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Published on July 16, 2020

How to Handle Emotional Blackmail in a Relationship

How to Handle Emotional Blackmail in a Relationship

Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner makes you feel crazy? Or where they wanted to control your every move? Or perhaps you have felt like you were being emotionally blackmailed?

If you have felt that way, you are not alone. Many people find themselves a victim of an emotional blackmailer.

But what exactly is emotional blackmail? Let’s take a look.

What Is Emotional Blackmail?

Emotional blackmail is a very dysfunctional dynamic that happens in some relationships. It is a form of manipulation that a person uses to make demands on and threaten their victims to get what they want.

Just like “regular” blackmail, the message of emotional blackmail is this: “If you don’t do what I want and when I want it, you will be sorry. I will make you suffer.”

An example of “regular blackmail” might look like this. Perhaps you walked in on your married boss fooling around in his office with one of your co-workers (who is not his wife). Since he doesn’t want his wife to find out, he will likely do anything to keep you from telling his secret. So, it would be blackmail for you to say, “I won’t tell your wife if you double my salary.”

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Emotional blackmail is not really that different from this. It just happens in close, intimate relationships.

Someone who is trying to emotionally blackmail you will create feelings of fear, guilt, and anger to get you to comply with what they want. While they are doing this, they try to blame you (the victim) for their own negative behavior.

Examples of Emotional Blackmail

A person who is an emotional blackmailer tends to be emotionally immature. They don’t have any other ways to communicate with someone, and they don’t know how to be in a healthy relationship. Instead, they rely on their negative behavior to bully their partner into compliance.

Emotional blackmail occurs in many romantic relationships. In fact, this is probably the most common type of relationship in which you will find this occurring.

Let’s take the example of cheating. If a woman is caught cheating on her husband (and she is an emotional blackmailer), then instead of expressing remorse and apologizing for her actions, she will instead deflect the blame onto her husband.

In other words, she may say things like “If you were just more loving and attentive to me, then I wouldn’t have had to cheat on you!” In saying this, she is justifying her behavior and confusing her husband so much that he might actually start to believe that it is his fault that she cheated on him.

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He may even start to internalize this and wonder if maybe he is not good enough for her or that he is somehow a bad husband.

Here are some other ways that someone can emotionally blackmail another person:

  • If you ever break up with me, I will commit suicide.
  • You say you love me, but you won’t stop talking to your friend because I want you to.
  • If I ever catch you looking at another woman, I’ll kill her!
  • I’ve talked to my friends and family, and they all agree that you are crazy!
  • You have ruined my life, and now you’re trying to tell me to stop drinking?

You see, an emotional blackmailer will always try to make the victim feel like they are to blame for everything. Here are a couple of more examples:

  • It’s your fault that I didn’t get that promotion at work.
  • If you would just buy healthy food, then I wouldn’t be fat.

They also use strategies that create confusion in their victims. The ways they do this is by making their demands seem reasonable, making their victim seem selfish or crazy, or partnering with someone else to help intimidate them.

How Do You Know If You Are Being Emotionally Blackmailed?

Believe it or not, you might not know if you’re being blackmailed. It might seem like you should know, but sometimes people are too close to the situation and therefore, they don’t recognize the warning signs.

Let’s take a look at some of the things you should be on the lookout for:

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  1. Do you apologize a lot? In other words, do you feel like your partner thinks everything you do is wrong and so, you have to constantly beg for forgiveness?
  2. Do you take responsibility for your partner’s actions? In other words, if they are having a temper tantrum, do you automatically think it’s because you did something wrong?
  3. Does it seem like you are the only one who gives in or makes sacrifices in the relationship?
  4. Do you often feel intimidated by your partner? Do you feel threatened into obeying what they say or forcibly comply?
  5. Do you make changes to your life just to make your partner happy?
  6. Do you find it difficult to stand up for yourself? Or do you feel like you are walking around on eggshells and that you can’t talk about things that are bothering you?
  7. Do you find it impossible to set up boundaries in your relationship or to say no to your partner?
  8. Do you find it extremely difficult to communicate with your partner? And that if you do, he/she will not hear what you are really saying?

If you said “yes” to any of these questions, then you are probably being emotionally blackmailed. And you need to do something about it.

Tips for Handling Emotional Blackmail

If you are a victim of emotional blackmail, there are some ways you can handle it.

1. Be Honest With Yourself

First, you need to be honest with yourself and really take a hard, objective look at your partner’s behavior. Try to recognize their controlling behavior – of all kinds.

2. Keep a Journal

Writing down

your daily interactions with the other person will allow you to go back and review what was said and done by them. That way, you have a written record of the actual behavior that is happening. Because sometimes, our memory can play tricks on us, so it’s important to get it on paper.

3. Seek Help

Try to understand why you are allowing this behavior in your partner. Is there something in your past that makes you think you deserve this negative behavior? If you have the resources to do so, try to seek help from a therapist to help you uncover why you are allowing this in your life.

