Good article. I know that it took me a long time to figure out that certain people were just going to cause problems and drama and issues no matter what my actions, and though I might feel sympathy for them and want to help them, there really was nothing I could do. They had to want to be helped or to change or at the very least be responsible for their own actions and how those affect others.
I finally removed all of those people from my life, and have pretty good radar to see when somebody is just not a healthy addition. My life has been amazingly calm since then.
It's amazing the amount of guilt tripping people will do when they realize you are not playing their drama-filled game anymore, though. It used to affect me more, but I've been guilt-tripped by near professionals (my psychotic and crazy family on my mom's side) and I no longer have the ability to feel guilty about protecting myself.
I just read through this despite needing to be doing something else. It is so right on time as I've just been reminded about how corrosive and emotional leech can be in one's life.
I suffer from a mix of things that she lists that has seemed to make me especially vulnerable:
nice person syndrom
tendency to avoid conflict
and, poor bundaries
No fucking wonder! lol.
I have gotten much better at most of them. But, my recent experience highlights the need for vigilance and self-awareness to continue to expand. The good news was I did recognize the problems that this person could cause and already made moves to distance myself. Unfortunately, she lashed out trying to avoid that which was moderately painful but ultimately no big deal.
Its a little enlightening to read that, and then check yourself for that stuff! I can see that when I was younger, some of that stuff was me Nothing serious mind you, but I can see why some of those things contributed to relationships fading.
Hmm, don't see the appeal. I tried reading it twice and couldn't get halfway through it. But I think I've pretty much always been a good judge of people (which has come in handy professionally - as a producer I'm great at putting together a crew that works well together), and never really had the issue of keeping problem people around. One thing I learned from my mother was to let people know when I'm pissed, unhappy, dissatisfied, and not tolerate bullshit for too long. Sure, I've had cantankerous relationships, but I have never been a magnet for abusive people. I'm very intuitive about it, so by the time I got the the beginning of Part 3 in that article, my eyes were glazing over. Maybe when I'm less tired I will try again, it seems like it should be an interesting read.
NYCindie... it sounds to me like you just have good boundaries and trust your instincts!
I am also a pretty good judge of people and have good instincts, my problem is that I spent most of my life not trusting those instincts. I would get a bad feeling about somebody, but feel like I needed "proof" to back up my feelings-- heaven forbid I not give somebody the full benefit of the doubt right away, what kind of person would I be to do that!?
Yeah. So eventually I'd get hurt, or get caught up in their craziness, etc and THEN I would get out (eventually) because I finally had a reason. An excuse. Like I had to explain to anybody my choices in who I hung out with?!
All of this, of course, is totally on me, and I'm realizing that most of the hurt I've experienced in my life has been caused by my poor choices in people to bring into my life (workmates, friends, acquaintances, lovers, etc.), and by not listening to my instincts. Well, other than the childhood shit and that's just crazy family members and I didn't choose them! LOL...
So for me this article was more of a confirmation of things that I already knew(that I've often been made guilty for feeling, usually by people that were upset that I was choosing to no longer fall for their shit), than new information.
It was reassuring to me, though the fact that I still need reassurance that NOT buying into crazy shit and NOT letting people who have no emotional boundaries into my life and turn it upside down is a bad thing somewhat disturbs me.
Ugh. Although I think there's some good solid advice in there, the whole tone of that article really irks me. As someone who actually works with people with all types of personality disorders, addictions and mental problems every day, I find it a bit tiresome that someone would put together a guide that is essentially rephrasing over and over again "bad people are bad! Don't associate with bad people!".
Actually, if you want to preach about correct behaviour, why not just stick to your own? Know yourself, know your boundaries, and learn from your mistakes... "leeches" and "vampires" don't just come along one day and steal something from you... you play an active part.
The person may be be struggling with a serious problem, but that is nobody's business but theirs. If you wind up in a relationship in which you tolerate bad behaviour from them, or even encourage it, then you are just as responsible, and it is up to you to remove yourself. If you don't, it's not because of the inherent badness of a "problem person" but because your interaction, your relationship, the thing that you produce jointly, is unhealthy.
Making an endless list with every second bullet point starting with "beware" actually seems unhealthy to me. Why categorize people into different groups according the harm you are terrified they might bring into your life? Why not a list on how to strengthen your own awareness of yourself and how you relate to others, and a little more compassion for people who are struggling...?
Kamala, I see where you're coming from, but I see a distinct difference for having compassion and understanding for people who are struggling (and not making them out to be BAD people), and inviting them into a personal emotional, mental or physical relationship, whether that be friends or lovers.
