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.