We’ve all heard the term “emotional vampire,” but what does it really mean? I consider “emotional vampire” to be a colloquial term for toxic people who deprive us of our energy, our sense of emotional safety and our ability to engage in self-care. Being around an emotional vampire can cause us to feel depressed, anxious, frightened, confused and in pain. It can affect our productivity, our ability to focus and our overall mental, physical and emotional well-being.
This term is commonly used to describe narcissists and sociopaths who psychologically bleed us dry. It can also be applied to garden-variety toxic people who are self-centered and self-absorbed. Whatever point at the spectrum the emotional vampire falls upon, however, he or she can take a toll on your mental health.
Empaths and highly sensitive people might be especially susceptible to being around these types because emotional vampires are drawn to our warmth, our compassion and our bright energy. Emotional vampires feast on these qualities to satiate themselves while leaving you feeling sick and drained.
There are seven signs you should watch out for if you believe you might be dealing with an emotional vampire.
1. They deplete you physically and emotionally so you’re unable to care for yourself or be productive.
Being around a toxic person is like being weighed down by heavy black tar. It can affect you on both a psychological and physiological level. You feel immobilized. Your whole body can react: maybe your heart beats faster, your palms sweat, and you get an aching sense of something not being right in your gut or heart. You might experience pain or physical ailments that come out of nowhere.
Psychologically, you feel a diminished sense of agency and an increased sense of hopelessness. You’re unable to react constructively because this toxic person’s excessive entitlement, lack of empathy and blatant disregard for your emotions seeps into every interaction you have with them. They drain your energy so that you’re no longer able to put your full focus on the things that truly matter.
Their goal is to distract you with their manipulative tactics so that you’re no longer serving your highest good – instead, you’re catering to their ego, exclusively serving them and their needs.
2. When you’re no longer in their presence, you might still feel affected by them.
You find yourself ruminating over strange things they said or cruel things they did to you. You’re likely to feel emotionally exhausted by their antics, their attempts to start drama or their flagrant disrespect of your basic needs and rights. You find yourself questioning your own reality and being plagued with a persistent sense of self-doubt.
Severe anxiety is common for empaths who’ve been “touched” by the impact of an emotional vampire. Depression is often inevitable side effect of being surrounded by emotional vampires for long periods of time.