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Choosing and Working with Donors
By Ravena Lee
A Word About Respect
For those who identify themselves as vampires, a donor is often the key to general health and comfort. Without the blood and/or energy from a donor, a vampire’s quality of life might suffer and they sometimes don’t feel as well as they could. Hence, it is important that the donor is respected. They should not be referred to as food or cattle. Vampires who refer to donors in this manner really do not deserve a donor. Donors can sustain themselves on the things required by all human beings – they are self-sufficient in that they do not require blood and/or energy to maintain the feeling of good health. A vampire with a superiority complex is only a fool filled with stupid self-importance.
Whatever it is that the vampire lacks and needs from a donor represents a form of weakness on the vampire’s part. It is the vampire that is in need. For those who use their abilities as a way to justify their superiority, -- hello, this reality, check in, over. Any ability a vamp can claim may also be claimed by a non-vamp. The vampires who act superior to donors or others are mostly those caught up in playing out the myths and stereotypes of vampirism and enjoy the role. Being a vampire does not make one special, more intelligent, attractive, or otherwise charming. Vampires with a superiority complex usually travel in groups and meet at various gatherings to congratulate themselves on being princes and princesses of darkness. Hopefully, anyone on a high horse has quite gracefully dismounted by now. So, it’s been determined that a donor should be treated with respect. Save the “food” and “cattle” comments for your cheerios or your steak.
Choosing a Donor
Even though donors are in short supply, it is important to exercise a certain degree of pickiness when choosing them. It is tempting to not be fussy when there aren’t plenty of donors. However, a donor chosen unwisely can bring many problems that are often not compensated by what the donor has to offer. It is a very good idea not to compromise on certain standards. Consider the below information when evaluating a donor. (Note, too, that a donor should be just as fussy when choosing a vampire to donate to.)
Trustworthy: A donor is likely to be exposed to highly personal aspects of a vampire’s life. In the interest of keeping your private life private (and your vampirism secret if applicable), it is best to not give any trust before it is reasonably earned. Although most of us have probably experienced a betrayal of trust in the past, caution in this area can help to minimize these unfortunate situations. Do not give trust too soon or hand it out to anyone and everyone.
Open Minded: This is a given since not everyone in society is going to be open minded enough to accept that vampirism could possibly exist, let alone be willing to donate. Just make sure the donor’s mind isn’t open at both ends.
Honesty: Honesty is essential. A donor should be honest and forthcoming if they have done anything that may have compromised the safety of their blood. For example, if they’ve had unprotected sex, regardless if their partner appeared “clean”, they should be up front about it. Unless, of course, the donor is in a monogamous, steady relationship and both donor AND partner do not have sexual contact outside of the relationship. For those who are polyamorous, the relationship would mean whatever parties are involved would count as being in the relationship and that they are not straying outside of the boundaries of the committed polyamorous relationship (providing ALL parties involved have been tested).
Tested means actual blood taken and sent to the lab to be tested for various blood-borne diseases. It’s amazing how many people often assume that a “clean” person is disease-free. Practicing proper hygiene and showering daily does not prevent the spread of things like HIV and Hepatitis. If a donor has done something that increases risk of getting an STD or being infected with any blood-borne disease, they should refrain from donating until they have been tested again. Keep in mind that, sometimes, medical professionals advise people to be tested again in six months because HIV doesn’t always show up in the early stages but can STILL be transmitted. The “I feel fine” way of testing is not acceptable – get real lab work done.
That being said, someone’s sex life is often a delicate issue, as it involves private matters. Depending on the pre-established arrangements, a donor can just simply inform the vampire that they won’t be donating. They can add that it’s for health or safety reasons or they can be more up front about it. What the vampire is told really depends on the comfort level and nature of the vamp-donor relationship. The point of all this, at the very least, is not to get information about your donor’s less-than-wise sex life, but to make sure the donor would do the responsible thing and not donate if they have done something that increases the risk.
The whys should not be that important in this case; what is most important is that the donor has realized their activities increases the risk of disease and that they are choosing not to donate so that you are not put at risk. It is absolutely essential that you discuss all of this with your donor beforehand, so if something comes up later you are reasonably assured they will not continue to donate to you if they have done something to increase their risk of blood-borne disease. Make it clear you that explanations will not be necessary and that a simple statement from them will end the matter. Making a promise not to hound or get angry when they aren’t comfortable with stating the reason for not donating would be a good idea. If they want to state reasons, it’s up to them, but be clear that the goal is to protect you from disease, nothing more.
