3 Friends That'll Ruin Your Professional Growth
Work + Life Balance

3 Friends That'll Ruin Your Professional Growth

by Abby Roskind
Photos Lauren Kallen | April 15, 2016


Even in the modern era of self-determination, where individualism often eclipses collectivism, it’s shocking to think about how truly interconnected we all are—and how much that affects our lives. As Keith Ferrazzi points out in his book, Never Eat Alone, "We are the people we interact with. Our paychecks, our moods, the health of our hearts, and the size of our bellies—all of these things are determined by whom we choose to interact with and how.”

When you were younger, newly in college or your first job, you probably realized how critical it was to make the “right types” of connections, professionally and socially. You probably made a few missteps and maybe even experienced some dramatic falling outs. These days, though, you love all your friends, right?

Maybe you feel the slightest bit guilty for opening this article, but hey, you’re here for a reason. People change, they grow and develop different priorities. {click to tweet} Grappling with the possibility of cutting people out of your life is a difficult and sensitive process. All the reasoning and logic in the world doesn’t take away from the awful, sinking feeling you get when you start to sense a relationship souring. It’s uncomfortable at best (kind of like when you have to return something after having bonded with your sales assistant) and depressing at worst. So how do you know when you should end a toxic relationship? Have you heard of emotional vampires?

Mark Manson, author, blogger, and entrepreneur, says emotional vampires “have a tendency to drain the emotional energy out of everyone they come in contact with. They’re exhausting. They need constant attention. They always have some crisis or major life event. They’re experts at eliciting emotional reactions out of others and then feeding off those emotions, regardless of whether they’re positive emotions or negative emotions.” 

Three traits that are the biggest giveaways for emotional vampires are:

  1. “An excessive need for validation/ attention from others,
  2. The belief that little to nothing that occurs is their fault, and
  3. The lack of self-awareness to recognize their self-defeating patterns.” 

Does this sound like some people you mayyy-be know?

If you’re not sure, here’s how those traits manifest in people's personalities—


You two got along famously when y'all were at university together. She was your ride-or-die, “always down for an adventure” type of chick. You two got into some shenanigans together that were fun while they lasted. 

But you’ve both graduated now and you’re trying to set yourself up for success in the short- and long-term. You want a nice salary, an awesome job you love going to everyday, and a social circle that understands your drive and ambitions.

You want a nice salary, an awesome job you love going to everyday, and a social circle that understands your drive and ambitions.

But this friend, the Social Obsessive, is still stuck in the “always ready to party” mode. She’s super trendy—she loves going to all the latest activities, openings, concerts, whatever in town. Conversation with her frequently revolves around some type of inside joke/ what happened last weekend/ what DJ Khaled posted last on his Snapchat.

She always needs to be doing something or be with someone. Alone time is not high on her priority list, ever. The last book she read was required reading. And long-term planning or respecting early work hours? Not on her horizon.


We’ve all known someone like this. At first she seemed like a stable figure in your life. She acted fairly responsibly, and maybe even adopted some type of matronly or motherly role within the group. And she was always dedicated to someone, whether she was pursuing or being pursued. 

But there’s something fishy about this type of behavior in the same way that employers find it discouraging when they see a candidate hasn’t stayed at any job for longer than 8 months.

Why is she so unsure about all of her choices? The way she solves or works through problems is better described as simply ditching them—if things get tricky, she’s on to the next one. Still, she has a hard time being alone and needs constant affirmation from her friends, family, and partners. She has the tendency to shift her personality ever-so-slightly to better mold to her partner of the moment and she's often flakey with you, often leaving you holding the bag in situations. 


Yes, we all have the urge to splurge every once in a while, but this friend frequently and consistently makes poor financial decisions when faced with more exciting prospects. She has no problem or second thoughts about dropping her plans to work the weekend when propositioned with a spontaneous trip to Vegas.

Her number one priority? Convincing her friends to engage in splurges, trips, and off-budget meals with her. 

She, herself, is extremely spontaneous, and lacks the ability to budget not only her money but also her time. She’s always in new clothes, eating out, or buying last-minute plane flights. Most importantly though, she’s easily persuaded and her opinions are never the same week-to-week. Either she is fortunate enough to be getting support from somewhere else, or she’s deeply in debt. Either way, she’s not living within her means, and always has a good explanation for why she needs more (money, time to mature, acceptance, etc.). Her number one priority? Convincing her friends to engage in splurges, trips, and off-budget meals with her. 


So, there you have it: the archetypes of “social vampires.” In all cases, these people have things to work through (don’t we all), but it's going to take some more time and maturity. And while we’re not here to point fingers or cast judgment, their behaviors will slow you down. Leave your dinner dates with them feeling emotionally drained and socially exhausted? That drain means you’ll have less energy work on side projects, be active in your community, or throw yourself into your new job. And that could be a very big problem. 

It’s up to you to determine if these people will come with you in your pursuit of betterment, or if they need more time where they are. Either way, continue to push forward and excel with or without them.

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Have you ever dealt with social vampires? How did you handle it?