L.E.T. G.O.™ of Toxic Relationships

Written by Dr. Perry, PhD
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, a 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.

If you would like to schedule a free 20-minute initial consultation to see if we would be a good fit to work together on your mental health please click here.

Dr. Perry

Educational Credentials:
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology

“We specialize in a solution-focused approach to psychotherapy, specifically treating depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and narcissistic abuse.”
Verified by Psychology Today

“Reframe Your Pain is a closed Facebook group bringing together those who have suffered from or who are suffering from personal challenges that would benefit from connecting and sharing with others who have had similar experiences.”
Presented by Dr. Perry, PhD

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122 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 6 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 7 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 6 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 6 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 6 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 7 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 6 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 5 people

  12. Klea says:

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

    Liked by 5 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 5 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 7 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 6 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 6 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 3 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 4 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 6 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 5 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 4 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 3 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 1 person

        • 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 2 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 1 person

  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 2 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 3 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 2 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 2 people

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