Emotional Vampires

I really, really love vampires. Especially Spike. And, of course, my Arthur. They are sexy and mysterious and tortured and totally romanticized in modern literature and other forms of entertainment. Some aren’t, of course. Arthur, although redeems himself with love, is a right cheeky bastard, really. Quite sadistic. Even the evil monsters are fun on the page or on the screen.

But in reality, they truly suck.

I’m talking about emotional vampires. These creatures are characterized by the way they make people around them feel. The term “emotional vampire” has a rather wide range of definitions and can range from that needy friend with unending problems and negativity to the more predatory narcissist & other types of sexual predators.

Let’s focus on the latter type, the ones who are very dangerous in intimate relationships. In past posts, I’ve spoken about that indescribable connection that happens all too rarely. Unfortunately, that connection doesn’t not necessarily mean you’ve met a soul mate, and I believe we all have many “soul mates” in this world, ones that manifest as family, friends, and lovers, or if they are a “soul mate,” it doesn’t mean they are a healthy soul mate. Sometimes we meet people who touch us deeply, but they end up being dangerous to our lives and our emotional well-being. After the seemingly unending pain has subsided, we find that they came into our lives to teach us something.

Basically, an emotional vampire is someone who drains you. Like their romanticized fiction counterparts, they enter your life with charisma and charm. They energize you, making you feel as if you found someone truly special. At the beginning, it is intoxicating, as you are giving freely to each other, but before long, the emotional vampire stops giving and just feeds off your love and affection. Perhaps at first you give more, trying to bridge that gap and recapture the connection you first felt.

Here is the crucial part and so very difficult to see when it’s happening because there is an ebb and flow, ups and downs, in any relationship. But when you feel your beloved or friend pulling back, you need to pull back yourself, no matter how painful it feels. Certainly for me, I have a tendency to give more when that happens, but I’m learning. If their giving returns, that’s great, but still beware because they might just be giving you a little dose just to pull back further the next time.

As a very intensely loving person, things happen very quickly for me if I feel that connection with someone, but after some crippling falls, I’m starting to purposely slow things down. And that’s the same thing I recommend to you. Slow down. It takes time to build trust. Trust is built when actions meet words over and over and over again. This might take weeks, months, or even years in some cases for people who have been greatly injured or victims of abuse in the past.

Relationships are work. Period. They are not easy. If it’s too easy, then look closely. The falling in love part is wonderful and relatively easy, but one must work on communication, both being heard and truly hearing what your partner expresses, building trust, and deepening intimacy. Forever.

As long as communication is open in a relationship, as long as both are trying to make things work and don’t shut down, then almost anything can be worked through.

SIGNS THAT YOU’VE ENCOUNTERD AN EMOTIONAL VAMPIRE
(from “Emotional Freedom” by Judith Orloff MD)

•    Your eyelids are heavy—you’re ready for a nap
•    Your mood takes a nosedive
•    You want to binge on carbs or comfort foods
•    You feel anxious, depressed, or negative
•    You feel put down, sniped at, or slimed

Listen to your body, it will tell you what’s going on when your eyes are blinded with desire or with love. During a fairly recent encounter that ultimately ended with considerable pain, I felt nauseous for most of that evening. That was my body telling me RUN! VERY VERY FAST! — but I didn’t listen. I chalked it up to nerves or just the moral dilemma, but it was my biological fight or flight instinct kicking into high gear. Anxiety is the body’s warning siren. Listen to it. Please.

So, I’m not saying run at the first sign of trouble, by no means. Relationships and people are complicated and require great amounts of energy, commitment, and work. Don’t run, unless there are huge red flags showing a predatory or abusive nature, just put on another layer of armor and tread cautiously until that trust can be built. Stay open. Stay honest. Express your fears and encourage your beloved to do the same. You both have emotional baggage. Everyone does starting from early childhood. All this plays into the person that you are and the person that s/he is, just watch for predatory and abusive signs.

And that brings us to the topic of Emotional and/or Sexual Predators, which will be the topic of next week’s post. See you then, my friends.

-_Q

Have you had an experience with an Emotional Vampire? Feel free to share publicly in the comments or privately via email. Were there warning signs you either didn’t recognize or chose to ignore?

~ by omgrey on October 5, 2011.

