If you think that an emotional vampire has something to do with Twilight, think again! Emotional vampires are people that "suck the good" out of every relationship. Rather than feasting on blood (like the vampires of legend), they feed on the positive energy or good feelings that exist in a relationship. Also, unlike the traditional vampires of legend, emotional vampires are very real, and take shape in the form of people we interact with and try and befriend.
Why Emotional Vampires Are Bad for Friendships
Friendships are built on trust, support, and fun, so having someone in your life that diminishes this will make it difficult to be yourself. More than that, emotional vampires can leave you mentally exhausted, and at worst, can make you question your own choices in life. True friends, by contrast, should be gently honest with you and encourage you. Your friends should be there to give you support and provide an emotional safe place where you won't be ridiculed or made to feel less than you are.
If you are friends with an emotional vampire, your entire view of friendships can be skewed. Emotional vampires are dangerous because they don't attack head on, but rather work their way into your psyche little by little. Their actions are not overt, so in order to figure them out you might question their intentions and loyalty. All of this emotional energy can be better spent in dealing with the good friends you have instead.
What Do Emotional Vampires Do?
Typically, emotional vampires are all about them as opposed to you. So they will talk about their problems ad nauseam without reciprocating the gesture and let you get a few things off your chest. Or, they will manage to change the level of excitement in a room full of people. For example, let's say you have a girlfriend announce at dinner that she just got a new job. Other friends around the table will tell her positive things, such as "congratulations" and "great job." They will ask her questions about her new job and encourage her if she reveals that she is a little bit scared or nervous.
The emotional vampire, however, will use this event to talk about their own problems. Or, they will point out all the bad things about the new job, such as the long hours or low pay. They will trample over the positive vibe that is happening and it will have an effect on the others. Suddenly the mood of the room will change to something darker, and the people at the table will leave feeling more "down" than positive and upbeat. If you were laughing or having fun before, chances are the mood is decidedly different after the emotional vampire arrives.
How Do You Know When Someone Is an Emotional Vampire?
It's not always easy to determine who is an emotional vampire and who is simply having a bad day. Emotional vampires are not unlike negative friends, who tend to bring you down rather than help build you up. However, emotional vampires also make things about them, which makes them slightly different (and worse) than just people who tend toward the negative.
Emotional vampires may do things like:
- Turn the topic of conversation to themselves, no matter what you are talking about.
- Redirect attention to something else when it is focused on someone other than them.
- Make you feel a bit down, or unhappy, after you leave them.
- Make you feel mentally exhausted at their lengthy phone calls, emails, or visits.
- Demand your time when they have a problem, which they seem to have a lot.
In short, if you feel worse after you see or talk to your friend, that person may be an emotional vampire. Before you decide to pull away from the friendship, however, make sure you know for sure that this person isn't just have a rough time of things, or even just a bad day. Emotional vampires consistently bring you down, so if you notice this going on regularly over time, chances are you have an emotional vampire in your life.
- Toxic Friends - Book on Friendship from Susan Shapiro Barash
- Confronting a Toxic Friend
- Do You Have a Toxic Friend?
Also Known As: Toxic Friends, Frenemies, Narcissistic Personality
Examples: Did you notice everyone at the table stopped smiling and having fun after Jack arrived? He just sucks the life out of a room.
Darcy brings me down every time I see her. She has nothing but negative things to say. How can I remain friends with her?