This also goes both ways; if the vampire has done something to increase their risk of disease they need to refrain from taking blood at least. Be sure that you both are well educated about STDs and blood-borne diseases. Don’t assume you know everything because there are countless myths out there that people take as fact. Get information from a reliable source such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.
So, honesty is essential for health reasons. But it’s also necessary for any sort of genuine relationship. Being honest about expectations and concerns and anything pertaining to the vamp-donor relationship is the key to a positive association.
Understanding: Understanding in any relationship is a good thing. Take the time to make certain that you and the donor understand one another. Misunderstandings only cause problems. A donor does not have to relate firsthand to how it is to feel out of control with a blood craving in order to understand you. The “You don’t understand me” bitching and moaning should be reserved for certain teens and the more angsty Goths. Instead, explain, clarify, and communicate. Understanding is possible, even if someone can’t walk around in your shoes. The understanding may not be perfect, of course, but nothing in this world is.
Adult: Make sure your donor has reached the age of majority in your state, province, or country. There are many laws pertaining to what you can and cannot do with a minor; rest assured, bloodletting falls under the “cannot do” category, legally at least. There aren’t only legal considerations, but ethical ones, too. A child may not be equipped to make an informed decision about whether or not to donate. They may be immature or just not emotionally ready for these kinds of decisions.
Mature: Keep in mind that being the age of an adult does not necessarily mean that one has the maturity of one. Therefore, make certain that the donor has a certain level of maturity so that they handle all that encompasses being a donor like a grown up.
Emotionally Balanced: A donor should be emotionally healthy. This does not mean that their life should be problem-free or that they should be the happy-go-lucky types. They should, however, be able to deal with their problems in a healthy way. Someone who is mentally ill may not have the tools they need to be a successful, healthy donor. Moreover, depending on the type of illness, they may not even be in any real position to make sound and healthy decisions for themselves.
An emotionally unstable person can be very draining on energy and time, and may cause problems if you decide to end the vamp-donor relationship or not spend every spare, waking moment with them, etc. A whole lot of problems could arise – too many to list. Just keep in mind that an emotionally unstable person generally demands a huge amount of attention that is often above and beyond what most can give or are willing to give. Unstable people probably aren’t equipped to deal with being a donor on an emotional level, either. In fact, donating could even cause these individuals emotional harm.
A reasonably sane donor is a good thing and any donor lost in la-la land should be avoided. Who knows what the vamp will be cast as in the donor’s la-la land world? Even if they cast the vamp as some divine god or goddess to be worshipped, though it would be flattering, it’s not healthy. Those lost in la-la land don’t really live in the real world, and it’s best a donor lives in the real world so that they fully understand the need for things like discretion, blood tests, and good health, -- not to mention the responsibilities that most of us have in day-to-day life.
Method of Drawing Blood/Energy: Discuss the methods used to draw blood or energy. Drawing blood may be the one that causes the most concerns. For example, if the donor is terrified of knives it is not recommended that a knife be used. Some won’t mind a knife but can’t deal with a needle. (Side note: Do not ever try to extract blood with a needle or syringe unless you have been medically trained – so no “my friend Joe taught me” qualifications.)
The most gentle way to draw blood is with a lancet, but some vamps claim this does not yield enough blood. The truth is, most do not need a whole lot of blood, and making a few pokes with a lancet in quick succession in a small area can help address the problem.
Some people have a tolerance for pain, but others do not like it. Whatever is chosen, the donor might be nervous so it’s important to go slowly. It might be a good idea to let the donor do any cutting so they can set the pace, etc. Obviously, the donor has to be comfortable with at least one method in order to donate to a strictly sanguinarian vampire. After trying one method, they may be okay with it or they may want to investigate one or more other options. NEVER coerce someone into donating.
Most issues with methods are associated with the drawing of blood but that does not mean one ignores the donor’s concerns over drawing energy. The issues likely to arise with energy drawing are usually about how much energy is taken and if physical contact (and what type) is required. And of course, they don’t want the experience to feel horrible.
As a late note on this subject, it is very important that you CONTROL YOURSELF while feeding. If you are a newly awakened vampire, or for whatever reason, there’s a risk of you losing control while feeding, make sure you keep a trusted person around who can be counted on to stop you and overpower you physically if it comes down to that. One of the very worst things a vampire can do is lose control while feeding and harm a donor. The trusted person needs to be in the same house or room as you, and not “just a phone call away”. People who have lost control rarely stop and think they should call so and so to come and help. It’s not only the donor’s safety that is at risk here. If you harm them, there could be some very serious legal implications, including criminal charges. Not to mention you just completely destroyed the trust the donor placed in you.
