Loathe Energy Vampires? 5 Ways to Know The Suckers


Energy Vampires are people who literally suck the energy right out of you if you give them the time and the opportunity.  I’m not attributing any other-worldly demon force to them, although, I can’t claim to be the definitive source on the subject.

To be fair, there are different categories of Energy Vampires.  What to do about them, depends somewhat on your assessment, although some principles do hold across the board.  Let’s review, in case your degree in introverted education hasn’t quite covered this topic yet.

1. The Fabulous Me, Me, Me Energy Vampire

The outwardly magnetic person that loves to be seen, appreciated, and recognized for style, dress, and personality.  I look good, right?  Whatever the focus is, it’s generally to prop up rather superficial, narcicisstic ego needs.  They’re super busy and super important.  It can leave you putting aside what matters to you, feeling like an assistant to facilitate their life.  Because their life is what’s important.  The hook is usually that there’s something about them you like or admire and want to be around (until you realize they’re more empty than not).

2. The My-Life-Is-A-Crisis Energy Vampire

This is not quite drama king and queen royalty.  It’s the real deal.  The person who moves from one horrible event, situation, or relationship to the next.  They do really need help.  They may not initially ask for it.  In fact, they probably won’t ask.  Your heart goes out to them because they are good people.  You might end up feeling like you’re a horrible friend because at a certain point when they need you, you just can’t save the day for another crisis.  But they neeeeeeeed you!  The hook is that they make you feel important, you made the difference in their lives.  A real hero.

3. The Here Today, Gone Tomorrow Energy Vampire

This is the person who calls, texts, and emails for a period of time and then disappears.  And then down comes the blue fairy, and…Poof!  They might pop up for a time, and then disappear without much notice either way, without much communication.  We all drop in and out of other people’s lives, but the issue here is the lack of communication at some point about why and how and what surrounded the change.  The hook is that you’ve had what you thought were meaningful exchanges.  You thought you could trust the person, but ultimately, they provide no real consideration for you despite the time, energy, and care you’ve put into what you thought was a relationship.

4. The Double-Bind Energy Vampire

Things seem calm initially, or at least interesting.  Maybe even fascinating.  These are the people who eventually draw you into damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situations that typically tend to be black-and-white in nature.  If you respond the way they want, it denies your needs or boundaries about what’s important to you.  If you don’t, then you really don’t love or appreciate them, care for them (and you are a bad person for it).  They might even get angry, aggressive, or criticize you.  You might tell yourself that you’re responding the way they want to show love or care, and that it is normal to make sacrifices for people you love.  The hook is that the connection may feel really great when things are good.  But, according to them, you’re always going to be responsible for making them feel good, even when it’s not really your responsibility.

5. The Oh-So-Charming Energy Vampire

The problem is that we’re all charmed by “charming.”  These are the people who make you laugh or blush, or are attractive in some way to you.  They have a need and you, generally being rather empathetic, want to help.  And then, over time, you wake up to find that you’re doing soooooo much.  Things you wanted to do, suggested you could do, thought it would be fun to do.  But you realize there’s not much reciprocation.  Usually, though, you get an important emotional need met, or think you’re getting it met from this person.  It turns out that as long as you’re “putting out” your time, energy, and money, things are good.  But, if you try to discuss how to bring some equity or set some boundaries for yourself, you’re likely to get passive-aggressive, or aggressive responses.  The hook is the illusion that they are attracted to you in the same way you are to them (it doesn’t have to be romantic).

I don’t think this list is exhaustive, and if you have ones to add, please share your thoughts.  Also, these don’t have to be discreet categories of energy vampires, so there may be a little mix and match.  I am making light of the topic, but the reality is that these people are toxic in different ways to highly sensitive people.  The question is how to recognize them, and find healthy ways of avoiding or excising the poison from your system and from your life.

Do you have energy vampires in your life?  What do you do to get them to stop sucking your energy?

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Eva Rubin, MPH/LCSW

Hi! I'm Eva Rubin, LCSW. I study the psychology and the art of how to live well as an introvert and sensitive person so that I can learn and share it with you.
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