Dealing With Emotional Vampires

Dealing With Emotional Vampires

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to talk about how to identify, understand, and handle emotional vampires, the people who drain your energy and suck the life out of you.

First a quick update:

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The Ancient Greeks and Romans preached the powerful link and circle between the mind and body. Read the success story of a woman aged 50 who used my hypnosis audios and stopped smoking in less than 2 weeks, lost 14 pounds and raised her self-esteem feeling in control of body and life.

Now, let’s talk about the people that drain you or feed on you mentally, emotionally or energetically – the psychic and emotional vampires.

Almost every one of us has someone in our life whom we wish we could change or whom we wish would change; desiring them to do things differently or to be different. It might be a boss, coworker, colleague, team member, friend, family member or worse, a romantic partner.

Understanding that we cannot change anyone (except ourselves) is step one to inner peace. Step two is to understand yourself and others. Step three is change yourself. Step four is clear out of your life those people that are parasites or bring you down. A client of mine was relating to me that all the women in his life expect him to support them (on many levels) but they never support him. I explained to him that there are only two types of relationships: parasitic (one person living and feeding off the other person) and symbiotic (the two people mutually supporting and benefitting each other.)

A parasite can feed off you mentally, emotionally or energetically. I refer to these people collectively as emotional vampires. And when you are around them, you may feel physically tired, drained, sleepy, weak, agitated, low, small, inadequate, low spirits, hopeless, trapped or afraid.

Identifying the emotional vampires

There are many types of emotional vampires:

  1. Narcissist
  2. Controller
  3. Victim
  4. Criticizer
  5. Drama queen

Please note that I always avoid labeling people, and so, the above terms refer to a person’s behavior and approach to life. Labeling people robs them of their power and in turn, can give them a reason or justification for their behavior i.e. “I can’t help it; I am ADD.” My intention here is to help you to:

  • Identify the way people in your life can drain you, (hold you back, rob you of your power, confidence and potential)
  • Understand the emotional vampires and their behavior
  • Become empowered by offering you some basic strategies to best handle, deal with and respond to those behaviors and people.

1. The Narcissist

This person needs and demands constant praise and attention. He ignores your feelings and interests; believes that the world revolves around him or her, and almost always tends to turn the conversation around to discuss him or her.

You often feel invisible and pressured to compliment and praise him.

2. The Victim

This person is extremely needy; often has a story of how the world has wronged him; has many “accidents” and “bad luck”; wallows in self-pity and misery.

You often feel like the parent and therapist to him.

3. The Controller

This person dictates and dominates you; he or she is rigid, rarely fun or spontaneous, often telling you what is best for you and how you should be living your life.

You often feel weak and trapped around him.

4. The Criticizer

This person is highly critical, condemnatory and judgmental. He puts others down often and easily points out your flaws.

You often feel inadequate around him.

5. The Drama Queen

This person needs to be center of attention 24 hours a day; he or she is great at getting attention and when he doesn’t get it or his way, he creates drama and outbursts believing that the intense emotion is a healthy connection. This person can also be passive- aggressive: seeking your approval and charming while he has it, but aggressive and abusive when he doesn’t get it.

When you are around this person, you feel like you are walking on egg shells, hiding your true feelings and riding an emotional roller coaster.


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Understanding the emotional vampires

All of the above behaviors stem from negative experiences and programming. In other words, the emotional vampires feel empty and are missing something and thus they turn to you to fill them up with: validation, recognition, attention, approval, love, acceptance, reassurance, personal power, etc. No matter how confident and assertive they may appear, underneath, they often suffer from self-hatred, low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, guilt, shame and so forth.

Handling the emotional vampires – 10 Tips

Here are ten top tips to handle emotional vampires  

  1. Mentally and emotionally separate yourself from their behavior: “I understand that the way others respond to me is about them”
  2. Determine if it is possible to end this relationship – cut them off from your life
  3. Become aware of how you feel around this person (creepy, tense, scared, weak, tired, trapped, shut-down, tight chest, etc) and if bad feelings arise, do your best to remove yourself from the setting as soon as possible (before the person can begin to drain or impact you)
  4.  Always respond with “matter-of-fact” tone and approach; maintain your calm and composure by listening but not allowing their words or behavior to enter you; imagine an impenetrable golden light around you
  5. Breathe deeply before speaking back
  6. Remind yourself that it is their intention to get a reaction from you
  7. Limit your interactions with them as much as possible – avoid socializing
  8. Firmly, clearly and openly state your limits and boundaries
  9. When experiencing their tantrums and outbursts, imagine you are dealing with a five-year old child
  10. Express compassion and empathy but place your limits

Tips to strengthen and empower yourself

The better you feel about yourself, the less you will attract or be affected by the emotional vampires, and the easier it will be to protect yourself and say ‘no’ to them. In other words, build your self-esteem, clear out your stuff (doubts, insecurities, negative emotions, etc.) Avoid socially isolating yourself because you can easily become hypnotized, controlled or dominated by the emotional vampire. Use the emotional vampires as a mirror to understand how they reflect you and why they push your buttons. For example, I once had a close friend who would often freak out over the smallest things, turning them into major dramas and disasters. When I took the time to determine why I would respond with anger, I realized that I would often do the same thing – turn small things into major disasters. I resented in her what I resented in myself.

As I changed my behavior and perception of life, her responses had little effect on me and I was able to master the way to handle her, calming her down while not getting emotional myself.

If you want more help getting over an emotional vampire and if you want more emotional freedom now use my “Get Over Your Ex Now!” program.

Break free from emotional vampires in your life and feel free and alive again, book a one-on-one session with me. 

You can add your comment on this newsletter directly below.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

Facebook Comments
112 replies
  1. Avatar
    Patricia Sturgill says:

    It all started when I ran back into a high school sweetheart from 20 years ago he move me into his house took my kids and promised me he knew what he was doing I had my own house that I was trying to pay for but his living area was better than mine so I decided to take my kids up and take everything and put it’s at his house not even three months went by and I could tell he didn’t want me anymore I asked him if he wanted me to leave he said go right ahead so I told him I would be back tomorrow to get my stuff he sent me a picture of all of my stuff on his porch I then called the police he beat me to it by saying that I was some psycho lady trying to move in with him so I got a U-Haul and went to go get my stuff I then learned that the things that were on his porch were things that I did not even give a damn about I have a three-year-old and a 16-year-old and everything they owned was in that house including my couple of flat screen TVs my beds for my kids their clothes, everything I trusted this man I also asked him how long he had been divorced he sidetracked the answer I then finally got all of my stuff out of his house then we decided to just date that lasted about a week he then told me he was either going to move to California or move in with me because his partner decided to sell the house he was living in So I llet him of course I would let himiI was already in love with him he has been living with me for a couple months and I’ then find out that he still married and what happens when I confront him? He tells me is none of my damn business I’ve never been so hurt and all my life with and with the 10 years of marriage that I had with an alcoholic who beat me at least 3 to 4 times a month it doesn’t even compare to someone who hurts your children that Iactually trusted him and I trusted him to and now he stuck in my house treating me like shit

  2. Avatar
    Drained says:

    By the way, I did tell her that I can look after my own things and that I did not asked her ever to take control over my financial and legal matters… My sister is also at the brink of divorce, her husband worked in the business and he quited after she got involved because he could not work besides her. My uncle was also working with my dad in the business and he does not speak to her anymore.. she wants to fire him (luckily she can’t for now) she yells, lies, distorts.. in general, she causes a problem and then points the finger at people and criticizes them because they failed by not doing anything or because if they did, they did it wrong. She has tried to take sole control of a number of things (like the business) when it doesnt work because we resist her or fight her, then she pressures that she wants to sell it to others.. when I dont want to sell my part to others but to continue in existing arrangements with the rest of partners (where power is shared) she asks why cant I just sell it to her for so that she is a major owner, after I explain, she still fires back that it hurts me “to see her happy”.. manipulation and control over and over…it is hard to put words into the amount of things she does that fall into the vampire categories.. thanks again for listening..

  3. Avatar
    Drained says:

    Hi, thanks for writing people about these issues.. I feel trapped.. my sister is a roller coaster. I think she has some sort of disorder, not sure of which one. She is invasive, my mom lives now in a differrent city, I live in a different country, and my sister takes advantage of that to take control of things and hurt us with that. My dad passed away recently and my sister got involved into his small business..without consent, she took many decissions, very bad ones.. my dad left a small inheritance and my sister got involved with that as well.. she has done expenses that she claimed necessary and then charges me for those, she controls some of the money that my father left and unless I sue her, I dont know if I will get back my full share, but then again, she has already spent parts of it on “necessary fixes”… but the worst part is not the financial but the emotional. She twists reality in a way in which she is a victim and a martyr, she is rude and yells.. she was all her life lazy and didnt educate herself much, she has been cold and negligent with my mom, my dad, her husband and kids.. yet in her arguments she is always right and I am ungrateful, comfortably away while she “looks after everything”, she says it “hurts me to see her happy”, etc…, my mom sometimes does not help because even when she recognizes that my sister has many issues she does not want to see us fight, so she asks me to “be the rational one” and to keep cool because my sister can’t. I live in a different country so, to find someone trustable to help me deal with legal and financial issues since my dad’s departure is quite hard and I am at the brink of stopping communication with her. I love her kids and I find it very difficult to be in this situation. If you have any ideas or suggestions I will appreciate your help.

  4. Avatar
    LowConfidence says:

    hey mr patrick, your article has really helped me, although i still find it difficult to get away from my emotional vampires. all of a sudden, i find myself thinking people are whispering about me, even if it was on one occassion, i become self concious and start panicking secretly. My vampires make me feel worthless, i have no idea what to do because no matter how much i ignore them, their voices come back louder. what can i do? thanks a lot 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Louise says:

    Hi Patrick, Thank you so much for this – although I see I am a little late in arriving! Having just received yet another unsolicited gift, phone call (not picked up) and e-mail (begging me to tell him if I hated him) from my ex I finally have a ‘shape’ to his behaviour and confirmation that cutting him from my life was the only way to stop his destructive sabotage on us both. I am considering sending him this article and your follow up on how to free himself from this behaviour pattern in the hope that he can break free – he truly is the most unhappy person I have ever met. I thank you therefore on his behalf too in hope that he will find peace. Sincere thanks, Louise

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Louise,

      I am sincerely glad that my article and information were helpful to you.
      Your ex might be able to benefit from the article – if he is ready and open.
      The most important thing is that you are free. Now be sure to check that you now feel and believe that you deserve to be loved and to have somoenbe that welcomes your love!
      All the best,

  6. Avatar
    anushree says:

    hey sir..
    i read ur newsletters n i fount then eally awesome… n i just wanted to know d place or site where i can register my problem… i really need your help…!!!

  7. Avatar
    Theresa says:

    I am spent, done, broken, sucked dry.

    After my mother’s sudden passing in 2006, I had this naïve, idealistic notion that my husband and I could help my father out and help take care of him. Yeah, he has a history of bipolar and passive-dependent disorder but I wasn’t sure I was on board that the bipolar thing—he wasn’t staying up all night long on drinking or gambling binges, violent or anything. Nevertheless, he probably would have been placed in special ed in today’s educational settings and my mom always took care of the bills, worked, took care of him, etc., so I agreed to a Power of Attorney wherein I could take care of the banking, bills, etc. He became very ill about three months after my mother passed and needed to have his large bowel removed, replaced with an ostomy bag. He almost died throughout that whole ordeal and probably two-three times after that.

    The thing is, I can’t figure out why he didn’t just die already. Why survive c-diff infection and bowel surgery to not LIVE? He doesn’t do anything to care for himself. He relies on me, my husband and a hired caregiver to do everything for him. He has imposed upon me to be his nurse (even with a homecare nurse coming to his place); his confidant; advisor; ever-flowing mommy breast; endless source of sustenance, his life-source. I learned a long while ago what happens when I try to have my own life; i.e., time with my daughters and caring for their needs; time for my marriage; work my part-time job—if I don’t give due attention to “Bernie,” well, a number of things can happen: he can have a “fall,” 18th century female fainting style—the ‘swoon’ and everything; gets “confused” about things; ends up in the hospital….whatever.

    I thought I felt bad for my mother before she died. Now I am LIVING IT and I know that he killed her. If she didn’t have to contend with him and his BS she’d have had time for more mundane things like her OWN doctor’s appointments, etc. Instead, I think on some level, she gave up. He wore her down, just like he’s wearing me down.

    Now, to be honest, I’m good for nobody. Not for my father, myself, my husband or kids, friends, or job. I’m stuck—too much to do to move forward and not much energy to do anything about it. Some of the best years of my children’s lives have gone by in time-warp speed and as for my marriage, if I were my husband I would divorce me and run like hell.

    So this is what it’s like. Most days I wish I would fall into a hole in the ground or just float away. I don’t really talk about it because who’s going to get it—after all, he is a 78-y/o man with numerous health problems, a vulnerable adult! The difference is, most elderly people fiercely protect their independence and don’t like the idea of needlessly burdening their adult children, while my father waits eagerly for Mother-Theresa-Life-Force to come and clean and powder his ass. So yes, if you can avoid my mother’s mistake and not marry this type of person, your future children will appreciate it.

  8. Avatar
    Patrick Wanis says:

    Dear Evie,

    You are welcome.
    Yes, sometimes we need to look at the people to whom we are attracted and notice that they are a reflection of us or a belief of ours. For example, the man to whom you refer does not open up and is emotionally closed and therefore that keeps you safe because it protects you from having to feel your emotions and protects you from being vulnerable and having to trust someone else.
    Well done for the awareness Evie.
    Yes, post the first 100 words or so of my article and then link it back to this page -to my article.
    All the best,

  9. Avatar
    Evie says:


    Thank you for such a quick response. Very appreciated!
    Good questions. I think it takes alot of self trust and awareness to know when or if we are being overly emotionally needy and also if we are with those who habitually avoid emotional closeness. When that happens, their emotional avoidance can make one feel “unloved, needy and inadequate”. This is a challenge ( I realize now–after years of therapy) because if you’ve not known true emotional respect and intimacy in a love relationship, it makes it scary to trust and open up. It is good to “reality check” what real “normal” needs are, with others who are “emotionally healthy”.

