L.E.T. G.O.™ of Toxic Relationships

Written by Dr. Eric Perry
Image Credit: Pixabay

“Toxic people attach themselves like cinder blocks tied to your ankles, and then invite you for a swim in their poisoned waters.” ~John Mark Green

I would like to share with you an acronym that I created for my patients who are dealing with the effects of a toxic relationship. This acronym is a reminder to not form an attachment to an unhealthy bond by giving it your time and energy. The relationship can be a romantic one, friendship or familial one. Through the process of therapy, my patients learn to identify these toxic relationships. They learn coping mechanisms and defense strategies. This acronym serves as a reminder for them to focus on their well being. Every moment we have the opportunity to change the direction of our lives. By reminding ourselves to L.e.t G.o of toxic relationships we give ourselves the strength to sever the tentacles of negativity that may encircle us in our daily lives.

This acronym can be applied to any toxic relationship in your life. Here I am applying it to the relationship between a child and parent with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

1. Live your life
Realize that the most important obligation you have is to live your own life as authentically and as well as you can. Your life belongs to you and there is only one opportunity to live it as you wish. A narcissistic parent may attempt to sabotage your efforts to have an independent life by using manipulation tactics. It is important to learn to recognize these behaviors, and how to deflect them. To the narcissistic parent, a child’s independence is like severing an appendage. They see their child as an extension of themselves and not as an independent separate being. They will shatter all boundaries that the child may attempt to set up. They will greedily consume the child’s life as well as their own if enabled.

2. Engage with community
Often times when we are dealing with a toxic relationship we can become overly focused on the resulting negativity. It is imperative to break this isolation and surround yourself with healthy individuals. It is important to dilute the negativity in your life by surrounding yourself with healthy friends and family. A parent with NPD can be extremely possessive of the child and will attempt to keep them away from others. They may engage in triangulation in order to create problems between the child and others. One must try to minimize all personal contact with the NPD parent. The contact should be as impersonal as possible so as to not give the NPD any fuel for their negativity. If this minimal contact continues to result in chaotic harmful behavior then one must make the difficult but necessary decision to stop all contact.

3. Take a step back
There is no need to fight every single battle that is presented by the toxic person in your life. Often times, unhealthy individuals will create chaos in order to get your attention. If you are not careful you may find yourself living in a perpetual state of panic; trained like Pavlov’s dogs to constantly put out fires set by the emotional arsonist in your life.  An NPD parent may use triangulation or other manipulative behavior to pit you against others or to control and manipulate you. By pausing and taking a step back you can resist engaging in the orchestrated drama. By not putting out every emotional fire set by the toxic person in your life you can begin to break the impulse that you need to make things better.

4. Grow
Over time you will need to grow and nurture your independence from the toxic relationship. It is common to form a co-dependent relationship with the toxic person in your life. One can start by setting clear boundaries and not allowing them to be crossed. You will need to start establishing your own identity apart from the toxicity of the unhealthy bond. A parent with NPD will use control and manipulation to keep you chained in the relationship. They will use guilt as a weapon and seek to cast themselves in the role of a martyr. They will exclaim and go into detail about all the sacrifices they have made for you. If you are financially dependent on an NPD parent, it is important to seek financial independence. If not, they will use their economic leverage to maintain the status quo of master and servant.

5. Observe don’t absorb
Do not allow the toxic person in your life to kill your life impetus. Do not mirror the behavior that is being directed towards you. A parent with NPD will use many tactics in order to control, manipulate and keep the upper hand in the relationship. They may exhibit passive-aggressive behavior and undermine any attempt you make to seek your independence. They will withhold love and make you feel as if there is something wrong with you. Do not accept your parent’s toxic behavior as truth. By educating yourself on the behavior that your parent is manifesting, you can observe, acknowledge and set it aside.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It is important to note that much of the growth that takes place in your life will be not about what you gain but about what you let go. If you have experience with a toxic relationship please leave a comment and share your insight on how you chose to manage the relationship.

