An emotional vampire is someone who “sucks the good” out of relationships. It’s as if they seem to feed on positive energy and good vibes from the people they closely interact with leaving them feeling defensive, depressed, or cranky.
Emotional vampires come in many shapes and disguises such as demanding family members, jealous spouses, manipulative adult children, drama-loving friends, bullying co-workers, or egotistical supervisors. Usually we don’t recognize what they are until after we are sucked into the quagmire and start to recognize a pattern of behavior that leave us feeling physically and/or mentally drained.
There are several types of emotional vampires, some of which are identified in Dr. Judith Orliff’s book, Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, and Dr. Dr. Al Bernstein’s book, Emotional Vampires, Dealing With People Who Drain You Dry:
This person truly believes it’s all about them. Everything. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and will go out of their way to gain the attention of others. They honestly don’t care how you feel because they lack empathy and this makes them dangerous. If you don’t go along with their wishes and do things their way they can withhold affection, turn a cold shoulder, or “punish” you in some other way.
This person is the quintessential “woe is always me” Eeyore character from Winnie the Pooh. Except they are not nearly as cute. Unfortunately, when you try to get involved and offer solutions to their dilemmas, you realize that they really didn’t want your help because they are happiest being unhappy.
This person loves to be in control – especially over the people they seemingly care about. They have opinions about everything and can become obsessive about trying to manipulate you into doing what they want. And, if you don’t play by their rules they will invalidate your feelings and put you down.
The Constant Talker
Like the narcissist, this person is not interested in what you think. They are only concerned about what they feel and will not give you an opportunity to get a word in edgewise. They will even step into your personal space to make sure their message is being heard.
The Drama Queen
This person has a special flair for embellishing and turning small incidents into epic dramas. They will blow pretty much anything out of proportion in an effort to feed their insatiable desire for attention. Pity the unlucky person who doesn’t know any better and falls for their theatrics.
It’s not easily dealing with toxic people – especially if they are family members or significant others. Sometimes it requires sitting down and talking things over with a therapist so that you can learn how to separate your own feelings and set boundaries. Our next article talks in more detail about how to deal with emotional vampires so that you will have more energy to enjoy life without feeling emotionally drained.