Just in time for Halloween…Do you sometimes feel like you’re in a scary relationship with a vampire or a ghost? Here are the telltale signs along with some straightforward advice from acclaimed relationship expert, psychologist, and author, Michael Tobin, PhD:
WARNING SIGN THAT YOU’RE WITH A VAMPIRE LOVER: You feel they’re sucking the life force out of you. Common vampire behaviors—
· Makes promises they don’t keep
· Doesn't listen
· Discounts and puts you down
· Negatively interprets your behavior
· Expects/demands to be taken care of but doesn't reciprocate
· Doesn’t express gratitude
· Takes you for granted
· Criticizes more than compliments
· Is verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive.
· You frequently feel scared, furious, and taken advantage of
Dr. Tobin’s take: If that describes the individual, you’re with, the best advice would be: Get out!
It’s important to make a distinction between personality traits in your partner that can be difficult but not toxic.
The Vampire is toxic (the Ghost is terrified).
The overriding quality of the Vampire is his or her inability to empathize. Vampires suck the emotional blood from their partners. They exploit, manipulate, and control the other for their own selfish purposes. The partner exists for one reason: to meet the narcissistic needs of the Vampire. You know you’re with a Vampire when you don't feel seen, understood, or validated while at the same time expending significant amount of time and energy validating, praising, and understanding the other. Remember, Vampires need to control. So, if you feel controlled, be careful your Vampire isn’t biting into you.
WARNING SIGN THAT YOU’RE WITH A GHOST LOVER: They’re there and then they’re not! Common ghost behaviors—
· Disappears when confronted
· Becomes withdrawn and passive when you need them to step up
· When things become intimate, emotional, or tense, your partner disassociates, changes the subject, or goes blank/silent
· Makes commitments and then doesn’t follow through
· Is emotionally disengaged
· Is sexually not present
· Doesn’t take responsibility for his or her “ghosting”
· Emotionally disengaged
· They ghost you when they promise they’ll show up
· You frequently feel alone, rejected, bored, furious, and frustrated
Dr. Tobin’s take: If this describes the person, you’re with, the best advice (if you haven’t already given up on them) is to do what you must to try to find a connection. That could range from speaking to your partner about how you feel, writing a letter, insisting that you go to counseling together, and if your partner doesn’t respond to any of these requests to save the relationship, then pack your bags!
With a Ghost, there’s hope. Most likely, your Ghost is terrified of commitment despite the fact that the Ghost desperately wants it. The Ghost fears rejection so the Ghost rejects and flees as a defense against abandonment. You can pin down a Ghost if his or her fear is less powerful than the need for connection. To be with a Ghost you need patience and a boat load of affection. If the Ghost doesn’t have qualities worth fighting for, then I suggest you ghost the Ghost and find someone who knows how to love you.
About Dr. Michael Tobin
Dr. Michael Tobin has been a marital and family psychologist for 45 years. He’s been with his life partner, soulmate, and wife, Deborah, for 47 years. They are the parents of four and the grandparents of 14. He is the founder of the award-winning website, www.wholefamily.com where you can find numerous articles about relationships. He is the author of a book on marital affairs. His most recent book, Riding the Edge, A Love Song to Deborah (Greenleaf Book Group July 20, 2021), chronicles a six-month transformative journey in 1980 when Deborah, an Arab American, and Michael, an American Jew, bicycled across Europe, Lebanon, and Israel where they confronted the challenges of love, war, and identity. The book is the Non-Fiction Book Award Winner: Silver for 2021.
Visit DrMichaelTobin.com for more information