We all have that friend, colleague, or family member — the whiner, the complainer, the narcissist, the individual whose behaviour is so taxing to deal with that you need to take a nap after spending time with them. I used to work with a woman who spent so much time gossiping and criticizing others that I would take washroom breaks just to get away from her for a few minutes. These highly unconscious, energy-draining people are what have come to be known by the term “psychic vampires”.
In folklore, a psychic vampire is a mythological creature said to feed off the “life force” of other living creatures. But from a modern perspective, psychic vampires, also known as “energy vampires”, are emotionally immature individuals who unknowingly suck the time and energy from the people around them. They are often highly self-interested, lack empathy, and the relationships they form are largely there to serve their own needs. There are many different types. Some are easier to notice than others, but no matter what, they’ll take an emotional and physical toll on you. According to Wikihow, some of the key factors that indicate you’re in the presence of a psychic vampire are:
- Heavy eyelids and an increased need for sleep
- Low mood
- Desire to binge eat and consume other comfort foods
- Feelings of anxiety, depression, and negativity
- You feel put down frequently
Psychic vampires come in a variety of forms and their behaviours are complex. Relationships that drain our energy can manifest in a variety of personality types, so learning to recognize the various forms psychic vampires can take will help you prevent them from stealing your thunder.
1) The Narcissist
A narcissist is a person who has an excessive interest in, or admiration of, themselves, so narcissistic psychic vampires have grandiose senses of self-importance and entitlement. They tend to lack empathy and become withholding or cold if you don’t do things their way. This is because they have little capacity for anything approaching unconditional love.
Because the narcissistic psychic vampire has an ego big enough to come in a dump truck, they often love to debate, argue and pick fights. The key to protecting yourself from this type of energy vampire is self confidence. Don’t allow their self-worship to make you feel bad about yourself.
2) The Victim
The victim vampire tends to “poor me” their way through life. They believe the universe targets them for misery and misfortune and is to blame for their unhappiness. They drain your energy with their constant whining and complaining, yet they refuse to act on any advice you offer.
This type of energy vampire also often has a constant need for reassurance and acceptance. Protecting yourself from the victim vampire may require some savvy conversation skills. When the individual continues with their kvetching, listen for a few minutes then gently turn the conversation in another direction. If that doesn’t work, try politely letting the person know that you want to help them but their constant complaining won’t resolve any issues. Try approaching them with a phrase like, “I am really concerned about what you’re going through but nothing’s going to change unless you actually take action. Complaining to me may help you vent, but it won’t provide an actual solution in the end.” If the person’s whining persists, it may be time to find another friend.
3) The Controller
Think of the dominating spouse or boss who uses threats and manipulation to get you to do what they want. This is an example of the controlling energy vampire. This type of vampire NEEDS to be at the reins at all times and will do whatever is necessary to get their way. In some cases, this may even resort to being aggressive and playing dirty with emotional blackmail and guilt tripping — making them the most dangerous of all psychic vampires. The controller vampire often invalidates your emotions in order to dominate you or put you down. The best defense is to draw the line with their behaviour and set a strict boundary with what you consider acceptable. If psychic vampires realize you have limits, they’ll back off from you and search for other victims.
4) The Constant Talker
Constant talking psychic vampires take over conversations by unendingly sharing their own thoughts, feelings, and anecdotes without giving pause to allow you to put in your own two-cents. They might also invade your physical space as they natter on endlessly (close-talker). The easiest way to deal with this type of psychic vampire is to simply not engage them in conversation at all. If there’s no escaping them, try keeping the topic light and enjoyable so that their endless drone is at least tolerable.
5) The Exaggerator
Drama queen psychic vampires drain energy by exaggerating small instances. Being late for a meeting is the end of the world, and minor illness is the worst cold ever, or they over-inflate their importance in small situations. Dealing with this type of psychic vampire is relatively easy — ignore them. As irritating as a drama queen psychic vampire can be they are not a danger to your mental well being unless you allow them to get under your skin.
The key to dealing with any of these psychic vampires is to set firm boundaries when it comes to dealing with their toxic behaviour. Once a psychic vampire realizes that you will not tolerate their ways they will move on in search of an easier target. You can draw the line in the sand with psychic vampires by:
- Being very clear about what behaviours you consider unacceptable and sticking to it. Gently but clearly explain to them that there are limits on your time, space, and patience.
- Do not allow yourself to form a close friendship or romantic relationship with a psychic vampire. Once you are emotionally involved it becomes harder to enforce boundaries or extract yourself from a toxic relationship.
- Body language can be a strong defense against the psychic vampire. Stand straight with your head up, cross your arms and maintain eye contact. This defensive stance conveys confidence and the message that you are not to be messed with.