Have you ever seen a couple that just didn’t seem to make sense? The man is stunningly attractive and the woman is puffy, overweight and tired-looking. Or vice versa. Maybe you have a friend who calls you every time she is going through a break-up but is nowhere to be found when you need her for moral support. Perhaps you have a sibling who always needs your help but never returns the gesture. These are typical examples of energy-vampire-relationships. And, they are bad for your health.
Energy-vampire-relationships are akin to a parasitic plant, such as mistletoe, overtaking an elm tree. The mistletoe grows into the vascular system of the elm tree, extracting water and nutrients for survival. If the elm tree is healthy, it can withstand this relationship for a while, but eventually will become sick and can even die.
The same is true for you. If you are in a relationship with an energy vampire, you may be able to withstand the energy drain for a while, but eventually the relationship takes its toll. And, I’m not just talking about feeling a little emotional or drained. There can be serious health consequences when you are in an unbalanced relationship with an energy vampire.
How Energy Vampire Relationships Make You Sick
Aside from the obvious emotional toll being in an energy-vampire-relationship can take on you, there is a whole array of physical ailments that are often just as painful and dangerous as the psychological ones. For example, psychologist Sandra L. Brown, M.A. reports that fully 75 percent of the women who come to her retreats suffer from autoimmune disorders.
In my decades on the front lines of women’s health, I’ve seen people suffering from adrenal fatigue, chronic Lyme disease, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disorders, an inability to lose weight, diabetes, breast cancer, autoimmune disorders and so-called mystery illnesses. Most, if not all of the time, these illnesses do not respond well to medical treatments. That’s because the root cause is a relationship with an energy vampire – either at work or at home. Until that is addressed, no medication, diet, or amount of meditation and yoga will help. Why?
There are several ways the stress of being in an energy-vampire-relationship causes your health to deteriorate:
- Causes Inflammation. On a basic level, the stress of trying to “fix” someone and having to deal with constant disappointment, negativity, and deception leads to a cascade of stress hormones in your body. When you are constantly under stress, your adrenals produce cortisol, a stress hormone that, under normal circumstances, suppresses inflammation and gives you the ability to get out of danger. However, when cortisol levels remain high, your body actually produces inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. This causes you to feel symptoms such as headaches, joint pain and swelling, arthritis, fibromyalgia, digestive problems, weight gain, and eventually diabetes and heart disease. Remember chronic cellular inflammation is the root cause of almost all degenerative diseases.
- Wreaks havoc on your immune system. It is well documented that people who are under constant social stress experience dysregulation of their immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to infectious diseases and so-called autoimmune disorders. Now, it’s important to understand that while viruses can cause diseases – for example, the Epstein-Barr virus can cause autoimmune disease – this only happens when your immune system is off balance due to chronic stress and cortisol levels that are too high. Conversely, when your immune system is in balance, your body is able to keep viruses in check.
- Encourages poor dietary choices. When you have a headache, you may pop a couple of Advil. When you are constantly getting headaches due to a vampire draining you, you may not only decide to take medicines to cover up your symptoms, but you may also not feel up to cooking a healthy meal and find it easier to order a pizza. In addition, the excess cortisol you have circulating causes you to crave sweets, so you find yourself reaching for sugar or alcohol. This leads to weight gain and an inability to get a good night’s sleep.
- Leads to brain changes. Brain scans show that people who have lived with cognitive dissonance due to energy-vampire-relationships have brain changes similar to those with PTSD. (Cognitive dissonance is when your beliefs about the world and yourself clash, causing tension.)
- Triggers neuroendocrine hormone cascade. Researchers have found that PTSD and trauma are associated with a higher risk of developing lupus. One study presumes that stress-triggered neuroendocrine hormones lead to immune system dysregulation by altering or amplifying cytokine production resulting in autoimmune disease.
8 Warning Signs of An Unbalanced, Energy Vampire Relationship
Recognizing your vampire is the first step toward letting go of an unbalanced relationship. Here are some of the ways you can tell if you are in a relationship with an energy vampire.
- Shows no interest in the things that interest you. Whether it’s your family, a hobby you enjoy, or a type of food you like to eat, a vampire would rather complain or ignore you when you bring up your interests. Some vampires will even make you feel bad about your interests.
- Stops communicating. After love-bombing you and showering you with attention, energy vampires will often act distant, especially if you disagree or argue with them. They become elusive. They stop calling and texting you. Or, they reply with hurtful remarks. When vampires re-engage, they will often do it just to “win you back,” then withdraw again seeming more interested in watching sports on TV or going out with their friends. A vampire will never admit to their part in an argument. They may have bursts of rage.
- Gives ultimatums. Vampires will try to hold you back because your personal growth makes them feel threatened and insecure. They might create drama whenever you choose to do something that doesn’t include them. Some may forbid you to see a certain friend or participate in a certain activity. Many vampires will give ultimatums, making you choose between them and someone or something else.
- Blames you for their problems. Instead of talking with you about their problems, vampires refuse to take responsibility and will actually blame you for their personal problems.They may also avoid you or act in a disrespectful manner such as staying out all night drinking, not coming home or going off the grid completely.
