In some of our relationships, most of us have been the victims of emotional blackmail. Depending on how blatant the manipulation was, we were more aware of it at times and less so at other times. One thing is certain: being a victim of blackmail is a terrible feeling. Once you’ve recognized the warning signals, you can take steps to address the situation. Let’s define emotional blackmail first before we go on to detecting the signs and figuring out how to deal with them.
Emotional Blackmail Definition
Emotional blackmail is a type of dysfunctional dynamic that occurs in some close relationships, in which someone manipulates you into doing what they want. To get you to comply with what they want when they want it, someone seeking to emotionally blackmail you will instill feelings of wrath, fear, or guilt.
In partnerships, emotional blackmail can take the form of withholding affection, disappointment, or even subtle changes in body language and voice tone. The element of threat is present in all emotional blackmailing strategies, regardless of the sort of emotional blackmail used. If you do not comply, there will be consequences.
Emotional blackmail is a type of interaction in which a close friend or relative appears to use our anxieties, secrets, weaknesses, or vulnerabilities in order to obtain something they want. They use what they know about us to ensure that we meet their requirements.
How does Emotional Blackmail works?
Emotional blackmail is similar to traditional blackmail in that it involves someone attempting to extract the desired outcome from you. Rather than keeping secrets from you, they use your emotions to influence you. Emotional blackmail, according to forwarding, follows a six-stage process:
A demand is made at the beginning of emotional blackmail. “I don’t think you should hang out with so-and-so any longer,” the person may express clearly. It’s also possible that they’ll play it down. They pout and sarcastically speak when you see them (or not at all). “I don’t like how they stare at you,” they reply when you inquire what’s wrong. They’re not beneficial for you, in my opinion.” Sure, they say they care about you when they make their demands. However, it’s still an attempt to exert control over your friend selection.
They will most likely push back if you refuse to do what they want. “I’m not comfortable letting you drive my car because you’re uninsured,” you could remark flatly. If you’re concerned about how they’ll react to a flat refusal, try resisting in a more subtle way by:
- Forgetting to fill up the car’s gas tank
- Forgetting to put your keys in the lockbox.
- Staying silent in the hopes that they may forget
In healthy relationships, people still express needs and desires. When you display resistance in a normal relationship, the other person usually responds by either dismissing the matter or attempting to work together to find a solution. A blackmailer will use a variety of tactics to persuade you to comply with their demands, such as:
- Reiterating their demand in a way that makes them appear confident (e.g., “I’m only thinking about our future”).
- Make a list of the instances in which your resistance harms them.
- Using phrases such as “If you truly loved me, you’d do it”
- Belittling or criticizing you.
Direct or indirect threats are used in emotional blackmail:
- Immediate danger “I won’t be here when you come back if you go out with your buddies tonight.”
- A threat that is only seen indirectly. “Perhaps someone else will be able to remain with me tonight when I need you.”
They may even disguise a threat as a positive promise: “If you remain home tonight, we’ll have a lot more fun than if you went out.” This is critical to our bond.” They’re still trying to control you, even if it doesn’t appear to be a serious threat. While they don’t expressly explain the repercussions of your refusal, they do hint that your relationship would suffer if you continue to refuse.
You don’t want them to follow through on their threats, so you give up. You may be wondering if your opposition to their “request” was justified. They can wear you down over time with pressure and threats, so compliance can be a slow process. Terror gives way to tranquility once you give in. They have everything they want, so they may appear especially caring and kind – at least for the time being.
When you show the other person that you’ll eventually concede, they’ll know just how to handle future circumstances. Emotional blackmail gradually teaches you that complying is simpler than dealing with constant pressure and threats. You might learn to understand that their love is conditional and that they won’t give it to you unless you agree with them. They might even discover that using a specific type of threat expedites the process. As a result, the current trend is likely to persist.
Emotional Blackmail Books
Below are lists of books on emotional blackmail;
- Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward
- Emotional Manipulation Tactics: 35 Covert Tactics Manipulators Use To Control Relationships by Tess Binder
- 30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics: How Manipulators Take Control in Personal Relationships by Adelyn Birch, Kitty Hendrix, et al.
- Highly Sensitive Empath: The Medical-Approved Guide with Proven Strategies for Stopping on Being Too Emotional as a Highly Sensitive Person | Healing Development Path by Melissa Carroll, Samantha Boffin, et al.
- Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition by Albert Bernstein.
Related Articles: How to Control Your Emotions: Best Effective Mechanisms That Works!!!
- Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents by Lindsay C. Gibson
- Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward
- Freedom from Toxic Relationships: Moving on from the Family, Work, and Relationship Issues That Bring You Down by Avril Carruthers, Karen Saltus, et al.
- TIME TO GO! Leaving Emotional Abuse and other forms of Abusive Relationships: Your guide on how to leave your abusive spouse quickly and safely even if you have no money by Norva Semoy Abiona
- From Charm to Harm:: The Guide to Spotting, Naming and Stopping Emotional Abuse in Intimate Relationships by Amy Lewis Bear
- The Way out of Emotional Abuse: Learn the Signs of Mental Abuse and How to Stop It! by Moe Alodah, Jackie Marie, et al.