I'm studying to be a counselor (MFT and LPCC) myself, so I completely have understanding and compassion for those who have emotional and mental issues that they are dealing with, living with or struggling with. I don't see them as bad people at all, but people who have problems and issues that make their lives difficult.
However I also come from a family dynamic where about half of my mom's side of the family were suffering from very severe personality disorders (specifically Borderline Personality Disorder) and also had other issues (most likely bipolar or cyclothymic disorder), and I can tell you that as a child growing up in that atmosphere and seeing the pain and anguish my mother suffered growing up with that in her family-- the pain and trauma of trying to be in a relationship with them has caused long-term damage both emotionally and mentally.
My mother still suffers from PTSD flashbacks from the trauma and abuse she's suffered at the hands of her family. I don't have anything nearly that severe, as my mother was a great mother, but I have a lot of self-esteem and trust issues that stem from the fact that my family liked to crap on people's self esteem and were completely self-centered, untrustworthy and emotionally manipulative.
So while I'm definitely of the opinion that people that are deep in suffering need to be given compassion, and definitely need help and support IF THEY SO CHOOSE, I also am very wary of opening my life and psyche back up to people who have severe emotional issues and choose not to do anything about it. Because I've learned the absolute hardest way that if they are not willing to do any work, they will never get better, and they will never be capable of being in a healthy relationship. And I've had enough of that type of drama in my life.
I also agree with what you're saying in that people have to take responsibility for the choices they make in who they bring into their lives. From my point of view that's what the article was saying. That you need to choose carefully and with actual forethought who you get into a relationship with, and if there are red flags flying, then maybe you should CHOOSE not to go forward any further.
Too many people see red flags and problems and barrel forward because "they have no choice, they are in LOVE". And that is not only unwise but it is taking no responsibility for your choices. Just because you feel the warm fuzzies for somebody doesn't mean you no longer have any choices about whether or not to be with them. You have the choice to say "hey, I really have feelings for this person, but they are not in a position to be in a healthy relationship and I choose not to move any further for now."
This doesn't mean you can't have compassion and concern for them, care about them, or offer them friendship and support. It just means you don't expect a healthy relationship with an unhealthy person and if you want healthy relationships you need to be more choosy about who you choose. That's what the article expressed to me anyway.
Minxxa, we are essentially in agreement. My irritation, like I said, is mainly with the way the article explains itself.
There's a big difference between:
"hey, I really have feelings for this person, but they are not in a position to be in a healthy relationship and I choose not to move any further for now."
"You are a problem person. Your unhealthiness is a threat to me. You are insecure/manipulative/sad/broken/other pejorative and I won't tolerate it"
The real challenge is balancing compassion and respect for a person's personal journey with protecting yourself.
I just see so many people reading this and being like "uh huh my ex was totally a sociopath... totally agree... those people are crazy! I'm so glad that I'm smart and sane enough to avoid ever being like that!"
I'm a strong proponent of looking at connections and relationships rather than individuals, who never act in a vacuum. I guess one of the reasons I had such a strong reaction to this is because it reminds me of a really unhappy, really unhealthy (ex) friend of mine who was probably Borderline and used to bitch non-stop about the many ways in which everyone was out to get her, how they had hurt her, done her wrong etc etc. She, too, had a comprehensive list of "bad people" and all the ways that they are wrong. I think it's easy: you don't need a thousand different synonyms to explain bad behaviour in people. Saying "oh watch out for THESE types of people" etc is a bit naive and not really seeing the bigger picture. I think it's a more telling question, and more difficult, to ask yourself how you function in the world, and how you could do it better. Other people's supposed dysfunction is not your concern.
Kamala, I think you hit the nail on the head as to why this article made my eyes glaze over. It's so focused on pointing the finger at "all the drama-prone crazy fuckers out there," rather than starting with how to cultivate a strong sense of self.
I think the article does a decent job of pointing out possibly problematic behaviors - that may or may not be connected to a particular diagnosis - and how they can be problematic.
I find the most useful thing about the article is that it gives lots of examples of potential red flags in an organized way. It tries, and maybe does not always succeed, to point out behaviours (sometimes generated by diagnosable mental health issues, sometimes not) that can have, cumulatively, bad consequences. So it doesn't say to avoid sociopaths but rather, look out, analyse and, if necessary, avoid such and such behavior, especially if the behavior happens over and over in a pattern - which may or may not be result of someone being a sociopath.
I do think that if one already has good filters, has an handle on 'good' flags, and trusts one's intuition, then this article may not be that helpful. (See NYCindie's post above for example.)
