Escape the Emotional Vampires!
While the blood-sucking monster of Bram Stoker's famous gothic horror, Dracula, is nothing more than a literary flight of fancy, you might be surprised to learn there are real life vampires lurking just around the corner. But these vamps don't have fangs and won't turn to dust in sunlight - and they're not after your blood. Instead they'll drain you of energy and take a devastating toll upon your emotions.
Emotional vampires are people whose behavioural quirks - like being a control freak, being a party addict or being self absorbed - have taken over their lives and those around them suffer the consequences. You may have one as a close friend or family member. Most emotional vampires are not purposefully trying to hurt you; they are essentially selfish people, who may not even be aware that their words and actions are having a negative impact. So it's up to you to recognise the signs of an emotional vampire and avoid them if you can, or at least know how to deal with their behaviour effectively.
In his book, Emotional Vampires, psychologist Albert J Bernstein says:
"Emotional vampires draw you in with charm, beauty, talent, and pulse pounding excitement. Then they drain you – not of blood but of every last drop of emotional energy. You'll recognise them as unreliable lovers, drama queens, jealous spouses, demanding parents, manipulative colleagues, and bosses with gigantic egos."
Control freak vampires
Recognise them: Over-achievers who foist their opinions and views upon other people. They are never wrong and always have to be in charge. If you contradict them expect to have hurtful words hurled at you. It's exhausting to be around them because you'll never meet their exacting high standards.
Typical behaviour: You're cooking a meal for family. The control freak vampire will arrive early and push their way into the kitchen. "Are you really using that stock cube? That's way too much butter on those potatoes. Did you know red wine goes better with that sauce?" Control freak vampire can't stop criticising but they don't see how hurtful their behaviour can be.
Protect yourself: Have a rest and let them do the organising - they'll enjoy it. Don't bother arguing with them unless you have to, but make sure you let them know if they've upset you. Tell them, very calmly, why you are upset and what they can do to remedy it. Control freak vampires often mean well, and think they're helping you out by taking control. But their over-bearing attitude will leave you feeling drained.
Recognise them: Painfully sensitive souls, they think the world is against them - and that includes you. Easily offended and upset, it's difficult to have a conversation without them finding some hidden negative meaning behind it. If you transgress their narrow view of what's right and wrong they will protest loudly in a blush-inducing manner. Paranoids find it impossible to forgive and forget.
Typical Behaviour: A friend comes around for a coffee. You say you like her new hairstyle. "Oh, so you thought it looked awful before, did you?" she replies. Then you mention that your husband has got a new job so is working longer hours. "Are you sure it the job that's keeping him at the office or does he have an attractive assistant?" she asks. You need to tell her she's over-stepped the mark but be prepared for her to storm out in tears.
Protect yourself: Refuse to go along with their paranoia. They are longing for someone else to confirm their suspicions that everyone's out to get them. Be firm but polite and change the subject to the matter in hand. If you offend them, as you undoubtedly will, apologise and move on. Don't linger longer than you have to with a paranoid vampire or they will drag you down with them.
Recognise them: They are impulsive party people who push the boundaries and act as if they have no responsibilities. Charming and exciting, good-time vampires will draw you in and make you feel special - for a while. Easily bored, these vamps will leave you waiting around without a second thought. Don't expect them to listen to your problems; if you're not in the party mood they're not interested.
Typical behaviour: Good time vamp says, "See you in the bar at 7pm!" At 8pm they still haven't arrived. You phone them in a panic, worried something bad has happened to them. They answer the phone and you can hear loud music in the background. "Oh, I'm really sorry, babes! I totally forgot I was supposed to meet you. I bumped into a friend and she is having a party. Hey, you should come. I miss you. It's at..." Their phone cuts off and goes dead before you hear the address.
Protect yourself: Don't expect a caring friendship from these vampires - its good times only with them. Never copy their reckless behaviour, no matter how tempting it appears. Don't lend them any money; they'll never pay you back.
Me, Me, Me Vampires
Recognise them: Self obsessed and self important characters, these vampires will be mortally offended if you don't recognise just how talented they are immediately. Their surface charisma and charm conceals an inconsiderate, selfish and cold centre. If they feel you can help them progress with their materialistic life goals, they'll be all over you like a rash. As soon as you cease to be useful you'll never see them again.
Typical Behaviour: "Hi honey, what was the name of that holiday villa you recommended?”Ask the Me vampire. You reply, "It's Sunshine Villas in Seville - I can't wait for our holiday there!" "Sorry darling, I can't make those dates now. But your boss has invited me to join his group there in June," replies the Me vampire.
Protect Yourself: Classic energy drainers, these vampires should be kept at arm's length. Don't give into their demands, however charmingly they ask at first; if you give these vampires will take, leaving you feeling used. The best way to ward them off is to appear as if you have nothing to offer them - they'll soon move on to their next victim.