Have you ever had a friend that just sucks the life out of you, leaving you feeling drained? I know I have. There are people out there that whether they are aware of it or not, consume all of our energy without ever replenishing or filling us back up. They are the kind of people who take, take, and take. Even when there is nothing left of you to give, they will try to take some more.
These types of people are also referred to as energy vampires. They feed on your willingness to listen and care for them, leaving you exhausted and overwhelmed. They want so badly to be heard that regardless if you are busy in the middle of a family dinner, on vacation, or feeling ill, they will convince you the level of importance to give you their attention is so crucial, you actually sympathize and give in.
I recently decided to cut off communication from a friend who was exactly like this. She would keep me on the phone for hours even when I would tell her I had things to do or someplace to be. Her lack of awareness was terribly selfish, but my big caring heart always let her in and I would take her calls because I knew she needed someone to talk to. I wanted to help but after years of hearing her complain about the same issues and lending her some logical advice and her not ever taking any of it, it was time to cut the ties.
Any friendship that does not act as a free-flowing two-way street, forget it. I have spent most of my life give so much more of myself than anyone ever gives back to me. I’ve reached a point where I have to take control of who has access to me, how much energy I give to other people, and cut the cord to anything that drains me and takes away from the happiness I deserve to experience in this life.
This friend of mine hardly listened to anything I said. I would tell her about some book I was reading and then a few weeks later she would be like, “OMG Jen, you have to read this book!” It was literally the same one I told her about. Or I would give her advice about something or feed her an idea and a week or so later she would call me and say, “I was thinking I should….” I would be like, “Yeah, well, that is what I told you. Glad you listened to what I said” and she would reply with “OH did you tell me that?” Seriously. I give up. Waste of my freaking time.
One time she thought her boyfriend was cheating on her and asked me to drive by his house because she was living in a different state, so I did. When I told her, “No, he’s not at home.” And I waited there for 30 minutes to see if the slimeball would show, he didn’t. When I told her she was so upset because he told her that he couldn’t take her call because he was going to sleep. Maybe he was going to sleep, but it wasn’t at his house. The next day she called to say her boyfriend swore he was at home and then told me that she must have given me the wrong address! I was blown away. Really? This girl convinced me it was so important to drive by her loser boyfriend’s house at 9 pm when I wasn’t not feeling well and wanted to go to sleep, but for my friend, I would do anything! Ugh.
When she came to visit a month later she asked me to pick her up at her boyfriend’s house, where she was staying and sure enough it was the same address, same house, I went to that night to see that her lover was elsewhere. She still didn’t believe me. CRAZY.
Toxic friends or energy vampires often times have narcissistic personality traits making it difficult for them to genuinely feel happy for other people. They can’t stand to hear about the success or accomplishments of other people because some twisted part of them feels they deserve to have the same or better than everyone else. These types of people will diminish your problems while playing up there own, drawing the attention back to them. They are also codependent, making it super annoying because they will call, and text, and email, over and over until you pay attention to them and suck the life out of you just so they can feel some sort of connection and relief.
They will use you, take advantage of your generous heart, waste your time, borrow money and never pay you back, influence you to do things you would not normally do, and make poor choices that go against your morals and values.
One of the worst qualities of a toxic friend is they bully you and attempt to make you feel bad about yourself. This is the opposite of what a friend should do. A good friend is one who lifts you up, empowers you to feel confident and self-assured in your own beautiful skin. A good friend will call but respect your time by asking if you have a few minutes and won’t keep you on the phone for hours talking about themselves. A good friend won’t pressure you to do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing, that is outside of your values. They will respect you, honor your wishes, and be a source of inspiration to help you feel motivated and lifted up.
Manipulation is another tactic toxic friends use to try to get their way with you and closer to a goal they have for themselves.
“Manipulation is the skillful handling, controlling or using of something or someone. … But this word also has some negative connotations — a manipulative person knows how to twist words, play on emotions and otherwise manage a situation in a sneaky fashion to get what he wants.” – Vocabulary.com
You may be wondering now, what to do with this toxic energy vampire you have lingering around in your life, creating a vacuum of space, making you feel like your just dragging around from one day to the next. Not to worry. Here are 5 exceptionally good ways to cut this person out of your life so you can start feeling like yourself again.
- Block them on social media, text messaging, and phone calls. When they email or contact you another way and ask for an explanation of why you are shutting them out and try to guilt-trip you into making you feel like the bad guy, do not feel the need to get into a debate about who did what and who’s fault it is. Just let them know that you are focused on your own life right now and really don’t have the time to chat. Another option is to simply not reply.
- Leave your sentimental mushiness of apologies at the door. There is no reason to feel bad. You gave this person more than you ever needed to and it’s time for you to focus on YOU and get your power back. Save your sweet-savory heartfelt love for people who deserve it.
- Dive into new projects at work and try a new hobby to keep your mind occupied on things that excite you now that you are not having to spend useless time listening to someone who doesn’t give a crap about you or your valuable time.
- Reflect on what set you off in the friendship and how you can protect yourself in the future. Think about your role in the friendship, what you contributed, how you felt taken advantage of (in what way), why this person felt so comfortable treating you so poorly, and what you will not allow moving forward in new friendships.
- Take time to evaluate other relationships in your life and appreciate the ones that add value to your life. Focus on the good people who bring you peace and joy. Keep a distance from anyone who does not respect you. Use this freed up space and energy to invest it into new people, and new productive activities.
Sometimes toxic friendships are not abusive but rather two people who have overgrown each other. That is still a good reason for creating a healthy distance from this person as there is nothing good about forcing or faking enthusiasm or authenticity in any situation.