    May I post your above article on emotional vampires on my web blog? ( or if you prefer perhaps only a link? I am in the process of redesigning a web site and am dedicating a section to emotional and psychic vampirism. The new web site is different than the one now. When its up I can send you the updated link.



  10. Avatar
    Evie says:

    Thank you for your article on Emotional Vampires! I realized that I have attracted quite a few I my life, and am now learning how to set firmer boundaries. The sad part about it is, that setting boundaries and trying to communicate compassionately about the emotional draining issue resulted in many defenses and ultimately loss of that friendship. This has happened now with about 3 friendships. Although now I realize that these were not true friendships, and that these individuals perceive and use friendships to only get their own needs met and did not have genuine interests in me other than to serve their own neediness. One even admitted to feeling “fed” after talking on the phone usually for over an hour.

    As a woman however, I do find it part of my nature in relationships to want to share and emotionally connect through verbal communication. I see that this can sometimes be confused with emotional neediness by men and those who are “emotionally unavailable” and shut down. I can also see how such a emotionally shut down man would perceive any woman who wanted to get close this way as “an emotional vampire”. Can you address this issue, say how to tell the difference between a true emotional need expressed in a healthy way? And also, how to deal with those who are emotionally shut down and who avoid authentic heart centered communication?

    Thank you.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Evie,

      When you become clear about the definition of a healthy relationship and when you believe that you deserve healthy symbiotic relationships (not parasitic relationships), then you do find yourself cutting people out of your life. It’s not easy to let go of people who have been in our lives for some time and when we have developed bonds (even unhealthy ones) with them.

      Women place greater emphasis on relationships than men do and women respond to stress by tending and befriending (talking it out with other women.)

      You also asked “how to tell the difference between a true emotional need expressed in a healthy way?” and unhealthy way. The answer is simple: how do you feel when this person is speaking with you – do you feel drained or compassionate? Is the person simply dumping and on a regular basis or is this person seeking a sympathetic ear? Does he/she also offer the same to you – a sympathetic and compassionate ear?

      Finally, you also wrote:

      “And also, how to deal with those who are emotionally shut down and who avoid authentic heart centered communication?”

      A simple question: Why do you want a relationship with someone male or female who is “emotionally shut down and who avoid authentic heart centered communication?”

      If they are shut down emotionally and avoid authentic heart centered communication, then you will never have a satisfying relationship and you will never feel a real connection with him/her. Ask yourself whether or not you are afraid to have a real connection and whether or not you can open your heart to someone who will also open his/her heart to you?

      All the best,

  11. Avatar
    Kat says:


    A good friend passed this blog onto me, as she uses it to deal with her mother. All of these “types” describe my brother. He may be bipolar, but he will not entertain that thought. He was a “mama’s boy” until the age of about 16 when our mother died. I think that because he lost his “best friend,” he lost his mind and never came back. He is a technical/ computer genius who could be making close to a 3 figure salary, but instead, his wife left him after 10 years (they were extremely co-dependent, and she was an enabler). She was the breadwinner, so he ended up getting a small part of her pension. That small sum is just a bit more than my yearly salary. He has started buying more computers and equipment since he got it.

    He has no job (says he has to take care of our dad since I left and moved across the country), so that is his excuse for not working. He looks like a homeless mountain man and refuses to cut his nasty, frizzy, long hair and beard (another excuse to not work, he says “nobody is going to tell me how I have to look, and if they do, I dont want to work for them).

    My mother was manic depressant, she could not stand up to us, so even though we did not have money, we always got what we wanted. We always fought; my mother would get mad and then hit herself as hard as she could, and she constantly talked about how fat and ugly she was. I have that issue too, even though she told me she knew it was wrong to talk about herself that way. She thought if she talked about being fat right when she walked in the door, no one else needed to say anything and she wouldnt get hurt. I picked it up from her.

    My mother covered up her low esteem by making people laugh. Following in her footsteps, it is my brother’s goal to make people hear him and laugh at all of his jokes. His whole life revolves around this…no one can have a normal conversation about anything, because he has to have all the attention in the room. He will call me and say “I killed at the bank and the store today!” Like I am supposed to be jealous. Truth is, I have told him “they are not laughing with you, they are laughing at you,” and his answer is, “good that is what I want.” I am embarrassed to be around him and to be related to him. When we fight, I say I am going to cut him out of my life, but then I feel bad after a few weeks because he has no friends. I am tired of feeling sorry for someone who acts this way.

    I have tried to continuously change the way I see things and the way I feel about myself, admitting that I have low self esteem and other issues. I know that at 45, I am able to change instead of blaming my mother. I see some of myself in my brother as well, but he maintains that he loves himself and has a perfect level of self esteem. I know what bothers us in others is what we see in them that reminds us of ourselves. But I am getting ready to go visit, and feel like I am being sentenced to jail for 2 wks. He buys me things as proof he cares, then when he starts yelling and we fight he throws at me “Oh isnt it nice I bought you this or that, since you are so nice to me and so encouraging.” I dont ask him for things, so it is totally inappropriate for him to say this to me all the time. From your article, I know to simply say “I am going for a walk, maybe we can talk when you are calm,” but if you have any other advice, I would love to hear it. I am aware I am not perfect and fly off the handle sometimes also, but I am trying to change! He says I never encourage him, and I tell him that is because anytime I tell him something good that happens to me, he just says “oh cool” and blows it off, or “well arent you the little expert.” So I tend to give him that same medicine back. I know this is wrong.

    Thank You,


  12. Avatar
    Violet says:

    It is literally midmorning (3am South African Time) and I can’t sleep at all.
    I’ve just realize that I have became a victim of my kindness. I’ve bad tendency of feeling for others thinking that I can change their lives for better by feeling compelled to help them. I always attract emotionally, materially and spiritually needy people in my life. The spiritually needy I don’t mind them that much because I like encouraging others. Though I love lifting other the emotionally needy ones sometimes drain me big time. I carry their burdens at the end of the day it backfires at me badly. To site one picture on the materially needy ones to you, please check the scenarios below:
    1. The Materially Needy
    I come from a very poor background whereby my mom couldn’t even afford a pair of school shoes during my high school years. After completing my high school education I stayed home for a year because there was no money to take me to the University or to the College. The following year I was able to collect some money for admission at Teachers Colleges. I did my three years Teachers Diploma which was sponsored by the Education Department. I was forced by circumstances to do this diploma since it was the cheapest and I was also forced by my mom to go for it so that I can come back to help to help her raise my four siblings since she was a single mother through divorce. I am the first child in my family out of the five of us. I grew up being told that I must help other, I never put myself first in life even today I still struggle with that and now I feel like a victim.
    I did my post graduation studies in my adulthood (mid-thirties). In my varsity years I also felt compelled to help other students who come from needy families because they share their pathetic background with me and it will hit so bad inside so much that I will feel to share my resources with me. Some of them I even had to provide a roof over their head for them, other I had to buy them clothes from my clothing accounts. Today they are all have good careers and some in good position in their workplace but none of the have ever said THANK YOU to me instead some of them HATE me.
    At the time of my varsity years I was married to a very caring husband who also very concerned about my caring patterns which he describe as “apologetic for having a good life”. He deed acknowledged that it was good for me to help others but I should not feel compelled to do so.
    Today I am four years widowed with three minor kids (7, 10 and 13 years). I am without a formal employment. I’ve started a consulting company and juggling with different projects. I have lost my job during the recessions since it was a contracted HR position.
    Recently I put my sister and her husband in one of the houses which I inherited from my husband’s estate. They were under serious financial situation, then we verbally agreed that they will pay the water and electricity accounts as well as the rate and taxes and not pay any rentals to me so that they can pick up their financial situation. Today they have left my house and got themselves a new house and left me with a huge debt of rates and taxes and strained relationships between us.
    Patrick, I am sorry to be jumping with my stories, what I’m trying to say here is that “the good I always try to do is always thrown back into my face”. “I am always a victim of my kindness”. The people I always help always turn to be my enemies or they avoid me and I don’t even ask for a repay or a reward I was just helping!!
    My 13year old was very angry with me recently and she said to me “Mommy you always do good things to these people and they always give you an attitude, I hate it.
    Patrick please advise me, I know it has something to do with me. What is it that I am not doing right?
    Lastly, I just want to acknowledge and appreciated the articles or the newsletters I receive from you on monthly basis. They are bringing a lot of awakening, awareness, transformation, healing even regrets and guilt feelings. Why regrets and guilt feelings, most of the time after reading some of your articles I feel like I can start my life all over again and do things in a right way. With some of the articles I am able to act immediately.
    Your recent newsletter “the dangers of your brain”, triggered my emotions.
    I am currently working on my book on widowhood experiences, and I am praying for wisdom, courage and discipline to complete it.
    Thank you very much Patrick, I will really appreciate your help.
    Kind regards
    Violet (South Africa)

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Violet,
      thank you for writing to me and it is great and inspiring to know that I have people from across the globe reading my newsletters. Thank you for the compliments and I am glad they are benefiting you.

      It is good to be kind to other people in need but you must be kind to yourself. The people that you have helped who don’t seem to be grateful may also be responding to your sense of desperation and neediness. Their ingratitude is not justified but “we teach other people how to treat us.” In other words, people get a vibe and a sense from us about what we believe about ourselves. Have you noticed a pattern that when someone has low self-esteem, other people treat him or her even worse; and yet, the person who has high self-esteem is treated very well.

      In other words, you must treat yourself as important. You cannot and do not have to help everyone. Begin by helping yourself.

      Start right now by putting yourself first.
      I understand that might be a challenge because for your entire life you have put everyone else first. So, put yourself first with small things and then build up; take baby steps. Begin to say “no.” Read my newsletter “Saying No” –
      Also read my newsletter: “Loving and respecting yourself” –

      Now here is another question to challenge you: Can you say no, not help everybody and still be worthy and valuable?

      My point is that sometimes we create an identity for ourselves and we create an importance for ourselves by taking up the role of rescuer, savior or helper. Did you do this as a child? I did and so I kept doing it until I changed my belief that I could be lovable and still say no, and not help everybody i.e. I could let go of the old role of rescuer and savior.

      I hope this helps and all the best,

  13. Avatar
    Rescuer says:

    This article has given me a lot to think about. It seems that throughout my life I’ve befriended people who tended to be emotional vampires and there was something in me that was perfect prey for them.

    I suppose I am attracted to these damaged types of people–perhaps I am a “rescuer” type.

    I want to help them but I realize that in my effort in being a friend or a shoulder to cry on I find I’ve allowed them to completely drain me emotionally.

    Your advice is very helpful–my problem isn’t my empathy and compassion; it’s the fact that I did not set BOUNDARIES with them and so I allowed them to push me until they bled me dry.

    I feel really angry right now–not at them, but at myself. I feel I let myself be manipulated and taken advantage of. I didn’t listen to the gut feelings that I had when I met these people, the feelings that told me that they were messed up and a deep involvement with them is probably not a good thing.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Rescuer,

      it’s okay to be angry at yourself – as a way to push yourself to change your behavior.

      Ask yourself why you chose not to follow your gut feelings. Also, ask yourself how you became a rescuer. How did that become your identity? Did you do the same thing as a child for the people around you? Maybe you had to be the strong one in your family and you simply learned that behavior as a way of getting love and attention, or as a way to survive – but obviously that doesn’t work as an adult because you then attract the emotional vampires who take but never give.

      Be kind and gentle on yourself and make the decision to create a new identity for yourself. Let other people help you; let other people give to you!
      All the best,

  14. Avatar
    Susie queness says:

    I have read many of the remarks posted here & I can truly relate to almost all of them. My mother has since past away 2 years ago now. Although I loved her I felt many of the same issues as many of you. I think that too I have picked husband ( relationships) from subconcious behaviors that mimic my mom. Very controlling and self absorbed kind of people. I was not raised by her so in many wYs I feel I was spared her bad traits transferring onto me. But I know I have some abandonment issues and worry anxiety issues. I am really conscious of these issues & I try very hard to let go and not be a worry wort over everything. I’m married now to a great guy. We’ve been together for 18 hrs. But I do have difficulty with him in that I’m always trying to please him and i care way too much about keeping the peace. And he is usually very sweet to me but he does have a moody side where he is extremely impatient and even yells @ me & on occasion has been down right hurtful with some very mean remarks. He always apologizes and I always forgive but I do stick up for myself & I let him know that when he says mean & nasty things they r unacceptable to me. Like most marriage relationships it’s a give & take & no one is perfect. They can be very complicated. But to the rest of the world he is well perceived and people think of him as a kind and warm person which he is for the most part.but during his moody times he can b a real jerk to me. I always take this so hard and I feel like he just sucked the life out of me. To point where I suffer greatly with health issues. It feels like when I think on this and past stuff from him and my mom that it’s just more than I can bear. I wind up in bed for days with colon flare ups etc… It’s awful. When I express these things in a loving way with great diplomacy but firmness too he seems to understand and try’s to be nicer. But eventually a week or a month or sometimes even a few months go by and we are back in the same cycle. Me expressing to him & he always being sorry. I hate it with all my heart. And it makes me sad for him too that he is always saying sorry. He is a good person and I love him very much but my health I know suffers greatly because I can’t seem to shut him out & not let his mood swing thing effect me. How do I shield myself enough without becoming numb. I’ve tried prayer meditation hobbies etc… But now I’m too sick to do much of anything and I feel overwhelmed!!!