The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a professional relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a medical professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.

Dr. Perry

Copy of Dr. Eric Perry

“I help ambitious and high achieving individuals manifest a life of success and fulfillment in order to achieve the life they truly desire.”

Dr. Eric Perry | drericperry.com

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172 responses to L.E.T. G.O.™ of Toxic Relationships

  1. Carla says:

    I am printing this and pinning it to my memo board at work. Thank you for taking the time to write this Dr. Perry. This is just what I needed right when I needed it ❤

    Liked by 13 people

  2. swahtidarmaja says:

    I am happy to see your new posts. I learn so much. I have a narcissist who is my boss and I am so drained time and time again. I cannot quit because my family depends on my work but I know I can get through. I try my best everyday and never give up. Thank you for me to get encouragement from your blog. You help me a lot. You are very kind thank you Dr.

    Liked by 11 people

  3. Hey,
    Very Nice Dr. Perry
    Very kind of You Dr.
    I haven’t experience this type of relationship but now I can surely say that in future I can handle and can get through from this type of relation.
    I commented you in one of your post that “explain the word naricissist”
    but thank you from this post I understand this term.
    And one thing more the acronym you have used is very easy to remember and helpful. 😇

    Thanks.. ✨

    Liked by 10 people

  4. Thank you as always, your insights do help to make the, at times, intolerable situation I am in not only clearer but you also help me clear the fog away.

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 10 people

  5. paescapee says:

    Thank you- it’s lovely to have a positive acronym as I have been focussing on the negative attributes of the narcissist and it’s good to have something that’s about ME for a change!

    Liked by 10 people

  6. AllyNikk says:

    Another great post from you!
    I wish my therapist told me from the beginning when she noticed my last relationship becoming toxic! Although I love the person dearly, our relationship together was incredibly toxic with no communication. During the last couple of months before I officially ended it, I cried so much. I mourned the relationship so much while being in it that when it ended, I was relieved, happy, and didn’t breakdown.
    Also, this acronym is incredibly easy for people to remember and its genius!

    Liked by 11 people

  7. Ms. Jynx says:

    Thank you for this reminder to let go of toxic people! As well as how to be around them without taking on their toxicity. We can be compassionate, but we don’t need to own their problems. I wish we didn’t have so much toxicity in our society! People would be much more balanced and mentally healthy.

    Liked by 10 people

  8. angelapoomas says:

    I know you didn’t write this for me but when i read it it feels like you did. Thank you Dr. Perry I really needed to read this today ❤

    Liked by 9 people

  9. Ilka says:

    Very well explained! I fully agree with every point.
    When I was a child, it was very hard for me to avoid guilt. It took me many years and still today my mother can trigger me at this point.

    Liked by 10 people

  10. Chloe says:

    Great post. This reminds me of my narcissistic mother. It took me years and it only got better when I went no contact with her. I am much happier now. I wish I would have done this sooner. Thank you

    Liked by 12 people

  11. Klea says:

    Reblogged this on narcissistic truth and commented:
    Another awesome blog from Dr. Perry about toxic relationships, this time the ones we have with our narcissistic parents … A great read for everyone really as you never know when you will come across a narc in your life … Take care xxx

    Liked by 9 people

  12. Klea says:

    Awesome … Wish I had of met you when I was younger … lol … Have reblogged this 🙂 … Thank you xxx

    Liked by 6 people

  13. J. M. says:

    Great acronym and post. I am going to practice this in my own life. Wish I lived near you so I could work with you. I understand you are not able to give advise outside of the therapy room so I really appreciate that you take the time to write these posts. Thank you!

    Liked by 9 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Hello J.M., I am happy you found this helpful. I specialize in narcissistic abuse recovery. Feel free to reach out to me. I offer video and telephone sessions and have clients around the world. Thank you✨

      Liked by 3 people

  14. An extremely pertinent post, especially at a time where narcissistic parenting seems to be at an all-time high. Toxic relationships are like sinking your feet into mud… you don’t even realize how deep you’ve gone in until you’re properly stuck. Awareness of what is a toxic relationship and how to navigate one’s way around it is so important. Thank you for this!