16 Responses to “Emotional Vampires”

  1. Wow. yet again Ithink you are me! In like a paralell dimension🙂

    Great post!

  2. Why does any of this bother you? If you are an emotiionally strong person yourself, why wouuld it upset you so much that others are in a state? You can lead as isolated, disconnected and selfish a life as you wish. It’s allowed, go ahead. I am certain that absolutely no one with the full range of emotions and an average ability to connect with other humans would wish to have anything to do with you, indeed, to do so would probably be harmful to them. Do yourself and everyone else a favour and live your life as alone as youwish to.

    • Hi Rebecca. You sound very angry. Did something in this post trigger that?

      Perhaps you haven’t read my other posts, but I am anything but emotionally limited. I truly do experience the full range of emotions on a quite intense level. As I’ve mentioned before, I have an emotional regulation disorder, so my emotions are deeply intense and sometimes difficult to manage. The problem that I have with Emotional Vampires is not that they feel, but that they feed off another’s energy until there is nothing left. They feed off those genuine emotions because they are, in some cases, unable to feel themselves.

      I have a rather great ability to connect with other humans beings, some would say too good, actually. I connect quickly and deeply, too often, and that’s why I end up hurt or the prey of EV/predators. I’m learning, though.

      Still, I’m quite curious as to what made you so upset. It seems that you perhaps misunderstood this post.

    • I don’t think omgrey was advocating abandoning people when they’re in need. Everyone has ups and downs in life and needs a support system, but there are some people who don’t offer support, who just bring you down. Whether they do it intentionally or not doesn’t matter if it’s constant. Being emotionally strong doesn’t mean immune, and there’s no reason we should subject ourselves to pain and broken hearts.

      I have a friend who needed someone to lean on when she moved back to the area. She felt alone, so I offered a great deal of my time to hang out. I was happy to do it. We had fun together. But after she got settled, found a job, and reconnected with other friends, she stopped talking to me altogether. She’s the kind of person who takes, but doesn’t give. I’m not going to shun her for it, but I’m also not going to pursue a friendship that doesn’t exist based on a mutual desire to connect. That would just lead to me feeling resentment and disappointment. I have other friends who work to build me up as much as I do them.

      • Beautifully said, Angela.

        One-sided relationships are never fun. I find myself trying to bridge that gap for a long time before I realize that there just isn’t that mutual desire to connect anymore. I’m learning to let go much earlier now when I feel the other person pull away. Although I don’t let go right away, I am learning to start backing off when they do. If they continue backing off, then I let go. I’m done trying to force a relationship based on an initial connection. Because you’re right, it just leads to feelings of resentment and disappointment.

        I, too, have many friends who are supportive to me and I am to them. Those are the kinds of friends and lovers that you want.

  3. This post is so well timed for me right now. You could not have expressed what I’m dealing with any better. What has been so difficult, after finally just shutting the Emotional Vampire of my personal acquaintance out completely (for my own self-preservation), is the total letting go. I still think about them & our relationship, and even though I’ve moved on, I feel that I will always in some small ways remember what we had, perhaps with a lot of emotional pain. The hardest part is to not write it all off as a complete waste of time & not feel as if it were all a lie. I’ve had to come to terms with defining when we stopped sharing truths with each other and when it was just about the taking & not giving. It’s an often daily process of separating myself from the past & bringing myself back to the present & all the wonderful things/people that have come into my life now that I have moved on & made room for them. Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone in dealing with these issues & helping to reinforce my belief that I have made the right decision.

    • Yes. Total letting go is very difficult for me, too. My recent ex, although not an EV, was quite emotionally abusive and rather predatory, as I’m finally coming to recognize and accept. I’m struggling with the “was any of it real” too, especially since I’ve just received new information proving he was lying to me from the beginning. At the moment, it does feel like it was all a lie and a complete waste of time, especially because I took on more pain by defending him and protecting him for 2+months afterward, believing in him.

      Yes, being in the present is a powerful tool. The past is in the past, and it’s best left there. I also have been blessed with a community of support in this matter along with many new close friends. Overall, I’m better off with the new people in my life who love me and who reciprocate my gifts, but it doesn’t take away the pain of the betrayal and loss of a love.

      You are most certainly not alone and neither am I. It’s so nice to get comments like yours because it reminds me that I’m not alone either.