  15. Avatar
    John says:

    Hi Patrick,

    I have been reading a lot on emotional vampires and now realize that I have been truly involved in such a relationship for the past 3 years.
    My recent ex partner has spent those years distancing me from my family and friends. Extremely jealous of the time I spend with my children.
    I am at fault for all arguements and problems in the relationship, when ever I say I cant take it anymore, she becomes unwell.
    I have spent 3 years hearing about her life of neglect, sexual abuse, still births, failed marriages, relationships, reasons for affairs etc. She has had a terrible life.

    Through all of this I have tried harder, done more emotionlly, financially.
    I have wanted to be her knight on the white horse and rescue her.
    It has been a very on,off relationship.
    I moved out 6 months ago, although we continued the relationship, only for her to end it every 3 weeks, blaming me for her shit of a life.Her words!!
    Finally, I have walked out, saying I am not coming back!!!
    The problem is, I am so down, depressed, miss her terribly, would do anything to get her back!!!
    At times in the last 2 weeks I have thought about all the different ways to get her back!!!
    I know its toxic, please help me with some advice to get through this stage.

  16. Avatar
    Marc says:

    Dear Patrick,

    I am recently married and have recently discovered that my wife is an emotional vampire. Dealing with her is like an emotional roller coaster. She constantly wants attention, whenever I go to the gym she always ask when am I coming back. Whenever we have a disagreement she makes everything a major issue. Whenever she wants sex and I don’t give it to her she creates this dramatic scene that I don’t want to be with her or ask if im happy.I’m just tired! Today I asked her why she had an attitude and she said she didn’t so I said okay. Than she asked why I asked that and I answered because your body language to me looked like you were upset. She than begins to say in a negative tone I’m fine there’s nothing wrong with me. So i responded okay lets leave it alone. She than preceeds to get extremely upset and jumps out of the car. I’m sorry but this reaction was totally unwarranted and we are only two months into this marriage. I need to know if I should continue with this drama because I really can’t take to much of this. I don’t want to get divorced I really want this to work, but is it possible for someone with this issue to really change? Because I can not and will not live my life like this. I have never seen this before the wedding. I feel like she kept this part of her hidden just so that we would get married because she states that every other guy before has left her. I can understand why they left if she acted like this with all of them. She claims they cheated on her if that was so why didn’t she leave them. I tried to give her some constructive critisizm and everything is takened negatively. She says that I am too quick to want to give up but I have already been through a bad marriage and can’t continue another if I am to maintain my sanity. It seems like every other day there is some new emotional drama. She acts like I should kiss her butt, but I have never been a butt kisser. When I get really upset she becomes very appologetic and says she is going to see a counselor.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Marc,

      thanks for sharing your story.
      It is true and common that once we enter into the security of a relationship, our true selves come out. A relationship naturally brings out all of our insecurities, doubts and other issues.

      Your wife is being clingy or needby because she feels insecure and afraid because she was betrayed in other relationships.
      Before making a decision about staying or breaking up, may I humbly suggest that you both visit a counselor. And given that she says she is going to see one, then ask her to do so and ensure that she follows through with that.
      Also, does she in any way, remind you of yoru former wife or other ex-girlfriends?
      All the best,

  17. Avatar
    Glenn says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Great article. I am in a relationship with a wonderful lady. We have been together for four years now and between us, life is good. The emotional vampire is her ex who is also the father of her daughter. He constantly is running her down and verbally and emotionally abusing her. She puts up with this because she is still trying to keep him in her daughters life. Of course, the daughter loves her daddy even though he is not financially or emotionally supportive.
    What is your suggestion for dealing with a person like this that actually fits ALL of the criteria that you described in the article? Thanks for your reply.


    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Glenn,
      is the daughter’s father a good father? Is he good and healthy for his daughter?
      A friend who was in a very similar situation took drastic action to cut off the ex-husband (via court) because he was unhealthy for the daughters and he was a bad father even when he was visiting.

      If this man is “constantly is running her down and verbally and emotionally abusing her” (the mother) then consider what else she and you can do to minimize contact between him and her (the mother.) If the abuse escalates, consider a restraining order.

      Another approach might be for the mother (or a mutual friend whom the father respects) to speak with him and tell him that while he might have issues (resentment, jealousy, etc) towards the mother, his actions are actually hurting the daughter and will eventually cause the daughter to resent one or the other parent – but most likely the father!

      I hope this helps,
      All the best,

  18. Avatar
    Johnny says:

    Great Article! As difficult as it sounds, I had to separate myself from both my father and my sister (they are peas in a pod) and come to terms with not having them in my life as they were both emotional vampires and both exhibited ALL of the signs you listed. I never knew what to call them or their behavior, but I was self-actualized enough to realize that at 49, I could not continue to let them have power over me and drain me of my self esteem or energy any longer.

    Now I am so much more happy, energetic and positive about life. While I miss having family in my life, I’ve adopted a new family: my friends. They are supportive and helpful, build me up and are there for me without judgment.

    Whereas my sister and father were hyper-critical and could find a bad point in any thing I presented to them, including winning awards, getting new clients, purchasing beautiful land or meeting someone special. It didn’t matter what great thing happened to me, they simply had nothing positive to say about it. Both have trigger tempers, are oddly sensitive to anyone else’s actions, blow things out of proportion and have tantrums (sometimes public ones, the worst) when things didn’t go perfectly their way. I used to be quite stressed around them and avoided them as much as possible. Eventually, I just stopped contacting them altogether.

    Now my shoulders have relaxed and my heart has stopped pounding. I can actually look forward to months and months of stress-free living. Hopefully what you say here will help others delete emotional vampires from their lives as well!

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Johnny,

      thanks for sharing your experiences.

      It sounds like your choice to cut off your father and sister is a recent one. One of the hardest things to do in life is to cut off the people closest to you such as your family when they turn out to be unhealthy for you. It is always empowering to understand why they or anyone for that matter acts the way they do. Sometimes, people are motivated by jealousy, anger, resentment or simply want to cut you down because they feel inadequate.
      While I promote loving and understanding your family, I also teach that you must love yourself first. Trying to love someone who continually abuses you in any form – mental, physical, verbal or emotional – only serves to destroy you. Sometimes you need to cut them off and begin to love and nurture yourself while still lovign them from a distance. That implies letting them know what you will and won’t accept; telling them you love them but won’t accept their behavior – remembering that their behavior always comes from a place of self-loathing. So, how can anyone love someone who doesn’t love him or herself? It’s not possible because that person who doesn’t love him or herself will stop or prevent you from loving them!

      All the best,

  19. Avatar
    Kirk says:


    My girlfriend fits alot of what you have described. I love her very much but her parinoid behavior is pushing me away. She also is big on the drama queen and victim role. It’s like any answer i give her isn’t good enough becasue it’s not the one she wants to hear. She also get’s down on herself and can transfer her problems into anger towards me

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Kirk,
      thanks for writing and yes, it is truly a challenge to love someone who “gets down on herself” and then takes it out on you. How long have you been together?
      Is she just starting to reveal this side? Is it pressure and stress or do you think it has always been there?
      It’s important to understand that you cannot change her – however – you can help her. Sit down in a neutral place – preferably outside to talk to her. Note what I said: neutral and outside. Neutral refers to the fact that it is not your home or her home; outside because it allows for a more open conversation by lowering her defenses. In other words, set up a time and place to talk; do not wait till you explode or walk out on the relationship. Eventually, you will tell her how you feel – better to do it now than after the relationship has ended.

      By sitting outside in a neutral place, you have a safe place for both of you to discuss your feelings. Begin with questions e.g. “last week I heard you say such and such and I felt you were putting yourself down. What moved you to do this? How can I help?”

      If you start with exploratory questions, then there is less chance of her being defensive or paranoid. Also, you can help her to lower her defenses by lowering yours and expressing vulnerability; maybe try sharing a personal story of something meaningful in your past and how it left you feeling.

      Also, ask yourself the tough question about how and why you attracted this person into your life and how and why you are attracted to her? I used to attract girls that needed rescuing because I believed that was my role and purpose as well as my identity. It also prevented me from having to reveal my true self…I also didn’t believe that I deserved to be treated better than they were treating me…

      Let me know what happens and I hope this helps.
      All the best,

  20. Avatar
    Mia says:

    Dear Patrick,

    I just wanted to write how great your advice is and that its wonderful someone is giving out strong, down-to-earth, logical advice on a topic that is as messy and involved as relationships and human emotions! I hope you continue on for many years to come as it sends back so much positivity and good vibes in a world that is a little overwhelming and dark at times.


  21. Avatar
    bmax says:

    Dear Patrick,

    This is an amazing blog and set of posts here.. helping us all to understand the day to day, event to event interactions that can leave us feeling deflated and not our positive, happy selves….Your thoughts have certainly helped push me to find more joy in living! THANK YOU!!!

    I have questions about my new husband and my relationship (of a blushing eight months)… we’ve known one another for nearly three years.. and have lived in the same city nearly two. But we’re still getting to know one another. I’m 35, never married.. he’s 40, married once to a drama queen.. We were somewhat cautious and tried to be thoughtful in the process of getting married to one another.

    I’ve come to see that we both can be emotional vampires, but I find him more consistently one.. as a critical jokster. He loves the show Seinfeld.. and I’ve started to envision him as a character on the show.. negative, narcissistic, somewhat dry and dark in his humor…and he sometimes raises his voice to get his point across. I also find that he sometimes seems bored with what I have to say, is not at all interested in my interests, and belittles me in subtle ways that I end up chalking it up to me feeling ‘hypersensitive’. I also feel like he wants sabotage my budding career as a university teacher that I will only work 30 hours a week, which would have me less stressed and able to tend to him and our household a bit more.

    The rub is this: he is not this way all the time.. he’s also sweet, supportive, and can be quite caring.. and wants to be a great husband. My dog (who’s now ours) adores him.. and even seems to favor him over me.

    So my questions have more to do with what to do when he’s being a negative, critical, and unrelenting soul.. And I’m either tired or stressed out from work.. This makes for a pretty bad equation. In a run-down state, I often become a bit fearful, needing his validation, hugs, and approval.. and it often takes him some time to muster up some kind words about me. He even seems suspicious about why I would need to be told positive and up-building things..

    I start to wonder and worry a little that we just don’t know each other well enough… that I can’t force or change him.. that it’s too high of an expectation to expect him to be kind and thoughtful all of the time.. and then when I start to wonder why I married this man.. I have to remind myself that I’m the one that I need to focus on.. not him.. just try to be strong, positive and up-building to him, for him.

    I would love for us to bring out the best in each other, that we are positive and strengthening forces in each others lives — all of the time. Is this way too high of a hope and dream?

    Any and all thoughts would be most appreciated.

    Thanks again for all you time and care,

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Bmax,

      thank you for your kind words and compliments.

      It sounds to me that you both have work to do individually and then, as a couple. And yes, I think it would have been wiser to have spent more time getting to know each other before the marriage rather than during the marriage.

      I think there is some pain that your husband has not yet cleared. For example, you mentioned that he was married to a drama queen and I think he responds to you as if you were that drama queen. In other words, you are triggering some of his old stuff and that is why he hovers from being negative & narcissistic and then wanting to be a great husband.

      You are right that you need to always work on yourself first. However, there are also some things that need to be addressed within the relationship. For example,
      step one, identify what you need from him – patience, validation, understanding, support, etc. Step two, ask him what he needs from you. And then third, ask each other why each one feels resentful giving the other person what he or she needs. There are times when we are stressed out or emotionally rundown and we simply don’t feel like propping up the other person (giving approval, praise or validation) but love and marriage is about doing it when you don’t feel like it. And yet, the desire to do it is also a reflection of real love.
      Having said that, also look at yourself and determine when you need it and why you need it; is it something often? If so, why? Is it just tough times and challenges or is it a deep issue that has been around for awhile? Your husband can love and support you but he cannot heal you or be responsible for your healing – and vice versa.

      It also seems to me that the two of you are not communicating fully. You said: “He even seems suspicious about why I would need to be told positive and up-building things.” Have you discussed this matter? Have you explained to him why you need it? Do you know why you need it?

      You also need to explain to him the effect it has on you when he acts “as a critical jokster. He loves the show Seinfeld.. and I’ve started to envision him as a character on the show.. negative, narcissistic, somewhat dry and dark in his humor…and he sometimes raises his voice to get his point across.” Explain to him how it makes you feel and ask him how you can help him and support him.

      Does he want to sabotage your career or is he simply recognizing that your present situation is highly stressful and that the stress makes you fearful and dependent on him – even clingy? Talk to him, ask him questions; talk about the way you feel and listen. Ask him for his perspective and expain your perspective. Don’t condemn; say “I feel…”

      Why do you say that you must “be strong, positive and up-building to him, for him”?It sounds as if you are feeling guilty and acting as if you must live to serve him.

      Also, regarding stress, please look at ways to reduce the stress in your life because that will affect your relationship; it will affect your emotions and can even make you needy and emotionally vulnerable. Is he also under a lot of stress?

      You also said “I would love for us to bring out the best in each other, that we are positive and strengthening forces in each others lives — all of the time. Is this way too high of a hope and dream? ” Yes, it is possible and no, it is not too high of a hope and dream. Begin by asking him how you can be that for him and then let him know how he can be that for you. Make sure they are clearly tangible ways – actions, words, response, etc.

      I wish you the best and please let me know how it goes.

  22. Avatar
    Ready to grow says:

    Mr Wanis,
    I have found this thread regarding “emotional vampires” to be extremely interesting and validating to read. I have reached a point in my life (47) where certain old behaviors and patterns simply do not work for me any more and I am finding myself working to remove them from my life. I have found myself taking stock of relationships and backing away from those that are not healthy and postitive or those that are based on obligation and guilt rather than actually enjoyment of that person.

