Updated: 8/23/2021 | How to Deal with Exhausting People
People who drain you, such as energy vampires, drama queens, and master manipulators exist all around us. Whatever you want to call them, we’ve all had to deal with these types of people in our lives. They can be one of your closest friends, a family member, co-workers, or a total stranger who is attracted to your positive energy and now seeking more of it.
They are downers, critics, and people whose need for validation is limitless. They suck you dry of any good vibes that you try to cultivate and surround yourself with.
Many people need an outlet to vent about the challenges they are dealing with in life and knowing you have someone you can turn to in times of trouble can be comforting. But sometimes one person does all the comforting while the other person does all the venting. Being a shoulder to cry on is good, but it can be draining if you’re doing it often.
It’s so important to protect your energy because these types are of people are out there seeking your attention and validation. No friendship is worth compromising your mental health or well-being.
Here are ways I’ve dealt with exhausting people and I hope these tactics are helpful to you too.
How Can I Tell if Someone Is Exhausting?
Energy vampires are not always readily apparent when you first meet them.
At first, their quirkiness may intrigue you. Their gossip and stories may leave you wanting to hear more about what is happening in their lives. Or their tough life stories may suck you in and make you feel sympathetic to them.
Soon, however, you begin to realize something is wrong. Don’t ignore those feelings. Pay close attention to your intuitions and your physical reactions after your encounters.
If you find yourself experiencing bodily tension, depleted energy, irritability, impatience, sadness, headaches, confusion, or negativity, you may have an energy vampire in your midst.
Here are other behaviors a draining person might exhibit that you should be aware of. Think of them as red flags for toxic personality types.
- Intrusive and displaying poor or inappropriate boundaries. They may think they are entitled to your belongings or your space and do not need to ask for your permission to access it. They may say things that are inappropriate and disrespectful just to get a rouse out of you.
- Overly dramatic – They make something out of nothing. These people discuss irrelevant topics just for the sake of talking and almost always make it about them or something negative about someone else. They typically display high nervous energy, which is extremely draining when you start to delve into their drama.
- Critical of others – They are constantly finding fault with just about everyone and everything in their lives.
- Debbie Downers – Chronic complainers, rarely finding anything to their liking or satisfaction.
- Argumentative – They cannot empathize and understand where others are coming from. They having trouble agreeing with others, even on things that seem insignificant or irrelevant.
- Can’t take no for an answer. They are relentlessly demanding and persistent and won’t stop unless they get their way.
- Constantly negative – They always see the glass as half empty.
- Use guilt to manipulate. They will guilt you when you’re not around for them.
- Unable to accept responsibility – They blame everyone but themselves for their downfall.
- They want all the attention. Energy vampires typically aren’t content idling in the background, they’ll make sure that they get all the attention they crave. This will usually come from them one-upping everyone, self-deprecating jokes, acting like a know-it-all, and even complaining about their own problems. All of these things turn the attention back onto themselves. It’s exhausting listening to someone complain about anything and everything, and talk about themselves all the time.
- They don’t get you. Energy vampires tend to stay caught up in themselves and they won’t take the time to understand where you are coming from. Instead, they’ll force their own views and beliefs onto you rather than taking the time to try and understand you.
- They make excuses. An emotionally draining person will have no problem “venting” about their frustrations/problems in life, but they won’t do anything to fix it. Instead, they’re content with continuing to complain about the same things over and over again and expect something to change.
- Your relationship or friendship is emotionally or physically exhausting.
- You regularly make sacrifices to make sure your friend’s needs are met.
- You experience anxiety, fatigue, or frustration when you talk or hang out with your friend.
- You worry about their issues more than you do about your own well-being.
- Your friend wants all the attention and monopolizes the conversation.
- Your positive feelings for them are starting to disappear.
- You can’t be yourself around them or you censor your thoughts and feelings.
- You don’t get a chance to ask for their advice or support.
- You don’t enjoy spending time with them any longer or dread talking with or being around them.
- Your friendship is interfering with other areas of your life or you’re changing your life to accommodate them.
- Your friend doesn’t know how to move on or let things go.
- Your friend has low self-esteem and needs constant reassurance.
- Your friend lacks self-awareness. They may even be emotionally unaware of how others are feeling.