- EMOTIONAL CHEATING: A CLEAR GUIDE ON A COMPLICATED ISSUE by Peter William
- The Emotionally Absent Mother: How To Overcome Your Childhood Neglect When You Don’t Know Where To Start & Meditations And Affirmations to Help You Overcome Childhood Neglect. by J.L. Anderson
Emotional Blackmail Examples
While emotional blackmailers frequently employ a variety of strategies, Forward claims that their actions fall into one of four distinct categories:
Someone who employs punishment methods will state their demands and then threaten you if you do not comply. This usually entails direct threats, although punishers can also manipulate people by hostility, fury, or silence. Consider the following example:
- As soon as you step in, your partner kisses you.
- “Today I sold a lot of stuff!” Let’s toast to the occasion. With a sly smile, they remark, “Dinner, dancing, romance…”
- You congratulate yourself by saying, “Congratulations!” “However, I’m spent.” I intended to relax by taking a lengthy bath. “What about the next day?”
- Their demeanor shifts in a matter of seconds. They pout their way down the corridor, slamming doors shut behind them. They don’t respond when you follow them and try to speak with them.
Threats are frequently used in this kind of emotional blackmail. Self-punishers, on the other hand, explain how your resistance will harm them, rather than harm you:
- “I’m going to lose my automobile tomorrow if you won’t lend me money.”
- “We’ll be homeless if you don’t let us live with you.” Consider your nephews for a moment. What will become of them is unknown. “Are you willing to put up with that?”
People who use self-punishment strategies may spin the situation to make it appear as though their problems are your fault in order to get you to take responsibility and help them.
A sufferer’s emotions are frequently expressed through nonverbal communication. If they believe you’ve betrayed them or they want you to help them, they may remain silent and communicate their dissatisfaction with statements like:
- Expressions of sadness or despair, such as frowns, sighs, tears, or moping
- Distress or anguish
However, they may also give you a detailed account of everything that is causing them to be unhappy. For instance, you told a friend last week that you were looking for a roommate for your empty bedroom with an attached bath. “Why don’t you just let me stay for free?” your friend said. You thought it was a joke and laughed off the comment.
Emotional blackmail can take the form of nice gestures in some cases. A tantalizer offers praise and encouragement while holding prizes above your head in order to obtain something from you. However, as soon as you clear one obstacle, another appears. You’re not going to be able to keep up with the pace. One day, your supervisor comments, “Your work is amazing.”
“You have just the qualities I’m looking for in a receptionist.” They inform you gently that a post will become available soon. “Until then, can I count on you?” You’re ecstatic, right? Your boss keeps asking for more, so you stay late, skip lunch, and even work on weekends to keep up. Your supervisor does not discuss the promotion again when the office manager resigns.
What is Emotional Blackmail in a Relationship
Emotional blackmail occurs when one spouse tries to persuade the other to do something rather than asking for what they truly desire. You may not realize you’re being blackmailed, believe it or not. Although it may appear that you should be aware, occasionally people are too close to the situation to detect the warning indications. Let’s have a look at some of the warning signs:
- Are you prone to making frequent apologies? To put it another way, do you ever feel like your partner thinks everything you do is bad and you have to beg forgiveness all the time?
- Do you hold your partner accountable for their actions? To put it another way, do you instinctively assume it’s because you’ve done something wrong when they throw a temper tantrum?
- Do you feel as if you’re the only one in the relationship who gives in or makes sacrifices?
- Is your relationship a source of intimidation for you? Do you feel compelled to follow their orders or feel threatened?
- You alter your lifestyle solely to please your partner often?
- Do you have trouble asserting yourself? Or do you feel as if you’re treading on eggshells, unable to express your concerns?
- Do you find it difficult to establish boundaries or say no to your partner in your relationship?
- Do you have a hard time communicating with your significant other? And that if you do, he or she won’t understand what you’re saying?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are most likely being emotionally manipulated. You must take action.
Tips for Handling Emotional Blackmail
There are various strategies to deal with emotional blackmail if you are a victim.
1. Be truthful to yourself.
To begin, you must be completely honest with yourself and examine your partner’s conduct objectively. Recognize their domineering tendencies in whatever form.
2. Maintain a diary
Your regular interactions with the other person will give you the opportunity to reflect on what they said and did. As a result, you’ll have a written record of what’s going on. Because our memories can be deceiving at times, it’s crucial to write everything down.
3. Obtain Assistance
Consider why you’re enabling your partner to behave in this way. Is there something in your past that makes you believe you’ve earned this bad treatment? If you have the financial means, talk to a therapist about why you’re allowing this to happen in your life.
4. Figure Out If You’re in Peril
Many people experience emotional outbursts from time to time, but if it has become a regular occurrence in your relationship, you must take steps to protect yourself and your children (if you have them).
5. Get to work
If your partner is an emotional blackmailer, try to persuade them to seek therapy. If they don’t want to change, you should seriously consider quitting the relationship.
Emotional blackmail is characterized by sarcasm, relationship “tests,” unjustified blame, implied threats, and the fear, obligation, and shame they instill in you. While it may appear that giving in is the best approach to keep the peace, doing so frequently leads to more manipulation. You may be able to reason with the person in some circumstances, but in others, it may be advisable to quit the relationship or seek professional treatment from a therapist.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an example of emotional blackmail?
If a marriage is going through a difficult divorce, for example, the emotional blackmailer may warn that if their spouse files for divorce, they would retain the money or never let them see the children.
What type of person uses emotional blackmail?
Emotional blackmail usually occurs between two persons who have formed a close personal or intimate bond (parent and child, spouses, siblings, or two close friends).