    I was raised to be a people pleaser and that has left me open to being the “food” for many emotional vampires over the years. My parents used guilt to control us growing up, so I have definitely been a “guilt catcher” to use your term. whenever I have chosen to do what is best for me (coming out as a lesbian, choosing not to spend a lot of time with family members who I do not enjoy) my family has attempted to make me feel like a selfish person. I know now that this is not true, and that I must set boundaries in order to be a happy emotionally healthy person who is not resentful and depressed.

    That being said, the main “emotional vampire” ( I had been referring to her as an “emotional vacuum cleaner prior to learning your, more accurate term) is my sister. She is two years my senior, but I have always played the role of her emotional support system and the person to whom she would endlessly vent her negative emotions and anxieties. Every phone conversation, every interaction would end up leaving me feeling exhausted and annoyed. I would try to counsel her about her endless complaints about her health, job, relationships with family, her struggles with infertility, but she would never take my advice. It seemed she just had to compulsively complain and seek approval and validation for her every action.

    Finally, in the past few years I have begun to recognize that I cannot change her. She is caught in old patterns with our family and in her marriage and every job she has. I am all done trying to give her advice. I finally had to pull away to protect myself from her. Your advice to “tired sister” back in January really hit home for me, as that is exactly what I had to do. She feels that it is my place as her only sister to listen to her problems, but there is a limit. We could never just have a nice visit or phone call. They all start out pleasantly enough, but they invariably would turn into a venting session for her where she would seek my reassurance about everything she does. I cannot play that role any more. It is too exhausting and depleating to me. So, I told her that I am finding our interactions to be stressful and exhausting and that no matter what she thinks our relationship “should” be, we cannot be each other’s confidant. If I would try to tell her anything about myself, it would quickly become an issue about her fear and nervousness about what I was going through. I would end up comforting and reassuring her! So, although I know it is painful to her and she doesn’t fully understand, I only speak with her on the phone once every few weeks, and then it is only for a very short time and I keep it to light subjects. When she starts her negative patterns, I tell her I have to go. She is learning, but it is a hard habit for her to break. I know now that I cannot “fix” her, I can only change the dance so that I am not caught up in her emotional whirlpool any longer.

    Thank you for listening.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear “Ready to grow”,

      well done for having the courage to make the tough choices and for speaking your truth regarding emotional vampires and specifically your sister: “So, I told her that I am finding our interactions to be stressful and exhausting and that no matter what she thinks our relationship “should” be, we cannot be each other’s confidant. ”

      Also, well done for recognizing when to stand up and leave “when she starts her negative patterns, I tell her I have to go.”

      You are right that she might be learning and it is a hard habit to break. The toughest thing for almost all of us to accept relates always to change: we find it hard to accept that somethings change and even harder to accept that people around us won’t change the way we want them. We would all love to be able to change the emotional vampires in our life – particularly our family members because deep down we do love them and we do crave for a meaningful relationship and connection, and, sadly that rarely occurs. And therefore, we need to respond sometimes to emotional vampires or as you called them “emotional vacuum cleaners” with the only thing we can control – our own behavior and response.

      I welcome your closing sentence as a great lesson and insight: “I know now that I cannot “fix” her, I can only change the dance so that I am not caught up in her emotional whirlpool any longer.”

      All the best and may you continue to grow!


    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Joan,

      all of the advice and the ten tips and strategies for dealing with emotional vampires still apply to you. However, i would like to add to work on yourself first, and you will eventually arrive at the place where you accept him even though you might find that he is not for you and neither is the relationship if it is destructive to you and your soul.

      Notice I said “accept him” and I said you might still leave. What I mean here is that you arrive at the place where you no longer waste energy trying to change him but you also recognize that you need to take the path that is the healthiest for you.

      All the best,

  23. Avatar
    Cathleen says:


    I have been married to an emotional vampire for almost 9 years. Of those 9 years, I have been exhausted for about 7 and – not surprisingly – no medical treatment has helped (therapy, accupuncture, adrenal, hormone regulation, and thousands of dollars of supplements). It took years to figure out the basis for the crazy, crazy chaos. My husband has strong NPD characteristics, sees himself as a victim constantly, is controlling, and is manipulative to the point that I NEVER know when he is telling the truth or just working me for some desired outcome. There has been quite a bit of physical and emotional abuse in our relationship, although not for some time. During those times he would wear me down emotionally and apologize, cry…whatever it took so that I would not leave. Time and again I have realized that our relationship is so toxic to me and have intended to leave…but never have (if he knows what I am thinking he won’t leave me alone….will stay home to “talk”, constant phone calls, emails, tearing up packed boxes, etc.).

    I finally realized that I could not stay any longer….and he somehow decided that he needed to turn his life over to God. In this regard, he has become much more giving – sponsoring families for Thanksgiving and Christmas, whereas in the past he would verbally abuse me about my volunteer work; he now tithes at church whereas he has been, again, verbally abusive to me over the same in the past. However, I believe that this is just another tactic, and here is why: although he is a fairly successful professional, he still engages in unethical (illegal) behavior. When confronted with a problem, he does not hesitate to operate in the “gray” areas. In fact, he prides himself on figuring out ways to work around the system, and would be in jail for such behavior if he had not cooperated with the FBI to convict several of his business partners. When I renewed my relationship with God, my desires changed. My husband and I have always differed in the way that we relate to people and things, so I do expect there to be some difference, but I observe him doing things that do not indicated a relationship with God.

    The issue is this: we have a 7 year old daughter who would be devastated if we divorced. She is the reason that we are still together. I have been on a personal development drive for years and am so frustrated with the circular arguments, hours on the phone listening to the “I would listen to you if you showed me more affection” madness. I do not feel like it’s possible to have a loving, nurturing relationship with the intensely juvenile aspects of my relationship…that leave me drained. I don’t feel like I have the patience or desire to live one more day in this relationship…but then there is my daughter, and for her I have pulled up my bootstraps over and over again.

    I am currently practicing EFT, Ho’oponopo, and other emotional clearing techniques just to allow myself to see him not as the person that he has been in the past, but as a person who has good qualities, too. It is very hard for me to do. I would very much appreciate hearing your inspired words of wisdom.

    Thank you!


    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Cathleen,
      I sympathize sincerely that you have suffered so much.

      I am not fully clear about the changes your husband has made. You said he has turned to God and has become more giving but still engages in illegal activity, gray areas or simply practices that are untheical. You also said that you are engaging in “other emotional clearing techniques just to allow myself to see him not as the person that he has been in the past, but as a person who has good qualities, too.”

      First, have you fogiven him for the past? Does he regret his ways? Has he recognized the hurt and pain caused?
      Second, what image are you trying to see of him and why? Are you trying to forget the past and only focus on his good? That is fine if he has changed; if not, then you are simply in denial. Yes, I teach to love, forgive and focus on the good but I don’t teach to remain in a negative relationship and focus on the good.

      This leads to my third point: it is a huge and dangerous belief that it is good to stay together for the sake of the children; it is not if there is no love in the relationship; it is not if there is pain and abuse in the relationship. Children learn by 1. watching their parents and copying them; 2. by listening to their parents and absorbing and accepting what they hear and 3; by what they experience.

      In other words, the pain, abuse, lack of love, narcissism, manipulation, criticism, etc are all very harmful for your daughter. She will grow up with a bad example of relationships; she will grow up thinking that the woman must accept the abuse from the man; she will grow up frightened to express herself and be herself.

      Your daughter needs love, protection and nurturing. She also needs to witness and feel love between her parents. Hearing arguments will leave her afraid, traumatized and insecure. She will grow up with anxiety. She will absorb a lot of your pain.

      Remember, suffering on your part at the hands of abuse is not loving for your daughter – even though that is your intention.

      Love yourself and teach your daughter to love and respect herself.

      None of these steps are easy but you must take the tough steps to love yourself…

      I hope this helps and please let me know how it goes.

      All the best,


  24. Avatar
    Sheila says:


    I am so glad I found your site/blog. I have an emotional vampire in my life and I have known her for so many years. She is my longtime childhood friend. We are 46 and we have been friends since we were about 14. A Very LONG TIME. I have many times thought I wish she would just GO AWAY. I have wondered why did I put the time into this relationship. I have other friendships but she just never goes away , no matter how many arguements we have had. I have gone away to college, she has been married and divorced, I’ve had relationships, jobs, etc. Lots of things have happened and she still THINKS she is my best friend. ( Even as a 46 yr. old woman she has the NEED to use that term, the same way a school girl would) We have had many arguements and blow-ups the last 5 years or so because I speak up to her now.

    I am a grown woman but the way I was brought up I guess was to always sort of not kick a person when they’re down or try to see things from their point of view, or see the good in a person. We have had a few big blow-outs where ai say that is it , I have had it and not spoken to her for say 4 months or so. Well I always give in to the “Oh, I just thought you would care that my daughter is graduating from kindergarten or that it is another childs birthday” or something to that effect. AND I give in, and BOOM, within a week or so she thinks everything is Hunky Dorey and we are back into the friendship thing.
    I believe she is a victimizer/narcissist type of emotional vampire.

    She is a person who wants what she wants when she wants it, such as returned phone calls – she will call several times a day , it used to be 5 or 6 times until I said “Hey” I’ll call you when I can, then she will tone it down to 3 times, then 3 times the next day and if I don’t call her she shows up at my door with her daughter in tow, which would be fine if it was just a friend stopping by , but with her it is a I will seek you out if you do not answer me type of thing. She has made choices that I so do not agree with regarding a boyfriend with a shady past, and the relationship with her him and her children. I do not respect the choices, she is hostile and border-line abusive to her kids. Shouting at them , swatting them on the butt. The other day we were at Disneyland and her 7 yr.old was scared on a ride and got drenched at the end( Splash Mt.). I was holding the daughters hand and she swooped in and yelled at her and swatted her. I spoke up and said, “Hey knock it off – How about a little compassion and a hug for her not yelling and spanking.” That has just really stuck with me the last few days and I started looking up toxic friendships, etc.

    You probably think I am just a jerk for hanging out with her at all, but she is just very smooth at always making me feel, like well I am stressed, or nobody else cares, You are my FRIEND, Poor me, or it won’t happen again. She has grabbed me by the arm during fights as I am walking away and said “LOOK how much I care” One time it was out in the street and she even said I’ll kneel down in the street if that’s what it takes to show you that I care. – Man, I don’t want her to care. She has called repeatedly during fights on my machine and just said YOU are my best friend, I care so much , on and on and on. Based on her choices regarding this loser boyfriend everyone has pretty much grown tired of her crappy choices and eventually other friends can’t take her and just fade away. So she always brings up the everyone has turned against me bit. I feel so bad being her last friend but WHY the HELL do I have such a hard time saying GET LOST? I think I would feel so bad knowing she really doesn’t have anybody BUT that is not my job. I need healthy relationships that support me. She has never asked as much about my things as much as I have about hers. She doesn’t ask about many things that are important to me, or a real quick ‘Oh, how is that goin” For exapmple I go to a 12 step group for overeating, it is important to me, she doesn’t ask about it, etc. I guess I just keep wanting for someone to say to me You should end it for sure 100%. I keep thinking maybr she will change, but I am so tired of it and I think trolling around on the internet regarding toxic friendships/ ending friendships is sign enough that I have had it. I’m sorry that i have gone on and on and on, but I still have sisters that say OH, just ignore her. Yet , I think “Hey , I deserve healthy relationships and do not have to be this womans friend just because we like some of the same things. There are much deeper things that a good relationship should have other than the fact that we have some shared interests.”
    Thanks for listening ,

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Sheila,

      well done for recognizing that it is time to stand up for yourself and allow only healthy relationships into your life.

      Personally, I don’t have an issue with the term “best friends”; I think you would be happy to use that term if she was your best friend – but it appears that it is hard to accept that term when you feel someone is an emotional vampire.

      Sometimes we stick with people because it is familiar and because they know us so we don’t need to start all over again explaining who we are and how we think. In fact, it also becomes somewhat harder to make friends as we get older because we have less access to people; in school and college we are surrounded by so many people but later in life we associate with a smaller group of people – at work and we often spend most of our time with the children.

      Now, you that you have recognized that you feel she is not your friend and does not care about you, then ask yourself why you are afraid to let her go from your life – to ignore her attempts at making you feel guilty. Is it becuase you are afraid you will be alone or will not be able to find new healthy friends?

      We have to say no to what we do not want so we can say yes to what we do want.

      You can make new empowering friends by taking the time to find them! Try joining clubs or groups that interest you – reading clubs, hobbie clubs, walking clubs, etc.

      Finally, sometimes, you just have to take the hard action and go through the period of feeling uncomfortable so that you can cut off people who once controlled you. Then you can be free to welcome new real friends. You will regain your confidence once you put yourself first.
      All the best,

  25. Avatar
    Simone says:

    First I want to thank you for publishing this article. And secondly I am over whelmed by everyone’s responses to this article.

    My husband and I are unfortunate to have both of our mothers with varying degrees of emotional vampire qualities. My husband’s mom is so verbally abusive we have had to cut off communication with her entirely. Both of us feel guilty doing this, but the thought of talking to her, makes us sick to our stomachs. My elderly mom is not as easy. We were living in the Northeast and moved down to help her with her house/prepare it for selling.
    We have a 7 year old son who I love devoting my time to. My mother thinks I spend too much time with him. My mom, during this whole 2 year time, has been un-thankful for all the improvements we have done. She is the type of person that zaps all the fun out of everything. There is no happiness around her. It has gotten so bad that I have a hard time caring.

    We are making plans to move, but as we approach moving, the negative comments only get worse and her passive/aggressive behavior makes my stomach hurt. How can I maintain some sort of peace?

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Simone,

      When I first wrote this article about Emotional Vampires, I never expected to hear from so many people that their mother is an emotional vampire. My first response might be to explain it as the result of loneliness, pain, dissapointment, hormonal changes, etc.