  4. When your emotions are played upon it takes a very strong person to rise above that. Your emotions keep your heart beating and the life in your eyes. In the last few years my emotions have been so exposed and torn at times that the pain is indescribable..The same person that can make you feel like the most important person in the world is the same one that can turn you into a person grasping for anything that can be found left of what you were told was something special and never before felt. I will add that this emotional vampire can also transform this subject into the needy, whiny and emotionally drained person that doesn’t even recognize themselves in the mirror. So a debilitating case of a broken spirit and a shattered heart can manifest into yet ANOTHER emotional vampire and the cycle continues. I have been the subject, and the soft spoken words and the warm touches held my heart and I believed……every time I looked into his eyes I believed….and then one day just like that….it was over. Without a word, without a chance to get used to anything, without a chance to wrap my head around the fact that my place would be different now…It was over. His ride was over. He had spent several years in this emotional game with me and now he was through., without a single thought as to the emotional damage he had triggered in me. But the other thing so tragic about the scenario is that not only does he feel no responsibility for the hurt and despair he caused….he spawned another of his species because now I find myself trying to suck the life out of him…He moves on and I am destroyed.

    • I really do know exactly what you’re talking about. His ride was over, so that was that. No kidding. The mark of a predator, rather abusive. You are better than that. You are worthy of more than that. And it hurts like hell, but you will get through it as the loving, nurturing woman you are. No contact. Block him from everywhere. Don’t look at his networks, and put him behind you…one minute at a time. And it’s so hard that saying it’s hard is a gross understatement.

      Every time you want to look at his stuff, email me instead. I mean it.

  5. This is very interesting,and useful to many people looking to safeguard themselves from repeating previous mistakes. On the other hand, however, what if you are an “emotional vampire”? (that s a general “you”, not personal) It strikes me that in all texts of this nature nobody advocates speaking to those who are causing offence, or are being blamed for the destruction of relationships etc. Too much is made of recognising abuse and not enough of finding out wether the person involved even knows they are having this effect.

    In cases of actions that create unhealthy relationships, the current world of advice, be it amateur or professional is very much geared around “shoot first, ask questions later”. As someone who knows they exhibit certain unhealthy aspcts at low points, I feel both maligned and marginalised, as if the fact i have a bad side is good enough to persecute me and in turn, make me have the same emotional symptoms as emotionally abused people.

    The line is dotted, at best. The difference in many cases between emotional abusers and the abused is the coping mechanism, not the pain. Some withdraw, and become the victim, some push out, and become the agressor.

    Now lets be very clear; I am in no way saying that extreme cases of emotional, physical or other abuse is ok, or that there is any excuse for it, but in the more grey area case of people with good and bad habits it is becoming all too easy for one or the other to be put away and persecuted under one or other abusive tag.

    The fact is, we all have to toe the line, we all have to forgive, and we all have to take responsibility for our interactions with others. I do, and I urge those around me to do the same, even better if I receive criticism for the things I do, because then I know people are thinking, and not resigning to becoming victims. If I receive a criticism of my actions, I don’t like it, but it’s a sign that people are taking responsibility for the way they feel. In my experience, some people are content to let others choose the course of the relationship for them, and complain only when they realise they don’t have what they want. Honestly? they should have been more involved from the outset.

    In summary, everyone should be open, especially when its difficult. Everyone should share, even if its an argument. Take control, be determined, and certainly look after yourself, no one else really can, not until we learn the trick of entwining our brains at a quantum level, anyhow.

    Thanks for the post, I hope this is a positive contribution, but i really won’t mind if it’s removed later.

    Pope

    • This post as well as the others are more about those who know they’re doing it on some level and don’t want to stop because they get off on it or, alternatively, are so unaware of who they are (or so afraid) that they don’t even look. You seem quite self-aware of your issues and actively working to minimize them. That is a huge difference right there. Everyone has issues. I think most people can be mildly abusive (verbal/emotional) in some situations, like arguments or misunderstandings, but the difference is the awareness, the willingness to apologize & communicate, and the effort to change damaging behaviors in future interactions.

      And YES — involved from the outset! Honest and communicative from the outset!!! YES!

      Thank you for your comment, Pope. It was a very positive contribution!!

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