- Body & Beauty
- Health & Healing
- Mind & Emotions
- Everyday Wellbeing
How to deal with a friend or relative who saps your time and energy.
In the past decade, I’ve heard a lot of newfangled terms to describe an exhausting, overly demanding relationship. The culprit might be called a cling-on, energy vampire, stalker friend, needy, or a social vampire. The relative, lover, colleague, or friend who demands and asks too much of us and our time has come to appear socially pathological. We don’t want too much weight to bear in a relationship these days. It doesn’t fit with our ‘No Strings Attached’ world.
I’m not entirely comfortable with the proliferation of terms to criticise emotional neediness. They imply that a basic human craving for reassurance is an intolerable encroachment on another person’s freedom, autonomy, or happiness. I talk about this in my book, Marriage Confidential: Love in the Post-Romantic Age. In a healthy relationship, the investment of time and attention feels reciprocal. This reciprocity separates healthy need from pathological neediness. Sometimes, we’d rather be laughing and having fun with a friend than ‘processing’ an issue with them, but we set aside that selfish preference. We make a deposit in the Friendship Bank that we’ll someday withdraw ourselves, when we need help. It would be a cold, hard world if all yearning for reassurance were dismissed as neurotic and impermissibly annoying.
Having gotten that disclaimer out of the way, however, there is no doubt that there are indeed some relationships that are morbidly and impossibly needy, clingy, demanding, and exhausting. The clingy relationship could happen between lovers, friends, colleagues, or relatives. I’m going to treat the romantic and the non-romantic separately.
In these cases, the term ‘social vampire’ is a harsh term, but apt.
To read the complete article and learn more about energy suckers,