      I am not sure if I fully understand your situation: you have moved to be with your mother and to help her sell the house, and now that you are doing so, she is becoming worse in her verball attacks and criticism?

      Balance is always the primary goal. Have you spoken with her to let her know how her actions affect you; that it makes you sick to the stomach?
      The suggestion here is to say to her: “mom, we only have a few years left together and I would like them to be happy years full of wonderful memories. I want your grandson to also experience great memories with you; I am concerned that the way you have been responding to me lately leaves me feeling ill and pushes me away from you instead of pulling you closer to me. What can I do to help? Is there something, some pain or disappointment that you want to share with me? Please know that I am patient and understanding and willing to listen and I know this move is stressful for you but I will not allow you to criticize or attack me because that attacks my health and love for you.”

      I hope this helps. Remember also, that you might need to simply reduce the time you spend with her – keep it to a minimum or block that time for her – if she chooses to remain the same.
      All the best,

  26. Avatar
    jj says:

    Also, Mr Patrick,

    This person is very competitive with me. I have no desire to compete with anyone. I am jsut living my life. She wants to somehow beat me at being successful in life in matters of children, and monetary terms. I used to think she was sincerely happy for me regarding major events in my life, but now I think she had a sort of obsession, jealousy, love-hate mixture. She had once told me that she deliberately sabotaged another person’s perfect wedding by doing something to herself that would make her look awful in the pictures, since she was a bridesmaid. I laughed at that because I thought she was just joking and could’nt conceive of anyone going to such lengths. Why would you want to be a bridesmaid of someone you dont like and then make yourself look physically awful to sabotage the pictures? Now I realize that she really did such an unimaginable thing, and I felt that she has broken down the boundaries before I realized what was going on. I really do want to disconnect from this person. She has told me I’m her bf, and looks to me when she needs someone to talk to. I try to listen and give advice that is not destructive or critical. She came to depend on me too much for my own comfort levels, and also she became jealous of my other friends and my family members that she felt I had a good relationship with. She is extremely emotional and cries for things very quickly. I used to think she was sincerely happy for me, but later felt that she was obsessed and wanted to somehow posess me as a friend and cut out all my other connections with other friends. In the beginning she admired me and put me on a pedestal. I didn’t want that, but I felt sorry for her and tried to say things that would build up her esteem. Then I felt that she became posessive and jealous of my friends. Then she started to develop contempt for me, yet she would do things for me without me asking her to do so, and it made me uncomfortable. But if I spoke against it, I would look very unappreciative. She keeps wanting to meet me and vacation with our families together. I have no desire to do so, but she is really pushy. I dont want her to penetrate further into my life, and try to keep her at arms length away. That is not good enough for her. When people meet her, they cant tell she is this way because around them she behaves differently. I tried to tell my other friends, but because they do not know her as well as I do, and she hasn’t revealed that side of her, they dont understand, and I dont want to go deep into a muddy conversation with them either. I find discussing this with my friends very distasteful. I want to stop picking up the phone when she calls, but feel very guilty when she leaves crying messages. Please help me in finding what I can do, because the whole realization and situation has left me feeling very depressed.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear JJ,

      I am responding to both of your entries above, as the second is a continuation of the first entry.

      So, first things first: JJ, you are acting like the blood that feeds the emotional vampire. You have allowed yourself to become the victim to your emotional vampire. Now, I am not saying this to attack you but rather to make it clear that the role you are playing is enabling her. And of course, that is exactly what she wants – you to feel guilty, to control you and to criticize you. She wants to feed off you and you are allowing it to happen.

      I was on a TV show recently and I was discussing emotional vampires and the host asked me if there is a particular type of person that falls prey to emotional vampires and I said, yes. That person is the one who is emotionally injured, seeks other people’s approval, is co-dependent, has low self-esteem, is unsure of him or herself, doesn’t have a clear direction in life, suffers from guilt, fears rejection (and so does not speak his or her truth or stand up for himself) or doesn’t know who he or she is (doesn’t know her own core values), etc.

      In other words JJ, we create dynamics with other people.

      Your friends don’t recognize this lady as an emotional vampire because she doesn’t create that dynamic with them – they propably wouldn’t let it happen, she knows that at a subconscious level, and she gets her food and nourishment from you.

      So, what is it about you that subconsciously says to her “I am here to used as a victim”?

      I am going to speak openly and strongly with you to get the point across. She recognizes that you have lots of guilt (she can control you with guilt), you feel you need to please other people and get their approval and you fear standing up for yourself.

      So, JJ, what happened in your childhood where you did not speak up and out, where you did not freely express your opinions? Of whom were you afraid of annoying or crossing? Did you walk on eggshells around your mom or dad? Did your parents control you and get you to do things via guilt?

      And now in your adult life, what else has happened that makes you think that you are not good enough?
      What would happen if you completely cut off this lady? How would you feel?

      Here are some practical strategies:

      1. Ask yourself, “what am I afraid of?”
      2. Do not answer the phone and do not listen to her messages. (When you do this, notice what you feel and where you feel it in your body. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up and begin to breathe slowly. Do not resist it. Just feel it and breathe calmly. I know it sounds really weird but this action helps to reprogram your old wiring that said “if he or she feels bad then i must feel bad” or “I cannot be loved unless I do everything they want” or other such beliefs.)
      3. Write a letter (handwritten) to her and write out everything you would say if you had no fear and could say anything you want. Now read it aloud but do not send it. Must be handwritten to access right brain.
      4. Write a short note to say that you have decided not to pursue a friendship with her and you wish her only the best. Send it after you have done some of the above steps. When she responds and she will, do not read the email or listen to the message. This action is for you.
      5. Ask yourself what in you is a reflection of her?
      6. Do you need to forgive yourself or someone else? If so, then do it.
      7. Practice speaking up for yourself – being assertive – stating clearly with no emotion what you want.
      8. Stop and take notice what you feel once you have cut her off. What does it remind you of? Again use the breathing exercise I mentioned above and, write more about where those feelings originated.
      9. Get some help to clear out those old cobwebs that have created self-doubt and fear in you (you might consider a session with me.)

      JJ, the hardest thing you will do is to cut off your “friend” the emotional vampire. Do not explain your actions to your friends unless they are supportive. Explain the to yourself and focus on the benefit of being free of the fear, doubt, depression, pain and hurt she has triggered in you.

      I hope this helps and please let me know how it goes.
      All the best,

  27. Avatar
    jj says:

    dear patrick,

    I have a friend who is an emotional vampire. She has been this way for years, although I was and have always been naive. By the time I found out, she had pushed herself deep into my life in a very pushy way, which I did not see at first. When she did these things, I found it odd, but never questioned nor realized that she was acting to manipulate and control me. I cut off my friendship with her for a long time ..1 year or so, but she would leave messages on my phone crying and saying she misses me and is worried about me. Then she called and left a message saying she was having a medical procedure done, and just wanted to let me know in case something happened. I called just to wish her well and see if it went ok. It was a big mistake, because even though she was happy I called her back, not soon after, her emotional tricks returned, and I sensed her having contempt for me. I had sensed that before, and that’s why I cut things off from her. She also hooked up online freindsite, with a person who I regard as for lack of a better word, a frenemy, even though she despised this person. I think it was because she knew I was always going to be connected to this person socially because of my other family members. So, if I cut off with her, she would have a way of finding me. Why else would you go and seek out some-one who you’ve stated that you hate? This emotional vampire also, when she met my other friends and family at an event, went and told everyone that she was my best friend! I personally do not use that term for anyone, because friends are all different and close in various ways. Well, I’m not sure how to deal with this person without her looking to cause me a lot of grief and also in trying to get revenge on me for cutting her out…which she is capable of. Also Mr. Patrick, I am realizing in my late age, that people who’s actions I didn’t understand from the past were fealing threatened by me, even though I never acted nor had any intention to undermine anyone. I really do try to strive for a spiritual type of life, and try to be pure in my conduct and true and sincere. I do not try to preach to others. But I have for some reason become a magnet for these people,,,because I dont like talking about others and I dont like to gossip and I dont like one upmanship or putting people down. Please, Please help me find a way to deal iwth the situation.

  28. Avatar
    Family a plenty says:

    Hi, Patrick

    I came across your article and the very generous response blog you have along with it. I have been searching for a while for the psychological term for the “emotional vampire” in my life. This person is my friend, who also happens to be my sister-in-law. Though I find her frustrating quite a lot of the time she is manageable when I am in a good place.

    This past week I had a somewhat late miscarriage of a much wanted pregnancy. It was the hardest thing I’ve gone through to date. The interaction with sister-in-law started by me calling her, even before I was ready, to tell her about the miscarriage. She has a way of making me think of her above and beyond everyone in my life, including myself.

    She immediately started asking if she could “help” by calling and telling people. I said no and then she asked my husband he wanted her to call their parents. He said he didn’t care.

    From there she took it upon herself to call the entire family. She was over and done with it before I was even 100% sure the miscarriage had taken place and before she had any real information about what the experience was like for me.

    I spoke with her about how I felt. Of course, very, very gently and carefully as I always have to do with her. I told her I didn’t want that kind of help with her and that it hurt me. She got very defensive and started crying and has now seemed to withdrawal all the supposed help she had wanted to offer me.

    I had always been able to shrug her off but the contrast of how she is acting when I am in so much personal pain is making me really, really angry. I don’t know what to do. She is a big part of our lives: she helps with child care, she is married to a good friend, although she constantly complains about it she is kind of the “spokesperson” for her family. I can’t/don’t want to cut her out. I do want to fix her so I don’t have to have such a superficial relationship with her. But do I just have no choice?

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear “Family a plenty”,

      let me first express my sincere sympathies for your loss. I cannot pretend to know what that your loss feels like but I am sure that it is painful.

      Now, with regards to your sister-in-law, let me first begin by asking why you seek her approval? What does she represent to you?
      Why did you choose to call her and tell her of the miscarriage when you know that she likes to be the “spokesperson” for the family and when you say she thinks she is better than everyone else? Were you doing it to get her validation that you are OK, or, to get her condemnation? In other words, please dig a little deeper and ask yourself “what do I feel about this miscarriage?” Do you feel it is your fault, that there is something wrong with you and that’s why it happened? Many people often blame themselves or think there is something biologically wrong with them when they experience a miscarriage.

      Why did you chose to place so much trust in her? Were you sabotaging yourself?

      Now, as you have probably gathered from my various comments about emotional vampires, their behavior is driven by an emptiness, low self-esteem, self loathing and the subconscious belief that they are not good enough. Your sister-in-law compensates for these feelings and beliefs by acting superior to everyone.

      When she became defensive and started to cry, did you ask her why she was crying, what she was feeling?
      You still can. And if she responds that she is hurt by you, then let her know that it was not your intention to hurt her, and you asked her to hold off informing everyone else because you were in a state of shock. Next, ask her to consider please your pain: “if you feel such pain in reponse to my actions, then imagine the pain I feel from my loss.” Ask her also what is her deep pain. Maybe, she will open up.

      Also, I sense that she really needs to feel important and needed and this is why she wants to be the spokesperson of the family. And that is also the same reason that she wanted to call everyone. In other words, she needs to be needed. And it sounds like you need her? Are you trying to bond with her for a special reason? It is because she cares for the children? Is it because you are looking for a deeper relationship with a sister that you never had?

      When you answer these questions and become truly aware of what you are feeling on every level, then you can approach her and ask her if she is open to you expressing your feelings to her. If she is, then by you expressing vulnerability, she may also do just the same and open up to you, then you can be free of what you describe as “such a superficial relationship with her.”

      Finally, it truly sounds to me that you have not shared your deepest pain about this experience with anyone and it feels like you need to so with a woman. Your sister-in-law might just be that person. But, please approach her without any expectations. If she opens and you bond, excellent, and if she is not open or willing, then excellent for you have tried and you have spoken from your heart.
      Please let me know how it goes.
      And if you have any pain, anxiety or trauma, go to where you can download two special audio programs to use that can help you – they are a gift.
      All the best,

  29. Avatar
    Between a rock and a hard place says:

    Thank you so much for this article!! It has provided some woderful insight and information. I have been married to an emotional vampire for almost 15 years and I am at a breaking point in our relationship. He tends to fall into the label of Narcissit, Victim and Drama Queen. For the past 15 years, I have stroked his ego and been the cheerleader whenever he has had a bad day or feels like he is going thru an anxiety attack or whatever. All the while, my emotional needs have been put on the back burner. If the conversation starts to turn to me, it eventually goes back to him and his feelings, insecurities, etc. I’ve internalized a lot of my frustrations and feel resentful. I’m at the point right now where I am emotionally empty…I have nothing left to give and I feel numb towards him. But yet, I have an incredible sense of guilt too. It is very much of a codependent relationship and I feel like I have enabled him for our entire marriage. I’m between a rock and a hard place because I don’t want to hurt him but yet I want out of this toxic marriage. He is the king of guilt and therefore is very manipulative…whether he knows he’s being manipulative or not. A counselor has asked if we’re willing to work on our relationship and he is all for it (he doesn’t want to lose me)…me, on the other hand, wants out (I’m ready to move on and start thinking of me for a change). It’s the classic struggle of “how do you hold onto someone who won’t stay and how do you get rid of someone who won’t go?

    I am struggling with this so much. I want to be happy and at peace with myself. I want him to accept things and start to move forward instead of sitting and spinning our wheels all the time…getting no traction.

    Thank you for any guidance you can provide!!!

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear “Between a rock and a hard place”,

      I am truly amazed by how many people have been affected and positively impacted by my article and advice. I am grateful than I can be of help and service.

      Now, let’s get specifically to you “Between a rock and a hard place!”