- Your friend takes advantage of your kindness and never reciprocates.
- Your friend never thanks you for being there for them.
How to Deal With Exhausting People
Here are ways you can cope with an exhausting person in your life. I use these coping mechanisms to protect myself from energy vampires and attention-seeking people.
Don’t Let Them In
Like seriously, do not let them steal and use up your energy. Letting them into your life will allow them access to your energy and resources.
If someone starts going on and on about how terrible their life is and about how awful everything around them keeps going, shut the door. Ask them if they are willing to change the subject to something more positive and aligned with your values.
Establish your boundaries and make it very clear you are not going to spend your energy and time on their pity party, or else you will succumb to negativity over and over again.
If an energy vampire has already made it through the door, and if you wish to keep them in your life, you’ll need to set clear boundaries.
One way is to limit the person’s access to you. You can limit the time spent with this person, and in extreme cases avoid the person altogether. For example, if they call you, tell them you only have ten minutes for them and cut off the conversation at 10 minutes so that you can continue on with your day.
Another example is to remove yourself from any draining situation. A good way to phrase that is to say, “I will not put myself in situations where I feel disrespected and hurt” and physically walk away to recharge.
Your mental health is most important, not their need for validation and attention to soothe their ego.
Tell Them Straight Up
People who drain and deplete you are preventing you from pursuing your best life.
Energy vampires are so caught up in their downfalls that they neglect to realize the effect they’re having on everyone around them. Don’t be afraid to remind them how their words and actions impact you negatively.
However, be kind and mindful with your approach. That can mean saying something like, “I care for you and want you to get through this, but I can only handle so much of these conversations because they make me feel exhausted and unhappy.”
One of the best ways to protect yourself from very draining people is to not share too much with them. This is typically called the “grey rock” method which gives them little to go off on and argue about.
Don’t let them steal your joy.
Take extra steps to self-care before and after you’re around them
Sometimes it pays off to be selfish, especially if you’re spending all your time being there for others.
Make an effort to tune into high vibe activities that will leave you feeling good about yourself each and every day. Maybe take a hot salt bath at night to rid yourself of the toxic feelings you’ve immersed yourself in all day, or start your day on a positive note by doing some light yoga, or meditate 10-15 minutes each day to connect to yourself.
Scheduling these simple self-care practices will leave you feeling recharged and ready to tackle any new obstacles that come your way.
Refrain from Fixing Them
People need understanding and to know that you are there for them. That understanding can take many forms it can mean a hug, an offer to grab coffee or lunch, calling or texting to check in, and supporting your friend with care and concern.
By no means give them advice or try to console them if it’s been tried and true that they only want to complain and shut down all of the advice. It will lead nowhere but to you feeling exhausted and frustrated.
It does not mean solving their problems for them, playing therapist, dropping everything for them, or taking over things they should do for themselves.
No matter how much you want to help or think that you might be able to do something, you need to avoid rushing in to rescue them. Chronically unhappy or dramatic people will likely resent your efforts or come up with new issues that need to be “fixed.”
Your best strategy is to be supportive but to put the responsibility back on their shoulders. You can even say something like, “You’re a smart person. I am confident you will figure this out and come out stronger than ever.”
Don’t get pulled in. No matter how much you might like to think or hope you will be able to fix their problems, you won’t. Chronically negative people will either resist your interventions or create new crises in their lives for you to “fix.” The truth is that in cases of personality-disordered people even the best therapists have difficulty effectuating change. In short, their problems are beyond your ability to “fix.” Your best strategy is to protect yourself by setting clear and firm limits.
For example, those who are very needy or insecure and constantly want your guidance, resist offering solutions. Instead, say something like, “I’m confident that you’ll be able to find the right answer on your own,” and excuse yourself. You don’t have to be rude. You can still be firm yet kind.
Give them sound but firm advice
While it’s admirable that you want to be a good listener and friend, if your friend is dealing with deep emotional pain, the best thing they can do is seek the advice of a professional. Direct them to the right mental health professionals such as counselors, psychiatrists, or life coaches who do this very thing for a living.
Friends can provide comfort and support, but they are not meant to be counselors. Make sure you don’t try to take on a role you’re not qualified for. Being a true friend is about connecting your friend to the resources they need.
