Psychology Behind Cutting Someone Off: 15 Insights (2024)

Cutting someone off is a difficult decision. Whether it’s your romantic partner, family member or friend, the decision to exclude someone from your life can feel heavy.

Psychology Behind Cutting Someone Off
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When you’ve reached a breaking point, you can finally see the only solution to retaining your self respect is to cut toxic people from your environment.

Let’s dive in.

Keep reading for more insights:

1. Your Breaking Point

Deciding to exclude someone from your life involves reaching an apex of discomfort in which the psychological pain and suffering of remaining connected to them outdoes the affection and loyalty you feel to this person.

In a work context, it means you reach a point where the toxic behavior or attitudes of a coworker or superior become so overwhelming that you cut them off and, in the process, sometimes even lose your own job.

It’s not necessarily rational or easygoing, but it’s definite. And once that breaking point is reached the next phases of cutting someone off begin to unfold.

2. Loving Yourself

A big part of it is learning to love yourself and really meaning it. Instead of treating your own wellbeing and needs as an afterthought or something you consider second, you put yourself first.

People beating you down by making you feel guilt, shame, blame or worthlessness, including family members or romantic partners, cease having a trump card over your life.

Valuing yourself highly gives you the capacity to know how you prefer to be treated and that it’s fair to put your foot down about it.

It’s not about starting a fight. It’s about walking away from the unnecessary and unproductive drama.

It can feel painful, however, there is light at the end of the tunnel and cutting this person out of your life is sometimes the only option to keep your mental health intact.

3. Your Most Important Relationship

Your most important relationship is with yourself. When you give yourself what you require to feel whole then you have more to give others when it is right for you to do so.

If you’re being treated badly by someone and you don’t speak up or do nothing about it, then you’re not acting in alignment with your relationship with yourself.

However, if you make the tough decision to distance yourself from bad treatment then you are in alignment. This opens the door for people who do respect you and treat you with kindness to come into your life.

If you find you’re being taken advantage of, be clear with yourself about your role and how to move forward in your best interest. Keep your cup full so you’ll have something of value to offer others.

4. Big Decision

Cutting someone off is a big decision. Sometimes it happens in one big fight or drama, but often it happens bit by bit.

You reach an apex of frustration and then it either propels you into fully cutting someone off or rethinking it.

Once you decide that somebody really needs to go, you then sit and think about how you will go about this. You might feel a sense of loss and sadness while knowing you can’t keep this relationship going as is.

An important aspect of the psychology behind cutting someone off is to not react too hastily.

Despite that initial burst of a desire to “never talk to someone again” or truly be rid of them for good, it is important to judge whether this is the optimal thing to do as opposed to confronting them, staging an intervention, and so on…

5. Look At Their Track Record

If you were assessing whether to collaborate with a business and met with their team, imagine you were to find out they lied about their revenue, overstating it by about 40%.

You contact their CEO and he explains that the CFO has been fired and was a loose cannon and had a drug habit.

You’d give them another chance. You move forward on another deal and plan to launch a line of health products.

Then the company gets busted for insider trading. And you find out that the health products they wanted to help sell with you were being sourced from a factory which had been written up for three toxic waste violations last year.

This business relationship is toxic. You now move into the process of finding more reliable and honest companies to work for.

This involves cutting off and ceasing involvement with the current company, which involves a firm but fair look at their record.

It’s the same in any relationship.

6. Victim Mentality

The psychology behind cutting someone off is victim mentality. This isn’t only about acknowledging that you’ve been a victim, however. It’s using that status to manipulate, shame, insult and control others.

The victim mentality is most harmful to the one who clings to it, locking them in a cycle of constant disempowerment.

Although, it’s like wearing sunglasses you never take off, it can be hard to see you’ve been in a victim mentality until someone calmly and patiently explains that there’s an entirely different way of looking at this life and its experiences.

The belief that you’re a victim is false. You are so much more and it’s time to accept that.

Using victimhood for manipulation and poor treatment is unacceptable. There’s only so much a person can take.

Watching someone gaslight and harm themselves and wanting you to enable it can be so upsetting that you eventually cut them off in order to try to help them find their own way as much as your own wellbeing.

7. Recognize Your Value

When somebody treats you like a tool they can make use of to get something or some result, it feels vastly disempowering and hurtful.

This is where you choose to value yourself enough to tell them goodbye and really mean it or keep being used.

Because the truth is, you have to appraise your value highly if you want others to also perceive you that way.

The psychology behind cutting someone off can be a basic function of respecting yourself and self-worth.

8. Follow Your Own Path

One of the main things about the psychology behind cutting someone off is that it can go two ways.

