Monday, October 10, 2011
Emotional Vampires—Five Common Types and How to Slay Them
Halloween is a good
time to look at the emotional vampires that, at times, we all come across. Dr. Judith Orloff answers some common questions
you may have.What is an emotional vampire?The biggest source of energy drain I see in my patients is their relationships.
8:21 am edt
Emotional vampires are people
who can drain your energy and suck you dry. They are the people who make your mood take a nosedive, who you feel sick or tired
around - you may even want to binge on comfort foods. Basically, it’s a person who changes your mood for the worse just
by being around them.What’s the most common types of
emotional vampire out there?There are five types:· Narcissistic· Victim· Controller· Constant Talker· Drama QueenI would say that the “Victim” is the most
common. That’s the friend who keeps you on the phone for two hours
complaining about everything, but they never
seem to do anything about how miserable they are. You start avoiding their phone calls after a bit because they are exhausting
and you feel like there’s nothing you can say about it.What can we do about the feeling
that we can’t do anything about an
emotional vampire? Why are we too
afraid of being seen as impolite?A lot of people don’t speak up for
themselves because they are afraid of
offending someone or being
impolite. I wrote the book Emotional Freedom to give people
strategies of how to deal with situations like this. It’s a skill that people
are not taught, but my hope is that you can learn a few simple tools, you can deal with emotional vampires in a loving and
Do you have any
tips of how we can First, you have to notice how your
energy is when you’re around the person. If you are on a date and everything seems to be going great, but you notice
that you are
protect ourselves from getting into
relationships with emotional vampires?
exhausted, do not marry this person.Other than that, I ask people to sit down and think of their top five buttons. The top five things
that set them off. Things like guilt trips, petty criticisms, anger — everyone has buttons, and emotional vampires happen
to be able to see these buttons more than
other people, and they will push them. Once you know what sets you off, it
can help you take the emotionality out of dealing with them, because that’s key. It may take a while for you to be calm
enough to respond,
but at least you’ll know when to go
and calm yourself.Once you have your head in the right
place, what can you do?I
call it the “Warrior’s Way” of dealing with people who want to push your buttons. Your tone of voice is
critical — you have to talk to an emotional vampire in a very matter-of-fact-way or compassionate manner, rather than
trying to deal with them the way they are talking to you. You don’t want to turn them off, because you have a goal.
If you take the bait and get emotional, then nothing will change.I recommend techniques like limit setting — for instance, calmly telling a person
who criticizes you that they hurt your feelings and you’d appreciate it if they didn’t do it again. Get in and
get out quickly, with a smile. You do not want a dialogue. For a boss who is narcissistic, frame the things you want in terms
of what they’re going to get out of it.
company” will get results faster than “I’m exhausted and I need time off”. For a
drama queen coworker — by the way, never ask a drama queen how they are doing! — I recommend using “not interested” body language.
Turning away from them, crossing your arms, and calmly explaining that you have work to do. It takes practice, but it’s
definitely worth it.Dr.
Judith Orloff, is an Assistant Clinical
Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA. Her book Emotional Freedom will give you more
insight to emotional vampires.
She can be reached at: drjudithorloff.com.