“I feel like all my energy’s just been sucked out of me; I don’t know why.” “I always feel so drained after visiting her.” “I feel really off and I can’t put my finger on what it is.”
Vampires aren’t just confined to pop culture and literary legends of exclusively nocturnal, pale, red lipped, garlic dodging and darkly sexy undead who prey upon the blood of the living to survive.
Sure, they make for some kick-ass fiction, but they aren’t quite a myth.
There are vampires walking among us. We’re dealing with them every day and most of us have no idea. They may not be undead, nocturnal or pale.
They may not be averse to garlic and they (hopefully) aren’t actually sucking your blood (if they are, you need to stop Googling and go call the police).
Am I under psychic attack?
If you’ve clicked on this post in the first place … then I’m guessing yes.
Your gut doesn’t usually lie to you about shit that matters, and that includes when you feel violated. Yes, we live in a society that is easily offended, but I’m not talking about feeling offended.
I’m talking about involvement with an individual who is draining you.
You know that feeling, right? The one where your hackles go up, you get a pound of lead feeling in your gut, feel shaky, angsty, edgy and goosebumpy?
Ya, that one. That’s a good indication you’re getting attacked.
Your intuition is telling you a line has been crossed. Though we often get a “gut feeling” about someone at first meeting, often it takes getting up close and personal before they show their true colors. It may take a long time before you notice that your energy is being drained.
After that, you may feel as if:
Those spidey senses of yours are tingling – something’s not quite right
There’s an oppressive black cloud around you
You have heightened vulnerability or feel under threat for no tangible reason
You are acting out of character, stressing out, or jumping on the defensive
You are generally not handling life: having difficulty remembering things and difficulty with ordinary everyday tasks
You’ve picked up some “bad energy” from somewhere, or a dirty, gritty feeling
You are mild to moderately hungover (without… you know… being actually hung over)
You are drained/foggy/fatigued even after deep and restful sleep
You’re less than, incapable or inadequate, which may or may not be uncharacteristic
You’ve suddenly lost your confidence, self esteem and self assurance
You’ve lost your mojo
You’re basically a virus magnet because you’re so run down
You’re shaky, lightheaded and weak
And you might also find you’re having:
A persistent run of bad luck
Recurrent, frequent or seriously fucked up vivid or traumatic nightmares
Sudden/inexplicable pressure and difficulties in your love life or finances
So long as a doctor’s thoroughly sussed you out first and you have the all clear … these things are a sign that your energy and aura have been weakened. It’s likely you’re dealing with someone who has become toxic, known as an “energy vampire”.
As sinister as the term sounds, we can’t exactly go around slapping “evil” stickers on all the energy vampires.
The truth is, many are lovely and loving people with whom we interact daily. Members of family. Lovers. Friends. We’ve all probably been an energy vampire ourselves at some point.
The bad news is if you’re an empath, a sensitive type or undergoing a spiritual awakening you’re extra attractive to energy vampires because of your expansive energy field. It makes energy vampires the moths to your flame.
Human connection should, overall, feel more or less uplifting and give us energy. It is a core need for our mental well being.
This of course is not to say that EVERY human interaction must be uplifting and that if anybody is ever negative, critical or going through super real shit they’re an energy vampire and you need to fire them from your life.
Life happens and shit happens. Sometimes this fact requires unpleasant conversations or conflict.
Sometimes we have to help loved ones who are going through trauma, grief, illness and difficult times. This is not what I’m talking about here.
What I am talking about are interactions with particular individuals that consistently leave us feeling exhausted and/or drained rather than uplifted or comforted. When you constantly walk away from a particular person feeling on irritable, drained, or negative – or you have a sinking feeling when you have to interact with them – that’s a problem.
