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Emotional Vampires - Are Friends and Family Draining You With Their Dramas?

By HERWriter Guide
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Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

I’ve written before about people who pretend to have illnesses (often serious) or conditions in order to get attention or profit from others. As our media expands to include social media we are learning of more and more exploiting the kindness of family, family and co-workers. Too often we have read about a person shaving all their body hair (including eyebrows and cutting off their eyelashes) in order to "prove" they are undergoing cancer treatments.

They accept money from family and friends and attend benefits that are done for them through their schools, churches or workplaces. The reasons are varied – greed for money, an insatiable need for attention or for something as mind-blowing as breast implants or exotic vacations. Once caught, these people face criminal charges, as well as the often volatile reactions from those they fooled and stole from. Not only do victims feel robbed of their time and money, but also of a trust factor that’s hard to get back. Fool me once, and all that. More on the topic of feigning serious illness can be read on our busy thread here – you’ll see what a hot topic this has become on EmpowHER: http://www.empowher.com/community/share/faking-it-pretending-have-serious-illness-attention-profit-and-reward

But more common are friends and family who drain us with all their dramas – who has done them wrong, who ticked them off this week and who is hatin’ on their game. (Seriously - that’s not me, they really talk like that.)

From the cousin who is always unfairly confronted by someone at the store (or the mall, restaurant, movies, doctors office, public toilet) to the sister who hates her boyfriend until you agree with her and then you’re the bad guy because she's changed her mind and he’s an angel! And how dare you judge him!

You cringe to ask your co-worker how he’s doing because you’ll be told about his mortgage and his one-legged crazy aunt who wants to move in but his mean wife won’t let her and besides, they’re already fighting about his "designer" live rat collection that has reached the majestic number of 38. And at the end of all this, you feel empty, exhausted and absolutely bled dry.

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EmpowHER Guest

Very true! I work a few hours a week as a Carer. The people I look after are mostly old and have a variety of genuine problems.
My husband is a bit of a drama queen, or whatever the male equivalent is. He groans and moans most of the time. I try not to let him see I've noticed, or he gets even more dramatic and starts limping, or says his heart is beating fast (well, that's good isn't it? It's only if it stops ..............).
Believe me, I do care about him and look after him and I've a few problems of my own, being in my 70s. But you can only sympathise with someone for so long before losing patience or interest!
My friends are mostly much younger than me. We meet as often as we can for coffee, a chat and a good old laugh. Thank goodness I have them. If they don't hear from me for a few weeks they're soon on the phone, or sending emails asking what's going on!

September 24, 2010 - 1:46am
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for this article! I had a "vampire" in my life who was sucking a lot of energy from me. I didn't realise how much this person was affecting my life until our relationship came to an end. I felt like a ten tonne weight had been lifted off my shoulders! You know when a relationship has been really bad when you feel RELIEF and not GRIEF when that person has exited from your life.

I have a barometer for how I determine if a relationship is working for me or not -- if I feel great about myself, "bigger", my "best self" around them, then I know they are a positive force in my life. If I feel reduced, "less than", judged or evaluated all the time, then I know that peson is a vampire and is taking something vital from my life.

Being around this person made me feel "less than" and I constantly felt evaluated and coming up "wanting". That's no way to live your life. Get rid of the vampires, and if you suspect you might be one - it's never too late to take a different path, and start ADDING to the lives around you, not taking all the time.

September 23, 2010 - 4:25pm
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