    Liked by 11 people

  15. morganh33 says:

    Boy, I wish I had known you during the years (decades) I was in toxic relationships. It’s too much to share here, possibly a blog post in the near future. This is wonderful advice that you’re generously giving out for free.

    Liked by 10 people

  16. Amy says:

    I love this passage. “It is important to note that much of the growth that takes place in your life will be not about what you gain but about what you let go” absolutely true. Losing my 200 lbs loser narcissitic husband was the best growth experience ever! Thank you ❤️

    Liked by 10 people

  17. freemind says:

    Very helpful piece it is unfortunate that some people are like this and those who are stuck in these kinds of relationships, I feel there should be more social awareness about these kinds of people so people can find the right path.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      I agree. One of the purposes for my blog is to share insight on issues that have an impact on mental health✨

      Liked by 3 people

  18. This is beyond true. Toxicity is like a nature in some people that make them vampiric or leech like wanting to suck the life force or energy out of you. I’ve had my fair share of toxic friends and relationships so I’m more adapted but I do find is incredibly hard to cut that link. The last thread of linkage to that person because they weren’t toxic at first but they morphed. They became monstrous vampire and only making others feel worthless made them feel champion. I wrote a recent post on my most recent experience with a toxic person it felt like a weight was taken away once again as that link was severed.

    Liked by 8 people

  19. mamkeke82 says:

    Hello Dr Perry…wow! This is a piece I identify with on a serious tip…I have experienced a lot of toxic relationships in my life! Because I have been diagnosed with Bi-polar mood disorder I’ve had people take advantage during my relapses and even when I was stable…I have a giving heart and they exploited!

    This past weekend a sister just approached me and said, ‘Buy me a shirt and God will bless you!’ I was truly shocked that she’s using God’s name to bargain for materialistic gain. With each point you have raised I agree I have experienced a high degree of manipulation, emotional blackmail, sabotage, rejection, isolation and harsh words coupled with actions.

    I really ask myself at times why do genuine people suffer because of such people. It’s painful and it just shows that we shouldn’t have any expectations of them. I always ask God to sift those characters out of my life. It may be drastic but He has done it for me through my prayers. But some still come but not as much because like you said in this piece…the traits start showing with time. So it’s up to the individual whether you tolerate till you are worn out of you refrain because it’s not for you!

    Liked by 9 people

  20. Myth*. says:

    Excellent piece of writing! Unfortunately we all move at different speeds of emotion. Very encouraging steps to take to heal and live lively once again!

    Liked by 8 people

  21. Great info. I had to learn to cut toxic friends out of my life a few years ago. Thankfully, I had/have a great therapist who has guided me and helped me develop coping skills and to stop giving my energy to those toxic relationships.

    Liked by 8 people

  22. I.B. says:

    I needed this today! Thankfully it is Friday and I don’t have to deal with my toxic boss for a few days. Just because he is a sad jerk doesn’t mean I have to be!

    Liked by 7 people

  23. Yes. A good overview, thankyou.
    I have spent a lifetime overcoming the emotional and physical fallout of growing up with an NPD parent and siblings. It is a continual, ongoing project.
    My mother is long gone but I’ve had to do ongoing work on this as I still attract and occasionally fall for NPD behaviours, to my own detriment.
    I don’t expect to ever fully be free of it, as it also affected my physical health.
    I do sometimes wonder who I would have/could have been without these challenges early in life. But mostly I am just glad to have survived.

    Liked by 7 people

  24. In some circles we say it in different words, either way, a form of self-abuse, is allowing oneself to be dragged under-water as you quoted, where you will never breathe again. Toxic people tend to cling to the “caregiving: type, and it begins a sometimes vicious cycle of abuse. Cut the cord!
    Thank you for the courage to write on sensitive matters. So happy to have found your Blog site today…Nicely done!

