11/23/2014 11:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Energy Vampires: Are You Their Next Prey?


You know them. Energy vampires. They disguise themselves in human form. They kindly befriend you, seemingly act like a comrade, your best bud. But then, as you begin to get to know them, they slowly suck the vibrant energy out of you. You probably were just trying to be a good friend by listening to their plight, their hardship, their challenges. You give them your time, attention and offer them advice, inspiration and motivation. But each time you talk to them, share with them, console them, you feel more and more drained. It can be plain exhausting. But yet you sometimes feel some strange compelling reason to stay connected to them.

An energy vampire is just that. A friend, family member, coworker or acquaintance who you choose to engage with, for whatever reason, but who is able (knowingly or unknowingly) to unload her heavy emotions onto you to feel lighter herself. These vampires will suck up your positive energy to feed and refuel themselves emotionally.

Energy vampires prefer the sneak attack when you are least prepared and not really ready for their drama, emotional upheaval, whining, complaining, or victim (poor me) approach. You never quite see them coming; they are particularly good at surprising you.

Do you know anyone like this? (Or have YOU ever been an energy vampire yourself?)

Of course it is important to provide emotional support to those you care for. But there is a clear distinction with an energy vampire. They seem to seek YOU out. They know your "emotionally weak" or "compassion" buttons and use that knowledge as leverage to create their attack strategy. They continue to suck that positive, giving energy from you until you are either completely drained or you choose to stand up to their power and thirst for blood and say "enough"!

Think of it this way: Each of us has a "bank" of emotional energy containing a combination of both positive and negative emotions. When you become energy vampire prey, all of that wonderful energy and positivism within you is drawn out. Energy vampires don't know how to make themselves inwardly happy, so they look to unload their negative energy over and over again upon their prey. They dump their negative feelings and then refuel their bank with YOUR positive energy...

Their emotional bank account upload is good for them, but bad for you, because your vibrant energy (aka life force) which is vital to your health and wellbeing is diminished. When you're energy bank is running on low reserves, your immunity and health is compromised. Your "empty" bank becomes a calling card for disease. Unfortunately, it can happen to anyone of us.

At one point in time I befriended an individual just like this -- an energy vampire undercover. She wanted to be my friend and was especially great at phoning me to vent her frustration. At first, I did my best to sincerely help her -- to offer her my best guidance for the problem she was facing. But slowly, I became her crutch. She needed to unload her unhappiness somewhere, so after awhile, her conversations with me became all about her -- her troubles, her dilemmas, her pain, her frustrations, yada yada yada... I didn't want to seem uncaring nor let her feel I was abandoning her, so I listened and listened more while she consumed every ounce of sunshine and light within me.

So how do you guard yourself from being energy vampire prey (like I had become)? Do you carry around a wooden stake, stay outside in the sunlight or wear cloves of garlic around your neck as mythology suggests? No, these tactics only work in the movies!

But don't worry. There are some very effective ways to ward off the vampire bite if you are discerning and determined enough to do so.

First, do try to listen intently when you engage with her for the first one or two times you converse. Being supportive is a good thing, and by demonstrating your willingness to listen and help, you build companionship and trust.

Second, as soon as you start to feel as if your family member, friend or coworker is using your conversational time together to vent, complain, or create drama, then its time to give your would-be vampire some tough boundaries... namely, boundaries about how you and he will spend your time either being together or talking together. Clear boundaries signal others as to which of their behaviors you will or will not accept.

For example, if you feel like your conversation is heading in the wrong direction, put up a temporary roadblock and say something like, "Kaitlin, it sounds like you are really frustrated again. And while I so honor your friendship (working relationship), I really enjoy when our conversations are mixed with some of the wonderful experiences you have had lately. Plus, we really don't get to spend too much time together, so I would love to share with you some of the great things going on in my life as well." This message politely tells Kaitlin you enjoy her friendship but she needs to curb her complaining and redirect her conversation with you to something more upbeat... that you don't want to spend your time together hearing her drama, whining and negative attitude.

Third, if your temporary roadblock is not understood or is ignored, then more vampire resistant strategies are in order. Namely, ESCAPE! Not suggesting that you necessarily need to physically move away, but that you indicate that you will not stay there and be "bitten"... you're "heading out" emotionally. For example, you might say, "Kaitlin, I'm sorry to hear about your challenging circumstances right now, and I really really do want things to move in a good direction for you, but if we can't share in some of the great things happening to both of us, I would prefer we talk or get together at another time."

Fourth, now that you have identified your energy vampire, it is up to you to be disciplined about how your relationship with him will proceed in the future. If there are wonderful parts of your relationship that you just can't live without, I suggest you keep the relationship, however, carefully strategize each future interaction. If this relationship does not provide any positive value to you, then you need to rethink why you are engaging, why you continue to maintain the relationship. There is karma to every relationship. Sometimes relationships are simply supposed to be terminated. You don't have to "burn the bridge," just detach from the closeness of it so that you aren't future vampire prey.

Fifth, now that you are very vampire-wise, you need to stay on track and practice being more discerning when you think you smell a vampire lurking nearby. Stay away, if you can.

As for my personal situation with my energy vampire, I had to do a major roadBLOCK... specifically, terminate the relationship, at least temporarily. After some very deep soul searching, I realized there was not a single good reason to maintain that relationship at that point in time. Could things change? Certainly. Even vampires are given a second chance=next lifetime!

You have an amazing spirit, positive energy and a purpose to fulfill. Don't be the energy vampire's next prey!