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Emotional blackmail

Emotional blackmail

What is emotional blackmail?

Emotional Blackmail is a term used to describe a manipulative style where a person tries to get their way by using your emotions and to control your behaviour. The individual may also try to persuade you with emotional blackmailing to see things their way.

Emotional blackmailing is not the right thing to do. If you are right and what you want from your loved ones is right, there is nothing to worry about, just have a healthy conversation with them and explain your needs. They will understand for sure and if they don’t agree try to compromise but also respect the fact that in some cases you will have to respect the way things are.

This article is all about Emotional Blackmail meaning, definition, examples and how it affects your relationships. You will also be able to discover some useful books related to emotional blackmail. So let’s get started:

Emotional blackmail definition

A therapist, lecturer, and author Dr Susan Forward used the term “Emotional Blackmail” for the very first time in 1997 in her book. She wrote:

“Emotional Blackmail: when the people in your life use fear, obligation, and guilt to manipulate you.”

She used different case works to explain the term and build a concept of emotional blackmail. Other than that, there is not much further information available on this . But a therapist, Erika Myers, in Bend Oregon, explains it as being insidious and subtle. She says:

“It might appear as withholding of affection, disappointment, or even a slight shift in body language,”

Emotional blackmail examples

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There can be various forms of emotional blackmail. And anyone can emotional blackmail you, especially if you are a sensitive person. Here are some emotional blackmail examples that can help you understand what actually is emotional blackmailing:

Some are punishers

Some people will use punishment as a tactic to get what they want if you do not comply with them. Often this is a kind of direct threat, and the punisher may also use anger, aggression, or even silent treatment for manipulating. You can consider the following example:

Your partner may greet you happily when you walk in after an exhausting day, telling you, “I have made a huge sale today; we should celebrate; let’s have dinner and go for dancing.”

But when you reply with, “Congratulations, I am so happy for you, but I am exhausted today; I was planning to relax, can we postpone this celebration tomorrow.”

You will see that their mood changed immediately. They went out of the room, slamming doors across the hall. You tried to follow them and to talk to them, but they did not respond.

Some other examples may include

  • You have to change yourself, or I will leave you.
  • You need to spend carefully to keep track of your spending; otherwise, we will not be able to do better financially and I have plans for the money to buy some things I want.

Some are self-punishers

Emotional blackmailing that comes under this category also involves threatening. But instead of threatening you, the punisher will punish themselve. A self-punisher will explain to you how your ignorance or resistance can hurt them; here are some emotional blackmail examples:

  • You will never dress like that if you care about me.
  • If you love me, you will never go on this trip.
  • I will kill myself if you leave me.
  • I will lose my car if you don’t lend me your money, are you okay with that?
  • I will be homeless if you won’t let me live with you, and you know it’s not safe outside; what if something bad happens to me? Is this what you want?

Self-punishers will spin the situation in such a way that you will feel their difficulties were your fault. You feel like it is your responsibility to help them.

Some are sufferers

A sufferer will convey his feeling without words. If they want something from you, they will not say anything but show their willingness or unwillingness with their expressions:

  • Dejection, or sadness, including tears, sighs, frowns or moping.
  • discomfort or pain

In addition to that, they may also give you a whole rundown of all the things contributing to the misery. For instance:

About a few days ago, you told your friend that you are looking for a roommate for your empty bedroom. But in response, he asks you to let him stay there for free. You thought it was a joke, so you did not take it seriously. But one day you received a call from them, and they were sobbing saying:

“I am not in a good place right now, everything is falling apart, first a miserable breakup, and then cruel coworkers, But I cannot quit; what would I do? I need something good to happen in my life. If I had a place to live where I would not have to pay my rent, it would be so much better for me.

Some are tantalizers

In some cases, blackmailing may seem like a kind gesture. A tantalizer may hold a reward over someone else’s head to gain something from them by offering encouragement or praise. But every time you clear one hurdle, something different is waiting for you. For example:

Your boss says one day, “You have done an excellent job; I was looking for a person like you for the post of office manager”. He is secretly informing you that a new better position is waiting for you as ask you, “Can I trust you until then?”

You agree with them and start working even harder. You skip a meal, stay late, and even work on weekends. But when the office manager resigns, you do not hear anything from your boss about a promotion. And when you ask him about it, he snaps at you, saying:

“What are you doing? Don’t you see I am busy? I do not have the time and energy to hire an office manager; I was not expecting this kind of behaviour from you.

It may seem like these threats are harmless out of context, but you need to observe every detail if you think that you are the victim of emotional blackmail. Only then you will be able to know about the repetitive process of manipulation.

