Have you ever met an Affection Collector and become a totem on their chain? Are you an Affection Collector? Those who collect affection without reciprocation are more dangerous and pernicious to the core of us than expressed Racism, misogyny and poverty.

Affection Collectors require your ongoing expressed interest in them beyond simple humanism or common being decency. They are not interested in collecting love. Cajoling affection is their only trowel for extracting pretend happiness.

If you ignore the demands and persuasions of an Affection Collector you will be targeted unless and until you acquiesce to their needs and provide confirmation of your affection in an ongoing, renewable, basis.

To withhold your surface affection and attention to an Affection Collector is to make yourself vulnerable to their attacks — or, if you are too hard to catch and convince — the Affection Collector turns on you to make you the instigator of hatred and heartbreak. Affection Collectors are the most talented people in the world at manipulating the feelings and expectations of others.

They collect the affection of others so they may wear that brittle affection dangling from the chains that enrapture them. Affection Collectors are competitive with each other: They must be the most loved, the most attention getting and the single center of attention.

You know you have been successfully collected when the previously warm and esoteric Affection Collector turns away from you and moves on to the next victim. You have played along, been convinced, and offered up the necessary fleeting evidence to others that an inconsequential affection totem — with your name attached — was created, provided and dangled for public display.

You may not recant your fondness provided to an Affection Collector because the totem is internalized and permanent and it must be renewed on a regular basis. You are owned and controlled by the Affection Collector. You may not disagree. You are required to submit, relent and express your affection over and over and over again. Affection Collectors are incapable of having friendships or relationships.

They live only to be adored and admired for all the affection totems they have collected. Affection Collectors destroy the relationships and friendships of others — because to not be the solitary focus of delight and fondness and perception is to kill the core of them. We all know the fight for survival — and the propagation of their hollow totems in the future — is their only reason for living.

The only way to remove an Affection Collector from your life is to unconditionally love them. Love is too powerful, too real and the pinnacle of honesty and it is that heartfelt strength that drives them away forever.


  1. David – sometimes you have a knack of finding the words for phenomena in my life and social group – this is one of those times.
    I am having real trouble putting the last paragraph into effect though. So I guess they will be a thorn in my side for ever.

  2. Hi Nicola!
    I’ve been wondering on this topic for most of my life, but most intensely for the past three years or so, because there was this one woman — smart, endearing, attractive — who was one of the most prolific Affection Collectors I have ever met.
    I was on to her game quickly — and I was amazed to watch person after person affectionately fall for her (both male and female) and the moment they did, she’d press them away and move onto the next victim for entrapment until it was time for them to renew their covenant within her.
    When it was my turn — and if you’re stuck in a social circle with an Affection Collector your time always comes around — I didn’t want to play and so I was demonized, bad-mouthed and ostracized.
    I didn’t mind, but those who were in debt to her were forced to play her hand in public and to propagate their outrage with my inability to “like” their emotional master in the appropriate way.
    The only way around that blacklisting is to be ultra kind and genuinely gracious to those who gave up their totems and continue to ignore the collector in the room if you are unable to go into unrequited love mode.
    I haven’t ever been one to give in to or to apply emotional Blackmail for pleasure or peace, so I’ve always found it fascinating to watch these collections play out and how exhausting the process is for those who have to keep paying.
    I agree loving them is a tough task but it works because the Affection Collectors are incapable of truly loving back — and true love requires that equal expression and balance of emotion — so they scamper away from you as quickly as they can and they usually do it cruelly and with malicious intent… but at least you’re free of them forever.

  3. Hi David,
    Ah, the Affection Collectors! A toxic, energy-depleting tribe who live in a wasteland only inhabited by Selfishness and Loneliness. They are pros at making insults, usually disguised as jokes. When you call their bluff, they say things like “Can’t you take a joke?” or “I was only kidding.”

  4. Hi Donna —
    I don’t find the Affection Collectors to be so obviously passive-aggressive.
    They’re experts at sly, social, cunning and they are keenly contextually subtle and personally provocative and if you comply with them they continue to tease and tickle – but only on the surface.
    If they choose to attack you for not allowing yourself to be collected, they employ their emotional minions to do the dirty work and none of it is ever to your face by the master, because to appear cruel or malicious in an obvious way would forbid them from collecting others they have yet to totemize.

  5. My tactic after the first episode was to neutralise as much as possible and reflect everything back. If anyone tackled me over the flak and the perceived battle – my response was to say “that it takes two to feud – and I have no feud – you had better talk to them if you want to know more.”
    This worked quite well until of course my time came around again – but this time I didn’t get sucked in – refused to play ball – so now I have to suffer the faux affection from a distance usually in public forums and via weblogs.

