I have a long-time friend that it took years for myself and my friends to figure out why we always felt so drained and uncomfortable after a visit or conversation with her. She presented herself to be so sweet and concerned about you. She was solicitous about everything that was going on in your life, all the while making comparisons to her life against yours, either worse or better.
This comment became a mainstay among us when in contact with her: “God I feel like she just sucked the life right out of me, I am exhausted.” My circle of friends are a combination of spiritual seekers, healers, intuitives and just plain smart cookies. It took us a long time to figure out that she was an energy and emotional vampire.
That is how insidious and manipulative the needy trait is, so don’t beat yourself up if after reading this article, the “aha” goes on, asking yourself why you never saw it before. The super-malignant ones can make you believe you’re an unworthy, unlovable wretch who doesn’t deserve better.
The subtler types inflict damage that’s more of a slow burn. Smaller digs here and there can make you feel bad about yourself such as, “Dear, I see you’ve put on a few pounds” or “It’s not lady-like to interrupt.” In a flash, they’ve zapped you by prodding your areas of shaky self-worth.
They undermine your confidence, your sense of worth, threaten your peace and happiness and tear apart your optimism. They take advantage of the people around them. By doing that, the vampire of the relationship gets stronger and stronger every single day but leaves you feeling empty exhausted, depressed, sad, guilty or angry.
Identifying emotional vampires
To help you identify what an energetic and emotional vampire is, I sourced Judith Orloff’s Combating Emotional Vampires and brought some of her information down to a quick reference read. Relationships are always an energy exchange.
To stay feeling our best, we must ask ourselves: Who gives us energy? Who saps it? It’s important to be surrounded by supportive, heart-centered people who make us feel safe and secure. It’s equally important to pinpoint the emotional vampires, who, whether they intend to or not, leech our energy. Emotional vampires are everywhere.
In that brigade of the “walking wounded”, they are your friends, family, co-workers and partners. For this article, I am going to focus on close relationships such as partners, friends and family.
Why the blind spot? Emotional draining is a touchy subject. We don’t know how to tactfully address our needs without alienating others. The result: We get tongue-tied, or destructively passive. We ignore the SOS from our gut that screams, “Beware!” Or, quaking in our boots, we’re so afraid of the faux pas of appearing “impolite” that we become martyrs in lieu of being respectfully assertive.
We don’t speak out because we don’t want to be seen as “difficult” or uncaring. The most manipulative opening remarks made by a vampire to gain control are: “Are you angry at me?” Or “Did I do something wrong?”, “Did something happen?” That allows you to open your emotions and then they go in for the kill of judging the way you are handling it or feeling about it.
The most powerful weapon of the vampire is emotional blackmail, which means we are guilty of guilt, so it is even easier for them to manipulate us.
Types of emotional vampires and how to deal with them
The Passive-Aggressive. This type of vampire expresses their anger with a cold smile or exaggerated concern–but always maintains their cool. They are experts at sugar-coating hostility. To defend yourself you must let go of self-doubt and trust your gut reactions. Tell yourself that you deserve to be treated more lovingly. If nothing changes, keep setting limits with this person and scale back on the time you spend with them.
The Narcissist. For this vampire, everything is about them. They are ego-centric, self-important, and starved for admiration and attention. They may be charming and intelligent, or at least until their guru status is threatened and then they challenge you for even daring to question their choices. Keep a sense of humor about their motto of “me first”, enjoy their good qualities and accept you will NEVER be a priority to them. If you can’t do that, move on.
The Anger Addict. This vampire deals with conflict by accusing, attacking, humiliating, or criticizing. Some anger addicts withhold things or resort to using the silent treatment to punish you. Stay in a place of centeredness and realize they are trying to provoke in order to feed off your emotions. They do this because they always feel better about themselves after they have crushed someone else to feel worse.
The Big Guilt Trip. These types are world-class blamers, martyrs, and drama queens. They know how to make you feel bad about something by pressing your insecurity buttons and you can be guaranteed they know what they are. First of all, let go of the notion that you have to be perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Acknowledge it and move on. If you are innocent of what you are being accused of, make your stand and then step back. Be ok with agreeing to disagree.
The Gossip. These busybodies delight in talking about others behind their backs, putting them down, and spreading catty rumors. When they do this, everyone around them feels slimed. The best response to this situation is a simple, “That wasn’t very nice to say about that person.” If you say it often enough, they will get the point. Once again, if they do not, then limit your time with them or if possible, stop altogether.
Susan Z’s Verdict
We all have our vulnerabilities. Emotional and energetic vampires have a high sense of victim hunting skills that are flawless in meeting their needs to feel better about themselves. Instead of working on their own issues to make a change to the better, they live by the rule of misery loves company and are only happy when they have made someone as miserable as they are. If you have one in your life and once you identify them, you can then work on yourself to become stronger with your defenses.
You may still love them, even adore them but not play their game anymore. You will either have a positive change to help them see what they do and stop or they will move on by not being in your life anymore and pick another target.
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Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine.