Love

5 Ways INFJs Can Spot and Avoid Emotional Vampires

“I feel really comfortable around you.”

“I feel like we have a really meaningful connection.”

“You just seem to understand me so well.”

The above three sentences can be filed away under Things INFJs Hear All the Time.

INFJs are known as the Counselor personality type. And like a counselor, most people find it really easy to open up to us. It took me awhile to understand that having this sort of relationship with everyone, from a best friend to the cashier at the grocery store, was not something that most people experience regularly.

The problem with this personality trait is that it can create a lot of one-sided relationships. For INFJs, what is often a normal conversation (you know, just another person telling us their life story) often equates to a deep and meaningful connection to the other party. There is a surprising number of emotional vampires out there who will happily suck us dry of the support and empathy we’re able to give if we let them.

Over time I’ve had to learn how to separate the emotionally needy people from the rest, for my own health. One-sided relationships that consist of the INFJ giving emotional support, but not receiving it, is extremely unhealthy for our type.

This can create even larger problems when it comes to INFJs and romantic relationships.

Imagine this scenario:

Sarah, an INFJ, is going on a first date with Tom. They hit it off right away. Tom feels very relaxed and calm around Sarah, and the conversation flows easily. At the end of the date, he realized that he’s shared more about his personal life with Sarah than he usually would on a first date. He doesn’t normally feel comfortable opening up with people so early. Sarah leaves the date feeling happy to have had a good time with Tom and is possibly interested in seeing him again. Tom leaves the date feeling as if Sarah is “the one.”

If you’re an INFJ, you may have had the exact same experience as Sarah. You might have even dated a couple of Toms — people convinced that their initial level of comfort around you meant that you shared a much deeper connection than what you yourself experienced.

If we’re not careful, INFJs can get swept up in this. Everyone wants to be loved, and it can be equally exciting to meet someone who we feel comfortable with right away. But it’s extremely important to detect the emotional vampires early on. Otherwise, you could end up in a draining and one-sided relationship.

Let’s imagine that Sarah and Tom have been dating for a few months now. Tom still feels very sure that Sarah is “the one.” However, Sarah is starting to feel like she’s not truly being listened too by Tom. Most of their conversations revolve around Tom talking about his problems or ideas, and when she tries to open up to him, he becomes quiet and distant or changes the subject.

Tom is an emotional vampire, taking Sarah’s emotional support while not being able to reciprocate it. INFJs need as much, if not more, emotional support from their friends and partners as anyone else. A relationship with an emotionally needy person can be a huge source of stress and unhappiness for us.

Here are 5 ways to spot and avoid emotional vampires:

They want to rush into things.

If a new friend or romantic interest wants to become really close, really fast, it’s a sign to be cautious. Especially if you don’t feel comfortable moving at an equal pace. This doesn’t always mean that they’re an emotional vampire, but it’s important for INFJs to set boundaries until they are sure that the connection goes both ways.

They can take, but not offer emotional support.

If your cubicle neighbor is constantly telling you about her marital problems, but changes the subject or turns it around and makes it about her when you mention a fight with your husband, you definitely have an emotional vampire in your midst. While it might be hard to avoid certain people (like the cubicle neighbor) it’s definitely a good idea to set boundaries. Not even INFJs have an obligation to be a pillar of emotional support for everyone, all the time.

The only time they want to talk is when they have problems.

You rarely see or talk to your friend from college when she’s in a happy relationship, but as soon as there’s trouble in paradise, she needs you to be there to listen to her vent. Emotionally needy people feel like they have to fill a void any time they lack emotional support, and INFJs can be easy targets. Anyone who only seems to consistently show up in your life during times of trouble is not worth your time and energy.

You feel like a parental figure or therapist around them.

There are plenty of times in life when we might take a parental or counselor type of role around friends and family. This is our Extroverted Feeling at work. However, if there is someone who you feel like you are always advising and helping, and you’re not getting any support back from them, it is probably time to move on. And if you already are a parent, a therapist, or both, then you definitely don’t have time to play these roles in other areas of your life.

They don’t celebrate your successes.

People who truly care about you will be happy when you’re happy. If your family, friends, and partners don’t celebrate your successes with you, that is a sign of a one-sided relationship. Unhealthy, emotionally needy people might feel envious of your achievements, and attempt to downplay them or change the subject when you bring them up. We can’t expect everyone we know to understand our life choices, but we should expect to be encouraged and supported by our loved ones along the way.

Do you have experiences with emotional vampires in your life? How did you deal with them?


Megan is an introvert and INFJ personality type who enjoys reading, researching, and writing about personality psychology and human behavior. As the founder of this blog, Megan wants to help other INFJs better understand their personality to improve their personal and professional lives.

