Emotional Blackmail in Relationships

Putting an End to Emotional Blackmail

Emotional blackmail is a prevalent problem in romantic relationships, but that does not make it acceptable. Emotional blackmail is actually a form of abuse. It is characterized by one individual controlling and exploiting another in order to get the outcome they want. Emotional blackmailers threaten their victim in numerous ways. They may threaten to make things difficult, or imply that they’ll end the relationship if their romantic partner does not comply with their wishes. They might threaten to hurt themselves, or use the financial security they provide to manipulate their victim. In other words, emotional blackmailers threaten to make their partner suffer in some way unless things go their way.  If you are being emotionally blackmailed, there are ways of stopping the cycle without ending the relationship.

The Blackmailer
The first step involved in stopping emotional blackmail is to recognize the blackmailer for what they are. People who emotionally blackmail others are basically very frightened and insecure individuals. They are afraid of their romantic partner’s ability to hurt or desert them. They attempt to ensure that this will not happen by controlling all aspects of the relationship and their partner’s behavior.  The emotional blackmailer will use any tactic to get what they want in the relationship. They do not care if what they do is reasonable or not, provided the final outcome is the one they want. The emotional state and desires of the victim are overlooked by the blackmailer. An emotional blackmailer finds the susceptibilities in their romantic partner. After identifying those vulnerabilities, they will use them as tools of manipulation.

The Victim
Emotional blackmail takes two people, not one. It cannot happen unless the victim behaves and thinks in a certain way. If you can recognize and change those thoughts and behaviors, it is easier to stop the cycle of emotional blackmail. This will remove the blackmailer’s power over you.  Individuals who are likely to be subjected to emotional blackmail often dislike conflict. They will strive to keep the peace, even if it means sacrificing their own feelings and desires. The victim is often intimidated by their partner’s temper. What’s more, they want their partner to praise and admire them.  Victims of emotional blackmail often second guess themselves. They are perfectionists who disapprove of their own flaws. An emotional blackmail victim is also likely to feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

Stopping the Cycle
Emotional blackmailers often deliver ultimatums that require an instant answer. Resist the urge to respond to these demands right away. Instead tell your partner that you need time to consider things, and walk away. By doing this you will give yourself time to think. Use this time to consider how you feel about the ultimatum that has been delivered. Would complying with your partner’s demand alter your life significantly? Is your partner asking too much of you?

Once you have had time to think, choose the right time and place to talk to your partner. Ideally you should wait until your partner is in a good mood, and make sure you are in a relaxed setting. When you talk to your partner try not to be angry or defensive, as this will only provide them with more ammunition. Sit down and look your partner in the eye. Try to detach from your emotions, and stay in the moment. Acknowledge the fact that your partner is upset, but do not give in to their demands. Remain firm in your decision. If you agree to your partner’s demands, it will benefit nobody. You will sacrifice your freedom and integrity. Your partner will not learn to handle romantic relationships in an emotionally mature way.

If you stand firm and refuse to give in to your partner’s threats and manipulations, the cycle of emotional blackmail will slowly come to an end. However, you should not expect miracles. Your partner’s behavior will not end overnight. Stopping the cycle of emotional blackmail takes time, consistency and patience.


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