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Are You in Love With an Emotional Vampire?

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Are You in Love With an Emotional Vampire?

By Dr. Judith Orloff

People we love can sometimes drain us the most. Our mates may not be trying to do this, but life’s demands add up. For instance, at the end of a long day, he or she might come home in a negative mood or is needy and overbearing. Sometimes the draining behavior may go beyond this, when they become argumentative or hurtful.

As a psychiatrist, I help my patients address these behaviors with their mates in a tactful, loving way to find positive solutions. Learning this skill is a wonderful Valentine’s Day resolution to make in February, the month of love, and throughout the year.

In my book, “Emotional Freedom,” I present different types of emotional vampires and how to combat them. An emotional vampire is someone who drains your energy. How do you know if you’re in love with one? The tip-off is that you often get tired around your mate and feel like taking a nap. Also, after an encounter, you feel sapped and they look more alive. Here I will describe the common types in romantic relationships. Energy drain can be a touchy subject to bring up with your partner. However, it is essential to sensitively discuss the draining behavior, so you’re not in a romantic relationship that is exhausting you.

Signs during or after an interaction that your mate may be draining you:

Your eyelids are heavy — you’re ready for a nap
You feel unappreciated or put down
You glaze over when they’re talking
You walk on eggshells around certain topics
You run to the refrigerator to stuff yourself

Here are some common types of emotional vampires in the romantic arena and how to deal with them clearly and effectively:

Vampire No. 1: The Nagger

These drainers become broken records and won’t let up with their requests until you act on them. Their comments include the following: “Did you call your mother yet?”; “Did you get to the gym?”; “When are you starting on your diet?” They’ll annoy you with scolding, nitpicking or repetitive demands. They can be so persistent that you feel pressured and drained.

How To Protect Yourself: Set clear limits with your mate in a kind, but firm tone. For instance, say, “Sweetheart, I love you, but you are pressuring me too much. Please back off a little.” Naggers often need to be gently re-trained. You may need to practice limit setting for a while to change this pattern.

Vampire No. 2: The Victim/Complainer
These types grate on you with their “poor me” attitude. The world is always against them, and this is the reason for their unhappiness. When you offer a solution to their problems, they always say, “Yes, but…” You might end up dreading having the same conversations over and over again with your mate. You want to help, but his or her tales of woe overwhelm you.

How to Protect Yourself: You can sympathize and listen briefly. Then tell your partner, “I can see you are upset, but I don’t think it’s constructive to keep rehashing the same issues. Let’s concentrate on solutions.” This approach allows you to be loving and to actively refocus the situation in a positive way.

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48 comments

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9:39PM PDT on Mar 15, 2011

they have issues, not vampirism

10:11AM PST on Mar 10, 2011

All those points brought up in this article describe not my partner, but my MOTHER. All those years I lived with her have probably taken 50 years (or more) off my life. She is so completely self-obsessed and self-pitying that no one can stand to live with her and that includes my father.

1:06PM PST on Mar 8, 2011

Love this post, thanks.

12:36PM PST on Feb 27, 2011

aww never mind dear Geraldine and thank you for the information

4:23AM PST on Feb 26, 2011

Thanks for this article.

5:23PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

Thank you very much for sharing. Keep it up.

5:00PM PST on Feb 23, 2011

theyre not vampires, theyre just ppl with issues who shouldnt be in a relationship

5:04AM PST on Feb 23, 2011

Nice tips for dealing with a problem that is found outside of personal relationships as well. Of course sometimes complete and utter bluntness is in order.

11:05AM PST on Feb 22, 2011

i know some of these vampires... uh..

9:47AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

Good food for thought.. I think we all have been a vampire one time or more...

Thank you for the reminder how uninteresting it is to listen to the woes and poor me- I do not think we do it on purpose but it is a tool that worked once- rusty it may be.. but perhaps the only tool we know.

Enjoy the day!

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