It can be out of a reaction and desperation in a disempowering, bitter way, or it can be proactive and intentional in an empowering, neutral way.

The key to cutting someone off in a proactive way that actually means something is to find your own path and mission.

Instead of just knowing the people you don’t want in your life, it’s crucial to know the kind of people you do want in your life.

9. Their Negativity

When all they do is complain and it brings your vibe down, it’s time to realize these are toxic relationships. They create this heavy atmosphere surrounded with negativity. These people always hate, complain, get envious, and curse, and they think you would feel happy listening and seeing them like this.

This is one of the signs you should cut off your family or friend, without guilt or shame because your wellbeing is most important. Their behavior is their own self sabotage.

10. Struggling With Cutting Someone Off

If you’re a teen, part of the psychology of cutting someone off is struggling with your emotions. You may be feeling shame or guilt that make it more difficult to handle the pressure.

These emotions may make it difficult to tell anyone, as well. Confiding in a friend could feel hard in case your friend misinterprets your feelings. Your friend might reject your help. 

A trusted adult might be a better place to go for advice.

11. Nothing Lasts Forever

The idea that someone is supposed to be with you forever is just an illusion. People come and go. Not everyone is meant to be in your life forever.

If their behavior is unhealthy or if you’ve outgrown them and feel held back and influenced badly by them, it’s time for you to part ways.

They can spend time with people who are more like them while you focus on yourself and also connect with like-minded people.

That’s why sayings like, “best friends forever” or “soulmates for life” are idealistic – fairytale-like, yet not necessarily true.

Circumstances change and we just don’t know if our friend or partner will always understand us and remain loyal in another circumstance.

Life has many unpredictable moments, temptations, and difficulties that require people to change. Sometimes, people don’t change when situations require it and it’s all okay, everyone’s on their own journey.

12. Don’t Expect Closure

When it comes to the psychology behind cutting someone off, don’t look for toxic people to give you closure.

True closure comes when you make the committed decision to actually cut the bonds they have on you – instead of letting those bonds cause further injury and pain.

Your goal is to run with the knowingness of “he or she DID do this to you. And so, you rightfully folded. Refuse to feel guilty for taking out the trash.”

In time, you will become more protective of your peace than you are interested in reacting to the bs.

13. Never Gossip About Them – Ever

This could require discipline, but you are strong enough to do it. Completely disregard these people.

If you don’t disregard them, how is your behavior any better than theirs was? You wouldn’t want them to be gossiping about you. Take the high road for your own sake.

The most powerful people in the world are the ones who do not care to be right, to “win,” or have the last word. Nothing is louder, more powerful, or classy than silence. It’s the ultimate white horse move.

14. Time To Let Go Of People Pleasing

By default, many of us are people pleasers. You want to be liked, and, as a result, you allow them to act in ways that can be harmful to you on an emotional, spiritual and/or physical level. These are not healthy relationships.

Without setting healthy boundaries to protect yourself from toxic people, you suffer unnecessarily.

If a relationship is really important to you, let them know how their behavior makes you feel. Explain that you’re willing to work on things if they’ll put in the effort. If your words fall on deaf ears and nothing changes, you’re certainly justified in letting them go.

When you completely ignore rude or hurtful behavior, you’re putting someone else’s feelings first at your own expense. It’s not selfish to want to live in peace, and your mental health is your priority.

15. Find Your Tribe

At the end of the day, the traits you find annoying or frustrating in a person could be completely acceptable in someone else’s eyes.

It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad person. It could just mean that you don’t resonate with them.

Behavior is subjective — sometimes, you just need to find your own tribe. The people you do resonate with.

Pay attention to your own feelings and be open to other friends who don’t demean your self esteem or make you feel bad whenever you’re around them.

Don’t be emotionally unavailable to your needs.The healthiest thing is to look after your own needs. You’re the only one who can do this.

Be your own best friend for your own good. Your tribe will show up.

Why Do People Cut People Off?

Your gut can sense a toxic person and a toxic relationship.

People Cut People Off
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If you feel emotionally drained, abused, manipulated, devalued, deceived, like you are hard to love and respect or, like you need to lower your standards, you know it’s time to cut someone off.

It’s best to cut them off when they:

  • Manipulate, control or disrespect you.
  • Don’t want to change or can’t change.
  • Don’t listen, understand or care about you.
  • Make you feel little, depressed or unwanted.
  • Assume too much power over you and don’t love you.
  • Focus on their needs and careless about yours.
  • Blame you for their mistakes and weaknesses.
  • Have good intentions that cause more harm than good.

Why Do People Cut Off Relationships?

When someone cuts off all online communication with someone else without an explanation, it’s called ghosting. Like a ghost, they just vanish. The phenomenon is common on social media and dating sites.

