Once in a while, you and your partner may not see eye to eye on certain things. And that’s fine.
After all, these little differences are what make the relationship even more interesting and exciting.
However, if you feel heavy-hearted because you can never reach a healthy compromise, or you end up feeling guilty after every argument, then you’re probably at the receiving end of an emotional blackmail.
It does not matter if it’s subtle or direct, emotional blackmail can make you feel crazy and insecure. A partner who does this wants to get in your head, as a way to control you and make you acquiesce to whatever he or she wants.
Here are 5 signs of emotional blackmail that you might recognize:
1-Your partner won’t accept anything less than a “yes.”
Requests between couples are normal, especially on matters where they don’t always agree.
When you and your partner disagree on certain issues, both of you should try to look at it from the other’s point of view. In the end, you may reach a compromise, or you may both agree to revisit the issue another time.
These conversations can go back and forth between you and your partner, creating a dynamic of a healthy, two-way relationship.
However, emotional blackmailers don’t see it this way. For them, with every single issue or request, they need an immediate affirmative answer.
Regardless of what they want, they expect you to say, “Yes” without arguing or disagreeing.
If you do push back and tell them why you feel uneasy or don’t want to comply, they try to guilt-trip you by showing extreme disappointment, pouting, or even shouting angrily. It’s clear that when you don’t give in, you’re partner is going to make you feel really bad.
2-Your partner transfers the weight of the blame to you.
Obligation and guilt are two of the major emotional responses a manipulator wants his partner to feel. By tapping into these vulnerabilities, the controlling partner knows that they will eventually get what they want.
When you passionately try to get your point across, he or she will turn the tables to make it appear that you are overreacting.
Your partner may argue that you wouldn’t be fighting if you just agreed with him in the first place. When caught cheating, your girlfriend will defend that you didn’t give her enough attention, so she slept with someone else.
Just by changing the perspective, a manipulative partner can easily shift the blame to the unwitting partner.
Two different scenarios occur when you allow your perception to be swayed.
If you believe in your partner’s justification and assume that you did something wrong, then you become guilty and apologetic. Manipulators delight in the idea of “forgiving” their partners, as it makes them feel they have the upper hand.
If you feel obliged to make your partner happy and satisfied at all times, you become the only person accountable for the stability of the relationship, including the well-being of your partner.
3-Your partner constantly threatens unpleasant consequences.
Using threats is a common tactic for emotional blackmailers. The subtlety or directness of the threat depends on the tactics used and the personality of the manipulator.
For example, a controller who wants to explicitly intimidate you suggests that a punishment awaits if he doesn’t get what he wants. When you don’t comply, he will straightforwardly tell you that he’ll cause a scene, end the relationship, or even cause physical harm to you or your loved ones.
A self-punisher, on the other hand, will pressure you to constantly give in to her whims, or she will hurt herself or even commit suicide.
And then, there’s the subtlest tactic where your partner promises to reward you rather than threaten you, through material, physical, or emotional means, using whatever enticement they think will best tap into your vulnerabilities.
4-Your partner wants you to always feel pity.
Not all emotional blackmailers are overtly intimidating and dominant.
On the other side of the spectrum is a controlling partner who clings on to you for dear life and acts needy and pitiful.
This can be confusing since their go-to strategy is to make you feel loved and cared for — but then create a “bait and switch.”
Constant declarations of love and showering you with gifts are great. However, for each “I love you,” and for every gift that you receive, you’ll hear a story about how your partner will be devastated if they lose you.
He constantly reminds you of the time he was cheated on by a past girlfriend and presents this as a justification for his reactions.
She gets jealous when the name of another girl comes up in a conversation with your buddies and behaves like a tearful schoolgirl to get your attention.
Your partner inserts daily doses of drama into your relationship, even during those moments that should be fun and light.
5-Your partner consistently use the same tactics to get what they want.
The thing about emotional blackmail is that it is repetitive in nature.
When a manipulator gets what he or she wants the first time, using their preferred methods, he or she will employ it again and again because they know it works. When you oppose them, the pressure to say, “Yes,” will grow more and more intense, until you yield to their demands.
No matter how much you love your partner, there is no denying that emotional blackmail can destroy the strength of your relationship.
What is quite surprising is that many manipulators do not have malicious intentions, and their needs within the relationship are often legitimate.
The problem arises when they use certain manipulative tactics to get what they want without considering the feelings and opinions of their partners.
What made you take notice that your partner is possibly manipulating your emotions? Were there any steps that you have taken to break the cycle of emotional blackmail? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.