Many of us know someone that is emotionally draining or otherwise demanding, appearing to suck the air out of everyone they come into contact with, leaving distress, frustration, and pain wherever they go. Unlike the vampires, you see in the movies or on television, emotional vampires enjoy sucking the joy out of otherwise fun/exciting moments and friendships. However, unlike the vampires of horror films, emotional vampires drain the energy, joy, and optimism from the life of another person. Initially, these people are difficult to spot because they often display behaviors similar to that of a pessimist. Although, sometimes difficult to distinguish an emotional vampire and a pessimist, there are significant differences. Emotional vampires typically do not display negative thoughts and feelings regarding their own personal achievements and interests, rather, they exhibit negative feelings and thoughts about someone else. They will typically shift the focus from someone else onto themselves, minimize the achievements of others, seem unconcerned with the feelings of others, or take pleasure in directly causing someone to shift emotions from joy and excitement to sadness and dread.
Emotional vampires make poor romantic partners and friends. They do not function well in relationships because they are often narcissistic, tend to minimize or devalue others, overly demanding, uncompromising, etc. Unfortunately, they are often emotionally immature individuals that believe their desires and interest should take priority over the desire and interests of others, hence, they believe the world revolves around them. They are almost incapable of seeing things from another person’s perspective. They believe that they must take everything they can get from others without having to give in return. Most emotional vampires believe that compromising or making a personal sacrifice for others will deprive them of essential resources.
Persons that are unwilling to compromise, acknowledge and respect the needs of others are not able to fully give and commit to a relationship, both romantic or social. Healthy relationships are built on trust, communication, support, compromise, and mutual respect so having someone in your life that diminishes this will make it difficult to build upon as well as maintain the relationship. Having a relationship with an emotional vampire can lead to increased feelings of stress, exhaustion, low self-esteem, self-doubt, and lead to further questioning of life choices/decisions. you mentally exhausted, and at worst, can make you question your own choices in life. Health relationships should include authenticity, openness, respect, love, compassion, and encouragement.
Potential Signs of an Emotional Vampire Include:
- Refusing to acknowledge or minimizing the achievements of others
- Constantly redirects the topic of discussions onto himself/herself
- Engages in attention seeking behaviors
- You feel mentally exhausted at their lengthy phone calls, emails, or visits
- You feel a negative shift in your mood whenever he or she is around or after they have gone
- They often appear happy or excited when you tell them something negative that has happened to you
- They are extremely demanding of your time, usually with inappropriate timing
- Whenever you need them they are unavailable
- The Victim
- The Negative
- The Splitter
Although, it may be nearly impossible to avoid all emotional vampires you can manage or limit your contact with them. Keep in mind you do not have to take their advice, or take their criticisms personally. Recognize emotional vampires can be manipulative, demanding, draining, overly critical, and negative, therefore, you can decide what role they have in your life, if any. If you must have a relationship with an emotional vampire make sure you establish healthy boundaries that will allow you to maintain some degree of control over your interaction while maintaining your self-esteem.