones are important, but they can be trouble too. Sometimes distancing yourself from these people is necessary because of the way they act or the things they’ve done to you.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person that has to deal with toxic friends and family. I realize I’m curled in a ball, crying, and feeling like the one person on earth living in hell. But, deep down, I know this isn’t true. Everyone comes to this place at some point in their lives.

And to add to the everyday frustration of the toxicity of humanity’s mental state, we now have to deal with sickness and political drama. Do you feel like distancing yourself because of toxic situations or others of this nature? I know I do.

Times when distancing yourself from someone is mandatory

We can try and get along with the people we love. We can even learn how to ignore their bad behavior. But there comes a point when denial breaks down.

Our goals and dreams start to crumble because of our intolerance to bad behavior. There are times when the only thing to do is get away from the ones who are ruining your life. I’m going to share some situations or times when distancing yourself is okay.

1. Taking constant insults

Criticism can be intolerable no matter which loved one hurls it in your direction. If anyone constantly insults you, then something has to be done. Let’s say you have a pretty good feeling about yourself, not an inflated ego, just good self-esteem, and all of a sudden, a family member insults you.

These insults that I speak of have no grounds at all, they just come out of the blue, and they are usually so hurtful that it takes you by surprise. If you’re experiencing constant random and harsh insults, and every time you call them on this behavior, and it doesn’t stop, then it’s time to go.

Why is it time to go? Because in order to remain healthy, you have to cut certain people off.

2. When they’re not reliable

People in your life who aren’t reliable can be a stumbling block. You should be confident that your loved ones will be there for you when you need them. If you can’t trust this, then you aren’t as close to them as you once thought.

Sometimes you have to put a little distance between yourself and those who aren’t reliable. You need someone to always have your back in life. It’s where your true support comes from.

3. In instances of sexual coercion

Anyone who loves you will never try and force you to have intimate relations with them. When a friend, family member, or yes, even a boyfriend tries to force you to be intimate, this is sexual harassment leading to assault.

It is absolutely necessary to distance yourself from someone who does this to you. It may start as something small, like flirting when you ask them to stop, but it will get much worse if you allow it to continue. As soon as you see the signs of this issue, get away from them.

4. When there’s controlling behavior

When loved ones offer you advice on what to wear, that’s okay. But when they’re constantly trying to control what you wear, where you go, who you talk to, and how to act, it’s not normal.

You find controlling people in families, in relationships, and you can even have controlling friends. As with other toxic behavior, it starts off small, but by the time you realize what’s happening, you can’t take it anymore, it’s become impossible to stomach. This is one of those times when the distance is needed.

5. To stop projection

If you’re not familiar with projection, it’s pretty easy to understand. Basically, someone you love, a friend, for example, will accuse you of doing something they’ve done. They may accuse you of having personality problems that are actually their problem.

Projection is a way that some people avoid responsibility for their flaws. It’s like fast-tracking their popularity while shoving you in the mud. It would be in your best interest to put some distance between you and this person.

6. When faced with inconsistencies

True friends and those who really love you will be pretty much consistent most of the time. You usually know what to expect from them and you feel safe. Then there are those who seem okay, but suddenly act in an inconsistent manner.

When it happens, it will shock you. Then things may go back to normal again soon afterward. If this happens, and there’s no good reason for the strange behavior, you might want to keep your distance to see what happens next.

7. When they gaslight you

I talk about gaslighting quite a lot. It’s because I’ve endured it many times in my life and had no idea what I was going through. Now that I know what it is, I want to help as many people as possible.

Listen, if you notice your loved one, friend, or girlfriend is attempting to make you look crazy when you catch them in lies or cheating, think about the word gaslighting. This is what’s happening.

They’re gaslighting you so they look like the sane person, thus totally erasing your accusations, which are true. Get away from these people, at least until they get help.

Distance is sometimes necessary

I don’t like telling people to leave their loved ones. I hate doing that. But, unfortunately, sometimes distancing yourself from the ones you love is the best way to change your life for the better.

Yes, you may worry about them, or feel bad for putting distance between you, but your physical and mental health means more than their hurt feelings. Maybe distance is just the thing to make them open their eyes and see themselves for who they really are.

Let’s hope so.

Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

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