Why Does My Family Hate Me?
By: Jessica Saxena
Updated July 08, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Beverly Vanover, MS LPC NCC BC-TMH CCTP
Society teaches us that we should prioritize our family relationships above all else because family is the most important thing in life. With this in mind, it's easy to get lulled into believing that every family sticks together, supporting and loving each other as we see on sitcoms and reality TV. So when it feels like your family hates you or that you belong to a toxic family, it can be especially painful and traumatic. The good news is that, while you may be struggling with questions like "Why does my family hate me?" or "Is my family toxic", take comfort in knowing that this is a common issue, even though it's seldom discussed.
Did I Do Something Wrong?
One of the most important things to realize when struggling with the question "why does my family hate me?" is that you are not to blame. Many times we are disappointed and hurt because parents are not always the loving creatures we think they should be. Just like every other person on the planet, parents (and siblings) are prone to emotional clouding, bad judgment, and irrational behavior. Dealing with toxic family interactions in a dysfunctional family is disconcerting and downright hurtful.
It's easy to let our insecurities get the best of us. If you truly feel like your family hates you, it's important to look at your family situation with fresh eyes. Is this temporary because your family is struggling with an unusual situation? Is it just one or two family members, or is it every member of your family?
If it's only one or two family members contributing to a toxic family environment, then it's likely to be nothing more than a personality clash and not necessarily an indicator of toxic patterns. Evaluating how these toxic siblings act toward others can also give you perspective on this question. If they make their dislike for you obvious, then it's highly likely that they treat other people the same way. We like to believe that our families would never treat us the way they treat people outside the family, but this is rarely the case. Try seeing their actions through the eyes of someone impartial. Their behavior probably isn't personal. Unlike our friends, we can't choose our family members, meaning we are often stuck with people who we might not pick if we had the choice.
When you start contemplating familial relationships and draw the conclusion that your family hates you, there is a very strong chance you have toxic family dynamics. Your family toxicity is evident if your family members are controlling, if they blame you for things that aren't your fault, or if you get excessive or unwarranted punishment. In a toxic family dynamic, a toxic or dysfunctional family may also make threats, criticize you constantly, and dismiss your feelings, but they always claim to be the victim. These behaviors are all examples of family toxicity in action and can also be considered emotional abuse. Staying in a toxic relationship like this can have negative impacts on both your physical health (chronic inflammation, adrenal fatigue, heart problems, and low immunity) and your mental health (stress, depression, and anxiety).
As much as you want your family to love you, cutting ties with a toxic or dysfunctional family may make the most sense. When you decide to cut ties with a toxic family, you join the thousands of adult children that are estranged from their unhealthy family. Estrangement can happen for any number of reasons, It can be difficult to adjust after leaving your toxic family. But cutting ties with a toxic person or dysfunctional family can help you overcome the trauma that comes with feeling like your family hates you. You may find that you are strong enough to have a temporary estrangement, and you can join the 20-30 percent of adult children who believe that, one day, they could have a functional relationship with their parents again.
Family Doesn't Have to be Blood
Scientifically speaking, your family includes the people who are related to you biologically. However, as you get older, you can pick a new family. You can choose to cut ties or minimize contact with your biological family without feeling guilty, and you can build relationships with people who will love and support you. In other words, you have the option to create your "family," even if they are not directly related to you by blood.
It's better to establish lasting healthy relationships with people outside of family members who lie or mislead you. When members of the family become toxic, it's no longer a safe space.
What Can I Do?
It can be incredibly freeing to address and learn to cope with the feelings caused by toxic family relationships. Some family members are notorious for trying to keep the drama going. These family members usually make themselves the center of attention at a family get-together. Constant drama and arguing are two of the biggest signs your family is toxic. You have the power to heal these wounds and take back your power from that toxic family member. Here are some ways that you can begin to heal and move forward. Remember: it took time for these deep, raw feelings to develop, so it's going to take time, strength, and perseverance to heal them.
Invest in Genuine Relationships
Rather than dwell on the toxic relationship you have with your family, invest your energy in healthy interpersonal relationships. Work on building relationships with others who can love, support, and encourage you. This person doesn't have to be a family member. (Remind yourself that it's okay to seek the support of someone other than a family member -- without feeling guilty.)
Creating boundaries can help minimize interactions with toxic family members and is the best way to deal with toxic family members. You can create physical boundaries from a toxic family member by moving to a new house or a new city. You can impose psychological boundaries on a toxic family member by restricting what you talk about with your family. You may even choose to cut ties entirely.
Focus on being true to yourself and living authentically. Forget about being rejected by your family members, and live your life in a way that aligns with your values and beliefs.
Practicing gratitude has been linked to positive wellbeing, improved relationships, and overall happiness. Focusing on the good in your life will minimize the impact of your difficult relationship with your toxic family member and help to heal these wounds.