24 Comments

  1. Wow… Wow! Well, if I had any doubts about being an INFJ, I’d say this has completely squashed them. I’ve created one-sided relationships with men more than a few times. I thought we were just friends. They thought we were getting married. They told me things they’d never told anyone. I told them what I had to eat for breakfast. Yikes. Thankfully, I read Henry Cloud’s “Boundaries” when I was in high school, so I managed to keep my emotional guard up through those relationships. It was still hard to be the heart-breaker though. I loved those guys, but not enough to sacrifice my life to being their perpetual counselor.

  2. I don’t think I’ve actually run into a full-on emotional vampire, but I can say I have fallen into a default “therapist” role with one or two friends (and even a few dates). Sometimes it’s healthy, but sometimes… not so much.

    Thanks for this article. Now at least I’ll know what to do when faced with those kind of relationships. (Also, thanks for introducing me to Introvert, Dear. Love that site!)

  3. I read this and all I could think was “Crap, this happens too often!” Not necessarily with dates, but with friend-types. I think a lot of INFJs have a lot of people who consider them “best friends,” but the INFJ has one or two people about whom they feel the same way. That’s my experience, at least.

  4. This is definitely how I feel. Always the rock. Always the friend that listens to everything and it’s even worse at work. It really just drained me emotionally.

  5. I had a 7 year relationship with an emotional vampire.
    I was very young, he was my first boyfriend. He was very insecure and had a lot of frustration happening inside of him – I saw this from the beginning, but I ended up wanting to make him happy to make him feel ok with himself and believe in him. I entered this relationship not sure if it was love, but with time I began to feel like he was the best I deserved: he was always around me, wanting to chat with me, texting me and he liked my affections, but in a couple of years he started to deepen his attention need. He started demanding my attention, wanting more time with me, more sex, more texts and would complain about pretty much everything I did that wasn’t for him. After 7 years I was week, fat, with very low self esteem and I felts like I was ready to die, like my life was destined to be around that person and only for him. I knew I didn’t love him, and I believe he didn’t love me also, but I fulfilled his need of attention, of sympathy and energy.

    Only now, one and a half years latter, I am starting to feel like “myself”.

    1. Wow. I’m so proud of you for getting out of that relationship. I think it is a situation we often fall into as INFJs because we care so much for people. Sorry to hear you had to go through that. I can tell you’re on a better path now because you’re lucid enough to spot the exact signs and are reading up on it.

    2. The same exact thing happened to me. I could never exactly put it into words what happened but I always thought about it and this is so true.

  6. My ex-boyfriend… Broke up with him. This is CRAZY accurate.

  7. My gosh THANK YOU for writing this. I feel like I’m constantly in one-sided, emotionally draining relationships. Finally someone understands!!

  8. I was in a 3 year relationship. He was my first long term boyfriend. I knew about a lot of problems in the relationship pretty early on but he was a good person. So I tried. And I kept trying. Even though he was everything this article stated. But he was good. And he was nice. But he only took and never gave and it was exhausting. It was almost scary to read this article it was so accurate. He was insecure and needy and after the first year and a half all we really talked about were his problems and how unfair everything was and I felt more and more like his mother than his girlfriend. Breaking up with him had been the hardest thing I’d ever done because I knew how much it would hurt him and it had been so hard to choose my own needs over his. And honestly I don’t know if he really loved me or just loved that I listened to him and gave him the affection he craved. At the end I felt like my world revolved around him and his needs and wants and I was trapped and there was no way to get out of it without hurting someone.

    After a year and a half I’m starting to feel better and like I can breathe again. Like I can finally have my own thoughts and ideas and I have someone who not only listens to those thoughts and ideas but contributes to them.

    I just want to say thank you for writing this article and even though I wish I had read this three years ago, I’m just grateful I made the right decision before I had been talked into settling.

    1. I am so glad that you were able to make the decision to get out of the relationship too! I know that it can be extremely difficult to put your own needs first and leave someone who may seem so great in many other ways. But it definitely sounds like you made the best choice for you, and I hope you are in a much better place now. 🙂

  9. Most people who are highly affected by emotional vampires are Enneagram 2. Many INFJs happen to be 2.

  10. I dealt with this /so much/–especially as a child. Lots of people thought they were my “best friend”, but I was like, “Whoa, wait a minute!” The person I did consider to be my best friend as a child was also an INFJ, and I know we both dealt with this.

