Energy vampires. You would think it would be easy to move away from such types, but don’t beat yourself up. It’s not easy to move away from people who tend to be charming, convincing and successful. You just tire of it coming at your expense. Joan offers tips on how to end these relationships…for your own good.

Q. You certainly have dealt with energy vampires in your life, how did you come to know others suffer from the same type of relationships?

Joan: One of the questions that I am often asked by email, via Facebook, or during my lectures, is how to permanently end a relationship with someone that is a negative force in a person’s life. I have heard many terms to describe these types of people, but one of my favorites is energy vampire, because they zap the life out of you.

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Q. Is it always a significant other, or can it be a friendship?

Joan: A relationship doesn’t have to be romantic to fall into the toxic category.

Q. But ending any relationship can be difficult, almost worse, it seems, than keeping it.

Joan: Ending a relationship can be one of life’s greatest challenges. We all have a few people in our lives that we allow to treat us in a manner less than we deserve. Cognitively we know that if we don’t change something, the result will be the same, but once that music starts, we jump right into the same old dance.

Often we have spent many years with these people and the thought of letting go is frightening, so we hold on, even when the relationship no longer serves us well. We take the abuse, we allow ourselves to feel bad, and we compromise our self-esteem. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to release a person from our lives because in the process we encounter many emotions: guilt at not being a compassionate, forgiving person; fear of being alone; the belief that we’re supposed to take care of others; feelings of inadequacy and of being unlovable.

Q. That’s quite of list of bad feelings that happen while we’re in the relationship and in the process of thinking about getting out. But when you realize you need to get out, what do you do?

Joan: Relationships should always be treasured and they should not be taken lightly, but after years of the same dance, for the sake of our physical and emotional health, we must recognize when it’s time to change the music and begin a different dance.

Ask yourself these questions: Do I feel energized or drained after being with this person? Do I look forward to spending time together? Do I keep looking for a response or change that I never get? Do I really like this person? Log your responses and emotions.

If you determine the relationship to be harmful, then it’s time to end all contact with this person. This may be more difficult if children are involved, however, there are certain behaviors you can stop. Don’t Facebook stalk, drive past the person’s house, or find reasons to maintain contact. Every time you do, you reopen the wounds and make it difficult to move on.

Q. What are some tips you can give us to get out of these relationships?

Joan: Fill the hole. Find ways to stay busy. Join clubs, exercise, volunteer, or spend time with friends. Do whatever it takes to fill the time that would have been spent with the person.

Surround yourself with positive people. Be around people that support you, lift you up, and reenergize you.

Get help. Seek spiritual or mental health guidance. Join a support group – just make sure it is a positive group and not a bunch of people getting together to complain.

Give yourself a break. If in your heart you believe that you have done all you can to sustain the relationship, it’s time to release it. Don’t blame yourself. Learn from the experience, and wish the person well. You can’t make another person change.

Don’t wallow in hatred or negative feelings. Remember the saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

You are a wonderful gift to this world. Don’t allow anyone to disrespect you or diminish your self-esteem. You have that power!