Ah yes, the Social Vampire is a special breed that only comes out in your darkest moment to drain the blood from your soul and turn you into a paranoid creature afraid of the sunlight, with no reflection of your own.
There’s this friend that you confide in. You tell her everything because you trust her and because she’s always willing to listen. She always agrees with you and if you hate it, she hates it. Your conversations never end with you feeling better, you’re always still just as angry and instead of your problem getting better, it seizes in deeper, like a tick. Even a small issue can be ballooned to extravagance during one of her phone calls. Whatever is happening seems to feed on whatever could happen.
And then one day, she turns on you. In fact, she had probably been turning on you from the beginning, you’re just now finding out about it. You’re just finding out how much of your life she has bandied about among your mutual friends in an unpleasant way. She has talked about you to your friends and people that haven’t even met you yet and she has judged you, divulged private conversations and told everyone what a royal pain in the ass you are.
This is a social vampire.
I’ve known a few, but one of them really wins the prize. And this social vampire was a dude! That’s right! This little affliction isn’t just reserved for catty women. Oh no! Guys are just as guilty. This particular guy is an expert and could give Social Vampire Classes.
How do you recognize a social vampire? Well, the way I described above is a good example. Usually when I call a friend to whine about life, I feel much better about things when the call ends. If you find that when you finish talking to your friend that she shared more reasons why you should feel worse than you do and left you with a deep feeling of paranoia rather than the grace of a good friend, she might be a social vampire.
Social Vampires will also use the information you share with them, against you. They won’t throw it back in your face. Oh no! They’ll tell everyone else and they’ll make it sound like you’re the scum of the earth. I’ll give you an example from my own experience.
I had this friend once that I truly adored. I thought he was just the best thing to ever come along and he and I spoke on the phone quite often. I had known him for years and we confided in each other. At the time this happened we were actually working on two projects together. Both of them were conducted long distance. It wasn’t until three years after the first project and another year into the second project that I found out what he had been doing behind my back all that time.
I first became aware of the situation when he and I had an argument about an issue with funding. I disagreed with how he wished to spend the project money because I knew it wasn’t legitimate and he got very angry. He threatened me! Then he persisted in isolating me by telling me how other members of the project were also against my stubborn reasons for not spending the money the way everyone else wanted to spend it. I was adamant and stood by my convictions.
On this day he was staying at another friend’s house and being no shrinking violet, she called me later that day to ask me what the deal was and why was I screwing up the project so badly. I told her I wasn’t screwing anything up! “Well, that’s not what he says. In fact, he’s been making these comments about you for years. All of us were hesitant to do another project with you because he thinks you’re a total screw up.”
I couldn’t have been more surprised by this if she had jumped out of the shadows and yelled “BOO!” I went with the first instinct and I defended him. Perhaps she misunderstood him? He would never talk about me like that.
She then pointedly asked me about the funding and once I explained to her what his need was, she was livid. We agreed this was not how the project should be run and she was surprised that I could manage as well as I did. “I can’t believe this. He had all of us thinking you were someone else. We need to correct this before it goes much farther.” She encouraged me to talk to other members of the project and not to just take her word for gospel regarding his behavior.
So that day I made those phone calls and with each click of the receiver I drove another nail into the coffin of my dearest friendship.
It was all true. My friend and confidante had been betraying me from the beginning. I felt drained. I couldn’t ask him to explain what he did. I knew he would just deny it. I knew he’d blame everyone else for the attitudes expressed and leave me feeling like everyone hated me, except him. He would glamour me with excuses and explanations and none of them would be reality.
I was bereft as I watched the sun go down on someone that I loved like family. I still mourn him today, but I know that a social vampire will never be true to anyone, but his hunger.
If you find you have unwittingly invited a social vampire to cross your threshold, it’s easy enough to drive a stake through its heart and make it go away. You just have to be brave enough to take that first step towards having healthier friendships, paying attention to the signs when they happen and moving on once you realize the friendship will never stand the test of time, or the light of day.
Good luck out there and remember; garlic is for cooking and will not protect you from vampires. Only you have that kind of power.
You can find this and many other entries about living with and recovering from narcissistic abuse in my book, Life After the Narcissist written by Katy Shultz. Available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and all fine retailers.