  6. It is sticky, Nicola! I’m glad you were able to find a way to fight and then distance.
    The tactics of the Affection Collectors are extremely keen and intimate. They are professionals at manipulation and extrapolation. They are rarely denied what they crave – adoration — and when their wants are challenged, they play for keeps to the death.
    A wink from an Affection Collector may appear innocent enough, but if you don’t reply in kind, or make a guttural sound or react in some perceived positive way, you are branded as being non-receptive to the wants of the Collector. To do nothing when winked at is the same as a slap in the face to them.
    You might even get entrapped into responding to the following question or declaration: “You like me, don’t you?”
    If you say “yes” you’re totemized. If you say “no” you’re enemized. If you have no response or try to joke it away, you’ll get a second chance to respond to an even darker question later on….
    “You don’t like me do, you?” Once you get that pelted at you, the course is lost. You either have to renounce a negative you never owned or created and you are totemized — or you agree and you are enemized. If you try to joke it away you are fully condemned as someone who will never be totemized and so you are set for an ongoing emotional blackmail as punishment from the minions for not paying proper affection.

  7. David,
    Did an Affection Collector actually ask you that–“You don’t like me, do you?”
    I would think if they had the nerve to ask, they would instinctively know you were not going to pay homage, gameover, and they were trying to subtly intimidate you by the obvious loaded question.

  8. “You like me, don’t you?”
    I takes a lot to say No to that particular form of emotional/social blackmail. The real answer of course is either “sometimes” – or “not as much as you would like me to like you!” Both of which are guaranteed to inflame the situation.
    I know one person who says “I don’t like anybody!” in response to that question – he is a psychologist and manages to get away with it – because they are flattered by the thought that he likes them enough to play games with them!
    No response is like a slap in the face to AC’s – they hate being ignored – they hate not having affect – they cannot feed off of that.
    We also call them emotional vampires.

  9. Donna!
    “You don’t like me, do you?” is a very effective and manipulative question to ask — students LOVE to corner instructors with that question to prove personal bias in order to wrench their grades higher — and there is no way to answer that question without falling prey to the bad intent of the questioner.
    I usually reply, if it’s a student, with something like, “You’re asking the wrong question. You should be asking me what, if anything, you can do to raise your grade.”
    If I’m being blackmailed by an Affection Collector with that inquiry, I usually refuse to answer or even acknowledge the question because, if you do respond, you’re in their game and field of play.
    That question is the flip side of the “I don’t like you” threat that so many controlling people use to great effect. You then change your behavior to get them to “like you” and they keep you in line by threatening to “not like you.”

  10. Nicola —
    “I don’t like anybody!” is an interesting response that could work if the people around you knew your sense of purpose and humor.
    In your experience, does ignoring Affection Collectors work, or do you have to actively play against their game?

  11. Im my experience the more you try and ignore them the more they push – they feed off the reaction – either the adoration – or the feuding.
    If you are in the same social group – a metaphorical pat on the head can keep them *under control* or at a *safe distance* – but they are always there latching on like a leech whatever you do – always waiting for the chance to get more.
    I personally prefer to have some control over the game – and actively manage it and hope to coped with the curve balls along the way.
    It must be very difficult in a teacher student relationship situation – not sure how I would cope with that.

  12. That’s pretty amazing, Nicola. It doesn’t matter if the energy is positive or negative as you suggest, they just want to feed off the electricity created in the exchange?
    The more you push them away, the more they keep coming back — changing names and facades, but never meaning or intention.
    There is a thin line between love and hate — and you have ripely reminded us of that again today. Thank you!
    Isn’t control over the game refusing to play? Or does that play into their screaming demand for attention even if it is faked and non-anonymous?
    Those are old student tricks — you can predict them based on circumstance and time of the year and most faculty members recognize the desperation and confusion and don’t fall prey to those sorts of games. It’s the newer faculty that gets stuck at times.

  13. When you are starved of affection/energy/recognition – any attention be it good or bad will do.
    Yes they can get so needy that ANY way will do. I had a spate of “anon” emails after my first incident. The trouble was a trained eye could recognise the word patterns – kind of gave it away. I ignored all of them. When it gets into a public forum you have to be a little more circumspect – which is where the polite acknowledgement and the pat on the head comes in.
    Refusal to play can exacerbate the situation – because they often stoop to all kinds of measures to get a reaction. They can get more and more desperate – particularly if they are not getting energy anywhere else either. (ie if all the acolytes have caught on and all decided to withdraw).
    With the pat on the head at least you can see what they are and what they are doing!