Working with a Donor
If a donor has been chosen wisely, it should not be too difficult to work with them. Keeping things peaceful and agreeable for both parties is one of the key elements to maintaining good relations.
Communication: Communication involves a sender of a message and a receiver of a message. Effective communication depends not only on the sender conveying their precise meaning correctly, but also on the receiver getting the message that the sender intended. If the receiver does not know what the sender really means, then communication is not effective. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the sender is, the whole point of effective communication is that the receiver not only gets the message, but fully understands it in the way the sender intended. The receiver has the responsibility to ask questions if they do not understand the message and the sender has the responsibility of making the message as clear as possible. If senders and receivers are mindful of what makes communication effective, a lot of negative things caused by poor communication may be avoided.
The nature of the vamp-donor relationship should be discussed so that both parties are on the same page regarding expectations. Will the relationship have a romantic element? Will it be based on friendship? Will it be more like a business arrangement? Attachments can form on either side which may or may not be wanted. In order to avoid unnecessary hurt, it’s important to be up front about what the vamp-donor relationship will entail. It’s not appropriate to pretend an interest, romantic or otherwise, in order to get someone to be a donor. Leading someone on does not belong in a respectful relationship.
Drawing Lines: Each party should be forthcoming about what their boundaries are. Determining how involved both will be in each other’s life is essential. Is the other person going to sit down with the family for dinner? Can either show up unannounced? Can they call at 3am? Can they call at work? How much time will be spent with each other? Obviously, it would be very difficult to cultivate a trusting relationship if the vampire only spends time with the donor for them to actually donate and nothing else.
A relationship that is strictly business might allow for less emotional entanglements, but friendship might work better because it is on a personal level. It’s harder for someone to betray trust if they are personally involved with someone, rather than saying, “it’s just business”. This of course remains a personal choice of the vampire and the donor involved. It’s important the donor feels appreciated and gets some kind of fulfillment from the arrangement, whether it’s a good friendship or a fruit basket once a month. What makes someone feel appreciated can vary, so make sure to ask. So, no matter what kind of relationship is established, avoid making the other person feel taken for granted.
That being said, having a friendship does not mean one can impose on time you’ve put aside to spend with specific loved ones and such. In other words, a donor, or a vamp for that matter, should not cost the other party their other personal relationships. Balance is recommended and priorities should be made clear from the very beginning. Obviously, a donor doesn’t deserve to be the last person on your list when it comes to importance, but it’s good to balance the relationship with them with the other relationships you maintain.
Checkpoints: Always make the time to take stock of the vamp-donor relationship. Is everything still realistic and healthy? Sometimes people change and their views may or may not be the same as before. This is another area where effective communication comes into play. Converse regularly to make certain both are still on the same page.
Also, monitor the donor continually to check for signs of emotional problems, mental illness, or health problems. Monitor yourself as well because vampires are not immune to these issues. Sometimes people don’t start off in la-la land but end up there later on for various reasons. It’s important to look for these signs because they often indicate that trust is eroding. Health is a big issue. People who are ill physically or mentally probably are better off not donating until they are well again. As previously mentioned, both parties need to be honest if they have done something that could compromise the other’s health. Regular lab tests every six months should be routine, or more if agreed upon.
Obsession and Addiction: It’s not unheard of for a vampire to get addicted to not only blood/energy, but the donor’s emotional qualities as well. If the vamp-donor relationship ends, the vampire may experience withdrawal symptoms not unlike those experienced by a drug addict when they stop taking a drug. As a result, the vampire can get obsessed with the donor. Of course, this also applies vice versa. The donor may get addicted to the feeling of being fed from and become obsessive over the vampire. Problems arise when the vamp-donor relationship ends in these cases because it’s difficult to let go. It is essential to monitor the relationship for signs that something ugly is developing in regards to obsession and addiction. Being aware of this potential complication allows both parties to watch out for it and takes steps to stop it before it escalates into something problematic.
Continued Discretion: Maintaining discretion is necessary for a positive vamp-donor relationship. How much discretion is up to those involved. A public vampire may not require quite as much discretion as a vampire who has not revealed him- or herself openly in a public way. Discretion goes both ways of course.
So given all of the information above you should have some things to think about. Anything mentioned isn’t the “bible” of vamp-donor relationships, as individual dynamics vary within relationships. These are just some common sense observations that may or may not help you choose a donor and maintain a mutually fulfilling relationship or arrangement with a donor.
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