Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter
I write frequently about the damage of narcissistic abuse in families and the pandemic of pathological narcissism
across the world. I am also committed to help people not only heal from narcissistic abuse but also protect themselves from the immeasurable harm from toxic people, relationships, and environments. In fact, these lessons are pretty easy to learn especially when people come to understand how weak and powerless and detectable toxic people really are.
You can expect toxic people to be covertly or overtly aggressive in nature yet weak in character. Instead of working to build wisdom and the abilities to sustain themselves, they have learned how to play on people’s trusting nature and compassion to steal power from them they cannot source themselves. In relationships, these narcissistic personalities use love as their camouflage. They want all the benefits of friendship, families, marriage and having children without working for them as well. Sadly these “master manipulators” and emotional predators are everywhere and have moved beyond the dysfunctional family
and have infiltrated the medical, spiritual, teaching, healing and political arenas where they (under the radar) are committing horrendous crimes and doing immeasurable damage. Read more here.
Why resort to such depravity? Toxic people who are character disordered individuals have lost the capacity to adapt normally to life. They are broken and rather than become self-sufficient, learn to depend on other people to supply them what they cannot and do not want to supply themselves. And, so, like all parasites, these emotional vampires have developed covert “combat” tactics to successfully “sneak in” and fool people to get them to let down their boundaries and give up what they are targeting to take from them. They are personality disordered and want all the benefits all “normal” people work for without earning them. They only want to work for things they feel entitled to have and benefit themselves. They do not care how their actions impact other people. They lack compassion and empathy and the ability to love not only others including their own children but their own selves as well.
The Devil Comes Cloaked as Everything You Ever Wanted
There are huge differences in value between 24, 18, 14, and 10 carat gold, gold filled, gold dipped, fool’s gold and glittered turds, however on the outside they all can be made to look equal. Emotional vampires, of course, know this. They use camouflage to avoid being exposed and to pass themselves off as virtuous, loving, caring, competent people, the proverbial “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” They like normal people do not honestly ask you to donate or give to them what they need because their appetites are insatiable. They cannot verbally announce their true intentions to their hosts, can they? Instead they have developed strategies to steal your time, money, adulation, attention, stature, credit and whatever they need and want from you and feel entitled to. They have developed a portfolio of manipulation and covert aggressive “combat” tactics to exploit, con, take, steal whatever they need to function and cannot supply and do not want to supply themselves or work for. A parasite to be successful cannot tell you it is going to parasitize and prey on you, can it? And like all parasites, they use effective camouflage and stealth so by the time you discover them, unfortunately, the damage is done. You have been infested. You have become depleted of useful resources or even emotionally fatigued or worse, traumatized.
However, pathological narcissism is an all encompassing character disorder with common identifiable patterns of behaviors you can learn to readily ientify. This makes these emotional predators very vulnerable to detection and exposure.
Tips to Identify Emotional Vampires in Your Life
As mentioned, emotional vampires have learned to be effective thieves in order to survive, however, in reality they are very predictable and easy to detect if you know what to look for. With practice you can hone your “narc radar” and become less vulnerable to their attacks and less attractive as a target.
Here are 15 simple and very effective tips to help you identify their manipulation tactics and distinguish authentically virtuous and competent people from the emotional vampires who exploit power, value, credit, attention, or whatever they need from you. Remember, too, that narcissism like virtue falls on a spectrum so some will be worse than others. The more you practice these tips and refine your”narc radar,”the less vulnerable you will be to toxic influences in your life and the more you will be able to optimize your emotional health and relationships.
1. Go by your gut. If your instincts tell you something or someone is too good to be true or something is off, trust them first. Better to be safe than sorry.
2. Look at how hard they work to build their skills, knowledge and abilities. One year experience 30 times over is not equivalent in value to 30 years experience and a 10th grade education is not equivalent in effort or value to a Bachelors, Masters, PhD, medical or jurisprudence degree. Check out their “professional credentials.” Do these people continuously work to learn new skills, knowledge and abilities that bring value to others? Do these people work on self management skills? Do they honor others’ accomplishments? Diminish them? Envy them?
3. Gauge their “virtue” by comparison. Look at how hard they work compared to others who you know for sure are people of virtue, competent, qualified, credentialed, authentic. Read more here on characteristics of authentic people.
4. Look closely at their actions and do not assume their intentions, like yours, are good ones. Fact check! Look at the concrete evidence of what they deliver, contribute and the effort they personally put in to create the deliverables and contribute to the overall goal. Do they take credit for other’s work, efforts? Do they attempt to “glitter turds” to make them appear more valuable and important than they truly are? Ask them to show you the evidence. Do they deliver any?
5. Assess how they treat you all the time even when you are in need. How do they treat you when you are not in a position to do anything for them such as when you are sick or ailing or grieving or in physical or emotional pain? Do they offer to help you?
6. Do they encourage and support others who need help and who are learning?
7. Look at how they treat people who provide services and who do not have as much stature or authority they do. Do they denigrate or diminish these people? Are they respectful? Do they treat all people with different authorities and economic stature with the same level of respect?
8. Compare what they take in terms of other’s time, energy, resources, attention to what they give, work for, donate, contribute. Are these fair, balanced, consistent?
9. In meetings or in groups, look at how much attention they are taking and how respectful they are of other people and ensuring others have an equal voice and are given credit for their contributions.
10. Look at their actions and the consistency of their actions and not just focus on what they say or how they say it. Narcissists learn to fast talk and use “word salad” to confuse others and make themselves appear more valuable than they really are.
11. Assess how you feel when you are around them? Nourished? Energized? Depleted? Confused? Listened to? Gratified? Validated?
12. Look to see if their words, actions, and beliefs align and are founded in morals, ethics. Are they honest, consistent, truthful? Do they walk the talk or just say what others want to hear to get the reaction, attention, and adulation they seek? Do their actions and words at home reflect their actions and words outside the home?
13. Look to see if their words, actions, and beliefs are logical. Do they listen and encourage questions and are they able to answer them in a logical, complete, accurate, defensible manner? If they do not know the answer, do they say so and offer to get the answer for you? Do they talk about topics they are qualified to speak about? Do they say the same thing repeatedly but in a different way? Do they state the obvious? Do they repeat what you or others say and just change a few words? Do they change the subject to take over the conversation and to a topic they want to discuss?
14. Do they follow up on commitments and promises? Are their promises and commitments false, hollow?
15. Assess how they handle constructive criticism and feedback. Are they receptive and tolerant or defensive and critical of comments, suggestions, questions, differing opinions?
Any less than positive response to any of these tips can be a warning of a toxic person, however the more negative responses increase the likelihood of not only a toxic person or environment but also exposure to character disordered individuals such as pathological narcissist(s). Whatever the case, you can learn more here on how to deal with toxic people and here on how to manage boundaries with them more effectively.