Emotional vampires can wear many different disguises — from workplace bullies to needy relatives to poor-me complainers. Intentionally or not, these people can make us feel depressed, overwhelmed, defensive, wiped out, and angry.
Without effective self-defense strategies to keep them at bay, victims of emotional vampires sometimes develop unhealthy behaviors and symptoms, such as overeating, isolating, mood swings, or feeling fatigued.
Here are five common types of emotional vampires we often encounter, along with some “silver bullet” tips for fending them off. Note: These emotional vampires can be either gender, so you aren’t safe from anyone.
This vampire believes the world is against her and demands that others rescue her, listen to her complaints and feel sorry for her. She has excuses for everything and reasons why things haven’t gotten done (and expect it’s never her fault). You’re always the sounding board and rarely get any reciprocation when it comes to things going on in your life.
Self-defense tips: It’s not your job to be her therapist. Nor should you waste your energy advising her to buck up. Limit your interactions by politely excusing yourself or cutting the conversation short — and don’t get involved in her self-pity.
For this vampire, everything is about him. He is ego-centric, self-important, and starved for admiration and attention. He may be charming and intelligent — until his guru status is threatened.
Self-defense tips: Enjoy his good qualities, but have realistic expectations. His motto is “me-first,” so getting angry or stating your needs won’t have any effect on him. To get his cooperation, appeal to his self-interest and show him how your request will benefit him.
This vampire may treat you like her very best friend and confidante in the morning and then launch a rageaholic attack against you in the afternoon. She’s often threatening and keeps everyone around her walking on eggshells. She’ll blame it on having a bad day or being hormonal. We’ve all been there – emotions get the best of all of us at some point in time. However, this person consistently has an excuse for bad behavior and never seems to learn from it.
Self-defense tips: With such an unpredictable and volatile person, it’s wise to establish firm boundaries and be solution-oriented when dealing with her. Avoid confronting her, refuse to take sides, and when she’s raging at you, avoid eye contact. It’s helpful to visualize a protective shield around you when you’re being emotionally attacked.
This vampire has an opinion about everything, thinks he knows what’s best for you and everyone else, has a rigid sense of right and wrong, and needs to be the alpha male. They often speak louder and harsher than others around them and enjoy conversing about delicate topics and sharing their opinion on issues that can be social grenades. It’s easy to stay out of their way because they don’t care for dissent or differing opinions and can become confrontational when faced with a different view.
Self-defense tips: Don’t be intimidated or bowled over. Be confident and speak up. It’s a trap to get caught up in arguing over the small stuff; the control freak will wear you out if you do. Simply assert your needs, and then agree to disagree.
This vampire feels perfectly entitled to judge you, belittle you, and bolster her own ego by making you feel small, ashamed, and inferior. Oftentimes they come across as being kind or helpful, all the while they’re giving backhanded compliments and hurting you while smiling. This person can seem like a friend but don’t be fooled. They feed off of your emotions and build themselves up while breaking you down.
Self-defense tips: The first thing you should know about the critic is that her need to put others down has nothing to do with you, so don’t take what she says personally. Instead, address her misplaced criticism directly. Don’t get defensive, but express appreciation for any parts of what she says that may be useful. Send some love and kindness her way; she needs it.
For more about emotional vampires, read Judith’s book – The Empath’s Survival Guide.
Subscribe today for free to receive our weekly update and never miss an article.