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Emotional blackmail: a powerful form of manipulation in the couple

Emotional blackmail: a powerful form of manipulation in the couple

July 19, 2024

The emotional blackmail and the handling Unfortunately, they can be common in relationships, but also between friends and family. The emotional blackmailer acts in accordance with his interests, and he blames, annoys and provokes fear of the victim of blackmail.

According to Susan Forward, author of the book Emotional Blackmail, emotional blackmail is "a powerful weapon of manipulation with which people close to us threaten us, directly or indirectly, to punish us if they do not get what they want".

Causes of emotional blackmail

The causes that lead a person to be a blackmailer are many. For example, low self-esteem, which can cause an individual to be constantly looking for confirmation of your partner's love and provoking demonstrations that the other person will not leave you.

Narcissistic people with Personality Disorder can also carry out constant emotional blackmail with their family, friends and partner. This is a way to reaffirm and consolidate your personality.

The fear of the victim's abandonment also favors the blackmailer trying to take a position of power over it, in a situation that can be quite similar to emotional dependence. On the other hand, people who have been victims of emotional blackmail from an early age, or individuals who have been "spoiled" and "overprotected", are more likely to adopt a manipulative personality . The latter have a low tolerance for frustration and, moreover, have become accustomed to having everything they want. Something that can affect your interpersonal relationships.

Strategies of the sentimental blackmailer

The sentimental blackmailer You can use different strategies to achieve your goal . Through the power he knows he has over the other person, the blackmailer "turns the tables" and takes advantage of the vulnerability of the victim.

For this, he can use psychological strategies (more or less consciously) like the ones presented below:

The self-punishment

The blackmailer uses phrases like "If you leave me, it's not worth living". In this way makes the victim feel guilty and permanently obliged not to question the foundations of the relationship.

The punishment

The person who blackmails use threatening phrases as the following: "If you do that, do not blame me if I leave you". In this way, the other person feels constantly tied to "correct" behavior patterns, thereby ensuring their freedom and personality.

However, this is one of the less subtle forms of emotional blackmail, and for that reason it is not as dangerous as the rest, since from the beginning it is relatively clear what happens. However, in certain contexts a very abused person may not be aware that these are threats, due to their emotional investment in the relationship.

The silence

The emotional blackmailer creates a negative couple environment , because he can show his anger through silence. This makes the victim think that the situation of "bad weather" is his fault. It's another way to make the victim of blackmail feel guilty.

In addition, this form of blackmail is powerful because it uses passivity for the victim to become obsessed with what happens because of his confusion and incomprehension.


Emotional blackmail also includes victimhood . An example can be the following sentence: "If you go with your friends, I'll be alone and bored".

More about victimhood in this post: "Chronic victimhood: people who complain about vice"

The promises

The blackmailers also they are experts in making promises that never meet . For example, "If you give me another chance I will show you that I can change". This type of behavior can be a warning signal, since it is one of the typical behaviors in the cycles of partner violence.

The blame

Making the couple feel guilty for their own wrong behavior It is one of the most used strategies. For example: "I am aggressive because you provoke me" or "I have been unfaithful because you do not give me enough". This is another signal that can alert us that a situation of psychological abuse may be occurring.

Protect yourself from an emotional blackmailer

Many times It is not easy to recognize that a person is being blackmailed . The emotional price that causes sentimental blackmail is very high. For example, the loss of a being he loves, or feeling embarrassed or guilty for letting himself be manipulated.

The blackmailer is a skilled person who knows how to manipulate and, at times, may seem (or say) that he is very much in love with his partner or can justify his behavior in a thousand different ways, but the consequences on the victim's welfare can be very negative Further, the blackmailer is not necessarily a bad or perverse person It may be his emotional instability that leads him to act that way. Therefore, we must be aware that each situation is different and value it calmly and serenely, but also firmly if we have to make a decision.

Now, since in emotional blackmail there are two actors, and the behavior of the blackmailer can not always be changed, the blackmailed person can work on himself to stop being a victim of emotional manipulation. Working emotional Intelligence, self-esteem or practicing Mindfulness, are some of the tools that can be useful in this situation and will help the victim to empower themselves in front of life.

Serious or potentially serious cases of emotional blackmail

In severe cases of emotional blackmail, it is possible that the affected person needs psychological help to overcome the situation and recover from the emotional wounds caused. Talking to friends and family, and going to a psychology specialist, are important for recover emotional well-being of the person who has suffered emotional blackmail for a long time.

What is Emotional Abuse? SIGNS you are in an emotionally abusive relationship (July 2024).

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