After a research study done with 76 college students, some students admitted they ghosted because they lacked the necessary communication skills to have an open and honest conversation. Whether that conversation happened face-to-face or via text or email.

In some instances, participants opted to ghost if they thought meeting with the person would stir up emotional or sexual feelings they were not ready to pursue.

Some ghosted because of safety concerns. Forty-five percent ghosted to remove themselves from a “toxic,” “unpleasant” or “unhealthy” situation.

One of the least-reported yet perhaps most interesting reasons for ghosting someone: protecting that person’s feelings. Better to ghost, the thinking goes, than cause the hurt feelings that come with overt rejection.

That thinking is flawed for a number of reasons however. Rejection is rejection. The only person you’re protecting is yourself from facing the pain you’ll be causing.

How Do You Deal With Cutting Someone Off?

If you’re considering cutting someone off without explanation, you might be wondering how to go about it.

While it’s understandable to feel hurt by someone’s actions, it’s only fair to discuss your feelings with them about it and not just keep the silent treatment going expecting them to just know what’s upsetting you.

If you’re going to cut off contact with someone, be sure to think about how you’ll talk to this person about your decision. Here are a few suggestions.

1. Don’t Give Advice

Giving advice may seem like a gesture of care, but it essentially implies you don’t understand their pain. 

Neither is it helpful to wait until you’ve had an opportunity to explain your decision. True closure comes when you cut off the toxic person.

2. Redirect Your Focus

Every time you think about them and miss them, redirect your focus to how much your wellbeing has improved.

Allow yourself to feel anger if it comes up and then consciously release it for healing.

3. Don’t Diagnose

Don’t diagnose these people. If they were capable of actually hearing you and empathizing, they wouldn’t do the things they do to everyone, not just you, no matter how much it may seem so.

The articles you send them or knowing that you think they’re narcissistic don’t help them if they aren’t open to the idea of change.

Related: Best Cutting Friends Off Quotes

When Should You Cut Someone Out Of Your Life?

Sometimes fixing relationships, especially romantic ones, is possible and a good idea because people need to know their behavior is hurting you to have a chance to change.

Yet, when you give them that chance multiple times and they still don’t take you seriously, your best course is to stop interacting with them.

Ending things with them allows you to uphold your boundaries so you remain true to yourself and maybe even encourage them to work on themselves.

Nobody knows what they’ll do, but once you pull away, your life isn’t about them anymore.

Cutting Someone Off Without Explanation

If someone is using, abusing, undervaluing, humiliating, or disrespecting you, cutting them out of your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Waiting and hoping for people to change is a waste of time and effort.

It’s better for you to cut them off without explanation and move on with your life than to give them the key to your heart. It’s better to have control over your thoughts and emotions than to give them the ability to influence you and hurt you whenever they want to.

Cutting Someone Off Who Hurt You

You can either take action to address your own feelings, you can decide to cut off that person from your life entirely, or preferably both.

Hurt You
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Taking care of yourself is not a sign of selfishness, nor does it mean you’re a bad person. It simply means you’re respecting yourself and taking care of your own needs.

The key to a healthy ending is the way it’s done. Be frank with the other person in a kind way by letting them know directly that things are no longer working. 

While cutting someone out of your life is a difficult decision, doing so will ultimately help you move on with your life and feel better about yourself.

By writing your feelings down before your in-person conversation, you’ll clarify your thoughts and feelings about the person and the reasons you cut them out.

Related: Cut Him Off & He Will Miss You?

Psychology Behind Cutting Someone Off While Talking

It might surprise you to know that men are more likely to interrupt women than women are. 

According to covert recordings, men cut off 46 out of 48 times in a conversation. A 2014 study found that men were more likely to interrupt women than vice versa.

It’s clearly disrespectful to interrupt anyone during a conversation, yet you can use it to gain social standing by letting the woman finish her thought.

Often, people do this out of indifference, impatience, or desire to dominate the conversation. However, the result is the opposite of what you’d hope for.

Instead of engaging in the conversation, you’re simply distracting the other person by trying to complete your sentence or guessing the meaning of what they’re saying. In fact, many people who regularly interrupt others actually do not realize they’re doing it.

One way to handle this is to offer the other person the floor if they’re interrupting. This makes it clear to everyone how rude they’re being.

The key to transforming your life into something you’re passionate and enthusiastic about takes perseverance, a shift in mindset, and effective goal setting. Toxic people have no place in helping you move closer to your goals.

We sincerely hope this article has given you some insights ✅ into the psychology behind cutting someone off. Please consider sharing this article with three friends ✅.

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.