7 Things to Know About Emotional Blackmail, and How to Not Get Hooked

A person who emotionally blackmails you is usually someone who knows you all too well. They know all of your secrets and vulnerable sides and have become experts at taking advantage of them. And the reason why is very simple: they want to make you give in to their wants. Keep in mind that their excuse for acting this way is because they love you and want to spend time with you.

1. They make a serious demand.

The first step to emotional blackmail is a demand that someone close to you is making. Their demand might be subtle at first, but it will eventually become more aggressive once you don’t confirm it right away. They might say that they are only telling you to do something out of love. But in reality, they just want to control you and your actions.

2. You might resist to meet their demand at first.

When someone tells us what to do, we usually react by saying “no” or starting a more in-depth conversation. That’s exactly how you may react when your father tells you not to hang out with a specific boy anymore. You don’t understand why they’re asking you to do something like this, and you clash with them. This brings even more tension to the relationship since your father has no intention of backing down.

3. However, they’ll keep pressuring you.

Fear, guilt, and a sense of obligation are 3 of the “weapons” that they will use to keep pressuring you. They know how to push your buttons and will do anything to succeed no matter how much they hurt you. They might try to throw the blame on you for something that they did to themselves. They also will not hesitate to say that they’ll take drastic measures if you don’t do as they say.

4. Making threats isn’t off the table.

If nothing else works, they might start threatening that they will harm you or even themselves. If this is your boss, they might threaten you with firing or downgrading. They put all the pressure on you, so you will be at fault for whatever harmful thing they decide to do. They create a fog of confusion in your head and make you feel responsible for the entire situation and for whatever the outcome will be.

5. They might accuse you of something you didn’t do.

This is another trick to make you feel like you’ve lost your partner’s trust and have to work twice as hard to earn it back. This derives from their own insecurity and fear that you will betray them because perhaps they’ve been hurt in the past. These fits of rage keep coming and going, and you feel like you’re doing something wrong. You begin to assume that you’re to blame every time your partner creates a big scene.

6. They create big dramatic scenes in public.

Pathological jealousy is one big reason why your partner may start being emotionally abusive. They don’t like it when you talk to other people, like when you arrive at a restaurant and smile at the person who greets you. They go on to make a big dramatic scene about it, and you end up feeling guilty for pushing their buttons. You feel like a failure who keeps on making the same mistakes, despite knowing how much your partner is hurting.

7. You give in to their pressure again and again.

After all the fights and threats, you throw in the towel and give in to their pressure. Things calm down and you go back to normal, where your partner is once again very attentive and loving. However, it doesn’t take long for them to find something else that bothers them thanks to their insecurities. Their manipulative behavior will start up again, and you’ll be back at square one.

8. This is how you can stop this vicious cycle.

  • First, you need to be calm and not let your anger get the best of you. No matter how much pressure you’re receiving, you can ask for some time to give an answer.
  • Have a clear conversation with your partner, where you will set your boundaries. Make it clear that they can’t control your decisions and how you live your life.
  • If your partner shows any signs or intentions of violence, walk away immediately and call someone you trust for help. Civil discussions won’t help at all in this case.
  • You should identify your weak spots that give your blackmailer all the power to manipulate you. For example, your mother makes you do things by telling you what a bad child you are. This method hurts you a lot, and that’s why you always give in to her pressure.

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