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How to Recognize and Deal With Emotional Blackmail


Emotional blackmail in the context of relationships is used by one party to control or manipulate their partners into doing their bidding. For some people, it is a conscious thing while other people do not even know they are emotionally blackmailing their loved one but there’s a way to deal with emotional blackmail.

For instance, two people who have been in a romantic relationship for 5 years with a child draw a plan for the future of that child. A heated argument ensued and it looks like the relationship is headed for the rocks – the man says stuff like “I’ll take away the child from you if you continue to be disloyal to me”.

Another can be in the form of a question like this “What if I told the kids you did XYZ”. There are several instances of this type of behaviour but at the end of the road, you’d have learned how to recognize and deal with emotional blackmail.

Emotional blackmailers use what people love and what they know about people to manipulate and hurt them. In most cases, these blackmailers get what they want by creating fear, and guilt in others. Both men and women have suffered emotional blackmail but there’s a pattern to this thing as unveiled below.

Patterns of Emotional Blackmail

1. Dictate

The thing you’d observe from an emotional blackmailer is the fact that they make demands.

They tend to discourage you from relating with people other than themselves. For instance, they may say “It is unhealthy for you always visit this and that person”

You’d think the demand they make is because they care about you and your well-being. Alas, they are attempting to dominate your life.

2. Aversion

The other thing you’d notice from an emotional blackmailer is that they are resistant to change and corrections.

They want you to do only their bidding but if you fail to do what they want, they most likely push back.

3. Pressure

If you’re in a healthy relationship, you find that you’d be able to make demands or accent to the demands of your partners. You may compromise in finding a solution for your partner’s demand or you may even drop the issue.

But a blackmailer would only pressure you to give in to their demand, using several techniques like telling you that you’d do their bidding as proof of your love for them, they might list how your rejection affects them and etc.

4. Warnings

I heard of a man who threatened to stab himself if his wife refused to have sex with him on a given day. This is a classic example of a direct threat. Emotional blackmailers can go as far as saying “if you hang out with your friends tomorrow, I won’t have time for you when you return,

Their threats come in different ways, some in the stead of a promise like “If you wash my clothes tomorrow, I’ll spend more time with you as it will help us to bond better.

All of these examples are the manipulative methods adopted by emotional blackmailers.

While this doesn’t seem like much of a threat, they’re still trying to manipulate you. While they don’t.

5. Compliance/obedience

They’d manipulate you to the point where you’d find yourself giving in to all or most of the demands they make. It may even get to the point where you tell yourself that you should never have resisted their demand.

This process is in stages – you don’t comply instantly but following threats, pressure, demand, and all that you begin to do their bidding.

6. Reiteration

They already know your weakness – over time, they’d have gotten what they do or say to you that gets you to do what they want.

Emotional blackmail can be damaging to the recipient to the extent that they may accept and believe that instead of resisting, it will be easier for them to accept and comply.

How To Confront Emotional Blackmail

Emotional blackmail can affect the self-esteem of whoever is at the receiving end but guess what? it is not your responsibility to change the person with the tendency to manipulate and treat you badly.

As I earlier posited, there are people who do not know that they are emotional blackmailers – for such people, there are subtle ways to lay bare your reservations about their unpleasant attitude. For instance, you can define a boundary in the instance where your partner threatens to leave you or even tell the world about a mistake you made in the past.

I know this sounds a bit tricky because you want to protect your name. But oftentimes, threats are not real but are aimed at you to gain control or more attention from you. You may also assure your loved one that you truly loved them, and want the relationship but that you are not willing to do all of their bidding.

There are people dubbed as repeat offenders, who despite several talks remain unyielding with their distasteful behaviour. You only need to establish more communication with this person.

Let them know the concerns you have pertaining to their behaviour, this is how to deal with emotional blackmail. Let them know that you will never give in to manipulation.

After you have established communication and your concerns and this person continues with the behaviour, then you’ll be justified if you walk away. Nobody deserves to suffer any form of manipulation or blackmail in the name of love.

Above all that is said, inform the manipulator about what they are doing.


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