    I actually ended up getting so emotionally drained from being in these one-sided relationships that I went into hermit-mode in high school. I felt like I’d over-extended my reach and had to pull back for a couple of years to recuperate. I held on to a few deep connections I had with people, but other than that, I really didn’t have many friends–at least from my perspective.

    Finally, at twenty, I’ve started to get a much better sense for navigating these emotional vampire relationships, and I know when to pull out before I get over-extended. This article was so–so accurate.

  11. I’ve slowly started to understand that my oldest friendship, over 20 years, is with an emotional vampire. I don’t think it was in the beginning, but then I was kid, so I’m not sure I would have recognized it. But over the past decade, I’ve been pulling back more and more and couldn’t explain why I dreaded her phone calls and texts. Just recently I had the ah ha! moment when after she asked me what I was up to and I told her I was redoing my kitchen and she responded with “That’s cool. Hey, I’ve gained more weight, we should work out.” It was probably the most blatant smack in the face she’d delivered. But it made me realize she always tunes out or changes the subject back to her whenever I try to talk about my side of life. So much so that I had just stopped sharing with her most of everything about me (and then felt bad when she asked me why I didn’t tell her such-and-such was going on).
    I’m still not sure how to deal with her. I mean, over twenty years of history, you know? But the only thing we have in common is how much I do for her.

  12. Woaw, too relatable! Even down to my name! My husband is a narcissist and the definition of an emotional vampire, if his name was Tom this would be our relationship in point form. We got married after only dating for 3 months. I needed to read this post 11 years ago.

  13. It’s hard when you see the outcome of a relationship way before it even starts- but it’s even harder when you don’t find out until way after the friendship/relationship starts-after they’ve poured out their soul to you and then you have to cut the cord because you’re so emotionally drained. If you are lucky you won’t let their pain overwhelm you and you learn from your mistakes.

  14. I’ve dealt with so many emotional vampires! This is dead accurate, I’ve already ID’d another vampire that I will get rid of soon. I have ended over 10 friendships whom were all emotional vampires.

    I was her “best friend” when she needs help but she’s ignored me the rest of the time. Well, I’ve had it! Consider her gone.

  15. i was just thinking about this:

    imagine a infj A that has been really sucked by many vampires, meets another infj B. at that point of time A would really need some emotional support and B would be a great support. could A become an emotional vampire to B? it does seem possible.

  16. I’m an ENFP but found this article is very helpful. I’m always in the same situation lately 🙁 Thanks for this!

  17. Thank you for this. I really needed to read this.
    I’m 25 and have had nothing but friendships and relationships that are essentially these exact scenarios. It has taken me until now to realize it and insist on ending those friendships to take better care of myself, one of which was a 16 year friendship. It’s been really difficult, as I don’t typically speak to anyone throughout the day since I refuse to be mistreated anymore, but I know it’s for the best.

  18. Oh my god this is SO TRUE!!!!

    I’ve lived this scenario over and over and over my whole life – and I still have a really, really hard time getting distance from people who think we have “connected.” I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but it’s incredibly rare for me to feel like someone understands me; whereas I meet people every day who think that I understand them.

    The hardest part is that I really, really want to help people – I know how wonderful it is to feel understood, and I don’t want to take that away from them – but I have such a hard time balancing their needs with the fact that I don’t feel rewarded by the relationship.

    It’s particularly difficult when it comes to dating. I am reluctant to put myself out there to begin with, but it makes it a million times worse when I hear the phrase “I’ve never told anyone this before” so often and so early. I freak out and cut off all communications.

    How much leeway should you give someone?? It still happens to me; not because I can’t spot vampires, but because I don’t want to give up on them… I attract a lot of people with depression, anxiety, and other issues; and want to give them a chance to change, improve their lives and build stronger relationships…(You can’t expect someone to interact perfectly right off the bat, can you?)…But at the same time, I know I shouldn’t sacrifice my own well-being for their sake… Where’s the happy medium?

  19. 4 Ways INFJs Can Overcome Compassion Fatigue – INFJ Blog

    […] actions and decisions I made daily. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this person was an emotional vampire, draining me of my empathy and […]

  20. Suzette Johnson

    I thought we were “hanging out” but he must have thought we were “dating,” as he started to bring me around to visit his family and neighbors as if I was on approval. Meanwhile, I was friend with his ex, and I tried to help her reconcile with him. He got very angry and felt betrayed when I let him know his ex still cared (meaning that I never had).

    The relationship up until that revelation of his had been one long monologue. He really knew nothing about me–the relationship was all in his head.

    I also had girls who nobody else wanted to be friends with latch on to me in elementary school. All I wanted was to be left alone, but I was too “nice” (Christian) to ask them to leave.

    It took me years I suppose to grow a backbone.

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