Energy Vampires: Assessing Your Relationships

They’re real, and they can affect your mood and your well-being if you’re not careful.

FGC / Shutterstock
FGC / Shutterstock

Until quite recently, energy vampires have been largely unrecognized and undiagnosed by society in general and the medical and legal systems in particular. That’s why so few people understand what a problem they are. The thing about energy vampires is that they target the people who are most likely to put up with their tactics—and those people are empaths, because we have extremely high levels of compassion and empathy. The energy vampires know just how to use this to their own benefit—and to the detriment of the empath.

To understand if you are in a relationship with an energy vampire, there are two things you need to know:

  1. How to identify an energy vampire
  2. Your own likelihood of being in relationship with an energy vampire.

In short, you need to know how to correctly assess the character of others and yourself. You must recognize and correctly identify manipulative tactics. You also need to be highly aware of the aspects of your own character that make you vulnerable to manipulation. There are a couple of phrases you’ve probably heard that can help you decide if you’re dealing with an energy vampire:

  1. “By their fruits you shall know them.”
  2. “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

These phrases can help you form an idea about someone’s character. Remember, the manipulator is fighting for something—control, narcissistic supply, attention, status, the upper hand. Don’t pay attention to what he or she is saying. Be on the lookout for the tactic that they are using to win. Look to their behavior, not their words.

Now we get to the harder part—knowing yourself. 

But keep in mind that the most powerful leverage a vampire has is the character of the victim. He knows how she will likely respond to his tactics. So the more you know yourself—and your own vulnerabilities (which may be strengths in all other areas of life except with a vampire)—the less power energy vampires will have.

In addition to the super traits of conscientiousness, loyalty, and the patience of a saint, Sandra Brown has identified a number of character styles that make women more vulnerable to manipulation. While Brown’s research and work have focused solely on women, these same traits make men similarly vulnerable. The resource list at the end of this book will be as helpful for men as for women. I’ve listed the character styles below with some self-assessment questions to see if these apply to you:

Extroversion and excitement seeking: Do you find that you often get into relationships with people who are extroverted and exciting? Does the idea of being in a “comfortable” relationship seem boring to you?

• Relationship investment: Do you give great emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial investments to all your relationships—not just your intimate ones? Do you often feel as if you are giving 80 percent while the other people give only 20 percent?

• Attachment: Do you have the capacity for deep emotional bonds? Do you form powerful bonds with people quickly? Do you form bonds that make you feel beholden or desirous to do anything asked by the other people in your relationships?

• Competitiveness: Are you unlikely to run out on relationships? Do you stand your ground and fight for relationships to continue?

• Low harm avoidance: Do you assume that you will not get hurt? Do you see others as you see yourself and assume that they feel the same way?

• Cooperation: Are you the can-do person who rolls up your sleeves enthusiastically when there’s a task to be done? With humor and enthusiasm? Are you apt to volunteer to help out? Do you tend to uplift every group you’re in?

• Hyperempathy: Can you literally feel the feelings of others? Do you cry easily at movies, sad books, Hallmark television ads? Do you work in the healing professions?

• Responsibility and resourcefulness: Are you the go-to person in your family or at work? The one who holds the “tribal memory” of the place—the person who remembers where the old contracts are kept and what the minutes of the meeting from two years ago said? Do you often end up in leadership roles at work or at home?

• Self-directed: Are you a self-starter who works well without supervision? Are you highly motivated to learn new things, figure systems out, and solve problems?

• Overachieving: Have you ever been called an overachiever? Do you find that you usually work harder than others and have a hard time resting and taking care of yourself?

Look at Yourself

Take a bit of time right now to think about the people in your life and your own character. Put on some soft music, light a candle, and let your mind wander. Go down the list and ask yourself if you can relate to any of the characteristics mentioned above. Answer the questions above as honestly as you can. And remember, many of these characteristics are laudable when it comes to being effective in your life in general. It’s just that we don’t understand how vampires can be so calculating and predatory. And so we are caught unawares.

Look at Others

Now that you’ve checked out your own likelihood for attracting vampires, look at your relationships and make a vampire list. Going back as far as you can remember, write out all the vampires you’ve encountered. If you’re dealing with a vampire currently, chances are good that you’ve dealt with them throughout your life and that your first vampire was in your family—a parent or grandparent, a brother or sister, an aunt or uncle. Chances are also good that no one else in your family understood how powerfully manipulative these individuals were. Or how they adversely affected you.

Bring a past or present vampire to mind. Relive the moment when you first met them or started to work with them. If you were a child, did you get a stomachache when they came to the house? Do you remember trying to please them in order to protect yourself? Did they scare you or abuse you in some way? Did you end up giving them your power because nobody told you how to stand up to them?

It’s very possible that your very first vampire was your mother or father. And that you were raised to be an “extension” of them. Perhaps they were living their unlived hopes and dreams through you. Or that your entire life was devoted to making them look good.

As you go down your list of vampires, do you notice how similar they are? Trust yourself in this exercise—especially if you start talking yourself out of what you know and what you feel.

Note that each time you can name a vampire and their tactics, you get closer and closer to dodging them in your day-to-day life. After a while, you’ll be able to spot them before you’ve even had your first interaction with them. And even if they are so charming and clever that they get by your defenses, you’ll begin to “wake up” sooner and sooner.

Excerpt from Dodging Energy Vampires: An Empath’s Guide to Evading Relationships That Drain You and Restoring Your Health and Power by Dr. Christiane Northrup (Hay House Inc., Paperback December 31st, 2019)

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