They are at work, at home, everywhere you look; there they ARE draining your life force like a Slurpee on a hot-summer day.
According to Judith Orloff M.D.Are You In Love With An Emotional Vampire? How to Cope With a Draining Mate. Here are some common types of emotional vampires in the romantic arena and how to deal with them clearly and effectively.
Vampire 1. The Nagger These drainers become broken records and won't let up with their requests until you act on them. Their comments include: "Did you call your mother yet? Did you get to the gym? When are you starting on your diet? They'll annoy you with scolding, nitpicking, or repetitive demands. They can be so persistent that you feel pressured and drained.
How To Protect Yourself: Set clear limits with your mate in a kind but firm tone. For instance, say, "Sweetheart, I love you but you are pressuring me too much. Please back off a little." Naggers often need to be gently re-trained. You may need to practice limit setting for a while to change this pattern.
Vampire 2. The Victim/Complainer These types grate on you with their "poor-me" attitude. The world is always against them, the reason for their unhappiness. When you offer a solution to their problems they always say, "Yes, but..." You might end up dreading having the same conversations over and over again with your mate. You want to help, but his or her tales of woe overwhelm you.
How to Protect Yourself: You can sympathize and listen briefly. Then tell your partner, "I can see you are upset, but I don't think it's constructive to keep rehashing the same issues. Let's concentrate on solutions." This approach allows you to be loving and to actively refocus the situation in a positive way.
Vampire 3. The Criticizer These types have a sneaky way of making you feel guilty or lacking for not getting things just right. They can find fault with everything, and spot a flaw across a crowded room, then suggest how to improve yourself "for your own good." These can be minor critiques or comments that seriously hurt your feelings.
How to Protect Yourself: Try addressing the criticism positively, in a calm, neutral tone. Say, "I can see that you're trying to help, but when you're critical it's harder for me to hear you." Or you might want to strike a compromise. For instance, if your mate criticizes you for leaving the dishes in the sink, you can divide the task up between you. Do this with a very loving tone and attitude-I call it setting off a "love bomb" where you diffuse negativity with sweetness while offering solutions to correct the situation.
Vampire 4. The Self-Obsessed Drainer With these types, everything becomes about them and you hardly get your needs listened to. They may downplay your feelings and interests as they steer the conversation back to them. (For extreme cases, see the description of "The Narcissist" in my previous blog).
How To Protect Yourself: Everyone goes through self-obsessed periods, but it's important to bring this to your mate's attention so he or she can shift out of it quickly. You can say, "Honey, I adore listening to you, but it would make me feel loved if you also spend time listening to me too." Most people are unaware they are becoming self-obsessed, but when you gently mention it change can occur.
Vampire 4. The Unintentional Sapper The people closest to you often can be the most draining. There is so much to take care of everyday--your mate can add to your sense of being overwhelmed. For instance, he or she comes home after having lost a big account at work, and needs to vent frustration. You want to listen and be caring, but you're tired too.
How to Protect Yourself: Plan regular mini breaks from your partner (and children.) Even a brief escape can replenish you. Take a short walk, meditate in your bedroom for a few minutes, listen to music you love. Or, if your mate has a harrowing commute home from work which makes him or her cranky with you, let them take 10 minutes at home to decompress before you interact. You must negotiate your personal space with loved ones.
In relationships, it's important for couples to respect each other's energy needs. With your partner, it's healthy to protect your energy too. Don't feel guilty or restrained about using my techniques. Honoring your energy isn't selfish. It will increase your patience and capacity to love.