    Liked by 7 people

  25. Thing with toxic people, they don’t know they are toxic, but you know they are toxic. At some point its probably, no it is to your detriment that you exit. Say good bye to the toxic and continue to live your most pure, joyous, authentic life.

    Liked by 7 people

  26. This is truly one of the hardest things to do. I had to let go of a toxic 3 year relationship and it wasn’t easy, but I have absolutely no regrets and no more stress

    Liked by 8 people

  27. Goff James says:

    Thanks for another interesting post. Reread several times. It provides an informed overview of toxic relationships and the loss of self esteem that can stem from it. Have a great day.

    Liked by 6 people

  28. What a great post and great acronym! I have made note of it. I have LETGO of my toxic relationship via divorce. I was hurt at first, but have come to realize that he isn’t right for me and I deserve so much better. I have since started school – studying Psychology of all things! I’ll be following you!

    Liked by 6 people

  29. Miss Jay says:

    This describes my mother to a T. The martyr thing is her incarnate. She’s constantly complaining (in an accusatory intonation) about how much I made her suffer during her pregnancy and how I dared to stop nursing at three months old because ‘I didn’t like her’. I’m 35. And she still can’t let go, and will hold this over her head like I’m some sort of ‘born ingrate’.

    As for how I dealt with it… I moved out. It was pretty much the only way I could possibly have a decent life. I keep low-contact, and go no-contact sometimes when she’s particularly difficult. I only keep any contact at all, honestly, because she’s married to my father. Otherwise we probably would never even bother talking to each other at this point.

    Thank you for a great post!

    Liked by 6 people

  30. D.B. says:

    Hi Dr. Perry, I printed this and posted it on my refrigerator! This is now my mantra. I will L.E.T.G.O. of all the toxic relationships in my life!

    Liked by 6 people

      • No. Thank you! I know someone who had to learn the hard way…it was painfully difficult for him to get free, but he did. Now he knows the red flags. It was painful to watch and the aftermath was even more horrific. I wished I’d had that analogy to use then. It’s never too late though.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Dr. Perry says:

          Very true. Our suffering is never in vain if we can learn to avoid repeating the same pattern or if we can teach others what to avoid. Have a wonderful evening or day!✨

          Liked by 1 person

  31. Blended Hope says:

    I am one of those people that ALWAYS attracted all the wrong people. I was too nice, couldn’t say no, and that’s not a good quality to have.
    Luckily, I’ve grown up and changed and learned how to avoid toxic people.
    It’s so freeing!

    Liked by 6 people

  32. Thank you very much for the extremely valuable article. I have not had any problems with my parents, but I have experienced this type of behaviour from certain people around me, in the past as well as in the present, that what you have written is very useful to safeguard myself from them. Thank you again, Dr Perry 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  33. Anna says:

    Hello Dr. Perry,

    Thank you for this post. Such great insight. I let go of a friend about six years ago that was a narcissist. I had such a time with this person. The facade of a “loving friend” was anything but. So glad to be free of the manipulation, guilt, and frustration of feeling like I wasn’t a good enough friend. Thank you.

    Liked by 6 people

  34. Astrid says:

    These are absolutely awesome tips. I tend to be kept from living my life way too much by my own feelings attached to the toxic people in my life. I really need to realize that my life is mine and mine alone.

    Liked by 7 people

  35. Well written article, Dr. Perry; in depth, but in layman’s terms. My dad always used to say
    …” Everyone is number one, after you…” At first, I thought that was so selfish until I realized that he was absolutely right (as usual). Acronym will make it easy to remember. Keep writing!

    Liked by 6 people

  36. bertahenry says:

    Everything here is so true been there by God’s grace and strength i got out.
    I’ll surely recommend this to the ones in need. Great and truthful content

    Liked by 6 people

  37. lifecomesatyoublog says:

    I had to deal with a toxic person, but attempted to keep them at arm’s length due to a familial relationship. Our son is now entangled in marriage with this woman and now I have no contact with either of them. It was nothing but chaos, drama and ongoing assaults for not loving, not doing everything according to her wishes, not bowing down to every demand and endless false accusations aimed at destroying our bond with our son.

