In an ideal world, there would only be caring people who are givers, not takers; however, this is the real world. There are people who harbor malicious intentions. Toxic people are toxic because they erode your self-esteem and happiness. Like vampires, they suck your emotions and energy.
Some ask you for money, favors, and material goods. Others simply cause you to feel their misery by making you miserable. There are different types of emotional vampires: the bully, the criticizer, the gossip, the mooch, and the constant victim. Emotional vampires are controlling, manipulative, and demanding. They will use guilt or any tool at their disposal to wear you down and get their way.
Their toxic behavior may be the result of abusive homes, horrible life experiences, low self-esteem, mental issues, or chemical dependencies. Some toxic people may not understand their issues, while others are fully aware of their toxicity. It is fine to empathize with them and hope they get the help they need; but remember, that does not excuse their behavior. You cannot change them. Everyone is responsible for their own actions.
How Toxic People and Emotional VampiresHarm You
By avoiding toxic people, you are not only helping yourself but also the people around you. When you associate with a toxic person, you become toxic. Being around a negative person causes you to pick up his/her bad habits.
I know this from firsthand experience. A toxic coworker occasionally calls me at home to lecture me for two hours. I maintain the relationship because she is going through a very difficult time, but our one-sided conversations leave me exhausted and worn out. The only time I get to talk is when my coworker asks me a question. Mind you, her questions are always extremely intrusive.
When I assert my boundaries by telling her I do not answer private questions, she gets offended. After our conversations, I usually call someone else to vent. Once I've finished venting, I feel lousy. Partially because I become like my coworker -- rattling on to my friend without catching my breath. And, partially because I am gossiping about her.
Therefore, I've found the easiest solution is to speak to my coworker less often. By speaking to her less often, I have time to strengthen my resolve to avoid her toxicity. I also limit the length of the phone call. She cannot do as much damage during a half-hour call as a two hour call.
How to Avoid Toxic People and Emotional Vampires
The strategies I'm using with my coworker are techniques that anyone can use once they identify a toxic person. Most toxic people are looking for the path of least resistance. I learned to become the path of most resistance and avoid becoming a victim of a toxic person.
1. When you first meet someone, be friendly but not too friendly. Try to have healthy boundaries. You don't have to tell that person everything. Instead, gradually reveal more about yourself. Toxic people try to conform to your expectations. They tell you what you want to hear, to gain your trust. Luckily, they don't have the patience for someone who makes that task difficult.
2. Slow down, especially when dating. Take your time in the beginning of a new relationship. Emotional vampires can only keep up their act for so long before you begin to see the real them. I know it feels wonderful when you first meet someone. You want to spend a lot of time with that person. But, relationships take time to grow. You don't know a person until you have seen that person in different situations, at different times. Most of all, you want someone who thinks you are worth the wait.
3. Pay attention to red flags. Don't make excuses for bad behavior. We've all seen red flags and made excuses. "He's so nice...he can't be [fill in the blank]." Sometimes we want it so much that we think we can overlook the red flags. Usually, those red flags point to bigger issues that we won't be able to ignore later on.
4. Just because you have history with someone does not mean you have a future with that person. Sometimes, we hold on to relationships that have passed their expiration dates. We all have different reasons for doing this. Maybe, we don't want to be alone, or we worry about what others will think. The worst reason we hold on to toxic people is that we don't feel anyone else will ever love us. These reasons are all myths tied to low self-esteem. Realize that God did not make any mistakes when He made you. You are worthy of love and respect.
5. Most of all, respect yourself. Your time, money, and energy are valuable, nonrenewable resources. Once you have given your resources away to everyone else, you will not have any more for yourself.