However, lots of people, for whatever reason, don't trust their own intuition, don't have a sense of what is good, positive behavior, and have no idea what might be a red flag in a given situation. Sometimes, one's family doesn't model good behavior (Minxxa noted her own upbringing as being this way) or people are not encouraged to develop and rely on their intuition.
While the first part of the article didn't particularly resonate with me, once it got into the specific behaviors and examples, I found it very helpful. It seemed to me that the writer didn't place blame for the most part and tried to separate compassion for an indvidiual versus allowing that person to run a number on you.
Opal-- that's kind of what I was trying to say and couldn't find the right words yesterday.
I think that if you're a person with really good self esteem, really good boundaries and a good judge of character who also has a strong sense of self (i.e. you know your boundaries and have no problems sticking to them), then this article is a bit of a "duh, no kidding."
If you're somebody who is a good judge of character and knows what they think their boundaries should be but has had trouble sticking to them, or has been raised in an atmosphere where setting boundaries (i.e. not letting the other manipulative people do what they want) was frowned upon and emotionally beaten or guilt tripped out of you, then this article can be a reassurance that you are not a bad person for setting boundaries and keeping people who are not healthy out of your life. I say "bad person" because people WILL try to make you feel bad for not playing along.
And if you have no good boundaries and have a habit of picking people that are bad for you-- then this article can be a good starting point to learn what inappropriate and unhealthy behaviors are and start to see how to choose better, and what to look for in other people's behavior (both good and not so good).
Not all of us are at the same level, and so I can see why this article is alternately interesing and boring depending on where you're coming from.
I agree with some of the points made about this article. It isn't very well written, it tends to be too blunt and too negative . . . and yet . . . and yet . . .
I recognize the type.
Suffice it to say I have had to deal with an emotional leech who may, in fact, be a full-blown sociopath.
This is in a musical rather than a romantic context. My band-mates and I saw the warning signs early on, but we are compassionate types, willing to give a guy the benefit of the doubt. So, we put up with increasingly bizarre bouts of psychodrama until we couldn't take it any more.
Three of us in the band decided to go on as a trio, without him, in part because of emotional exhaustion from dealing with him, in part because, to be frank, he just isn't that good a musician.
For fifteen months now, he has sought opportunities to take jabs at us, waiting for us to right the terrible wrong we did him, apologize for our manipulation, our betrayal, our scapegoating. He stands on an inflated, almost delusional sense of his own excellence and importance, and does what he can, when he can, to stir up an emotional storm from which, apparently, he can take some satisfaction.
In his case, compassion is a trap, except for a kind of sickened pity . . . from a safe distance.
Needless to say, I've learned something about boundaries, honesty, and heeding warning signs from the whole history of my association with this individual.
A bit of brutal honesty, early on, would have gone a very long way. I might never have allowed him in the band, had I been honest with myself and the others, had I possessed the courage to stand on my own judgment. We could have avoided all this.
People like him are not very common, I think, but, really, life is too short to waste any time trying to help him sort himself out. He needs help of a very different order, and I'm neither inclined nor qualified to give it. So, I walk away and (generally) avoid any communication with or about him, except to commiserate with my current band-mates.
(If I seem like I'm venting, I am. He's recently come back for another round of snarling . . . fifteen months after we parted ways with him.)
While I don't necessarily disagree with the premise of the article, I am somewhat troubled by the tone.
If we were to take out "emotional leach" and replace it with "Blind", or "Paraplegic", or "Multiple-sclerosis", or "HIV Positive", would people still say this is great article? People with these disabilities are "leaches" in their own way. Each of these disabilities require more work on the part of the partner. Does that mean people should avoid getting into relationships with them? Just because you can't see an emotional or psychological disability, doesn't mean its any less of a disability.
That being said, I do agree that one should be cognizant of the symptoms of emotional/psychological disabilities, aware of the additional work/stress it places on the relationship, and make an informed choice if the reward of the relationship is worth the extra effort it takes to maintain and cultivate it.
Such relationships require the ability to put into place firm, loving boundaries. I am in a very close relationship with someone diagnosed with a Personality Disorder. My relationship boundary is that they receive therapy for their disability. If this person stops trying to help themself, I can't do it for them, and I will end the relationship.
Honestly the more time I have spent physically and emotionally distanced from the leeches in my universe the more freedom I have had with which to spread my wings and come to terms with certain qualities of my own self.
It's pretty much led to greater compassion, yet lesser patience. I will cut people out without a second thought now. I don't have the time. There is so much life to be lived. I lost my mother and then was left with some of the most manipulative, encroaching human beings I've ever known.
And that is why they've been re-positioned, or tossed out.