Do you ever hang out with a friend, get home, and realize they drained all the energy out of you—yet again? That person could be an energy vampire.

Yup, it’s a real thing. According to PsychCentral, energy vampires (or, energy vamps, if you will) tend to be emotionally immature, self-centered, and lack empathy. And they can suck your energy—whether they know it or not. "They feed on your willingness to listen and care for them, leaving you exhausted and overwhelmed," according to Healthline.

Spending time with them can also leave you feeling irritable, angry, sad, or anxious.

Energy vampires can pop up anywhere.

Maybe it’s that co-worker who targets you at the water cooler to talk about their drama every. single. day.

Or, maybe it’s that best friend, who just takes and takes—unless she’s serving up copious amounts of guilt that falls on your shoulders.

Tracy Garraud (AKA Tracy G.), a SiriusXM on-air personality and audio vision board creator, knows the feeling. She’s personally dealt with a toxic friend and energy vampire. With this person, she told Shine it felt like she couldn’t show her authentic self.

“It was like walking through a revolving door,” Tracy G. says. “One version of me wasn’t good enough, so I would exit stage left. Another version of me would come through and that wasn’t good enough, so I would exit stage right. After a while, it’s like, ‘Why am I concealing my true self?’”

Some other signs of energy vampires, according to Healthline:

●︎ They often blame others for problems of their own making

●︎ They love moments of drama

●︎ They're pros at one-upping you

●︎ They'll dismiss your issues and play up their problems

But it’s not always easy to spot an energy vampire. Sometimes you can spot a toxic friend from miles away, other times it’s a buildup of events that lead you to the conclusion.

Sometimes you can spot a toxic friend from miles away, other times it’s a buildup of events that lead you to the conclusion.
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Here, some tips for dealing with toxic friends and energy vampires.

1. Be an Observer

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Sure, all people are entitled to their moods and moments. But pay attention to see if your friend owns up to that moment—or brushes it off and keeps repeating the habit. “Mood swings happen,” Tracy G. says. “Wild, impulsive reactions happen—and it’s just a matter of if someone takes responsibility.”

It can also help to create an "energy map" of the people you interact with.

After you interact with someone, ask yourself: How does this person impact my energy? Your answers could be "they're very energizing," "they're neutral," or "they're de-energizing."

After you interact with someone, ask yourself: How does this person impact my energy?
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Create a mental web of how the people in your life typically impact your energy. Then: Set boundaries or refocus your energy accordingly.

2. Move Past Assumption and Move Toward Facts

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Once you’ve collected all those puzzle pieces, have a conversation.

Even though it might feel uncomfortable, you need to check-in and see what that friend might be going through.

You could say:

“I’m not sure if you know this, and I’m 100% sure you’re not being intentional about this, but I’ve been feeling like lately...”

Or:

“When I texted you, I was hoping your reaction would be more like... I just wanted to check in on you to see how you are or if I was doing something that was making you uncomfortable.”

Your friend might hit you with the biggest apology ever, or they might just act aloof. Whatever their response: The response itself can tell you a lot about whether it's an energy vampire fling or something more permanent.

3. Bless Them With Your Absence

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So your friend may be going through a bad week or bad month—that doesn’t mean you have to go through it with them every step of the way and let them knock you down.

Part of getting over a toxic friendship—or giving space for an energy vampire to check themselves—is changing your environment.

We can easily see breaking up with a friend as a “forever” thing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Use the break as a litmus test to see if you want to keep working on the friendship.

And, ultimately, if you find that closing the chapter on the friendship is the best option, you'll know you did your due diligence.


Read Next: 3 Ways to Break Up With a Toxic Friend

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You are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself