Emotional blackmail is what exists when a partner tries to manipulate the other into doing something instead of actually asking that partner for what they really want.
The intent of people who practice this type of behaviour, is to control the other person’s in a way that is subtle and always falls short of actually expressing what they want in words.
The methods used to achieve this often includes silent treatment, sulking, reverse psychology, and veiled sarcastic comments intended to guilt trip you into doing what they want, among other toxic moves.
Because the tactics can be covert, emotional blackmail may be difficult to spot, especially for those who may experience more vulnerability to it. According to Susan Forward, a therapist and expert on the issue says:
“Blackmailers make it nearly impossible to see how they’re manipulating us, because they lay down a thick fog that obscures their actions. All the while, if we attempt to fight back, they ensure that we literally can’t see what is happening to us.”
When in a dysfunctional cycle of emotional blackmail, the victim may be inclined to: apologize, plead, change plans to meet the others’ needs, cry, use logic, give in, or even challenge.
But here is the thing: the person pushing against the behaviour might not even know that that is what they are fighting against because emotional blackmail is not something that is easily spotted. It component traits may feel repulsive in isolation, but it’s even worse when all the other forms of emotional blackmail are taken into consideration as a whole.
So while your partner’s behaviour at different times may not sit well with you and you may even feel the need to repel it on some occasions; it still takes a little more examination and observation to realize that it is a whole pattern rather than singular acts occurring independently at different times.
Once you figure out that your partner has a penchant for this type of controlling, manipulative behaviour, you should communicate with the partner and explain how damaging their behaviour is; and how it affects the relationship. The aim is to negotiate for a healthier, more open, more trusting relationship.
If nothing changes after this, do not hesitate to end the relationship because, really, no relationship is worth the cost of your emotional and mental wellbeing.