    She did manage to severe the strong ties we had with him and he is blind to all her deceptive charm, passive-aggressive mode of relating and excessive means of violent controlling behaviors. It really is a shame people fall prey to these persons, whose persona is at first charming, but all a game to reel in their victims.

    I have since involved myself in helping others learn to identify the traits of such persons before they get into any relationships. Helping others to identify toxic personalities is an educational forum needed to help young persons in preventing them from becoming twisted and distraught from partnering with such persons due to the intense emotional and psychological damage that ensues.

    And once they have broken free, there is a path forward in regaining one’s life, so I spend a great deal of my time in helping people get their lives and their sanity back from toxic and abusive partners.

    One persons learn the reasons they may have gotten entangled with these personalities, reclaim their identities and begin to live in their new found freedom, they are able to manage healthy relating and bonding with others.

    The Hope is, all persons can redeem their past lives in being the person they were created to become with assistance, guidance, support and therapeutic interventions aimed at building them up, giving them tools in learning how to cope, and providing them with necessary resources in regaining themselves.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. Mama Buzz says:

    Thanks Dr.Perry. Very informative. It does make sense. You don’t need to fight for a battle with the toxic person. It will just drain your energy. Why not put it toward yourself? Great post.

    Liked by 5 people

  39. Hi, It’s Carrie ♥️ says:

    Great advice! I love the way you have this laid out, makes perfect sense. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 4 people

  40. Hilary Tan says:

    The more time you spend by yourself and learn to embrace being alone, the less toxic the environment becomes. I believe that it’s the people who we are surrounded by who contribute the most towards the toxicity. Most of my negative thoughts and energy are a direct result of me reacting towards someone for whatever reason. The problem is that most people in our society are afraid of spending time by themselves. The horror of spending Saturday night alone! Unless you are forced to be alone like me, you may have a hard time dealing with being alone. I know most people struggle with this.

    Liked by 4 people

  41. Lauren says:

    Amazing post. I have an extremely toxic mother, and I have yet to find an article/post that sums it up as well as this 💕. Year after year I broke away a little more. We have had a total of 5 estrangements each longer than the last. She ruined almost every important moment/day in my life. It was the moment I got engaged that it really turned. That moment I called her and she made it about her (naturally) and then she spiraled again. She wrote a hateful letter to me as she had done so many times before. My fiance read it and I woke up to him crying. First time I had seem him cry. I didn’t even think that letter was that bad –she’s said worse. I became somewhat numb to it. That where I realized she was going to also take away my future. I didn’t want that for my husband and didn’t want that for our future children. I wanted peace. We are happily married and she didn’t get invited to our wedding. She is not a part of our lives and I have never been happier. I will always love her, but she is toxic. That’s how I broke away, sadly it took as long as it did. When I was ready to start my own little family

    Liked by 6 people

  42. Maryanne says:

    A toxic ex-friend tried to re-enter my life. This helped tremendously. I can’t believe how calm I am now, when I was crying a few hours ago.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      I am very happy this helped you. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. I wish you well✨

      Liked by 2 people

  43. Great post. I liked the acronym that you use – it does help to simplify and remember the tools to help distance ourselves from toxic relationships. I fully agree with the association and the growth – two things that we promote strongly in LIFE, our community building business. Often times we don’t stop to look at the people that we surround ourselves with and realize how much we emulate their behaviors and attitudes. Once we become aware of that and strive to make changes, growing towards healthier relationships, we can see how destructive the environment and relationships were.

    Liked by 5 people

  44. I am in a toxic relationship. Your acronym did make me pause and think about me that I should no longer accept certain behavior and there is no need to fight every battle or situation that is thrown towards me by that person.
    My friends are helping me by asking me to stay calm and let things happen on their own pace, if things are meant to get better, they will. I need to take a step back and live my own life or at least try to.