Signs of emotional blackmail

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Emotional blackmailers use mind games to manipulate you. The main goal behind this is to control you in order to get what they want. A healthy relationship revolves around mutual understanding, respect and trust. It is not only true about romantic relationships but about other relationships, including professional ones. It is not easy to read the signs of emotional blackmail as they are subtle. But you can learn to identify these signs and save yourself from manipulation. By this, you can also protect your self-esteem. Here are some signs of emotional blackmail:

They will ask you to come to their place.

Being at your home or favourite place feels empowering. If the other person insists you to meet at their place, the individual may be trying to create an imbalance in power. It can prove disadvantageous for you. For instance, they may ask you to meet at their place because they are too busy at work, or the individual may make you realize that they cannot come because it is a long drive, so you should come to their place.

They get close to you very quickly.

When you meet someone you ask certain things so that you can know a person. During this phase, you try not to get attached to a person but try to understand them. But an emotional blackmailer will share their vulnerabilities and dark secrets with you. This way, they try to make you feel special so that you easily tell them your secrets. They might try to use these secrets later. They may say things like, “it seems like we have formed a really deep connection. I have never had this before.”

They allow you to speak first.

This is an excellent tactic used in professional relationships, but this can happen in personal relationships too. When someone wants to establish control in a relationship they let you speak and share your views by asking some intriguing questions. With their hidden plan in mind, they will use your answers to manipulate your actions.

They change the facts.

Emotional blackmailers are experts at twisting reality with fibs, lies and misstatements and this way; they can confuse you. They will show themselves as vulnerable by exaggerating everything. They will try to get your sympathy by understate their role in any conflict. For instance, they might say something like, “I just asked about the project, and she came on to me about how I am never on time and complete my projects, but you know I am not like that, right?”

They love intellectual bullying.

Suppose you ask someone a simple question, but in response, what you get is an overwhelming response full of statistics, facts or jargon; it is another type of emotional manipulation. Some emotional blackmailers think that they are experts and they will try to impose their knowledge on you. It is usually common in sales or financial situation. The person may tell you that, “it is okay. I was not expecting you to understand this as I know you are new to this”.

You will feel sorry because of them.

If you are giving your suggestions or asking some questions, and emotional blackmailer may react aggressively and try to get you into an argument. Using this tactic, they can control what you choose and will also affect your decisions. They may also try to make you feel regret for expressing your views or concerns. You may hear things like, “I don’t get it; why can’t you trust me?”

You cannot talk about your problems

yes, it is impossible to talk about your problems with someone who is an emotional blackmailer. It is because whenever you try to talk about your bad day at work, they will take it up as an opportunity to discuss their problems. The main reason behind doing so is to make you focus on their problem. Whenever you try to talk about your issues, you have to hear, “You think that is bad?……” and will add more information letting you know how they are fighting with their issues.

“Just Jokin”

Critical remarks may be considered as sarcasm or humour. They will pretend that whatever they were saying was just out of the joke. But actually, they are trying to plant a seed of doubt so that you cannot think clearly. You may hear things like, “God! what happened to you? you look so tired.”

They never take responsibility.

No matter how bad they do to you or someone else, they will never take responsibility for their actions. They will always try to blame you for everything, and most of the time, they become successful in making you feel guilty about something you did not do. You even apologize even if they were at fault. for instance, they may say things like, “I did everything for you; I love you so much.”

They criticize you and use your insecurities against you.

Emotion blackmailers will degrade or dismiss you without sarcasm or jest. Their comments can brutally hit your self-esteem. Their aim is to marginalize and ridicule you. In most cases, blackmailers are trying to project their own insecurities. But that does not mean they cannot hit your insecurities. They surely will. They will make such comments and take actions that you will feel upset and vulnerable. They might say things like, “This is a really tough project to do; I would be so nervous if I was you.” They will also use your feelings against you to make you feel guilty. They may say you are unreasonable or not taking enough interest in something which is really important to them.

Emotional blackmail in relationships

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In the book “Emotional Blackmail”, it is stated that:

“Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten to punish us for not doing what they want. Emotional blackmailers know how much we value our relationships with them. They know our vulnerabilities and our deepest secrets. They can be our parents or partners, bosses or coworkers, friends or lovers. And no matter how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to win the pay-off they want: our compliance.”

People usually use a minor form of emotional blackmail in relationships often. It is sometimes frustrating for us when a person does not do things we want them to do. And we feel guilty about it. For instance, you may get upset because your boyfriend or girlfriend did not bring chocolate on their way back home even when they knew that you were not feeling well. It is okay to feel that way, but it is not something to concerned about; maybe your partner might forget or was too tired or any other reason. You can ignore this. But an emotional blackmailer won’t ignore this.

