5 Types of Emotional Vampires

Some of you may have one or more ’emotional vampires’ – those who can have the ability to suck optimism and serenity right out of you. So, to protect your energy, it’s important to identify them, and then deal with them. Here are 5 basic types of vampires:

The Narcissist

They’re more familiar with telling everyone about themselves, and they all seem to possess an inflated sense of entitlement. These vampires are dangerous, mainly because they lack empathy for others and probably aren’t capable of unconditional love, which friendships should be made of. They can be punishing or cold if you don’t do things their way.

How to Protect Yourself: What do you do with people with limited emotions? Keep your expectations low. Unless you’re a masochist, try not to be too dependent on their attention. The hard truth is that you must confide your deepest feelings to them in order to successfully communicate with them, and if you already know this type of person, you’ll know that they need constant ego stroking.

The Victim

These vampires think the world is against them, and have some of the most pessimistic views of everything. Even if you offer a solution, there’s always a ‘but’ from them. Eventually you can give up trying because it’ll seem like you’re trying to reverse time from moving forward. As a friend, you feel bad, but you may feel overwhelmed.

How to Protect Yourself: You’ll need to set firm limits – and give them ultimatums. For example, you can say, “I hope you understand, but I’m on deadline and must return to work.” You can also use body language to telegraph that you don’t want to get sucked into their problems. If they sound like they’re in trouble, you can refer them to professionals.

The Controller

These are the kinds of people who have an obsession with controlling every aspect of your life, from your behavior to your emotions. They have an opinion about everything and they’ll tell you how you’re supposed to be feeling according to their rule book. If you’re familiar with “You know what you need?” then you have a Controller who can make you feel demeaned, or put down.

How to Protect Yourself: While it’s not a good idea to try and ‘control’ a controller, you’ll need to be assertive. You can say, “I value your advice, but really need to work through this myself.” Be confident, and don’t play the victim.

The Constant Talker

Similar to the Narcissist, these folks aren’t interested in what you feel or think. They are only concerned with themselves and are experts at not getting interrupted. They don’t even want to hear your opinions, no matter what you say.

How to Protect Yourself: It may be hard, but these vampires don’t respond to nonverbal cues, so you have to interrupt them. Listen for a few minutes, then politely say, “I hate to interrupt, but…” If this is a family member, say, “Can you allowed me some time to talk?” If you say this neutrally, it can better be heard.

The Drama Queen

Everyone knows someone like who has a flair for turning small incidents into huge dramas. For example, someone who has a cold and claims they “almost died.” Over time, all these excuses and melodrama can be exhausting, and jeopardise any trust you had in that person.

How to Protect Yourself: As they say, drama attracts drama, so if you stay calm, they won’t have any reason to continue being overly dramatic. They need an audience, and if you aren’t interested in their performance, they’ll simply go elsewhere.


Judith Orloff MD, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, is the author of Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2011), upon which this article is based.

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