How to spot an energy vampire
Those tingling spidey senses are onto something. Generally speaking, when your interactions with someone consistently give you a heavy/low feeling afterward, it’s an indicator they could be an energy vampire. In particular:
… THEY ARE CONVERSATIONALLY DRAINING …
Tending toward the negative or glass half empty all the time – the antithesis to silver linings; alternatively, persistent gossiping, making you a secret keeper (whether by oversharing or blabbing things others have told them in confidence).
… THEY EXHIBIT TOXIC ALPHA BEHAVIOUR …
Likes to be the boss of the game, running the show, and orchestrating everyone else. This is “God complex” or “holier than thou” behavior.
(Qualifier: we are all divine beings – this type of vampire sees him/herself as God and everyone else as less than).
There are tantrums, meltdowns, and often aggressive behavior in the face of disappointment or assertiveness. It involves being overbearing with opinions, the need to ALWAYS be right and never wrong.
Behavior can be condescending, overbearing or openly aggressive and angry. Also look for abuse of positions of implicit respect, or an authority complex – acting as if they are in a position to deliver their judgement, offer unsolicited advice, control you, or treat you like a child or as if you are stupid or incapable.
They will language their opinion as “that’s just how it is” or “fact”, or “It’s my way or the highway.”
… THEY THROW CRITICISM, PUT DOWNS, OR BACKHANDED COMPLIMENTS …
Any behavior that feels like you are being put down or criticized. This includes chronic criticism, nitpicking, shutting you down, poking holes in your stories – especially in front of others; or less obviously, paying backhanded compliments (“I always love that dress on you”), or undermining you.
… THEY ARE THE ETERNAL DAMSEL IN DISTRESS …
Behavior where the person constantly needs to be rescued, helped, saved or seems forever in the midst of a crisis. Magnets for drama, crisis, conflict or angst who make mountains out of molehills, take offense at everything and create drama where there isn’t one if things are going well.
They also tend to magically appear in the centre of a drama even when it doesn’t directly involve them. This energy vampire might also be someone who tends to act as if they are a victim, a damsel in distress, or helpless with/stressed out by basic tasks (often subconsciously) and needs to rely on others to fulfill their needs.
… THEIR BEHAVIOR IS MANIPULATIVE …
‘Nuff said. Emotional blackmail, unsolicited generosity or gift giving with strings attached, wearing you down with persistence, triangular manipulation (controlling your behavior through someone else), or being the travel agent for guilt trips.
Manipulation is any behavior that backs you into a corner and makes you feel indebted or obligated to say yes. Gaslighting, which is denial of your reality, is also a form of manipulation.
… THEY VIOLATE YOUR BOUNDARIES …
A boundary violator is someone who disrespects your time, property, personal space, or privacy.
They will show up unannounced, are chronically late or early, show up to gatherings uninvited, come over even if you have asked them not to, argue with or persist past your “no”, go through your personal possessions or electronic devices without your express permission, swoop in and assume that help/rescuing is needed without asking, do not show up at all for agreed appointments, and call at all hours in the absence of an emergency.
… THEY DISPLAY PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR …
Their fear of direct confrontation or conflict ultimately leads to expressing dissatisfaction, opinions, or feelings, or getting what they want, in unresourceful ways. Being on the receiving end of passive aggressive behaviour can be very emotionally draining.
Passive aggressive behavior could involve slamming doors or household objects around, muttering under the breath, and silent treatment (sometimes for days).
Stonewalling is a hallmark of passive aggressive behavior. This involves acting obviously angry or upset but insisting it’s “nothing” or “I’m fine” when asked.
They will often use sarcasm to convey their true feelings, or behave in a way I like to refer to as “the guessing game”. This involves their expectation the other person to be a mind reader and just know or be able to anticipate what they want, or what they are upset about (and getting offended when they don’t).
Someone who exhibits passive aggressive behavior may show up noticeably late to an event that they didn’t want to go to but felt obliged to attend, or show outwardly submissive or agreeable behavior but then go behind someone’s back to get their own way rather than deal with the problem face to face.
