October 14, 2013

Beware these Real Life Vampires.

Photo: Jure Gasparič on Pixoto

We don’t have to be 15-year-old goth kids or Twilight fanatics to know that vampires are real.

I am not talking about the sparkly ones or the ones who die if they are exposed to sunlight. Rather, I am talking about the emotional ones or the ones that are so taxing that having them in your life is similar to slowly having your blood drained from your body. (In some cases, the latter may even be more fun.)

I know a lot about emotional vampires because like a lot of women—especially those (like me) with Daddy issues—I have dated and befriended a lot of the in my life.

Many readers may be wondering why anyone would let themselves associate with such people in the first place. The truth is, emotional vampires—much like their fictional counterparts—are incredibly good at disguising themselves. Most are charming and some cultivate such an air of kindness and vulnerability that one cannot help but want to be there for them or worse, rescue them.

While most of the emotional vampires I have known have been former lovers, “friends” can fall into that category, too. In fact, some friendships can be as emotionally chaotic or damaging as any romantic relationship.

I’ve found that in some cases, it is even more painful to discover that about someone I thought was my friend. While many of us, even the most die-hard romantics, assume that at some point a romantic relationship may end, few think the same thing about friendships.

Looking out for the signs of these real-life vampires may possibly save us from a lot of grief and unnecessary drama in the long run. While every individual is different, the following are things that many I have met all seemed to have in common.

So, without further ado, proceed with caution if your lover or friend displays any of the following:

1. They only contact you when they want something that will mostly benefit themselves.

In this day and age of trying to juggle careers, personal life, etc. it is easy to lose track of friends. There are some close friends I have not seen or spoken to in well over a year or longer.

However, some people only pop up when they want something: money, help moving, a sympathetic ear to listen to when a relationship goes south, sex (in the case of a lover), etc.

Granted, there is nothing wrong with asking a friend or a lover for such things, but if it’s always take, take, take and never any give, that is a problem.

Also, does this person stick around once they get what they ask for or do they disappear again? If it’s the latter, then ask yourself what, if anything, they have ever given to you.

2. Nearly every conversation is about themselves.

There is nothing inherently wrong with people talking about themselves. However, I am talking about the type who never ask you how you are doing or what you are feeling and instead, proceed to talk only about their favorite person: themselves.

A major red flag if the usual topic of conversation is how other people did them wrong, or if they try to make themselves look better by putting you or others down.

Beware that the latter may be subtle. I once had a conversation with a now-ex-friend where she asked if the only reason I got married was because I had been pregnant. When I politely informed her that no, I had been married for two years prior to that, she then proceeded to tell me about her up-coming vacation and home renovations while commenting how my own home could be “charming” as well, with the right renovations and how it was so nice I chose to live in a “less-established, less-trendy” part of town.

Months later, when we were no longer friends, it was clear she was never interested in me. Rather, I was just a springboard for her to feel better about herself.

Unfortunately, she is far from being the only person out there like that. Many people like this also suffer from #3.

3. They rarely show appreciation for the people in their lives or give little affection.

I like to say that a relationship isn’t like Yahtzee: that is, no one should be keeping score.

However, you don’t need to record every kind word or action to know that your friend or lover is contributing far less than you are when that is the case.

In the case of a lover, this may be someone who rarely remembers important occasions, seldom gives you encouragement when you are down, or rarely says that they love you or shows it. If they do say “I love you,” it may be followed by words like “whatever that means” or “probably not the way you think it means.” (I dated one man who never said those three words without tagging the rest on.)

Part of any relationship, be it a romantic one or a friendship, involves intimacy. While you may not have to hear it, you have to at least feel it.

If you aren’t feeling it, then it is probably not there.

4. They don’t have any long-term friends.

This is probably the biggest red flag of all. Much like their TV/movie counterparts, emotional vampires can often mimic normal human behavior, but they cannot maintain it over long periods of time.

Even someone like my former 20-something self, a person with pretty low self-esteem who wanted to believe there was good in everyone, eventually wakes up and sees that something isn’t right and moves on if only for the sake of their own sanity.

In the case of one vampire whom I allowed to spend way too much time in my life, he was estranged from practically everyone: his siblings, former co-workers, his friends from high school and college, etc.

In every case, he claimed it was the other parties’ fault that they were no longer friends.

At first I thought he was just a victim of bad luck, but the truth is, no one is that unlucky. By the time I saw that the fault lay in him and not those other people, I had already invested a lot of time and energy trying to “get” him to return my feelings. Needless to say, it never happened.

While I am happy that I eventually saw the light, it’s still painful to this day to admit to myself how deeply I was in denial over what this man was really like vs. what I wanted him to be.

Few of us can honestly say we have never encountered emotional vampires in our lives.

As much as we would like to think they are rare, they are in fact everywhere. Knowing what signs to look for can be almost as effective as a wooden stake or garlic was in warding off Count Dracula. However, while Dracula was arguably fun, most of his real-life equivalents are anything but.

If you happen to currently have one of these people in your life, ask yourself if you are prepared for the almost inevitable heartbreak that comes with having such a person in your life. Unlike the works of fiction mentioned in this piece, in real life, these relationships seldom have a happy ending. Also, there is rarely a hero to come in and save the day.

Be your own hero and rescue yourself before it’s too late.


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Ed: Catherine Monkman

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