      Whilst you might be struggling, and I understand why and will come to that in a moment, your answer is not so difficult. Yes, the answer is simple but not easy. You are stuck not out of love but out of guilt and obligation.

      No where above did you say that you love him. Yes, you have loved him and cared for him, but now, for you say:

      “I have an incredible sense of guilt too. It is very much of a codependent relationship and I feel like I have enabled him for our entire marriage. I’m between a rock and a hard place because I don’t want to hurt him but yet I want out of this toxic marriage.”

      So what is holding you back – guilt! And lots of it!
      You are not saying that you want to be with him because it is good for you and good for the relationship; no, you are saying you want to give up more of your happiness and keep enabling him because you feel guilty.

      Now, there are two key points here:

      1. You were probably raised with and taught guilt. Someone threw it to you and you caught it (guilt throwers and guilt catchers); now, he is the thrower in your life and you are still playing catcher.

      2. (Can you handle the truth?) You are not worried about hurting him; you are worried about how he will react and try to hurt you via more manipulation!

      The questions now arise: When will you truly put yourself first? When will you love and respect yourself? Do you feel you are loveable; loveable for who you are and not only for how much you can give? Do you feel that your love is special, something to be prized or something simply to be thrown to the wind?

      OK, I have hit you hard today and please understand that I am deliberately using harsh and almost violent language because I feel, from my heart and gut, that you need a push! And you got it today.

      Remember, I am here to help!

      All the best,

      PS. If you had a daughter experiencing what you are experiencing, what would you tell her and how would you help her?

      And remember to read this other article “Emotional Vampires – the interview”

  30. Avatar
    atiz says:

    I have this friend and he really knows how to hit my nerves. he also takes full advantage of this. It used to be that he would be ok and then suddenlly blow up. He would then somehow make me feal guilty about it and I always apologize. He never did. now it seems like I can’t do anything right. He can be so nice that it seems terrible to stop talking to him, but sometimes I wish he would dissapear. It’s not just me who has a problem with him. Others do to, but none seem as effected as I am. That’s what I don’t understand. Why doo I care so much. I know other emotional vampires, but they don’t bother me. When he get’s under my skin he seems to do it so easily and take enjoyment out of it. I don’t understand.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Atiz,

      It seems your friend has found your weakness, your Achilles Heel and he enjoys it and takes advantage of it even though it hurts you.

      Have you spoken with him about this and about the way you feel and the way it hurts you? If you have and he still does it, then why do you want him in your life?

      Second: we teach people how to treat us! In other words, the more you allow someone to treat you a certain way, the more you are telling them that it is OK. You are setting the rules for how he will treat you. If someone slaps you once, it is his fault; if a person slaps you a second time, then it is your fault. Now, I am not setting out here to guilt you, for you already have plenty of that; I am simply being firm in helping you to realize that this person is treating you badly because you are giving him permission to do so.

      Now, let’s talk about your guilt and other emotions. You are seeking his approval and validation. Why? Whose approval and validation did you NOT get when you were a child? Dad’s?

      You care about the way he thinks of you and the way he views you because you want him to tell you that you are good enough and worthy and special. But he never will because deep down, subconsciously, you don’t think you are good enough and worthy and special.

      Atiz, step one to your freedom, to ridding your life of this emotional vampire and all emotional vampires is to talk to him about the way you feel and if he chooses not to change, then cut him off. By doing this, you are building self-respect and self-esteem.

      Step two: work on healing your need for the approval, validation and reinforcement by other people. Once you rid yourself of that and you begin to approve, validate and praise yourself, then you will no longer attract emotional vampires in your life and you will feel better about yourself and you will attract people who will reflect the good in you.

      Again, I hope this helps and if you decide to move forward now, consider a one on one session with me to set you free from the past.
      All the best,

  31. Avatar
    Help me break the cycle says:

    This article has been a very liberating for me. Although she is predominantly the “Victim” The “matriarch” in our family is an extroadinary combination of each and everyone of the emotional Vampire sub-categories (Narcissist, Controller, Victim, Criticizer, Drama queen), calling upon each one as needed. This has wreaked havoc in all our lives and great damage in family realationships.

    What baffles me is that none of my siblings (all in their 30’s and 40’s and with families of their own) Seem to realize what’s been happening in our live’s all along and are unable to take control of their own lives! I yearn for a healthy relationship with each of my siblings which won’t focus and center around “mommy dearest” as always. Whenever they (my siblings) do have brief moments of reality it is obliterated by her emotional extortions which is intermingled with her paranoid religious fanatacism. She seems to see demons in every corner. We are required to put everyone and everything else in our lives second to “mommy dearest”.

    In the past few months, after having tried different approaches (unsuccessflly and with much reproach) to establish my boundaries, I’ve opted to break interaction with “mommy dearest” (not an easy task). She has pulled all the stops: Incessant attempts to contact me at work and through my children and siblings, Trying to draw me into her financial, medical and constant emotional crisis, it’s endless.

    I’d like to have a relationship with my siblings that dosen’t center around her but any communication with them is futile. In fact, I believe I’ve been cast into one of her villain roles by her in my family’s eyes.

    Only my sister has visited me on couple of occassions and that bought horrible consequences to her ending in kicking her out of the house (although I believe that had more to do with the possibilitie that “mommy dearest” would like to break my sister’s ten year marriage so that my sister can devote herself to waiting on our aging “saintriarch” hand and foot). I could write a book about our family but my questions are the following:

    How do I salvage the important relationships in life with my children and siblings from her influence?

    How do get her to respect my boundaries?

    I’d like to heal and I yearn for a healthy non-toxic existence and wholsome relationships with my other loved ones in life.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Help me break the cycle,

      As you have probably ascertained from reading my article and my responses to the various people who have written to me, one of the keys to liberation is understanding the other person and why they are and behave the way they do. That, of course, does not justify their behavior but it explains it and helps you to understand that it is not about you and it’s not your fault.

      So, let me begin by asking you: Has your mother always been the queen of the house? Where was your father? Did she control him or did she take over when he left or passed away? And then, did she take on the male and female roles?

      Her religious fanaticism will come from her upbringing and from fear. She was raised with fear and that’s what she does with the rest of you. Although, I do have various classifications of the Emotional Vampire (Narcissist, Controller, Victim, Criticizer, Drama Queen), the Emotional Vampire does often play all of those roles, switching from one to another as needed. This is because these subcategories are simply forms of behavior of an emotional vampire.

      Your siblings have also been programmed and probably don’t realize what is actually happening. Please remember that it is impossible to change your siblings. They can change if they want to but you cannot do it. The best you can do is to look after yourself first. Find your strength and peace of mind and from there you can influence your siblings by being the example. Also note that in the same way that an emotional vampire is a guilt thrower, there will also always be a guilt catcher and your siblings may have been raised to be the feeders – the guilt catchers – feeding your mother the energy she demands.

      May I humbly say that I feel the most important person to protect right now is yourself and then your children. You cannot help anyone if you cannot help yourself. If your mother is truly destructive to your children, teaching them fear, guilt and negativity, then consider limiting their interaction with mom.
      You will also need to speak with them to help them understand why mom (their grandma) behaves the way she does and that it’s not their fault. You will also need to teach them how to emotionally separate themselves from her behavior, otherwise they will copy her or will be damaged by her. Again, this is not about judging or condeming your mother but rather it’s about helping you and your children.

      As far as assisting you to the point where your mother respects your boundaries, I will refer to what I wrote as a response to “Tired Sister”:

      “As I have said before, one must place his or her boundaries with Emotional Vampires. In other words, you may need to say to your sister one of the two following things:

      1. “I know you are suffering and it is really hard to be a single mom. I know that because my husband and I have our own financial difficulties. As you know I have two young children and we struggle to live off one income. So it must be hard for you but I try to stay positive and not give in and have a complaining session.”
      2. “You are my sister and I love you and I want to enjoy the time we have together, can we please talk about the good things and the things that excite you in life? When you speak of all of the woes of life, and of all of the problems, I feel drained and irritated and depressed and then that just makes me distant to you and I want to run and not hang out with you. I know life is hard right now but please let’s have fun again together – like we used to do – because the problems will be there anyway, so let’s enjoy life…”

      You can apply the same wording and approach to your mother as above. But be aware and prepared that it is very hard for your mother to change (she has had decades of programming and reinforcement) and the best you can do right now is to help manage some of her responses to and with you.

      Again, I sincerely hope this helps and let me know how you progress.
      All the best,

  32. Avatar
    Robin says:

    Dear Patrick,

    Thank you so much for your guidance. I had a great conversation with my family and we had a lovely, warmhearted holiday weekend. Thank you again so much! I AM SO HAPPY!!

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Robin,
      I am sincerely glad that you have had success with your family and that you had a “lovely, warmhearted holiday weekend.” Your approach and decision to put aside your ego and judgment and instead to aproach the situation from the heart is the reason you are experiencing tremendous results. Again, well done Robin.

      All the best,

  33. Avatar
    Tired Sister says:

    I have a situation similar to Robin’s. My sister is a struggling single mom in her 40s. She is also the biggest emotional vampire I’ve ever met. But she is my big sister and I know she would do anything for me, which makes the situation so difficult.

    Every day she sends me an email from work that always starts out with a list of her woes. She calls me on the phone and before I can even say hello, she starts in. For example on Christmas morning she calls me up and after I say hello she tells me her “damn heating unit” is making too much noise and her hair is a mess and her daughter is driving her nuts. On and on.

    I know her life is difficult and I try to be a sympathetic ear when I can. I try and offer solutions. It does no good. I just feel drained and irritated and depressed and I feel so very sorry for my niece who lives with this negativity.

    To be honest, my husband and I have our own financial difficulties. I have 2 young children and we struggle to live off one income. I try to stay positive and not give in and have a complaining session with her. Misery loves company as you know.

    Every now and then I need to take a break from her and I avoid her messages and phone calls for a week. I always feel better, but it never lasts long before the next crisis arises. I’m worn out by it. I feel as long as she’s mired in negativity she will always have a miserable life and I don’t want to go down with her. My mother says it’s my job to listen to her, but I don’t feel obligated to do so anymore.

    Thank you for your article, I think it may help me navigate this difficult situation.
    Tired sister

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Tired Sister,
      I am glad that the other entries and my articles have been of help to you.
      Let me offer some more assistance in response to your questions. But first, please note that your sister is not looking for solutions but rather sympathy and maybe even pity. Who taught her that? Or is it simply a case that she is tired of life and feels there is little hope?

      It is a funny phenomenon that often when women complain to men, the man automatically offers the woman a solution when really what she needs is a sympathetic ear. Are you the strong one for your sister? Has she often depended on you?

      As I have said before, one must place his or her boundaries with Emotional Vampires. In other words, you may need to say to your sister one of the two following things:

      1. “I know you are suffering and it is really hard to be a single mom. I know that because my husband and I have our own financial difficulties. As you know I have two young children and we struggle to live off one income. So it must be hard for you but I try to stay positive and not give in and have a complaining session.”
      2. “You are my sister and I love you and I want to enjoy the time we have together, can we please talk about the good things and the things that excite you in life? When you speak of all of the woes of life, and of all of the problems, I feel drained and irritated and depressed and then that just makes me distant to you and I want to run and not hang out with you. I know life is hard right now but please let’s have fun again together – like we used to do – because the problems will be there anyway, so let’s enjoy life…”

      Why does your mother say it is your job to listen to your sister? If you feel pressured by your mother, then ask her if she is willing to listen to all of your problems and if she is willing to listen to your sister’s problems as well since she is mom.

      If the above strategies don’t succeed, you can also simply say to your sister, “for the next 30 minutes, I only want to hear about the good in your life.” If she says there is nothing good, then ask her to tell you why she loves and treasures her daughter and to speak only of good. And tell her if she chooses not to say anything good then you won’t talk to her. Yes, it is harsh, but she may need a jolt because she has probably been programmed to dish this out and you have been programmed to accept it!

      Finally, if you are alone with your niece, help her to understand why mom is the way she is and tell her it’s not her fault; she will probably grow up with guilt, a sense of helplessness and resentment.

      I hope this helps.

      All the best,

  34. Avatar
    Robin says:

    Dear Patrick,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful answer. You captured the essence of the entire situation. I like your recommendation on how to approach my sister. I love my sister and I regret that I didn’t have the knowledge prior to Christmas, but I will speak with her in the coming days. I will also reflect on how my family mirrors me and modify my own behavior.

    Thank you for lifting the weight from my shoulders. What a relief to be understood. Given your insight, I feel ready to start the new year with a whole new approach.

    Sincerely thank you. I hope you know what a difference you have made in my life.

    Happy New Year!

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Robin,

      I am sincerely glad and excited that I can be of help and service to you. To be completely open, I never really know how I am able to capture the essence of each situation but I do, it always surprises me and I am thankful for that gift because it helps others. Please also know that your openness to my response and your approach will lead you to great success and inner peace! Well done Robin.
      Happy New Year to you also.

  35. Avatar
    Robin says:

    Hello Patrick,

    This is a great blog! I just found it after leaving my sister’s home and interacting with three emotional vampires (my father, mother and middle sister). I feel absolutely suffocated every time I’m with them. No matter what I do or say, I never win. I need your insight. How does one protect themselves from emotional vampires when they are family members?

    My father, mother and sister are all middle children and I think that plays a strong role in their behavior. I’m the oldest daughter; 9 years older than my 3rd sister. My mother resented her oldest sister and I feel that she transfers that to me at times. My father’s behavior has been particularly critical and judgemental of me to the point of emotional abuse since I was a child. Their behavior definitely falls under Narcissist, Controller and Criticizer. My sister is those as well as Drama Queen. My parents have supported my sister through many personal crises.

    Because I am the only one who lives near my sister, I feel constantly thrust into the position of supporting her and my little nephew, who I adore. My sister is seldom appreciative and often disrespectful. It appears that she lies about me to our parents behind my back because when I attempt to assert my boundaries my parents act as if I’m victimizing my sister.

