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Identifying Emotional Vampires and How To Drive A Stake Through Them

One of my new year’s resolutions was to stop putting up with people who don’t deserve my energy and head space. These people, according to New York Times Best Selling and author of the book, Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life Judith Orloff, are emotional vampires and no, not the sparkly kind. In an article she wrote an for Psychology Today, she advises how to identify and banish emotional vampires.

Orloff says there are five types of emotional vampires:

1.The Narcissist 2.The Victim 3.The Controller 4.The Constant Talker 5.The Drama Queen

In general, these people make everything about them – whether talking themselves up or playing the “woe is me” game. Emotional vampires can either emotionally limited or addicted to drama or problems, but one thing is sure: they have self esteem issues. Even if you had some constructive advice, they wouldn’t accept it, nor would they acknowledge their negative behavior that seems to suck the positive energy right out of you.

Orloff advises some simple techniques like changing the topic, speaking up and being firmer – yet polite – in our conversations, and clear in our behavior. Above all, the best advice remains to be emotionally distant – that is, to not get too emotionally involved or invested – and set some clear behaviorial boundaries.

I know I’ve dealt with this in the past. I knew someone who, when they didn’t get their way, resulted in dramatics and name calling. I had to just call them out and set some firm boundaries, explaining who I was and what I would accept in the relationship. I told them this was not the type of behavior/language I would allow and if they continued this type of behavior, they could simply delete me from their speed dial.

I had a friend who, every single time I saw her, would constantly talk negatively about the people who had hurt her in the past, although, she confessed, weren’t necessarily aware of these offenses. While I encouraged her to accept that her feelings were hurt and move on, or confront these so-called wrong doers to get to the bottom of the issues, she always ignored my advice, choosing to be a broken record of negativity. I realized one day that she was bringing me into her drama and I was left feeling angry for no good reason after every time we hung out, besides the fact that she was constantly moody in her affections for me. This wasn’t healthy and I cut it off. Naturally, I wished her nothing but success and hoped she would overcome her issues. At the end of the day, I felt a lot better as a result of letting this person go and setting some boundaries.

Emotional vampires can exhaust us, they can hurt us, they can make us physically and emotionally sick, and they can involve us in real life dramas when we have nothing to do with them – that is, if we let them.

It’s up to us to decide what we will and will not accept in terms of our emotional and mental head space. It doesn’t mean WE have to become negative about these people, because, when it all boils down, WE must stop the cycle of negativity.

When it comes to looking at emotional vampires, we have to hope they overcome their emotional blocks and insecurities. It doesn’t mean we’ll be the people to help them solve their problems, but we can set some clear boundaries that we can all stick to, further communicating what we will and will not accept from others in our lives.

Do you or have you had an emotional vampire in your life? How did you deal with them? Share your experience.


Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.

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