MIAMI (CBSMiami) — There are relationships that can drain and overwhelm us, caused by people who exhibit an excessive need for our attention.
If you this sounds familiar then you may be dealing with an “emotional vampire.”
“An ’emotional vampire’ is a term that we use for people who suck the energy out of us. It’s often a person who is really, really needy. They want everything from us all the time. You almost feel like you’re being held hostage,” said relationship counselor Deanna Jordan, the clinical director at New Method Wellness. “Sometimes, unfortunately, we’re in positions where we have to continue relationships, with people who are draining on us.”
Emotional vampires are everywhere but experts said they most commonly can be found among friends, family and work colleagues.
“My friend continually texts me, calls me. She’s very negative all the time and it’s really draining,” said Jennifer Terrell. “I love her and I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I feel like she’s lonely, just very high maintenance.”
It’s that maintenance that Terrell said had left her feeling spent. The working mother and PTA council president said she’s trying to juggle everyone’s needs.
“I’ve had a family member who had boundary issues, who constantly just came over whenever,” said Terrell. “That relationship has suffered greatly because of that and we see that family member very minimally.”
Jordan said there are ways to manage those people who may have good intentions but end up sucking your time and energy.
“I don’t think it’s ever a good solution to cut someone out of your life, unless they’re really toxic,” said Jordan. “It’s better to learn how to deal with these people than to just cut them off.”
The relationship expert suggests it start with a kind response or a “wall of pleasantness,” so that you’re “not really letting yourself be vulnerable or letting your authentic personality come through.”
Also, try re-framing your communication.
“I might say, ‘Last time we were together, I was just so overwhelmed. Do you think this time we’re together, we could talk a little less?’” said Jordan.
And don’t feel guilty. Give yourself an out.
Jordan said that could mean saying things like: “I forgot I got to make this phone call,” “Oh, I’ve got this appointment,” “Oh my gosh, I totally forgot I got to pick up the kids.”
When people are acting like emotional vampires, Jordan said it’s all right to be a little selfish in return.
“It’s so difficult for people in our culture to put themselves first, and the most important thing is non-negotiable self-care first. It’s going to be uncomfortable, but you’re going to feel better,” said Jordan.
Above all, this relationship expert suggests making yourself a priority, no matter what.