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Emotional Vampires

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Psychological vampires don’t suddenly materialize out of the pages of an Anne Rice novel, Twilight, or an old Bela Lugosi flick. Masters (or mistresses), of the first five minutes, they often ooze charisma, displaying their charming, hypnotic side at will. These users may have a great deal of money, power, brains, beauty, or sexual allure (or a combination of these traits), but once caught in their enticing web, it’s not quite so easy to disengage. They are experts in using others’ foibles or insecurities to undermine and manipulate, establishing relationships by a facsimile of care, concern, cleverness and personal certitude.


A sub-title for this article could have been: “Narcissists I have known and (hopefully), not loved”. If it’s been your misfortune to be involved with these (thinly) veiled vampires, having an understanding of what’s going on will aid (when necessary) in dealing with them:


Litmus test—do you feel enhanced or diminished after speaking/being with them? If an all too familiar refrain is, “It’s because I care”, and you truly believe this manipulation, get feedback from friends, seek professional help, or trust your gut and head for the hills!


Like having a relationship with the Gestapo—overly intrusive (constantly calling and needing to know where you are and what you’re doing), suspicious, and (often) paranoid (quick to connect the conspiracy dots), and certain that everyone will take advantage of them.


Friend of the week (or month) few, if any, long-term friends, as this psychological terrorist changes the rules capriciously; quickly casting aside family or friends for insignificant infractions.


Holier than thou—minor mistakes are seen as indicators of disrespect, contempt, or disloyalty, yet demanding absolute fealty from others; self-righteous assertions that their actions are based on “higher” principles.


No slight is too slight—nurtures each injury (real or imagined) and insult, keeps constant score and expertly makes a mountain out of every minute molehill; since they see themselves as “special and unique”, anything less than adoration is unacceptable.


Divide and conquer—professional isolators, who try to separate their victim from healthy relationships, minimizing contact in order to be “numero uno” in every sphere of the other’s life.


Compassion is MIA (Missing In Action)—the hallmark of a narcissist is a lack of empathy toward others; examine deeds, not words, as they have little or no personal insight and are unlikely to change or learn from past mistakes.


Divas, prima donas, drama queens (or kings)—histrionic vampires (an especially exhausting bunch), mutate every situation into melodrama, sucking the life out of those close to them, or those in their thrall.


Rages running rampant—impossible to second-guess what will make them angry, but their tantrums or verbal assaults are often successful in getting others to submit to their whims and desires.


Do fence them in—boundaries are particularly essential with extreme egotists, as they will readily try to draw you into their disputes and crises; being knowledgeable and clear-sighted about their behavior helps in remaining calm, cool and collected when interacting with them.


Professional pitfalls—when at work, limit contact as much as humanly possible, using a tone of voice, body language and conversation that is polite, but clearly conveys that it’s information, not a friendship, that’s needed. When the vampire variety is a boss, carefully choose your “battles”, strategizing how best to accomplish goals.


Just say “No” to shtick—choose not to reinforce their behavior or feel guilty over their hurt feelings. Once you are seen as someone who can’t be easily manipulated, they will move on to their next victim.


And remember, taking action is the catalyst for change!

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