Boundaries in a Relationship: How to Not Lose Yourself to a Relationship Vampire

Boundaries in a Relationship: How to Not Lose Yourself to a Relationship Vampire

Have you ever found yourself feeling used, mistreated or unappreciated by someone important in your life and wondered how to set boundaries in a relationship?  While realistically; any relationship can be ended. What if you don’t want it to end or believe that you can’t end it?  It could show up as a phone call that leaves you exhausted or a visit that should have been enjoyable and yet again you feel used.  We’ve got a solution to empower you and a remedy to the Relationship Vampires that may be sucking you dry.

What is a Relationship Vampire and Why are They Sucking the Life Out of You

Do you love the holidays?  Some of us will say yes and others will say no.  Picture this…it’s the holidays and you are dreading time with your family as much as you look forward to it.  Will “so and so” behave this year or will there be drama?   We can probably all relate to that because we all have someone in the family that causes friction.

Some people just behave in ways that can leave us feeling disrespected, used, mistreated, sad, manipulated and feeling like we have nothing left in us.  They appear to have no respect for boundaries in a relationship.

These people are what we refer to as Relationship Vampires.  They turn to others to fuel themselves by sucking you dry of your energy, resources, time and goodwill.

Why would you have anyone like that in your life?  We all do and many of them are unavoidable.  What can you do when it’s your colleague and you can’t get a new job fast enough or it’s your parent, spouse, sibling or child?

Relationship Vampires are hurt people who hurt others because they have not resolved their own issues and healed their own pain.  No amount of love, support, resources, etc can fill their hole.  The more you give the more they want.

Do any of these experiences sound familiar?

  • You’re shopping or out to eat and they expect you to pay or buy them things and never fully appreciate you for it when you had no intention of treating them in the first place.  You don’t feel like you owe them, why do they?
  • You think you’re having a nice conversation and then all of a sudden you feel trapped in a corner as they send negative judgment and opinions your way. They may even justify their comments to you as just being “honest and up front” as your loved one.  Attacks like this are never helpful, are they kidding?  You start figuring out how to avoid conversations with this person ever!
  • Some people just don’t understand social cues and will say very hurtful comments that they should have never said in the first place.  What are they trying to accomplish?  If it is to make you feel bad, they just succeeded.
  • You’re doing a favor for them, taking care of them or consoling them for the umpteenth time for something that went wrong in their life and you have that moment where you think…when was the last time this person did anything for me?  It’s all about what you can do for them and never what they want to do for you.  You have a hard time saying no, especially because they demand a lot of you and never seem to take a hint.
  • After you spend any time with this person you find yourself needing to take a nap or just plain feeling bad about yourself or life.

There is a solution and we’ve both found ways to flex our relationship muscles by putting what we call the Remedy for Relationship Vampires into action.

Put an end to the damage Relationship Vampires are doing to you and others!

Boundaries in a Relationship:  The Remedy for Relationship Vampires

1.  Set & Hold Healthy Boundaries:

  • Say NO when it’s NO.
  • Ask for what you need in order to be in the relationship without experiencing being drained or used.  If they are not willing to at least have a discussion about what they can provide, this may be an indication that this is a one way relationship.
  • Decide what you can offer and hold strong to honor yourself.
  • End conversations that are about attacking you instead of honoring each other. This looks like:  “Hey, I really want to talk to you, but what you are saying is actually hurting me.  Can we change the subject and make things lighter?”
  • Be consistent at setting and holding boundaries to establish a healthy relationship.
  • If they continue to be intolerable and not respect boundaries you set and you are not able to permanently end the relationship with them because of the nature of the relationship & the circumstances, you can be very clear about what you will and will not tolerate from them and you can do it in a calm and empowered way.

2.  Healthy Perspective:  It’s them, not you.

  • Recognize what is you and what is them.
  • If you’re in integrity in your interactions with that person and holding healthy boundaries, recognize that their hurtful words and actions stem from their own problems and are not about you.
  • Do not take it on and do not respond to it or engage with comments or actions that are not healthy.
  • “Let it go” is a powerful action that can leave you feeling so much better.

3.  Honor Yourself:  The Balance of Give & Take.

  • Establish balance and harmony of give and take for a healthy relationship. The best of us need others for their energy, resources and goodwill at some point in our life and hopefully most of us have been a source of this for deserving people in our lives. It’s healthy when this is balanced.
  • When it becomes unbalanced and for too long it’s time to step back and honor yourself and what you need.
  • You only have so much to give and it’s important to share yourself and your gifts with those who can return that to you.
  • Pause and reflect about where you might want to shift your energy among relationships in your life.
  • You decide who gets your energy, not who demands it.

4.  Call Uncle:  Hold them accountable for their actions.

  • This can be the hardest step for most of us to take.
  • It can feel easier to slink away or not say anything, but if you don’t the problem will not go away.
  • The only way to stop the drain of everyone’s energy, resources and goodwill is to call out the Relationship Vampire and hold them accountable.  This could look like:  “Hey…you have asked for me to provide something for you.  Before I commit to doing this, I need to really think about if I want to do it.  I am not sure right now and will give you an answer later.  I definitely don’t want to provide something out of guilt only to feel used or bitter later.”
  • If they began to get upset because you are not giving them what they want immediately, you can let them know that you are thinking about things first and ask for them to respect that.

Just because someone is hurt does not give them the right to hurt others.  Stand up for yourself and for others and notice that the more you do this the less that person will act out.

Standing in our power and setting boundaries with the Relationship Vampires in our lives may not always be fun but it does leave us feeling empowered and confident.

Please share this with a friend or loved one who may be struggling with a Relationship Vampire in their life.

Leave us a comment below sharing with us how you hold your boundaries.