An interesting topic came up recently about some people who seem to take or consume without any apparent exchange. They may be quite self-centered, dominate any talking and/or be very "needy." And, when it's all done, we feel depleted rather than enhanced.
Historically, we have socially referred to some people as "lecherous" for a number of reasons. And there are also references to those who are "needy," "a lot of work," or even narcissistic. And, yes, if we're not fully aware, if we give too much without knowing what we're doing we will be left drained, if not outright "used" or even "victimized," when we deal with such people.
When we think about, talk about or encounter such people we need to keep a few things in mind to be healthy:
First, we have to understand that our feeling depleted around these egos involves us as well. To being with, simply labeling someone as a "drain" may be a first step to wake up to having boundaries with others when we encounter them. If we've not had healthy boundaries-too loose or too rigid-we need to start someplace. However, as we learn who we are we realize that perhaps we've felt drained as much because we give too much of ourselves, remain too open, without any discernment. So we begin to see that this relationship of 'being taken from' (and depleted) involved our unconscious over-giving. The lord guru Jesus said not to give your pearls to "swine," meaning we have a responsibility to discern when and where to give to others. While it may be our task to love others unconditionally, that does not mean we give up ourselves to others unconditionally.
Second, some people do indeed have a desperate and perhaps clinging or dominating way of being. This sets them up to never really get what they legitimately are in need of. From a place of compassion, this is tragic for them (as well as, perhaps, for us.) Something Eckhart Tolle points out is that what we are encountering in such people is ego, just ego. A false sense of self. And, most importantly, he points out that we must identify this "energetic" (my word) as ego and not confuse this behavior and energy with the true individual. As Eckhart puts it, "ego isn't wrong, it's just unconscious." (pg 42, A New Earth)
If we have someone in our lives that repeatedly leaves us perturbed, we may be feeling the energy necessary to "push back" with boundary setting. But our conditioned beliefs may be too simplistic. We might think we "should" give to them regardless as to whether it's wise. We may be set up to "be nice" at our own detriment. The feeling of "anger" may be our own healthy energy to set proper boundaries where they are lacking, but we've been conditioned that any such energy is bad and wrong. We may have "caretaking" tendencies where we are afraid to confront someone.
The ideal. Taking such responsibility to know ourselves may be challening at times, but this is how we enhance our relational immune system such that we can better afford to be in close proximity to others without being depleted ourselves. There will also be those times when we simply have to insist on some distance from certain people. But, as we grow in clarity and understanding we gain ability to love always, yet be discerning about to whom, and when we open and give ourselves to them. Then we truly live "Namaste," knowing that in each other, no matter how desperately narcissistic they may show up, is the Divine.