  14. What a great and prescient comment, Nicola!
    You are so right that energy is energy to them — and even if their hateful energy gets them in trouble with the law or the public at large — they will continue on to feed the beast within them by harassing and annoying if they cannot be loved and respected. Virginia Tech is one glaring, gory, example of someone who refuses to be denied. Sad.
    I appreciate the game you have to play in public, Nicola. It’s best if you don’t have to deal with that in a public area — but if you’re pushed to play, you have to play… but that doesn’t mean you have to let them win. 😀

  15. Very interesting topic David!
    I wonder the affection collector just wants to collect affection or there is some underlying plan behind it? Is it a power politics? Do they just crave attention or there is any hidden agenda?
    I am trying to relate any experience in my life similar to it, but by nature I appear to be very “aloof” and “distant” – so probably the affection collector knows that I won’t be game for it even before start playing with me.

  16. Hi Katha!
    They want to collect the affection to use it to gain power and influence: “Look at everyone who likes me!” is the battle cry and mantra of these types. They get definition in the relationships to power they can tally and totemize.
    Ah! But the game is in going after just your type to either collect you or dirty you up so much so no one else can collect you. Remember, this is a competition to them! 😀

  17. I seriously don’t understand this and I remain equally unaffected…ignorance is bliss! If you refuse to play the game – what can they do? Badmouthing? Well, let them be happy!
    Why on earth people have to “like” everybody? I don’t get it…

  18. Shirley!
    I have missed you! I am glad to know you were busy with life and traveling and you were not wounded or caught in some pit of despair.
    I don’t think I’m as liberal as you suggest on your blog. 😀 I have a liberal mindset with a conservative morality that gets expressed here pretty often. I guess it all depends on what’s been read. I published article number 900 here a few days ago, so there are many facets for exploration — and some of them reflect, reflex and even contradict each other! I guess a blog can be as reflexive as the life writing it. 😉
    I thank you so much for the award and the kind words — they mean quite a lot to me — especially today when past negativity and crassness tried to creep into this blog again!
    I have always appreciated the time and insight you provide in your wonderful comments here.

  19. Hi David,
    A movie line goes through my head. Humphrey Bogart? I can’t say. The question is “You don’t like me, do you?” and the response is “I would, if I thought enough about you.”

  20. Katha!
    It’s all about control and power and influence. “Liking” someone is used as a method of control both ways. To be indifferent to the power of “liking” — or not “liking” — is to not be in the majority mainstream.

  21. HI Katha – I think in some ways ignorance is bliss – this is one of these time. If you have never met one of these people you are blessed.
    A CA seeks and needs attention and affection and constant affirmation. I think it is quite often people with low self esteem and fragile egos who need to have constant external affirmation from external sources – in this case a group of admirers.
    It is almost a form of bullying – because that person can become a pack with followers. If you refuse to join the pack – or decide to loose the pack – you fall to the us and THEM situation and fall under attack from the AC and the surrounding group.
    These people either get energy from the affection of the group – or from vilifying the person who never joined or has left.
    If you refuse to play the game, they can bad mouth both in public and private, they can exclude you and in some cases isolate you – much like a bully.
    Hope this explains it a little more.

  22. Hi David,
    Yes, it would be a “death sentence,” but ACs be damned!

  23. Hi David,
    Well, I’ve never much minded what others think, and if the minions descend, so be it! The Winter Witch and her dwarfs are not my idea of friends!

  24. This is incredible. I feel you and I must know the same narcissist. I have been putting up with him for a few years now. He interferes with all our mutual friendships so that we don’t look to each other but to him. It’s wild. Then he pretends to wonder how and why things went wrong. He is a master manipulator, and the one totem he keeps around backs every move he makes. The strange thing is that they are alone in their private world. Just today I realized the problem between us is that I love him. He hates that, I believe, because he hates himself. I believe he has no sense of genuinely being loved and he bares his teeth when the light of love goes on. It’s very, very sad. And painful.

  25. Thanks for the real-world analysis and the exposure of your reality, Sandy! It must be really hard to deal with this in such an intensive way. Do you have any way out? Or are you sort of stuck in this situation. Love can only conquer the willing, I fear, and if the unwilling are unable to run it can make for a testy situation.

  26. I think the way out is to live through it. This situation has taught me a lot since I have stepped way back from it. I realize reading my comment that “I love him” sounds more complicated than it is. As friends love friends, I love this person. What I’m very grateful for is what I have learned from this complicated situation–plenty. He, like Gregor Samsa, is hungry but he can’t say for what. I also think affection abuse is like drug abuse. We take things in–or on–that destroy us because at heart we don’t feel we’re worthy of good things, of genuine love and affection. To shed the feeling of unworthiness–rather, to root it out–would solve the problem, I think.

