As a counselor, I hear often hear stories about emotional vampires and their antics. I credit this to the fact people often are driven to seek out professional counseling when certain relationships in their life are driving them crazy. Making them miserable. Ruining their days. Even worse, sometimes ruining their lives, particularly if it a boss or another person, who has direct control over their life.
Emotional vampires are the people in life who are habitually draining to interact with. The difficult person. The whiner. The victim. The non-stop talker. The narcissist. The drama king/queen. The person void of empathy. The complainer. The martyr. The anger dumper. The controller. The person who makes everything a competition.
None of us escape these personality types. They are in every profession, every family, every social circle.
These folks are quite simply exhausting. They need constant attention. They can bring down the mood of any person they interact with. They often seem to lack any sort of self-awareness (or other times they ARE aware and quite frankly don’t give a damn about how their behavior impact others).
All emotional vampires suffer from low self-esteem, but not all people with low self-esteem are emotional vampires.
As a person who works day in and day out in the mental health profession, I find enormous respect for the art of relationships, especially understanding what makes them work or fail. In all successful relationships, whether with romantic partners, friends, families, or co-workers it’s vital that each person honestly examine his or her behavior and be willing to discuss it and change.
The real question is: ARE YOU AN EMOTIONAL VAMPIRE? We all think we know ourselves well, but psychological studies show otherwise. In fact, most of us are somewhat off the mark with how we view ourselves versus how other people experience us.
If you are wondering if YOU may in fact be an emotional vampire, reflect HONESTLY on the following:
- Are you self-involved? Yes / No
- Do you think before your speak? Yes/No
- Do you feel like you are often the victim? Yes/No
- Do you believe your problems are not your fault?Yes/No
- Are you a black and white thinker?Yes/No
- Are you often negative? Yes / No
- Do you gossip or bad-mouth people? Yes / No
- Are you critical, and/or controlling? Yes / No
- Do people often tell you to calm down? Yes/No
- Do you feel that people often don’t (or can’t) understand you or your problems?Yes / No
- Do you become easily overwhelmed? Yes/No
- Do you feel that there are many barriers in your life which you have no control over? Yes / No
- Do you struggle to control your emotions? Yes/No
- Do you often ask for help from others and/or feel like few people are willing to help you?Yes / No
- Do you feel like you often don’t receive the attention or appreciation that you deserve?Yes / No
- Do people avoid you or glaze over during a conversation? Yes / No
- Do people often complain that you don’t listen to them, when in fact, you feel like they don’t listen to you?Yes / No
- Do you feel like most other people have lives that are much easier than yours?Yes / No
- Do you fight with close friends and loved ones often?Yes / No
- If so, is it usually their fault?Yes / No
- Do people suddenly drop contact with you with no explanation and refuse to communicate with you again?Yes / No
If you did answer “yes” to at least half of the above questions, chances are you are an emotional vampire.
The remedy for these draining behaviors is to start shifting your perspective. Counseling can be a great way to begin the journey to becoming a better version of yourself.
Journaling about this can also help. Ask yourself, “Is there a particular trigger that creates the situation? If so, then how can you avoid the trigger? How can you become aware of when you fall into this attitude?”
Ask yourself, who are the people in your life who give you energy and who are those who drain you. If you are surrounded by people who are energy vampires, their negative qualities may begin to rub off on you. Figure out who in your life is positive and mood enhancing to spend time with. Make an effort to develop those relationships.
One caveat to the topic of emotional vampires is personality disordered individuals. The sad truth is there are pathological people with personality disorders–these people are more often than not incorrigible.
Luckily if you are reading this, it is unlikely to be the case that you are in that category.
If you find you are struggling with these types of behaviors, it may be helpful to give professional counseling a try. Counseling can lead to a happier and healthier you which will greatly benefit you…and the people around you!
To schedule a counseling session with me (AND if you are a reader who lives in New Jersey):
Erin Doyle Theodorou, M.Ed, LPC, NCC
Anew Counseling Services LLC
617 Oradell Avenue, Suite 3, Oradell, New Jersey, 07649