When you’re in love and in a relationship, it’s hard to notice the signs of emotional blackmail. Even if friends or family point it out, we tend to dismiss their concerns and justify them because they’re not the ones in the relationship so they don’t “get it.”
That’s why it’s important to take time when you feel down to reflect on the relationship and take note of any of the following signs.
What Is Emotional Blackmail?
Emotional blackmail is a process during which your partner insists on demands. They use threats to manipulative you to get what they want. It can cause serious psychological damage.
The demands are often used as a way to hold control in the relationship.
They Make Demands Without Compromise
Asking for you to delete another man’s number just because your friendship with him makes your partner feel insecure is not a demand you’re obligated to listen to. There should be room for compromise and independence.
The demands tend to be subtle at first, but slowly get more aggressive. They say they do it out of love, or to protect you, but they tear you apart when you don’t follow through.
They React Negatively To Your Decisions
Be careful of someone who often critiques you even if they claim they mean well, especially if they know that their opinion matters to you.
They may be attempting to manipulate your decisions and choices by reacting negatively to the choices until you do exactly what they want.
They Always Make You Go To Them
Take notice of whether you’re the one who is always bending backward to conform to their schedule and meet them at their home or desired location. This is especially important in the early stages of dating, and if it’s not reciprocated.
Being where you feel at home can be empowering. If they always choose the location, they may be creating an imbalance of power. This leaves you at a disadvantage.
They Always Shift The Blame To You
An emotional blackmailer has a way of always turning the tables on you. They find a way to never hold accountability and blame you for everything that goes wrong.
Eventually, this starts to make you feel like you’re not good enough and you accept the blame.
They Call You Crazy For Questioning Them
Every time you try to confront them about how their actions make you feel, they tell you that you’re sensitive or reading too much into things.
They tell you that you’re crazy for your assumptions and should just get over it. They completely minimize and dismiss your feelings making you feel worse so that you don’t bother confronting them again.
They Tell You They Couldn’t Live Without You
They want to make sure that you’re never the one to leave them so they guilt you into staying. They tell you that they would fall apart without you and make it seem like it’s because they love you.
In reality, they want to hold all the power and wouldn’t consider your feelings if they ever wanted out.
They Thrive On Drama
They don’t care if you’re in public or behind closed doors, causing a scene is their middle name anywhere and everywhere. They love the adrenaline rush of fighting.
The more uncomfortable you feel, the more you retract and the more they feel like they “won” the argument.
Watch Out For FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt)
An emotional manipulator will often use one, two, or all three of these strategies at once. They may not even realize they’re doing it in their efforts to gain control over you and the relationship.
They’ll tap into your fears and use them against you, like threatening to break up, and they’ll make you feel obligated, like reminding you of all the money they spent on gifts, or they’ll make you feel guilty with their sob stories.
The More You Give, The More They Take
A manipulator is constantly pushing and testing the boundaries to see how much they can get away with.
The worst part is that the more they push, the more they break you, and the more they start to be able to do whatever they want to you without consequences.
They Tend To Attract The Same Type Of People
There are certain kinds of people who are easier targets for emotional manipulators. If you’re wondering if that means you, ask yourself if you hold the following qualities:
Are you a people pleaser? Do you feel a lot of empathy? Do you seek approval from others? Do you tend to be a peacekeeper? Do you often feel like it’s your responsibility to do the right thing?
They Punish Themselves
As another guilt trip, emotional manipulators will try to make you feel terrible for standing up for yourself or calling them out by taking extreme measures to punish themselves.
They’ll stop eating or isolate themselves—or worse—until they can twist an apology or reaction out of you.
They Move Quickly
Emotional manipulators dive deep into romance and make you feel like the only one in the world at first. They seem too good to be true and make you fall for their act quickly.
They may share a lot and seem vulnerable. What they’re really doing, however, is trying to make you feel special so that you also share your deepest darkest secrets which they can then use against you.
They Let You Talk First
In an attempt to gain control, an emotional manipular will ask you a ton of questions. They’re gathering information so that they can say back the right things. Although they’re just mirroring you, it can look like they’re listening and that you have a lot in common.
The worst part is that their hidden agenda allows them to use your answers to manipulate you.
They Talk Down To You
This a form of intellectual bullying. It means that they use fancy words or numbers to overwhelm you and make it look like they’re smarter than you.
This way they can impose their intellect over yours and always justify themselves as being in the right. Watch out for the ways they disguise doing so as helping you with phrases like “I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
Disagreement Or Light Pressure Don’t Count
Be careful not to interpret every disagreement or pressure you feel from your partner as emotional blackmail. It’s normal and even healthy to have some type of give-and-take in a relationship.
There will be times you make demands of each other to meet your needs and disagree on each other’s decisions. It all comes down to how you decide to communicate and compromise.