Vampire No. 3: The Criticizer
These types have a sneaky way of making you feel guilty or lacking for not getting things just right. They can find fault with everything, and spot a flaw across a crowded room, then suggest how to improve yourself “for your own good.” These can be minor critiques or comments that seriously hurt your feelings.
How to Protect Yourself: Try addressing the criticism positively, in a calm, neutral tone. Say, “I can see that you’re trying to help, but when you’re critical it’s harder for me to hear you.” Or, you might want to strike a compromise. For instance, if your mate criticizes you for leaving the dishes in the sink, you can divide the task up between the two of you. Do this with a very loving tone and attitude — I call it setting off a “love bomb,” where you diffuse negativity with sweetness while offering solutions to correct the situation.
Vampire No. 4: The Self-Obsessed Drainer
With these types, everything becomes about them, and they hardly listen to your needs. They may downplay your feelings and interests, as they steer the conversation back to them. (For extreme cases, see the description of “The Narcissist” in my previous blog).
How To Protect Yourself: Everyone goes through self-obsessed periods, but it’s important to bring this to your mate’s attention so he or she can shift out of it quickly. You can say, “Honey, I adore listening to you, but it would make me feel loved if you also spend time listening to me, too.” Most people are unaware that they are becoming self-obsessed; but when you gently mention it, change can occur.
Vampire No. 5: The Unintentional Sapper
The people closest to you often can be the most draining. There is so much to take care of everyday that your mate can add to your sense of being overwhelmed. For instance, he or she comes home after having lost a big account at work and needs to vent frustration. You want to listen and be caring, but you’re tired, too.
How to Protect Yourself: Plan regular mini-breaks from your partner (and children). Even a brief escape can replenish you. Take a short walk, meditate in your bedroom for a few minutes, listen to music you love. Or, if your mate has a harrowing commute home from work which makes him or her be cranky with you, let them take 10 minutes at home to decompress before you interact. You must negotiate your personal space with loved ones.
In relationships, it’s important for couples to respect each other’s energy needs. With your partner, it’s healthy to protect your energy, too. Don’t feel guilty or restrained about using my techniques. Honoring your energy isn’t selfish. It will increase your patience and capacity to love.
Dr. Judith Orloff’s book, Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, is available at Amazon.com
For more information on Dr. Orloff’s work, visit drjudithorloff.com