    Thank you for your post, it did make me realize how important ‘me’ is!

    Liked by 5 people

  45. gifted50 says:

    A really great post, love the reference to being trained like Pavlov’s dogs, the thought had crossed my mind while dealing with a person in my life. Very apt. Thank you for posting this.

    Liked by 3 people

  46. dewofmay says:

    Thank you Dr. Perry for this great article. Your work is brilliant. Lots of people out there needs to hear about this and be aware and mindful. It will practically save lives.
    I was for a very long time a victim of such a parent who literally destroyed my life and mental state and had a control over me even as an adult. Without my knowledge, over time I’ve learnt to distance myself – some thought I am being selfish and ungrateful; but reading your article I am glad I had taken those steps. It all makes sense now.

    Liked by 5 people

  47. Susan says:

    When my father became sick and my fear of my mother surviving him surfaced, I started therapy to develop some insight and better coping skills.
    My mother has a PhD in shame and using passive aggressive skills 😉
    The counselor gave me a book on identifying Toxic people in my life.
    I’m the only local daughter to my eh, complicated mom.
    It’s tiring at times as their largely homebound with a small , very small, social circle,
    But I get it now.
    I know she loves me – just not in the healthiest way .

    Liked by 4 people

  48. heart2hoot says:

    As always, this is on point. You have a great way of expressing your vernacular with precision. In fact, I needed to be reminded of this as I just experienced it this week.

    Liked by 4 people

  49. Another great read thank you Dr Perry . We cannot change others but we can change ourselves… Toxic relationships gives us the opportunity to find resources within ourselves often left dormant for a long time . . Painful yes! but so learning. A chance to grow. Thank you for your help.

    Liked by 3 people

  50. Wise words Dr Perry. I am still learning to let go but now my mother is in a care home after living with us for over five years and trying to control and blackmail us emotionally, life is a lot pleasanter. Even at 102 years of age she still tries to manipulate and dominate my husband and myself but we can remove ourselves from the situation now. Your articles make so much sense and have been a lifeline for me, my thanks as always.

    Liked by 3 people

  51. juliekarey says:

    Wow some great reminders here. My toxic counterpart is not a parent but a major figure in my present life for sure.

    Boundary crossing, check! Triangulation, check! Sabotage, check! Every boundary I try to establish is ignored, disparaged, or undermined. As I try to move on with my life, the person creates “emergencies” and expectations that seek to consume every bit of my time and energy. I know I need to sever this relationship, but I can’t leave atm, so this acronym is a great help.

    I also have seen something called the 5 Gs: Get off their back, Get out of their way, Give them to god (something greater than yourself), Get a life, and Get connected. I’m especially working on Living or Getting a life right now, and it is helping, but I have to pay attention to when I get drawn back into the drama and refocus my attention on the life I want and already enjoy.

    Many thanks for these helpful tips.

    Liked by 3 people

  52. My dad has used money and gifts as a means of control, making others feel obligated to him. They may seem like “gifts,” but he always wants to have a say-so in exactly how it should be used. This is where setting boundaries is important.

    Liked by 3 people

  53. ambatopia says:

    This is such a timely post. My experience with narcissists have been a long time coming, from past relationships to sibling rivalry. It was not easy breaking free. It took me many years but today I AM FREE. Everyone knows not to mess with my boundaries because I see them coming a mile away. Getting my independence gave me the ability to set my bounds and not be under anyones thumb. Thank you so much!! 🙂 Knowledge is indeed power.

    Liked by 3 people

  54. Thank you for the perfect timing of posting this! I’ve let go of some toxic relationships over the past 5 or 6 years, but around the holidays, it seems my memories want to get lost in the good times had together and a part of me wants to reach back out in the hopes of creating new ones. I have to remind myself that 50 weeks of emotional hell isn’t worth 2 weeks of potentially happy memories.

    Liked by 1 person

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