How to deal with emotional vampires

Tuesday, October 06, 2009
By Sara Moore


According to psychiatrist Judith Orloff, MD, emotional vampires are bad for your physical and psychological health. They lead to such unhealthy symptoms such as overeating and mood swings, isolating and fatigue. Emotional vampires lurk everywhere and wear many different disguises, from needy relatives to workplace bullies. Whether they do so intentionally or not, these people can make you feel overwhelmed, depressed, defensive, angry, and wiped out.


Don’t let emotional vampires suck the life out of you! Here are five types of emotional vampires you’re most likely to encounter and the best ways to defend yourself from them.

Type #1: The Narcissist
This vampire is grandiose, self-important, attention hogging, and hungry for admiration. She is often charming and intelligent, that is until her guru status is threatened.

Self-defense tips:
Enjoy her good qualities, but keep your expectations realistic. Since her motto is “me-first,” getting angry or stating your needs won’t phase her. Get her to cooperate by showing her how your request satisfies her self-interest.

Type #2: The Victim
This vampire thinks the world is against her, and demands that others rescue her.

Self-defense tips:
Don’t be her therapist and don’t tell her to buck up. Limit your interactions and don’t get involved in her self-pity.

Type #3: The Controller
This vampire has an opinion about everything, thinks she knows what’s best for you, has a rigid sense of right and wrong, and needs to dominate.


Self-defense tips:
Speak up and be confident. Don’t get caught up in bickering over the small stuff. Assert your needs, and then agree to disagree.

Type #4: The Criticizer
This vampire feels qualified to judge you, belittle you, and bolster her own ego by making you feel small and ashamed.

Self-defense tips:
Don’t take what she says personally. Address a misplaced criticism directly. Don’t get defensive. Express appreciation for what’s useful. Bounce back with a massive dose of loving-kindness.

Type #5: The Splitter
This vampire may treat you like her BFF one day, and then mercilessly attack you the next day when she feels wronged. She is often a threatening rage-a-holic who revels in keeping others on an emotional roller coaster.

Self-defense tips:
Establish boundaries and be solution-oriented. Avoid skirmishes, refuse to take sides, and avoid eye contact when she’s raging at you. Visualize a protective shield around you when you’re being emotionally attacked.

These tips and many more can be found in Judith Orloff’s new book Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Harmony Books, 2009, $24.95).

Leave a Reply

Notify of