At this exact moment, take inventory of the people in your circle. Think about the friends you keep, the family you are close to, the work associates you interact with either by choice or necessity. There is a good chance that one, if not all three, of the personality types described below exist within your social structure. You may even identify yourself as a certain character. Regardless of exactly what role the person plays in your life, you ALWAYS have permission to recast them.
If someone is causing you harm, it is important to know that you have the right to distance yourself. It does not matter if it is your mother, your partner, your lifelong friend. Your mental or physical wellbeing should never suffer due to an obligation of loyalty or fear of saying goodbye. We are often conditioned to believe that we must tolerate mistreatment or abuse simply because of the title or relationship someone has with us. But if you wouldn’t accept such treatment from a stranger, why would you accept it from someone who supposedly loves or cares for you, such as a mother, a friend, a boss? These labels are not an authorization to harm you however they please.
This is one of the most toxic personality types to keep in your life…and one of the most difficult to treat from a clinical perspective. Narcissistic individuals lack general empathy for anyone other than themselves. Combined with an excessive need for admiration, power, and control, their behavior can quickly become blatantly abusive. Anyone connected to a narcissist will absolutely experience some level of emotional or psychological harm. They will gaslight you, demean you, and steamroll any boundaries or respect you try to request. Your well-being and your needs will never be of true value to them.
Manipulators conduct their art in many forms. It can show up as flattery, love-bombing, exaggeration, guilt-tripping, the silent-treatment, gaslighting, control, name-calling…and these are just a few of the more recognizable tactics. But the baseline is this: manipulators are out to get what they want by any means necessary. And this will often be at the cost of yourself.
If you are in a relationship in which you find that you are consistently doing things that make you feel uncomfortable, compromising your values or boundaries, or question if you are “going crazy,” there is an excellent chance that manipulation is involved. And because manipulation can be so sly and come in so many forms, it is easy for manipulators to be successful. Educate yourself on what manipulation looks like and feels like. The more you understand it, the more you will be able to protect yourself from those who are seeking to take advantage of you.
The Energy Vampire
The challenging part of dealing with an energy vampire is that they are not necessarily bad souls. They can be incredibly kind, sensitive, caring individuals. The Energy Vampire simply lack the self-awareness and independence that is needed to have a balanced relationship with them. They will monopolize your internal resources and time. And not always intentionally. They are simply seeking to have their own needs met. The consequence of that, however, is that yours may take a back seat as result of this process.
Energy vampires are rather easy to spot. If you find yourself feeling completely drained after each interaction you have with someone, you know you are in the presence of a vampire. Their behaviors can appear innocent enough, such as talking about themselves…but for hours on end. Or blaming their problems on external sources, but looking to you to fix them. Their behaviors are not necessarily alarming or odd, they are simply on the extreme end of the spectrum. Thus, leave you EXTREMELY drained.
Written by: Aubrey Koel, LCPC