Being emotional blackmailed for little things by your partner or even parents is not healthy if it happens often. So how can someone deal with emotional blackmail in relationships? Let’s have a look at this.

Emotional blackmail parents

It may sound ridiculous to you that how can your own parent emotional blackmail their kids. But it is true. Sometimes it is harmless; for example, they may manipulate you to do regular chores, which is not a bad thing. But sometimes parents are toxic too, and they emotional blackmail you to get what they want irrespective of your feelings and your problems in life. For instance, you may hear from emotional blackmail parents things like:

  • If you do not come to this vacation, I will get depressed and will be lonely.
  • It is okay if you do not want to meet me. I would be dead soon; you will be free to do what you want.
  • Your mother is always causing trouble; only you can handle her. I feel like I cannot do this anymore.
  • Your partner is not good enough for you, honey; you can do better than this.

All these things or many others like these you will hear from your emotional blackmail parents. If they are old, you might already know that they are emotional blackmailers. In this case, you have to prepare yourself already if you are visiting your parents. No matter what, you should not be disrespectful towards them. Try to be humble; instead of yelling or showing anger when they complain to you or try to manipulate you, say things like, “I am really sorry you feel that way”. If their behaviour is insulting and you cannot handle it, try to get an appointment from a mental health service provider. They can help them with their toxic personalities and family therapy can help immensely.

Emotional blackmail abusive relationship

Emotional blackmail abusive relationship can ruin your peace of mind. So you have to deal with the situation wisely. Here is what you can do about the emotional blackmail abusive relationship:

Work on your mindset

If you do not want to get blackmailed by your abusive partner anymore, you need to change your own mindset. You need to approach the whole situation in a different way. I know it is difficult and scary, but that’s all you need. You need to understand that you deserve respect, and when you keep this in mind, you can deal with your emotional blackmailer effectively.

Prefer healthy relationship

Your mental health is very important, and it can get worse when you are in an unhealthy relationship. It affects your personality in a bad way. If a relationship is becoming toxic, it would be better to get rid of it. It is nothing in comparison to your mental peace. You can try and negotiate for a healthier relationship, but if it does not work, ending a relationship is the only option.

Set healthy boundaries

Emotional blackmailers have lousy boundaries, so when you set your boundaries, it means you are giving the message that you cannot take it anymore. You need to learn to say “stop” and “no” whenever needed.


Without confrontation, it is impossible to set healthy boundaries. If you do not want to end this relationship, you can try the following examples:

  • I deserve respect, so I need to be treated that way.
  • We need to talk about it, do not try to punish or threaten me.
  • I will not tolerate your manipulative attitude anymore; I am done with this.

Seek professional help for manipulator

It is very important for a blackmailer to take responsibilities for their actions. If, after your confrontation, they accept their mistake, ask them to seek professional psychological help. This way, they can learn some really useful communications skills to convey their point effectively.

Cut off your connection from the manipulator.

Some people earn love, and some blackmail other people into it. But you need to understand that you deserve love without manipulation. When someone loves you truly, there will be no threat involved. Safety is the factor that differentiates between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and when there is a threat in a relationship, it is not safe for you anymore.

You can try to change your manipulator, but most of the time, they won’t take responsibility for their actions. What can you do? You can control yourself and act the way you want. So if you feel like the person is not changing himself and you cannot take it anymore, cut your connection with the person. You were in love with that person, so it will not be easy for you, but if you want peace of mind, it is the only option left.

A toxic personality may have affected your mindset, and dealing with a break is also not easy; at this point, you may also need help from a mental health service provider. Do not hesitate and work on yourself. GET SUPPORT CLICK HERE

Emotional blackmail meme

Memes are an excellent way to discuss something in a lighter mood. You can share your experiences and views in a funny way. You might be looking for some hilarious, emotional blackmail meme. Let me share some with you:

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The following emotional blackmail meme are my most favourite:

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Emotional blackmail book

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Emotional blackmail book by Susan Forward and Dona Frazier is one of the best Emotional blackmail books you can consider to deal with your emotional blackmailer. It is like a practical guide to making you better at communication to break the cycle of emotional blackmailing. She does not jump to the solution at the start; first, she makes you understand how it affects your relationships and how you can identify it, then she moves forward. Give it a read, and you will know what I am talking about it is a marvelous book.


Emotional blackmail is not the right thing to do. It can ruin your important relationships. If you are facing emotional blackmail in your relationship, use the above mentioned tips, and you will surely be able to break the cycle. I have tried my best to provide you with useful information about “Emotional Blackmail”, hope so you find it helpful. GET SUPPORT NOW LIFE COACHING SERVICES HERE.

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