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4. Determine If You Are in Danger

Many people have their occasional emotional outbursts, but if this has become something regular in your relationship, you need to protect yourself and your children (if you have them).

5. Take Action

Try to get your partner to seek help if he/she is an emotional blackmailer. And if they refuse, then you need to seriously consider ending the relationship if they will not change.

The Bottom Line

No one deserves to be emotionally blackmailed. It is a horrible, mean way to manipulate another human being. So, if you find that you are a victim of emotional blackmail in your relationship, you need to realize that you deserve better.

Save yourself and your happiness, because that is all that really matters.

Read More About Emotional Manipulation

Featured photo credit: Naomi August via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on July 27, 2020

7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions

7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions

Most people don’t know the profound effects of making life decisions. Often times, we go through life oblivious to what thoughts we are thinking and what actions we are taking. Every single decision we make in our days shapes our current reality. It shapes who we are as a person because we habitually follow through with the decisions we make without even realizing it.

If you’re unhappy with the results in your life right now, making the effort to changing your decisions starting today will be the key to creating the person you want to be and the life you want to have in the future.

Let’s talk about the 7 ways you can go about making life changing decisions.

1. Realize the Power of Decision Making

Before you start making a decision, you have to understand what a decision does.

Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen. When you decide to pick up a cigarette to smoke it, that decision might result in you picking up another one later on to get that same high feeling. After a day, you may have gone through a pack without knowing it. But if you decide not to smoke that first cigarette and make a decision every five minutes to focus your attention somewhere else when you get that craving, after doing this for a week, your cravings will eventually subside and you will become smoke-free.

But it comes down to making that very first decision of deciding whether or not to pick up that cigarette.

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2. Go with Your Gut

Often times, we take too much time to make a decision because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. As a result of this, we go through things like careful planning, deep analysis, and pros and cons before deciding. This is a very time consuming process.

Instead, learn to trust your gut instinct. For the most part, your first instinct is usually the one that is correct or the one that you truly wanted to go with.

Even if you end up making a mistake, going with your gut still makes you a more confident decision maker compared to someone who takes all day to decide.

3. Carry Your Decision Out

When you make a decision, act on it. Commit to making a real decision.

What’s a real decision? It’s when you decide on something, and that decision is carried out through action. It’s pointless to make a decision and have it played out in your head, but not doing anything about it. That’s the same as not making a decision at all.

If you want to make real changes in life, you have to make it a habit to apply action with your decision until it’s completed. By going through this so many times, you will feel more confident with accomplishing the next decision that you have in mind.

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4. Tell Others About Your Decisions

There’s something about telling other people what we’re going to do that makes us follow through.

For example, for the longest time, I’ve been trying to become an early riser. Whenever I tried to use my own willpower, waking up early without falling back asleep felt impossible. So what I did was I went to a forum and made the decision to tell people that I would wake up at 6 AM and stay up. Within two days, I was able to accomplish doing this because I felt a moral obligation to follow through with my words even though I failed the first time.

Did people care? Probably not, but just the fact that there might be someone else out there seeing if you’re telling the truth will give you enough motivation to following through with your decision.

5. Learn from Your Past Decisions

Even after I failed to follow through my decision the first time when I told people I was going to wake up early and stay up, I didn’t give up. I basically asked myself, “What can I do this time to make it work tomorrow?”

The truth is, you are going to mess up at times when it comes to making decisions. Instead of beating yourself up over it, learn something from it.

Ask yourself, what was good about the decision I made? What was bad about it? What can I learn from it so I can make a better decision next time?

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Remember, don’t put so much emphasis focusing on short term effects; instead focus on the long term effects.

6. Maintain a Flexible Approach

I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but making a decision doesn’t mean that you can’t be open to other options.

For example, let’s say you made the decision to lose ten pounds by next month through cardio. If something comes up, you don’t have to just do cardio. You can be open to losing weight through different methods of dieting as long as it helps you reach your goal in the end.

Don’t be stubborn to seek out only one way of making a decision. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your initial decision.

7. Have Fun Making Decisions

Finally, enjoy the process. I know decision-making might not be the most fun thing world to do, but when you do it often, it becomes a game of opportunity.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself on the way, you’ll feel and become a lot more confident when you’re with yourself and around others, and making decisions will just become a lot easier after you do it so often that you won’t even think about it.

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Anything you decide to do from this point on can have a profound effect later on. Opportunities are always waiting for you. Examine the decisions that you currently have in the day.

Are there any that can be changed to improve your life in some way? Are there any decisions that you can make today that can create a better tomorrow?

Final Thoughts

Some decisions in life are harder to make, but with these 7 pieces of advice, you can trust yourself more even when you’re making some of the most important decisions.

Making a decision is the only way to move forward. So remember, any decision is better than none at all.

More Tips for Making Better Decisions

Featured photo credit: Justin Luebke via unsplash.com

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