My Sister Is Toxic, What Do I Do?

Last Updated on June 13th, 2023

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Familial relationships are something most of us treasure throughout our lives.

But unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that everyone experiences life in the same way, and sometimes the old saying is true – “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

You may feel helpless after realizing that your sister is toxic, but there are things you can do to take control of the situation. Communicating your feelings in a neutral setting is the first step in the process of healing, no matter what happens afterward.

Keep reading to learn more about how to approach your sister going forward and more ways to deal with a toxic sister.

Woman arguing with another woman in front of her - My Sister Is Toxic, What Do I Do?

How Should You Talk to Her?

People naturally avoid difficult topics and toxic individuals because they are hard to deal with, but the truth is that it is much better to clear your conscience earlier rather than later.

Approach the topic by deciding on a time and place that suits both of you but is also a neutral place. For example, a public coffee shop or similar is better than talking privately in either of your rooms or houses where one person has more power.

When you talk to your sister about her toxicity, you will have to remain calm and mature. Make it clear that you are in control of the conversation’s flow but don’t be judgemental and accusatory with your words.


Things You Need to Say

As for phrases and things you should say while talking with your sister, non-aggressive statements of sentiment are best. A great example that is often used in couples or group therapy sessions is the phrase “I feel…”.

This phrase works so well because you can accurately express your emotions, but you remove much of the accusatory edge that these conversations can have by placing some “blame” on yourself.

If possible, point out instances of toxic and/or self-destructive behavior and talk about how you are concerned for her. By including her in your feelings, you show that you want to foster a healthy sibling bond while explaining that these behaviors are not tolerable.


What if Talking About it Does Not Work?

If simply talking it out with your sister doesn’t seem to be working, there are still a few options available. These include, but aren’t limited to:


  • Setting boundaries – this can mean banning certain behaviors, limiting your contact with each other, and more.
  • Pick your battles – you might have a slightly better relationship if you don’t engage with your toxic sister on certain topics. Otherwise, just agree to disagree.
  • Act disinterested – your toxic sister may be targeting you more than anyone else because they think they can escalate a situation through you. If you sense this is the case, don’t completely ignore them. Instead, be disinterested and disengaged.


Oftentimes, people jump the gun and cut out family members from their life without giving them a chance to change. This should be a last resort after trying other methods.


Should You Avoid Your Sister?

If things become extreme and your toxic sister refuses to change or comply with boundaries, it may be time to cut ties with her. There is nothing wrong with this course of action, and you shouldn’t apologize to her for how you feel.

However, you should leave her with the opportunity to invite a healthy, loving relationship with you back. Encourage her to get professional help before you cut ties.

Unfortunately, this option doesn’t provide you with immediate healing, and you can expect a strong backlash from other family members. Just keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be a permanent solution. Sufficient time and space can change a lot in your sibling dynamic.


Final Thoughts on What to Do if You Have a Toxic Sister

Avoiding toxic situations is easy enough when dealing with strangers out in public, but the paradigm changes quite a bit when it comes to family members like your sister.

Uncomfortable conversations and setting boundaries can be difficult but necessary for healing.

If you cut ties with your sister, know that only 36 percent of participants in a Cambridge survey say they could never have a relationship with their sibling(s). This may seem high, but there is still a great chance that you will be able to reconcile down the road.

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