  27. Hi David,
    I’m back — I went on a business trip and thought I’d have internet access, but didn’t have any practical way to get connected without spending more money per day than my regular connection costs all month.
    I agree with Sandy that affection abuse is similar to drug abuse — the abuser gets a chemical high from the affection and must continue getting their hit to feel good. Like any other substance abuse, the abusers end up doing anything necessary to get their fix.

  28. Chris!
    There you are! I’m so glad you’re okay. We begin to wonder if you’re stuck in a ditch somewhere.
    I hope your trip was successful and I agree there is some kind of chemical satisfaction that these people feed on and to cut them off from even the possibility of free access to us make them freak in unfortunate ways.

  29. Hi David,
    Yes, I understand the dynamics – but I am not a part of it. There is no pretention about the people I really like, they are in my circle. Those whom I don’t? There is no pretention either…I keep them on the periphery. I am equally insensitive to their criticism too. I was never part of the mainstream… 😀
    I know it’s a bit too dangerous in professional world where people fall in the trap of “being in someone’s good book”….well, that’s a part of the game I suppose!

  30. It’s fascinating how you don’t seem to feel or experience the effects of the Affection Collectors, Katha, because they’re actively all around you — especially in academe!
    Is it possible that you don’t recognize them because you are one of them? :mrgreen:

  31. Nicola, thanks for the detail!
    I think I met ACs in my life, but I refuse to acknowledge them. I have an uncanny ability for filtering the genuineness and the pretended one…I might not make it very clear but I know it in the core of my heart and I sincerely keep them in the boundary.
    People get tired bad mouthing me; they say I am snob…snooty…and what not, well, I can handle that.
    I know what I am! 😀

  32. Hey David,
    I didn’t say I don’t recognize them – I refuse to acknowledge them.
    Do you think I am one of them…? Well, that’s your choice! I don’t feel the need to justify…because I know what I am! And, who is what! 😀

  33. You acknowledge ACs either by submitting to their demand or denying it, what if you dodge them? What if you keep the whole thing on the surface instead of going beyond it?
    What if when someone asks you “you don’t like me, do you?” – you reply – “what do you think?”
    If I am confident about my self worth, I won’t seek affirmation or enjoy unnecessary flattery. Those who seek it or enjoy it – I am quite suspicious of them!

  34. I’m still unconvinced you are able to remove yourself from their effects, Katha, but to continue to argue the point would be folly. Good luck with your effort!

  35. I understand what you are saying David, and to confirm your point – I am not very popular in the regular social circle just because I refuse to be a part of the game.
    Thanks for wishing luck!

  36. Hi David,
    It’s great to be back.
    The trip was for a continuing education seminar in Las Vegas, so it was a fun time. I had expected that we’d be able to find free internet access, so I didn’t even bother to say I would be away because I had expected to be able to check in during the day.
    All of the free internet access in my area has gotten me spoiled!

  37. I think, what the ACs call “ostracism”, I call it avoiding time waste! I hate petty gossiping and useless pat on my back, at the same time I don’t step on any one’s tail unless someone makes me, so….!
    “What the caterpillar calls the end of the day, the master calls it a butterfly!”

  38. Hi David,
    We were on the Strip, so I’m sure if I had looked around in the more regular parts of town, I probably could have found some places that had free access. I did see an ice cream place in the Wynn that had a sign offering free access, but I bet the ice cream cost $20 per scoop. 😉
    Anything that discourages visitors to the Strip from gambling has to be priced so that any lost gaming profit is made up.

  39. Heh! 😀
    Sorry…forgot to mention – the quote is by Richard Bach!

  40. Oh yes, what is the point of the effect being effective when it fails to affect me? 😀

  41. Another thought before I move on to your latest post….Do these people consciously know what they’re doing? Maybe some do but some don’t? Hmm….

  42. I see parts of myself reflected in this post, if I am going to speak with complete honesty. It makes me a bad person that I can identify myself with anything said, but I can deal with that I think. Except that personally I can not connect with almost anyone. I dont hunt for affection, I hunt for some one I can truly relate to. And the joke is, I think a lot of people are like that…

  43. Sandy —
    Oh, they know precisely what they’re doing. It’s a cogent action on their part with a demanded effect and expectation. If they were unaware of their power to toemize, they would not need to employ their minions to pull you in line.

  44. maybe I could impress her with some sweet juggling tricks! Or I could write an article for urban semiotic to assure her affection. Oh man 😀

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