Dear Readers -
A good friend asked me recently how to deal with "emotional vampires" or people who tend to suck you emotionally dry. It was an appropriate question for me, since I seem to be dealing with my own emotional vampire lately.
I usually refer to them as high-maintenance friends, but they can be family members too. It can be the person who constantly borrows money by making you feel guilty for his struggling family. It can be a distant family member who plays the holier-than-thou card in all her dealings with you. It can be the sister in your ward who is so negative that everyone hates being around her because she's such a downer.
Unfortunately, these EVs don't recognize that they're the cause of the problem, but our behavior towards them (rolling eyes, lending money, letting them complain, etc.) facilitates the behavior. They cannot and will not get better unless we start putting our feet down.
As with most perceived negative news, the key is to be both gentle and firm. There can be no doubt as to our intentions and as to the cause. If there is, that EV will move on to their next victim, sucking them emotionally dry till they move on again, leaving a trail of dessicated emotions in their wake.
"I cannot lend you money because it puts a financial strain on me."
"Please don't write me emails if you continue to insult me and disrespect me by misrepresenting what I write."
"When you are negative all the time it makes me uncomfortable and I am not alone in that. If you can't drop the negativity then I won't be able to spend more time with you."
Making the break might be extremely exhausting, but in the end it will be worth it. Nobody can afford to spend all their emotional energy on someone who never gives back.
Get out the garlic and the wooden stake. Cut the Emotional Vampires loose or your soul might be lost for good.
Good emotional health!
P.S. As my wise husband adds, "At some point, you have to stop mothering the self-destructive."