Seek Professional Support
Dealing with toxic family member issues can be difficult, and getting a support system as you work through this challenge can be beneficial. Working with a professional can help you cope. You'll learn to better understand yourself while you process the emotions that come from feeling like your family hates you. A therapist can help you learn the signs of a toxic family situation, navigate your feelings, guide you in modifying your behavior, and teach you emotional resilience. Learning the signs of a toxic family can help heal the wounds that you're struggling with if you believe your family toxic environment is negatively impacting your life.
Don't let fear hold you back from getting the help you need. You don't have to go into a cold office and lay on a black sofa like they do in the movies; getting therapy is easy if you have internet access. BetterHelp provides you with convenient online therapy, where you can contact your therapist using several methods-messages, so you don’t lose the face-to-face interaction. This means getting help is both accessible and affordable. In addition, all of the professionals at BetterHelp are licensed, credentialed therapists. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors who have helped others work through difficult family relationships.
"I started working with Jeana a few weeks ago mainly because I am trying to really step out and learn who I am without the influence of my family and others. She has been so very helpful in guiding me through this process and helping me manage those emotions that will pop up while trying to dig through life."
"Erin has been incredibly helpful to me as I navigate a tough situation with my family. She's understanding and compassionate and non judgmental."
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Toxic Family?
In general, a toxic family can be described as a family dynamic that uses unhealthy and unproductive ways to communicate with each other, especially when it comes to tension and conflict.
Toxic families can also be referred to as dysfunctional families, and the instability associated with it can negatively affect a person’s well-being and lead to chronic mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. In some cases, physical violence and emotional abuse can also occur.
What Is Toxic Behavior?
Toxic families can appear differently from one another, and there are many examples of it. Some ways family members can be toxic can include:
- Being overly criticized or having unrealistic expectations placed on you
- Being controlled and overprotected, and not allowed to spend time with friends
- Not having your needs being met, such as food, shelter, love, and compassion
- A presence of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse
Toxic and dysfunctional families may also have substance abuse involved, and this can encourage unhealthy family dynamics at home.
However, although toxicity can be limited to the household, the effects of it can affect other aspects of an individual’s life, such as work, school, social media, and may have a lasting negative impact on a person’s ability to form interpersonal relationships with others and even cause financial troubles.
How Do You Know If Your Family Is Toxic?
Some of the signs of toxic families can be very apparent, such as verbal and emotional abuse and physical violence, whereas others may be more subtle.
Additionally, without understanding or being able to observe functional family dynamics, people who grow up with toxic family dynamics might not realize some of the behaviors are problematic and believe that it’s completely normal because they don’t know what a healthy family looks like.
If you are unsure if you are living amongst toxic family members, it’s recommended that you read the signs of toxic behavior and see if it matches with your own living environment. Identifying toxicity will be the first step to addressing it and getting help for any problems it can be causing.
What Is Toxic Parenting?
Being around a toxic family situation is something that can affect people of all ages, but it’s very common to affect people during their younger and most formidable years.
Having parents who are toxic can hamper an individual’s upbringing by:
- Not providing emotional security
- Putting their needs before yours
- Ignoring you when you require attention
- Damaging your self-esteem by making harmful jokes or being overly critical
- Guilt-tripping you, even over inconsequential things
- Scaring you through emotional abuse or physical violence
Although toxic parenting most often affects kids, it’s a problem that can be very chronic, as not everyone is able to or don’t feel ready to sever ties with family members.
Even if a person manages to leave their toxic family members later on in life, the effects of it, especially if they were raised in a toxic environment, can potentially last a lifetime.
How Do You Handle A Toxic Family?
Living under the same roof with individuals who are toxic to you is something that you can learn how to cope with if leaving them is not an option right now.
If your family is toxic, you will need to communicate and start setting boundaries for yourself, and importantly, try to find sources of positivity in your life and form interpersonal relationships with people who value you and respect your boundaries and needs.
Professional help with a counselor or therapist can also be a valuable asset and give you the coping skills you need for coexisting with toxic family members and forming healthy boundaries.
Is It Okay To Cut Off A Toxic Family?
The decision to leave toxic family members is entirely up to you, and if the people in your household are hurting your mental and emotional health and preventing you from succeeding, it is acceptable to pursue life on your own terms.
Many people choose to leave toxic family dynamics as soon as they become an adult, avoid family get-togethers, and go on to lead fulfilling lives by creating goals that they can strive for and forming meaningful and supportive relationships with people that they can depend on.
How Do You Walk Away From A Toxic Family?
Making the choice to leave a toxic family dynamic isn’t always an easy conclusion to come to, and there can be a lot of hesitation because you are unsure of what to expect in the future. Despite the family environment that you are in, it’s also normal to still have emotional connections with your family members.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer as to how to approach the situation, and there are different strategies you can consider. If you are considering leaving your toxic family members, a mental health professional can help you sort out your thoughts, feelings, and emotions on the matter so you can make the right decision for yourself.
You don't have to hold on to these feelings. If you're struggling with an unhealthy, toxic family dynamic, even from time to time, because your family seems to hate you, it's not your fault. Using the tools described above, you can break free and begin moving toward a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Take the first step toward a better you today.
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