… THEY ARE NARCISSISTIC …
So much – too much – to write here in as much detail as this deserves. In a nutshell: a narcissist is outwardly charming, friendly, likable and “nice” … but only so far as it serves their own interests.
Narcissists are egocentric, seeing themselves, their interests, their feelings and their opinions as the only ones that matter. They are attention seeking, entitled, and give the air of expecting special treatment.
They have a strong reaction to any perceived criticism or rejection and are prone to erupting with offence or anger easily.
They like the conversation or an event to center around them and if it is not about them – they’ll find a way to make it so, or simply leave. They have little interest in things that do not serve their self interests or self image.
They magically appear in your life with a poof! when they want or need something – but will act put upon, inconvenienced or hassled if you need something from them – unless, of course, there’s something in it for them, or they get to look like a hero, a savior or a martyr. They may do it, for example, if there is some public or outward recognition.
Narcissism is a personality trait (not a personality disorder) in which the person lacks empathy, or is unable to see things from another person’s point of view. They are unable to regulate their own self esteem and so are addicted to external validation.
The word gets used a lot these days, and there is too much to explain without an article of its own. I love this video by Dr Ramani Durvasula, who breaks down the difference between narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths.
How to Deal With Energy Vampires
#1: STOP GIVING AWAY YOUR POWER
Remember that people only have as much power over your energy, your time, and your resources as you are willing to give them.
Choose to be responsible for maintaining and protecting your energy when you are around others, and especially when you are around energy vampires. It’s like wearing a wreath of garlic around your neck.
A compulsive taker or user, for example, can only take what you are willing to give to her – so don’t give any more than you are happy to give freely and set firm boundaries. An Alpha will only keep attempting to dominate you if you show submissiveness or, paradoxically, keep competing in the game for dominance and trying to prove yourself to him.
Remind yourself of your responsibility for your own energy and personal power, your own certainty that you are a child of God who is just as valued and deserving of your needs being met as any other.
Your own needs are your God given right. You don’t have to try to earn them by continually competing with someone, giving anything that would exhaust your personal resources, or attending every pity party you’re invited to join.
Deep breaths now. This part contains some triggers.
An energy vampire can leave us feeling resentment, bitterness or annoyance but guess what this does? It creates resistance around the person, lowers your vibration and energy, feeds and fuels the energy vampire’s toxic vibration AND you attract more energy sucking behavior.
The Universe will just keep bringing it back to you as a soul assignment until you learn to master it.
When you are able to show forgiveness and are calm, free of resentment or bitterness, you can interact with the toxic person on a level playing field with a strong vibration, which helps to protect your energy and deal with the energy vampire far more resourcefully.
A disclaimer, here.
Forgiveness is NOT – I repeat, is NOT condoning, tolerating or allowing the behavior to continue. It is not saying that you shouldn’t have boundaries and limits on the extent of your interaction with this person.
Every human being deserves forgiveness but not every human being deserves to be in your life. Get the difference?
I NEVER advise allowing a toxic person to continue sucking you dry, staying in an abusive and/or unsafe situation or putting up with shitty behavior.
The word “forgiveness” is not the implication that you were not hurt, that your feelings were not valid, that the other person was right or justified, or that you must now participate in allowing rotten behavior that impugns your needs, your safety or your rights to continue.
Forgiveness is a miracle by which you set yourself free, as well as the other person, from the bondage created by the energy of their misbehavior.
As Marianne Williamson puts it so beautifully:
“As you forgive others, you begin to forgive yourself. As you stop focusing on their mistakes, you will stop punishing yourself for your own. Your ability to release what you think of as the sins of others will free you to release yourself… nothing anyone has ever done to you has permanent effects unless you hold onto it permanently.”
Envision the person in question and say to yourself “I forgive you and I release you” or, if you are not ready yet, “I am willing to forgive you and release you”.
Related resources: The Divine Art of Forgiveness | How to Forgive (And Why It’s Important)
#3: SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Okay, this is where the rubber hits the road.