- Withholds or demands sex. Vampires often use sex as a weapon, commonly demanding sex when their partner isn’t interested, or withholding sex and affection as punishment.
- Keeps Score.Energy vampires keep track of how many good things they have done for you and believe that their “good deeds” are greater than what they are receiving from you. In addition, vampires will keep track of your mistakes and use them against you.
- Threatens to leave you. Vampires threaten to leave when things don’t go their way. They may say things like “I can be with someone who likes my friends,” or “I will just stay with Joe until you admit you’re wrong.”
- Puts you down.Vampires often try to make you feel that you are less than worthy of them. They may call you hurtful names, purposefully miss scheduled events or appointments, or embarrass you in public.
10 Ways To Counteract the Negative Effects of An Energy Vampire Relationship
Dr. Mario Martinez points out that most illnesses involve a learned physiological response to specific stressors. For example, someone with fibromyalgia is unable to sleep soundly. Lack of deep sleep results in widespread cellular inflammation (in part because deep sleep is necessary in order for your body to metabolize stress hormones) creating a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation, pain, and inflammation. Dr. Martinez suggests that learning to be a light sleeper is a highly adaptive strategy when you are living with a threat of some kind – such as sexual or physical abuse. Even when the threat is no longer there, your body’s stress response (and the impact on your psychoneuroimmunological system) remains, setting the stage for illness.
To overcome patterns that set the stage for chronic illness, try these strategies:
- Rid yourself of vampires. Try not to be seduced into taking the latest drug for your condition. Instead, if your gut tells you that your condition was triggered by the stress of being in a relationship with an energy vampire, you need to be rid of that person before you can heal.
- Change your beliefs. In his book, the Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton, Ph.D. points out that only about 10 percent of what happens in your body is related to your genes or your family history, including how your genes get expressed. Your health is primarily determined by your environment, and the most important part of that is your beliefs. If you believe you deserve to be happy and healthy, you are taking the first step toward achieving that.
- Express righteous anger. In his book, The MindBody Code, Dr. Mario Martinez points out that many Tibetan monks have diabetes that can’t be attributed to their diet or lifestyle. He suggests that the monks’ development of diabetes is intimately connected with their belief systems of loving-kindness and forgiveness. Now, the Tibetan culture and its people have suffered a huge amount of damage by the Chinese. The natural response is anger and rage, yet the monks have been taught to send love to their enemies instead. They are literally “sugar-coating” their anger. This initiates the release of endorphins (akin to morphine), which numbs their pain and prevents them from feeling anger. High levels of endorphins over time can adversely affect glucose metabolism.
- Release shame. Many empaths who are in relationships with energy vampires were often shamed during childhood. Shame is toxic and actually produces the inflammatory chemical known as IL-6. Many empaths hold onto shame from childhood. Being highly sensitive it may not even take a major psychological stressor, such as an energy-vampire-relationship, to trigger health issues. Find ways to feel and release shame and other emotions that you have not fully felt and named.
- Put your emotional needs first. As the cliché goes, “the best defense is a good offense.” Putting yourself and your needs first is the equivalent of going on the offensive. Treat yourself with the same care and love that you treat others. You may need to start with baby steps such as deleting someone from your social media. You can also practice saying “no” when someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do. Practice saying, “I simply can’t.” Or, “That is not possible.” Over time, you’ll get good at it and become adept at setting healthy boundaries. Also, you need to pat yourself on the back – regularly! When you are in control of your own life and your relationships, energy vampires and other predators will feel your light and will run the other way!
- Stop giving love to a bottomless pit. Real, healthy love is toxic to energy vampires. There is only so much love a vampire can handle before they become nasty and angry. Knowing this, you can stop giving your love to a bottomless pit. Energy vampires will never be able to reciprocate or even receive your love and affection. Instead, it will only make them more toxic, more aggressive, and more negative.
- Set limits. If you can’t cut a vampire out of your life, learn to set limits. After spending a little time with you (sometimes just 20-30 minutes), an energy vampire will begin to reach their capacity. You’ll know this energy vampire is maxed-out on your positive energy when they start turning negative. They’ll start criticizing you, getting on your case—basically, their inner monster will rear its head. So, you can set limits for the amount of time you spend with energy vampires.
- Don’t compromise. No energy vampire likes boundary setting. Learn to be okay with this. You don’t need them to like that you’re done with the interaction. Learn to say “Okay, I gotta go,” and then leave. Let them throw their fit, if they must, but don’t get involved. Stick to your guns, get moving, and don’t look back.
- Focus on something other than your relationship. If you must spend a little one-on-one time with the energy vampire in your life, choose activities that take the focus off your relationship. Find shared passions and do those together. Perhaps you both love art. So, meet them at an art show where the focus is on the art—not on your relationship. Once the pressure is off, the energy vampire is less likely to focus their negative energy on you, making the experience lighter all around.
- Accept Them. Know who you’re dealing with and give up the dream that they’ll ever be any different. There’s a lot of freedom (and peace) in that kind of acceptance.
Have you ever suffered from health issues that resolved once you changed your relationships? Please leave me your comments below.