    The latest episode was the Christmas holidays. We celebrated the holidays over several days to accommodate my sister’s custody schedule. It was three days of appetizers, entrees and dessert. When they arrived at my home on Christmas Day, everyone appeared irritated. When my sister entered the door I told her how lovely she looked. She handed me a dessert and I said in feined dismay, “Oh no, not another dessert” due to the nonstop barrage of food. She immediately got angry and started yelling. I tried to explain that I was joking because I had a German chocolate cake, cookies, candy, and that I had even purchased a fruit torte at her request because she said she doesn’t particularly like German chocolate cake. She continued to yell that I was rude for not accepting her additional dessert. I finally said “enough already”. With that she took her dessert, left and didn’t attend Christmas dinner.

    Today my mother told me I should apologize to my sister for being rude. I told her I didn’t think I had anything to apologize for since I was only joking, and I felt like my sister overreacted to a really innocuous comment. My mother was clearly irritated with my response and told me, among many other things, that while I may talk the spiritual talk, I don’t walk the walk.

    I take my spirituality seriously and have tried to remain temperate with and supportive of my sister. But even I have my limits. I’m not her parent or her spouse. And I don’t feel like I should have to monitor everything I say in case she has an emotional meltdown. But when I have all three telling me that my behavior is always wrong, I do second guess myself.

    My husband and I have a lovely, quiet, Zen little life. We get along well and don’t like conflict. My husband has been angry with my sister’s treatment of me and wants to give my parents an earful. I don’t want this unnecessary family nonsense to spoil all of our relationships. But I also don’t want to apologize yet again for my sister’s absurd reaction.

    I want to end this spiralling behavior once and for all. What would you recommend?

    Thanks again for a great blog!

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Robin,

      yes, family is always the hardest to deal with because they trigger all of our deepest issues and often, it was our family members that were the primary instigators of our issues. The second challenge for us, always, is that we create expectations of them, and these expectations go back to our childhood and are often subconscious expectations – my mom should have done this, my dad should have done that, etc.

      Nonetheless, you asked a valid and significant question: how do we handle our family if they are emotional vampires?

      Let me begin by speaking first about you. Do you feel Hailey that your family doesn’t understand you nor appreciate you? Are you the strongest person in your family? Are you the one who kept it all together for the family? Did they turn to you for help when you were a child or teen? Were you given many responsibilities and never allowed to be a child, to be playful, silly, weak, helpless or vulnerable?

      It’s common that we place greater pressure on the strongest people and we expect more from them than everyone else. I recall in High school, a teacher coming up to me and asking me to lead a project (I don’t recall the specifics) but this teacher said to me that he knew I would do it because the busiest people are the ones that can handle more. What he was, in effect, saying is that he saw me as a very strong and capable person who could take on anything. Does your family the same expectation of you? If so, then that explains why they treat you that way, even if it is not right or fair. The challenge is that they never allow you to receive help or support or even sympathy or a break, because they falsley and selfishly believe you don’t need it. Do you understand what I am saying?

      Second, how does your family reflect or mirror you? What is it about them that you see in you also?

      OK, now let’s talk about your family in terms of how to handle them. Of course, the more you can understand them the easier it is for you to get along with them, even if they can’t or won’t try to understand you.

      First, Christmas and all of its associated events and expectations often results in drama and arguments. Everyone is highly stressed; most don’t think they are good enough; most are disappointed with themselves and feel that their life is not working or simply a mess or a waste. In other words, most people are under extreme pressure aorund Christmas, feel like a failure and walk around with resentment, frustration, disappointment or anger. In turn, they easily snap and take it out on you. Also, the same way that your sister expects you to be perfect, she expects the same of herself, even if she doesn’t verbalize or show it to you. In other words, your sister is just as critical of herself as she is of you. Now, that does not justify her treatment of you – but at least it explains it and you realize there is nothing wrong with you and it’s not your fault.

      In the situation you mentioned with your sister, I might have asked her to tell me what else she is angry about and what she is really feeling; maybe asked her how she feels about the Holidays. Maybe even tell her how you feel and try opening up – becoming vulnerable to help her trust and feel safe around you.

      Now, I know I am asking you to do all of the work here – and it sounds like that is what everyone has asked of you most of your life – but sometimes the strongest have to lead, and then the strongest have to turn to their tower of strength – maybe to your husband.

      You are also right that you must place your limits and boundaries, otherwise people will do whatever you allow them to do. You must respect yourself and say “this is my limit” even if they don’t like it. Maybe begin by writing an open letter to each of your family members but speak from the heart and speak about how you feel around them but also tell them that you do love them and you want to strengthen your relationship with them. Let them know that you are doing the very best you can, tell them what you need from them and ask them questions.

      Be careful Robinn not to expect too much from them – emotional vampires feed off others because they are weak and they cannot feed you. In other words, don’ t turn to them for things they cannot give you – reassurance, validation, praise, love, support or encouragement. Note, I also included in that list, love! What is love to you? Can they give it? Most likely not because they were never taught how. And if you feel that they treat your sister better than they treat you it’s most likely because she is not as strong as you and, because you remind them of something that they either wish they could be (making them feel inadequate) or a part of themselves they cannot accept (maybe you are strong and they are not, maybe you are happy and you are not.)

      If you feel that, even for now, it is all too much, take a break, create some distance and give yourself some time to heal and recuperate mentally, emotionally and physically. Sometimes, we need to distance ourselves from the emotional vampires because as they feed off us, just as vampires do, they can turn us into the same – an emotional vampire!

      I hope this helps and if you need more personal assistance, consider a one on one phone session. Either way, please feel free to write to me and let me know how you are doing.
      All the best,

  36. Avatar
    seekeress says:

    I am an emotional vampire and i realised that few days ago.I knew I was doin it subconsciously but I hoped it will just go away if I ignore it and finally I admitted to myself that I am what I am.
    I enjoy when I feel anger it pleasures me I alo like to feel love and sympathy,Im addiccted to feel fear or being falsely nervpus to lead ppl to think Im cute and innoccent.Im doing it without doubt.
    I know I have a void,Im not sure why or how do I fix it permanently but draining others is easy and quick,a quick fix.I could change but I dont really know where to start or how and it would be hard.
    The thing is…I dont really see how I am doing harm to anyone and Im addiccted and its like a drug atm…Whenever I spot a weaker person….I just do it.I told myself I wont ….But can you just tell me do I really do otehr people bad stuff and if yes (I believe you will say yes) can you tell me what I am doing I dont think I realsie fully what are the cosequences?
    I also have few people in my life who are aware of the fact they are too emotional vampires so we mutualyl just feed from each other which is good because I dont go around seeking for potential victims i just feed on my own ”kind”

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Seekeress,

      thank you for being open and honest that you are behaving like an emotional vampire.
      You asked me for advice so i would like to begin by reminding you that you call the behavior “a quick fix” which says that it doesn’t satisfy you. It must also become tiring when the only way you can get attention is by behaving this way. That also signifies that people never get to know the real you, nor do they like you for who you truly are. In other words, you are putting on a mask & act and people are only giving you the food/drug that you crave (attention, power, kindness) out of fear or manipulation. It hurts the other person because it drains their energy and it hurts you because no one can love or like the real you when they don’t know the real you and are being forced to give you attention.

      Also, it’s a quick fix and will never feed the “void” you mentioned.

      Whom are you copying? Did either of your parents act this way when you were a child? Who taught you this behavior? Of what are you afraid? What would happen if you showed your real self without the games? What would happen if you showed a sincere interest in the other person? Do you fear you would be rejected?

      You also said that you hang out with other emotional vampires and you feed off each other but i am sure that not one of you are satisfied or happy, are you?

      If you decide that you want to be free and find happiness and allow someone to love you, then consider scheduling a phone session.

      All the best,


      Why are you afraid to show your real self?

  37. Avatar
    Sadness says:

    Thank you so much for this insight.

    I’m living at home with my 92 year old mother and we had another horrid fight this morning. I looked around at the shambles of my life and wondered why I feel so lethargic, so empty and hopeless, and why every interaction with her leaves me feel so drained. I realized that if it weren’t for my kids, I would be thinking of ways to end my life.

    Then I started thinking, remembering.

    For as long as I can recall, my mother has always told me how useless I am and what a failure I would be. Now her voice is inside my head, telling me the same thing, over and over again. She turns every conversation, whether it’s about something as trivial as a misplaced woolen cap or as major as impending surgery, into a conversation about herself; about how she never loses anything, or would’ve done this or would’ve done that, and “if you’d asked me, I would’ve told you, but you never ask. You just think you know it all.” She takes pride in being miserable. (“My life always been full of suffering. Nobody ever helped me.”)

    I thought about her “rages,” times when she’d literally be hopping mad, so enraged her tiny frame would shake and she’d hop up and down, screeching that “this was her apartment, her place. Don’t ever forget that.” I used to think of these tantrums as just a result of her age, but still ever poisonous diatribe she spewed cut to the bone.

    The way I live, it’s not me. The depression, the sadness, the sense of despair. I’m afraid to even feel hopeful. It seems like utter foolishness — even ungodly — to enjoy anything. If I stroke the cats, she tells me I’m turning them into idols — crazy stuff. I mean I know it’s crazy, but it still upsets me.

    Usually, when she starts to rant, I say nothing, but this morning, I couldn’t take it anymore, mainly because she said something I found offensive toward my daughter. She felt that I “attacked” her and went ballistic. The morning, which had been peaceful, suddenly turned into a surrealistic nightmare. I felt as though I were being driven out of my mind. I shut up and I hoped she’d wind down.

    She did, eventually, but by then, I felt exhausted, unable to focus, minimized and without hope. I felt angry, too, so terribly angry and impotent to do anything about it. No energy; no hope. The loss of energy I can deal with. it’s the loss of hope that’s condemning me.

    I tried to call a friend, but she wasn’t home, so I went looking on the Internet, search term “emotional vampires.”

    First, I was relieved to find that the term does exist. Second, I was astounded to find such apt descriptions of my mother’s personality. In the world of vampires, she’d be considered a very ancient and powerful one. Trust me. She’d be a queen. As it is, she’s got traits from every category, but she’s mainly a Narcissist (she turns every conversation into a focus of her; she speaks in lengthy monologues about how smart and wonderful she is); Controller and Victim. She can be overly solicitous, actually servile, but then turn on you in a rage, spewing toxic criticism and age-old resentment.

    I want to leave, but I have no immediate source of income and I do have dependents. So, for the time being, I’m stuck. Yours was the only site I’ve found so far that offers solutions for what to do if you cannot simply “walk away.”

    I know that I’m especially vulnerable to her because I am down on myself. I’ve always fought low self-esteem and despair. Even when successful, and I’ve had some successes, I was always afraid of failure. My present unemployment situation seems to confirm everything negative she says about me. What makes it worse is that I’m a writer; I love books and she hates them. I mean, literally hates them. She would get rid of every single book in the house if she had the wherewithal. The fact that I’m a writer not only bewilders her; it infuriates her. It further proves that I am a useless person devoted to a useless passion.

    I don’t know that there’s anything you can say to help me further. You’ve already helped a lot. At least I know what to look out for. That will surely help me deal with it.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Sadness,

      thank you for opening up and sharing a powerful but painful story. I am truly grateful that my article has helped people identify and understand how to spot an emotional vampire and how to deal with an emotional vampire.

      There are a few more things that I would like to share with you that I believe would be helpful to you.

      First, please rename yourself. You said you have lost hope; you are giving into that feeling and reinforcing that belief by calling yourself “sadness.” There is always hope. You had temporarily lost hope because you couldn’t see the light or a way out.
      If you are stuck depending on your mom for a while, then I suggest:

      1. You get out of the house as often as possible – particularly first thing in the morning. Can you go for a walk with your daughter or on your own each morning?
      2. Avoid entering conversations that will lead to the drama and emotional draining i.e. respond with short answers; be aware of her intention; say “yes, you’re right about that” and casually walk away
      3. If writing is your passion, then you must write! Find time to sneak away and do some writing – write your story, write a novel; release your emotions and pain via writing. Keep it hidden; don’t be tempted to let her know othwerwise it creates a scene.
      4. Become aware of when you are sabotaging your own success and happiness. Remember, if she is an emotional vampire and you are there, then there is a good chance that you have deep guilt and you feel responsible for her happiness which, of course, you are not but you probably subconsciously feel you are and she punishes you for her unhapiness.
      5. Protect your children – explain to them that grandma is not well and she doesn’t know how else to act i.e. “it’s not your fault kiddies and I love you and you are safe and you are good enough and there will always be someone to love you…”
      6. Make outings on your own and with the kids. Even if you can’t afford them right now, then look for free outings – a walk, a drive, getting together for coffee with friends. Spend more time in nature.
      7. People lose hope when they have no plan – no wayout. Form an action plan. What can you do to make some money right now? How can you use your writing to make some money? Even a part time job cleaning would get you out of the house and away from the draining situation and would give you a few dollars in your pocket and, would boost your self-esteem for becoming more self-sufficient.
      8. As I mentioned earlier, you probably feel guilty about your mom’s unhappiness. Explore this point deeply. Write about it. What would it take for you to accept that you are not her mother? What would it take for you to release yourself and allow yourself to be happy? What would it take for you to be able to say yes to love, joy, success and happiness? Are you allowed to be happy even if your mother is miserable? Who will give you that permission? You, of course. Thus, imagine and visualize yourself when you were a child. Talk to that child and explain to her that you give her permission to let go of mom; explain to that child that you give her permission to be free and to live her own life and be happy!
      9. Remind yourself daily that mom knows nothing else – she chooses to live in misery and it is not your fault and there is nothing you can do about it. Your responsibility is to yourself and your dependents – your children!