What I am proposing to you is something about which a lot of us sensitive types have complex feelings and it’s a challenge for most of us.
The only way to deal with a toxic person in your life without cutting ties is to learn how to be assertive.
Especially if you’re a sensitive individual, “assertive” can feel like a four letter word.
Please trust me on this.
Assertiveness can be a life saver.
But first, let's clear up some misconceptions. Assertiveness is not:
Being an asshole.
Infringing on others’ rights.
Pushing your own point of view or agenda.
Not considering the other’s feelings, point of view or needs.
Getting your way.
Getting revenge or getting someone back.
It is also not:
Passively accepting another person’s opinion or will.
Putting up with bullshit.
Being a doormat.
Getting walked all over.
Offering up your needs on the altar of sacrifice so that someone else’s get met.
Here is what assertiveness is:
“My needs are important, too.”
“This is what I need.”
“This is what I am willing to do.”
“This is what I feel is fair/unfair.”
“This is what I am not willing to tolerate.”
“I hear what you are saying and I understand. Here’s what I can do for you.”
I have dedicated a whole post on this in more detail, but to be assertive is to set boundaries, stand up for your rights and make it clear that they matter as much as the other person’s without taking away their rights.
It does not give you a free license to be an asshole, but it gives you permission to not be a doormat.
To be assertive is to stand up for your rights or for those of another person in a calm, positive and fair way. According to the Oxford Dictionary it is “Forthright, positive insistence of the recognition of one’s rights.”
You can be empathic, kind and compassionate while making it clear that you will no longer accept, tolerate or feed the behavior.
Remember your own self worth. You deserve happiness and to be surrounded by love and light.
You deserve to say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no. Pull back when you need to and feel good about claiming that space for yourself.
In the absence of a whole post, some Cliff’s notes:
Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. The latter gets people defensive.
Call them on the shitty behavior, don’t attack the person. For the same reason as above. Also remember it’s the behavior you’re addressing, but the person is your brother/sister in God.
State facts, not opinions or exaggerations. For starters, in the art of negotiation or argument, exaggerations can quickly be disproven and get you off on the wrong foot. Secondly, opinions are not necessarily true and are a matter of perspective.
Avoid argument. A person’s defensiveness to a boundary being set is common, especially when they are not used to them. Your line in the sand is not negotiable. Avoid getting sucked down the the rabbit hole of an argument.
Establish what you want from them. It’s hard for an empath to ask for what they want but it is CRUCIAL. We assume that just because we feel a certain way, the other person should just know or anticipate what we want. Not so. Everyone is not a mind reader and everyone has different rules for life. Be upfront about your needs and what you want from the person, don’t expect them to guess.
Stand your ground. When you suddenly start to be assertive, people who are not used to it and are used to getting their own way won’t like it. They will tantrum. They will behave unresourcefully. They will try to argue with you, defend their position, or start slathering on the guilt. In situations like this, it’s best to just repeat your position like a broken record.
Stick to addressing one behavior at a time. Anything more can feel like an attack on their person and they are more likely to be defensive rather than receptive to your request.
Listen to their point of view. When they express a need, be willing to listen. Be willing to tell them what you will and will not tolerate. This is not about “winning”. This is about expressing your needs and setting boundaries whilst respecting the needs and boundaries of the other person and establishing where you both stand.
Some examples of the right way to be assertive:
You’re always late and you never even give me notice. Every time we meet for lunch I sit here for my whole lunch break waiting for you and you don’t show. You just don’t care, do you? You’re so inconsiderate of my time. It’s just rude. I can’t rely on you for anything, can I? None of my other friends do this to me. And another thing…
I noticed that you were late meeting me for lunch twice this week, on Monday and then again on Wednesday, and on neither occasion did you call me to let me know. I feel disrespected by that behaviour and like I cannot rely on you. I understand that it happens from time to time. We’ve all had times that we have been late for reasons beyond our control, and I get that. From now on I want you to call me ahead of time if you know you are going to be late.
