You’ve probably watched one or two vampire films; they’re just fiction, right?
No, various types of vampires exist in human form, and whilst they don’t suck your blood, they can suck the life out of you.
I became good friends with a slightly older woman in my first job. She seemed to have her ducks in a row and was a rock for me when I went through some dark times.
I don’t know what I would have done without her. She listened to me, gave me advice, and was always there for me.
At least she was until things improved.
As my life got better and I felt happier, she didn’t. She kept bringing me back to my past problems by asking me how I thought about these issues.
I’d feel really good until we met for lunch, and then I’d be under a cloud for the rest of the day.
Eventually, I made excuses not to meet up, and when I changed jobs, we lost contact altogether, to my relief.
I realised that this friend was only happy when I was unhappy. She was a grief vampire.
Grief vampire is a term generally used for self-proclaimed psychics who target those who have just lost loved ones and are grieving.
These vampires exploit this grief with their hot and cold reading skills and tell people what they want to hear for monetary gain. Well, what does that matter, you might say? If the loved one feels better, then it’s ok.
I’ll leave you to your own judgment about that, but I’m using the term to talk about people who seem to feed off your grief.
Everyone seems to have, or know of, a grief vampire friend. This friend is always there for you when you have a crisis. They are a shoulder to cry on; they bring around a bottle of wine so that you can sit and talk out your problems.
Like me, you don’t know what you would do without them.
But, somehow, as things get better for you, your relationship with this friend gets worse. You’re over whatever you were going through and don’t want to keep talking about the dark times, but, strangely, that’s all your friend wants to do.
You might have left the house to meet up with a bounce in your step, but you find yourself dragging your feet home, wondering what happened?
It might take a while to realise that the friend who is your support and agony aunt when times are bad doesn’t seem to be able to be happy for you.
You start to dread meeting up but feel a debt to the friend who saw you through your troubles, so you can’t bring yourself to absent yourself, but you feel emotionally drained after every encounter.
Instead of a friend, they feel like a frenemy.
They want you to stay the same as you were. They seem to prefer you when you’re in a pool of misery.
Maybe your friend feels threatened by your newfound happiness? They don’t know what to do with the new you?
Maybe they feel less important to you? Or they saw the evenings complaining about your life as a bonding session, and they don’t know how to be close unless they’re joining you in your misery?
This often happens when someone stops smoking, drinking or going on a diet. The people you hung around with in the smoking area, in the bar or talking about how difficult it is to lose weight will try and drag you back to your habit.
They tempt you with a cigarette or just one drink. They arrange to meet you at a coffee shop that sells your favourite cakes.
They want you to fail so they can be there for you. But you don’t need to get sucked back into misery; change the subject when the conversation gets sticky. Be happy that you’re happy and confident that you can share your joy. Don’t drop your mood to meet theirs.
Avoid getting emotionally drained.
If you’ve ever found yourself drained after spending time with certain people, you may have been the victim of an emotional vampire. These creatures of the night are known for their ability to suck the life out of any emotional attachment. Unlike traditional vampires, emotional vampires don’t need to drink your blood to survive. Instead, they feed off your energy, leaving you feeling drained and exhausted.
Emotional vampires are exhausting.
You know that you’re dealing with an emotional vampire if you feel anxious when you receive a text or miss a call from this particular person. You feel on edge because you know that if you don’t respond quickly, this person will feel upset and accuse you of not caring or putting other people before them.
Why don’t we walk away from these vampires? Because even though they’re clingy, pessimistic, need attention and don’t think that any problems are their fault, they may not realise that they’re acting like this.
Their experience is real to them; they believe that they’re the victim, they have no self-awareness, so you feel sorry for them.
You might even love someone like this? If this is the case, remember it’s not your job to fix them, but you can learn to have them in your life without feeling like they’re taking over your life by putting a few gentle boundaries in place.
You don’t have to answer every text as soon as you receive it if you’re busy. Even though you know that this friend will be watching the phone screen avidly for the three dots to appear. Nor do you have to stay on the phone for hours or run to their side when summoned. You can help them to be respectful of your time.
Years ago, I used to paint green pottery for a living. This means painting the clay before the pottery is fired, taking time and concentration. But, because I was at home, certain friends thought that they could call in at any time during the day for a coffee and a chat whilst I worked.
But I couldn’t pay attention to the pots and the friend, so I would inevitably stop what I was doing to entertain my friend, silently fretting about time slipping by.
I soon learned not to answer the door or the phone while working, and they got the hint.
But time vampires come in many forms. If you’re working from home, they might call or Facetime you, and if you’re back in the office, they might stop by your desk for a ‘quick chat’.
Maybe your phone rings as soon as you walk through the door, and an hour goes by without you saying very much? Or this friend calls as you settle in for a movie evening, and you see your partner roll their eyes, and you immediately feel as if you’re pulled in two directions, and everyone wants your time.
Take a deep breath.
Remember that this is your time. You set your diary. You spend time where you want to. And, just like with the other vampires you might encounter, you need to put some boundaries gently in place.
Don’t answer the phone or tell your friend that you only have a few minutes and stick to your word. Arrange to meet at a time that suits you.
The only way to deal with vampires in your life is to shine a light on their behaviour, to see that their words and actions are all about them and not you. Like the blood-sucking variety, every type of vampire needs to be brought to the light.
And you know what happens to a vampire when they’re in daylight.