      I hope that this helps and consider maybe using one of my hypnosis CDs – such as Get Over it – to relax you and to give you inner strength to break free from the past and start enjoying life right now!

      All the best,

  38. Avatar
    j says:

    My best friend & I seem to both be emotional vampires that feed off of one another. We love each other to pieces though. Is there any way to change things & still remain friends. Will it change the dynamic so much that our friendship would be doomed? I certainly hope not. I adore her & love our friendship yet sometimes it is mutually draining.
    Thanks so much,

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear J,

      please give me more info about your relationship and personalities so that I can advise and respond properly. Also tell me more about the dynamic of your relationship and the types of emotional vampires you and you best friend are.
      All the best,


  39. Avatar
    Trish says:

    I once bought a book called “Emotional Vampires”… I don’t know if Patrick wrote it. It was about 7 years ago just after my husband and 3 children had moved almost 3000 miles away from our home and my parents. I had some hope at that time (but not a whole lot) maybe that things might improve with my own extended family. It has. Not by watching self-help experts but by a return to prayer in my Roman Catholic faith. I might also mention that have a Masters Degree from Yale University in Adult-Psychiatric Nursing.

  40. Avatar
    Night&Day says:

    I’m silently laughing with a cold tear attached to the side of my eye. You are devastatingly spot on. It is like you stepped inside my body, felt what is going on in my mind at this point in time (for the last 6 months to 5 years and beyond), stepped out and wrote what you saw and felt. I understand experience is essentially a series of emotional and physiological stages, from bereavement, joy, trauma, psychological abuse, sex, depression, self development, separation, relationships, achievement, etc . I understand that I am going through a specific phase that is actually making me ill as I tackle it my own way. Isolation- bingo, punishing the other person (through anger:- repeating the kind of dialogue she used with me, giving her a taste of her own medicine); denying myself to feel love and trust; refusing to let go – all bingo. The punishment is a reaction to her dismissal of what I had to say. I got her out my system (by cutting her out), then she is right back into it (co-habiting in the family home). I reacted simply because I was denied to feel my just anger and hurt, and it had been thrown back at me.

    And… none of it is working. As you have rightly advised. I’m also dealing with an elderly N father, a sociopath sister and a mother who bullies my father! So it’s a a situation where I am trapped, hooked, isolated, injured, angry. I can handle my father as he is elderly, frail and I can easily understand why he has the PD. I was his psychologist for the age of 8. My mother relies one me to do everything. The siblings however. They hurt. And injure. No remorse.

    I did not notice the second post that way. I know I am a perfectionist at times (not necessarily a bad thing in some ways), but when constantly character-assassinated I am hard on myself; people always said that to me ‘You know you’re so hard on yourself, Night&Day’. I remember what it is like to feel good about myself. So I can recognise it and go back to feeling okay about feeling good about myself. I want my mental health back, though I’m glad I finally ending silence. This year I made many breakthroughs. Your frank response empowers me. I am truly grateful you did that.

    I’m also moved to read some people confessing their role as an ’emotional vampire’. I am okay to admit I became a monster when I battled one.

    A long post I know. There are many articles on the net. Your page stood out for the format, large font, bulleted and to the point.

    Night&Day (UK)

  41. Avatar
    Klarita says:

    My friend sent me an article about emotional vampires, and after searching the internet more closely, I found this one.
    I have been in a relationship for the past 4 months, the last month of which has been utter hell, and when I read this article, I realised that the person I am dealing with is PRECISELY an emotional vampire. I have all the symptoms of being sucked out, and he has mixed symptoms of control/obsessive-compulsive. Several times he has persuaded me to come back after I decided to call it quits, but finally, it seems like I have managed to cut myself loose. I never knew people like that existed. I feel bad for him, because he may not even be aware of what he’s actually like. But I had to put myself first, because it was really awful.
    Thanks for helping people like me know that it really isn’t in them, but in the other person…

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Klarita,

      I am sincerely glad and excited that you found the clarity and strength to break free from someone that was not lifting you to your highest place but rather dargging you down. And yes, as you said, the key is discovering that you didn’t make him or her that way, that is the way they choose to behave.
      Well done and thank you for allowing me to be of service.
      All the best,

  42. Avatar
    Night&Day says:

    * Note to self, proofread all grammatical errors and refine thoughts! Embarrassingly yours!

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Night & Day,

      I know it takes great courage and strength to open up and share the wounds and hurt, so first let me acknowledge your actions. Well done.
      Second, did you notice how you posted a second comment criticizing yourself and feeling embarrassed for any grammatical errors and unrefined thoughts? That is a reflection of that belief you have that you are not good enough, which, of course, ties in with your story with your sister.

      The first step is the hardest step – walking away and cutting off the people that hurt us or drain us; the people that do not inspire us but rather focus on telling us what is wrong with us rather than what is right.

      You truly CAN change all that happened in the past; you cannot change the events but you can change your perception and feelings about the events. You said, “My anger will forever be unresolved.” That is not true, unless you want it to be. At this moment, you don’t know how to resolve it, but it can be resolved. You might be holding onto that anger to protect yourself, to ensure you do not give in and allow into your life and allow her to treat you the way she did in the past. But, as you know, the anger is only hurting you. It’s really hurting you and your self-esteem. It’s preventing you from allowing yourself to love and be loved.

      Sometimes we choose to hold onto anger because we also think we are punishing the other person. I did that with father most of my life and even with others. One day, I awoke and realized it was punishing me – I had isolated myself from the world and the anger was the perfect way to prevent myself from being hurt again – my excuse to keep others away. But, it was hurting me! The longer we isolate ourselves and block out love, the longer and deeper pain we feel.

      You truly don’t need years of therapy to free from yourself from the past. The first thing you need is to be willing to let go of the past (took me a while to recognize that in myself.) So, when you are ready, consider if you want me to help you be free from the past and the pain. If you are not ready for one on one work with me, which we can do over the phone, then consider at least, using my program on getting over it – breakups, betrayals and rejection. It also helps you to understand yourself and the other person, thus awakening to the realization at a subconscious level that it was never about you – and will give you insights into letting go.

      All the best,


  43. Avatar
    Night&Day says:

    My elder sister targetted me from the age of 15. There began an 18 year ordeal, she cut out my siter (one year my senior, 12 years her junior) out of her life when she was 16. I became her Emotional Sherpa, made to listen to her psychological pain. She controlled my opinions, finely combed every opinion I had and ensure they were corrected to honour her feelings and point of view. Conversations were centered around the same issues she had. When I was friendly with my other sister she took me aside, scorned me accusing me of deliberately doing that to hurt her feelings. She said ‘You were licking her face in front of me’. I was 16 or so. She always criticized everyone, notabely the other sister. I stayed silent and scared of ever saying a word against her. If I ever did I got ‘do you know who I am?.. do you know who you’re talking to?’ Being 13 years my senior she certainly had a claw in me. Finally cutting the cord at the age of 30 was essential. I grew unbelievabely healthy. When she returned in my life following the breakup of her marriage, (her endless character assassination of her husbands two young children was me and my sister all over again. The irony is that she worked in child protection (with a masters in psychology!) but actively assessed her husband’s 8 and 9 year olds as monsters with adult malicious personalites) .

    5 years on the first thing she asked me was ‘how about you and me move far away and live and laugh like the old times – the ‘fresh start’ tactic. I felt the blow to my stomach and mind. Is this the thing to say to someone after five years separation?! She wanted me to think and agree with everything she said about her pain. I became numb and sickened when she asked for help as the trigger response was to help. When I attempted to raise the issue how she left me feeling (why I cut her out for 5 years) I got ‘why are you dragging up the past?’, or ‘I can’t remember’. Classic bully’s statement. She was deeply hurt by her husband’s claim that she wallows in her pain, she loves being a victim. I stayed silent though grateful at least one other person perceived something I’d known for decades. My anger towards her erupted recently, only to be dismissed. My anger will forever be unresolved and the only way to deal is to avoid her. It has bounced back into my face and now I am the baddie. I hate the ange rin me, I never knew what anger was until it all came out as she had me down as the one with the problem. I realised I was becoming a monster in battling a monster. She has never apologised once and certainly never wishes to sit down and listen to me. But it has always been the deal with her that I sit down, change my vocabulary and opinions to match her viewpoint. She is 50 and will never know the true extent of how she left me feeling. The way she destroyed all level of esteem I had during my teenage years and twenties. She drained me dry and I’m glad I finally had the courage to stand up to her recently. She will never receive my time or attention ever again. I realise I’ll need therapy to overcome the damage she casued me. I resent the way she hooked me, targetted me for so many years. I hated her as a child, scared of her criticisms and controlling verbal direction if I made an error in anything when I was small. It is no surprise I feel the same way as an adult. Thank you Patrick.

    Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster.
    – Friedrich Nietzsche

  44. Avatar
    OK says:

    Do ALL emotional vampires realize what they are doing and how it effects the people around them? At what point do people recognize? Do they ever change this bad behavior? Is it common for emotional vampires to have a difficult time apologizing and acknowledging their poor behavior?

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear OK,

      Very few us are truly conscious of our behavior and its consequences and effects on the people around us. Having said that, I feel that maybe your question pertains to the point of whether or not emotional vampires are deliberate in their actions. My opinion is yes and no; yes, most emotional vampires are aware that their behavior gets them the results they want but they are aware at a subconscious level not at a conscious level. In other words, most emotional vampires have been “programmed” by their early experiences and responses. For example, the guilt throwers were taught that guilt is a means of persuasion and manipulation, and they were taught this by the people that threw the guilt at them – i.e. their parents.

      I believe very few emotional vampires are sufficiently enlightened to realize the hurt and damage they are doing to the people around them and to their own lives. The only time emotional vampires or anyone for that matter truly realizes the effects and consequences of their actions is when the results are so bad and extreme that they can no longer run away from themselves.
      And when the pain is so great, the motivation to change becomes apparent. This is what leads us all to change our behavior: when the pain is greater than any other emotional benefits (pleasure.) At that point we decide to change – this is why people leave jobs, end relationships, divorce, etc. The same applies to addicts; when their life completely collapses, they often consider and begin to question if it is time to change.

      You also asked: “Is it common for emotional vampires to have a difficult time apologizing and acknowledging their poor behavior?”

      The answer is not black and white. Some emotional vampires might apologize as a form of manipulation – thus not a sincere heartfelt apology. For example, it benefits the “Victim emotional vampire” to apologize and cry, “see how bad I am” thus requesting more pity and sympathy from others. The Narcissist will find it almost impossible to apologize because for them, doing so equals deep criticism, an attack on their self-image and a sense of self-loathing which they cannot face or tolerate.

      Final point; we can all change when we decide that we are willing to do so and willing to do what it takes to change!

      I hope I have answered your questions.
      All the best,

  45. Avatar
    Mak says:

    thank you for this great information. I currently have at least two such people — emotional vampires — trying to manipulate me. Based on your classification I’ve identified one as a narcissist, and the other is a hybrid of control/victimhood.

    Detaching from the narcissist is easy, i just stopped giving her attention and compliments. She abandonned me very quickly after realizing theres no more blood to suck 😛

    The hybrid is a little bit more difficult to detach from. We had a small investment together… she is trying to steal from me basically, and I am being very assertive and straightforward, from which her victimhood traits are coming out full force…quite comical and pathetic at the same time i’d say.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Mak,
      I am glad that my article and insights have proven to be useful and helpful to you – particularly in clearing out people from your life that are not empowering for you.
      It also sounds like you are learning to stand up for yourself. Well done. The greater respect you show for yourself, the more respect others will show you!

      All the best,

  46. Avatar
    andy says:

    I am an emotional vampire. I dont want to be. How do I stop? I do this to everyone in my life and I really hate the man I have become.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Andy,
      thank you for being so open, honest and vulnerable. Step one to all change is awareness: awareness of your actions and their consequences. So, you have already taken the most important and biggest step forward. Look for my next Success Newsletter, “Freeing the emotional vampire in you”; I wil offer the answers and insights into how to transform yourself from the emotional vampire to a magnetic energizer.
      The second key point here is to stop hating yourself. It’s OK to hate what you did but do not hate yourself. You probably already have subconscious self-hatred which led you to behave like an emotional vampire. Therefore, transformation also comes from forgiveness of self and others. Again, I will explain more about these points in my Success Newsletter.
      Hold onto hope that you can and will become the new man you desire to be!

  47. Avatar
    CC says:


    Thanks for your newsletters, they are very useful!
    About this one (“Dealing with emotional Vampires) I would like to ask you if you could give us ideas on how to change for better if we are actually one of these emotional vampires, and not the “victims”.


    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear CC,

      WOW! What courage and honesty you displayed in asking for assistance if “we are actually one of these emotional vampires, and not the “victims”.
      You have inspired me and so, I will make this my next Success Newsletter; so look for “Freeing the emotional vampire in you”!
      Again, I honor you for standing up and admitting something that you feel you need and desire to change!

      All the very best,

      Here is the link with advice for what to do if you turn out to be the emotional vampire:

  48. Avatar
    Joanne Murphy says:

    I too will pass this on to others. Liked the analogy of the reflection. In my experience it is not always a reflection of myself. In the past I had a romantic partner who had attached negative cords to me so at first I thought it was me but it was THEIR reflection/energy that was most prevalent. I have found good info from a website by Kaleah LaRoche that is and was very helpful in affirming my observations and the healing work of cutting the cords. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  49. Avatar
    Judy Maguire says:

    I really enjoy your newsletters. The one on emotional vampires is especially good. I forwarded it to several people.
    May you continue to be a blessing and be blessed.

  50. Avatar
    Esther Ann Staines says:

    Have had many emotional vampires through the years. Luckily, I have learned to deal with them. Your article was right-on. I am copying it and giving it to several friends who I am sure it will help. – Thanks

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