Alternatively, if you have been in a similar situation, ask if you can give them tips on how you pulled yourself out of it. Resonating with someone else’s success story may give them the motivation to recognize and pull themselves out of their bad habits and situations.
Spread Good Karma
Simple affirmations, a smile, and an encouraging gesture can work wonders in changing the attitude of your energy vampires, even for a few days.
Try sending a text message to them mid-day to let them know you’re thinking of and rooting for them.
Stay Calm and Don’t React
Don’t forget that energy vampires want attention. They will try to provoke a reaction from others by saying or doing certain things that may make you say “What the f#ck?”
Remain calm and on topic, and remove yourself from invasive and negative comments and suggestions that you are not comfortable with. Sometimes you may even need to remove yourself physically altogether.
Do that and take care of yourself.
Or Let it out!
If you’re struggling to manage these types of people, you’re not alone. Talk to your family members, partners, or trusted peers about the challenges you’re having with others. For a long time, I would stay quiet to keep the peace but now realize that not everyone deserves your attention and energy and that is OK. You’re not on this Earth to soothe and validate others. You gotta take care of yourself too.
I recently had to deal with a handful of emotionally exhausting situations, and one of the ways I process my emotions is by writing it all out. It helps me put things in perspective, and more importantly, it helps me set the course for how I want things to be.
It also helps me create strategies to prevent certain experiences from ever happening again by setting boundaries. I also develop alternative coping mechanisms when I am around these types of people.
Journaling, blogging, meditating, or exercising are healthy ways to let out all that stress and frustration.
Stop the Pity Parties
It’s easy to succumb to the needs of the energy vampire but don’t.
A pity party is the last thing they need. In fact, it will only feed their desire to pile on more of their baggage for you to “fix” or soothe.
Once you establish firm boundaries between an energy vampire and yourself, you may notice they start to steer clear because you are no longer feeding into their need for attention and validation.
Don’t Feel Bad
Energy vampires feed on your reactions. For them, empathetic people are easy targets because most energy vampires have low self-worth and want people who will try to help them create and generate that self-worth.
But once they suck on your energy, you’ll be left feeling like you have a void too. Don’t let yourself be dragged into their drama. Walk away or change the focus.
If all else fails, it may be time to cut these people out of your life or at the very least, keep contact to a bare minimum.
It’s important to keep friends and loved ones close, but not at the expense of losing yourself. Those who care about you will respect and honor your request for space.
If an emotional vampire just won’t let you go, you are entitled to put yourself first always.
Your emotional health is always one of the most important assets you possess, so putting that in jeopardy for someone who thrives on attention and validation from others is very dangerous because it can also affect your mental health.
A positive environment helps us become more active, productive, and overall happy as per studies made on the subject, whereas negative environments make us lose a proportion of difficult situations and make it harder to go about our daily lives.
Narcissists, manipulators, and perpetually negative presences that hurt you or make you feel bad should never be welcome in your life.
Use avoidance when your energy is low and you simply can’t deal with the person at that moment in time. Retreat and recharge.
Know Your Limits
It’s important that you know what your limits are. Ask yourself how much time and energy you really have to do devote to this friend. This acknowledgment isn’t about being insensitive or selfish. Instead, it’s about recognizing your self-worth, your limits, and your priorities.
You can still be a good friend without sacrificing your life in the process. A strong sense of self-worth coupled with healthy limitations helps you prevent imbalances in relationships. Plus, you owe it to yourself to practice good self-care.
While energy vampires can steal your positive energy, they can’t succeed unless you allow them to affect you.
If you have a friend who is emotionally draining you, be sure you are taking steps to care for your own mental and emotional health. While it’s important to be empathetic and compassionate toward others, some people take advantage of this kindness and can wreak havoc on your emotional state.
So rather than avoid people through fear, it is best to remain compassionate and supportive while learning how to manage your time effectively and control how you distribute your energy.
If this type of friendship sounds familiar, make sure you establish boundaries, practice self-care, and suggest your friend see a counselor. And if you’re still having trouble or struggling to take care of yourself because you’re always helping others, you, too, may benefit from speaking with a counselor or a therapist.
In my experience, the best way to recharge is to surround yourself with positive people whose values align with your own. Remember, you are your own guardian, but the company you keep will help you create a healthy space for you too.
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