Notice the difference? Which phrase would you respond better to if it were said to you?
The important part of this dialogue is being able to establish a boundary. This is a standard for how you want to be treated from this point forward.
Remember, we teach others how to treat us based on the standard we set for ourselves. Make it clear what you will and will not tolerate.
Often a toxic person will test the boundaries you set. It may be a shock to them, especially if they have always gotten away with their behavior before.
They may continue the unwanted behavior despite you setting the boundary.
Remember, you cannot change their behavior. You can only ask for what you want, set standards for what you will not tolerate and have consequences when that boundary is crossed.
Most importantly of all, you must then follow through. If you do not, the energy vampire will likely think that you didn’t mean it. Worse, it reinforces to them that your needs matter less than theirs.
For instance, you might ask a compulsive gossip not to talk about your mutual friends in a negative way. You might tell her that if she continues to do so, you will change the subject or leave.
If she persists (and she probably will), it is not up to her to recognize it and change the behavior. Rather, it is up to you to follow through by changing the subject or cutting your meeting short.
It’s especially tricky if you are deeply sensitive to others or have been a people pleaser all your life (take it from a recovering people pleaser). But ultimately, by setting boundaries and communicating in a compassionate and assertive way, it even has the potential to save a relationship.
Why? Because it prevents all the resentment and tension brought about by a line in the sand getting walked all over like there’s not even a line at all. This allows you to be fully present with the other person – sans the energy sacrifice.
Related resources: How to Be Assertive | A Guide For Empaths
#4: LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Make sure you’re looking out for Number One (yes, that’s you). When your energy is low, including after interactions with an energy vampire, you're more prone to illnesses, fatigue and other stressors, weakening you even further.
That’s why it’s important to bolster your immune system and protect your body and your psyche as much as possible.
Eat healthy, wholesome meals. Sleep. Avoid sugar, as it sends your energy haywire.
Most importantly, take time for the things in your life that make you feel amazing. Read your favorite book, watch your favorite comedy or go and get a heavenly massage.
#5: CLEANSE YOUR ENERGY
I am all about going full woo-woo when my vibes are low and I feel susceptible to some bad energy floating around. This mostly involves:
Taking a shower. Running water cleanses and restores the aura. Amplify this by visualising the water literally washing the bad juju away from your body.
Meditating daily. Goes without saying. Check in. Be still and present. Come back to yourself.
Doing yoga. The physical movement and concentration of your breath allows you to reclaim your focus from the negative situation at hand. It stirs energy from within, strengthening your field, reawakening your energetic body.
Wearing purple. Because, aside from being my favourite colour, purple is a colour of psychic protection and can raise your vibration, warding off negative vibes.
Burning white sage. It’s the first thing I whip out when there is a bad energy lurking around. It purifies the air and cleanses it of bad energy.
Wearing a crystal for protection. Protection crystals, like quartz, tiger’s eye or lapis lazuli, are my go-tos.
Fiery Wall of Protection Spray – This goes with me everywhere. A few spritzes of this when I’ve had to interact with an energy vampire has me feeling better in seconds. I keep it in my purse, on my desk.
An energy vampire can be a drain on your emotional, psychological and physiological well being, often even without you realizing it, until your interactions become a chaotic negative energy shit show.
By being aware of the behavior, becoming grounded in your own energy and setting healthy boundaries, you can stay strong without having to banish all the toxic people, and may in some (not all) cases even be able to strengthen your relationships with them.
* These tips are for reference purposes only and are not to be used as a substitute for psycho-therapeutic treatment, counselling, or speaking with a counselor or health professional in the event of domestic violence or abuse. None of the information above is intended to be a diagnosis of any personality disorder or mental illness. Please contact your local emergency services immediately if you or someone you know is at risk of harm.
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Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain Your Dry - Albert Bernstein Californian White Sage Bundle (sustainably harvested) Tigers Eye Healing Wand Fiery Wall of Protection Spray
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