The Mating Grounds

10 Steps to Handle Emotional Blackmail and Build Healthy Relationships

Emotional blackmailing can often go unnoticed until it is too late. It can be a subtle yet highly manipulative tactic that people use to gain control over their partners or loved ones.

If left unchecked, emotional blackmail can lead to dysfunctional and toxic relationships, where one partner is always bending to the will of the other. So, what is emotional blackmail?

Emotional blackmail is a form of manipulation used to make someone do something they don’t want to do by threatening them with punishment or by appealing to their emotions. Emotional blackmailers make their partners feel guilty, ashamed, and powerless, using these emotions to control their actions.

Types of Emotional Blackmail

There are four types of emotional blackmailers: punisher, self-punisher, sufferer, and tantalizer. Each type has its unique approach to emotional blackmail.

– Punisher: This is the most severe form of emotional blackmail, where the person threatens their partner with physical harm, psychological harm, or public humiliation to get what they want. – Self-Punisher: The self-punisher is someone who threatens to harm themselves if their partner doesn’t give in to their demands.

This type of emotional blackmailer can be challenging to deal with, as they are often very convincing in their threats. – Sufferer: The sufferer emotional blackmailer will threaten to become ill, depressed, or even suicidal if their partner doesn’t comply with their demands.

– Tantalizer: The tantalizer is the type of emotional blackmailer that will reward their partner with affection or attention when they get what they want. They will withhold affection or attention otherwise.

Signs of Emotional Blackmail

If you suspect that you are being emotionally blackmailed, here are some signs to look out for:

– The accuser: Emotional blackmailers will often make their partner feel guilty by accusing them of things they haven’t done. They may also bring up past mistakes to make their partner feel ashamed or inadequate.

– Lack of compromise: Emotional blackmailers often have a “my way or the highway” approach to life. They are often unwilling to compromise or consider other points of view.

– Inability to set boundaries: A common tactic among emotional blackmailers is to push their partner’s boundaries until they break. They may also threaten to leave the relationship if their partner doesn’t comply with their demands.

Examples of Emotional Blackmail in Relationships

Here are some examples of emotional blackmail in relationships:

Blaming for Everything Negative

An emotional blackmailer may try to blame their partner for every negative thing that happens, even if it’s not their fault. The blackmailer may say things like, “if you had listened to me, this wouldn’t have happened,” or “you’re always causing problems.”

Withholding Affection to Gain Compliance

Emotional blackmailers may withhold affection or attention as a form of punishment. For instance, they may refuse to talk to their partner until they comply with their demands or forgive them for something they’ve done wrong.

Lack of True Apology or Compromise

An emotional blackmailer may apologize to their partner, but it’s often a shallow apology that doesn’t reflect any genuine remorse for their actions. They may also refuse to compromise on anything, making it difficult for their partner to feel heard.

Making Partner Seem Irrational for Questioning

Emotional blackmailers may try to make their partner feel irrational or illogical for questioning their demands. They may use gaslighting tactics to make their partner doubt their own memory or sanity.

Exhorting Sacrifices for Own Happiness

Emotional blackmailers may ask their partner to sacrifice their own happiness or well-being for the sake of the relationship. They may demand that their partner does things that go against their values or beliefs, or otherwise wants.

Focusing Only on Cosmetic Concerns

Emotional blackmailers may dismiss their partner’s needs, focusing only on cosmetic concerns like how their partner looks or dresses. They may criticize their partner’s appearance to make them feel inadequate or ashamed.

Inability to Set Boundaries

Emotional blackmailers may refuse to respect their partner’s boundaries. They may push their partner to do things they don’t want to or threaten to leave the relationship if their partner doesn’t comply with their demands.

Controlling Partner to Prevent Loss of Power

Emotional blackmailers may control their partner to prevent losing their power or control over the relationship. They may use guilt or fear to make their partner comply with their demands.


Emotional blackmail can have damaging effects on relationships, leading to dysfunctional and toxic dynamics. It’s essential to recognize the signs of emotional blackmail and take steps to protect yourself from it.

If you suspect that you are being emotionally blackmailed, seek support and guidance from friends, family, or a therapist. Remember, healthy relationships are built on communication, trust, and respect, and emotional blackmail has no place in them.

Emotional blackmail is a manipulative tactic used by someone to control another person. If you believe that someone in your life is using emotional blackmail, it is essential to learn and understand the six stages of emotional blackmail, as well as how to handle it.

1. Demand

The first stage of emotional blackmail is a demand.

A person may make a request that is not entirely reasonable or may have underlying motives for their request. The demand can be disguised as a concern for the well-being of the other person, but ultimately it is about control.

2. Resistance

In this stage, the person receiving the demand will resist, possibly even refusing to comply.

The person may state that they are uncomfortable with the request or say that they do not have the time or resources to fulfill the demand. 3.


The person making the request will then increase the emotional pressure, claiming that not fulfilling the demand will lead to negative consequences such as a relationship breakdown or even withdrawal of affection.



At this stage, the emotional pressure continues, moving into the realm of threats. The person may threaten to take away something that is important to the other person or lash out emotionally.

5. Compliance

Eventually, the recipient of the emotional blackmail may give in, hoping to find peace or comfort from the situation.

6. Repetition

If the above pattern repeats itself, the emotional blackmailer creates a pattern of reinforcement, causing the recipient to think that giving in is the only way to avoid negative consequences.

Handling Emotional Blackmail

Now that we understand the stages of emotional blackmail let’s discuss ways to handle it. 1.

Recognizing Emotional Blackmail for What It Is

A crucial step in dealing with emotional blackmail is recognizing it for what it is. Once youve identified the behavior, you can start taking steps to end it or seek support from friends or professionals such as a counselor.

2. Keeping a Journal to See Abusive Patterns

Keeping a journal can help you track and reflect on course of events.

Record when the emotional blackmail started, how it progressed, and the result. This will help you identify patterns and triggers.

3. Identifying Emotional Triggers

Understanding your emotional triggers can help you develop ways to respond positively when the emotional blackmailer tries to trigger you.

You may discover that you have things that are particularly bothersome like criticism from others, not being taken seriously and so forth. 4.

Walking Away From Emotional Outbursts

Physical distance can help you gain a fresh perspective. When you feel that you are being emotionally blackmailed, stop responding and walk away from the conversation if possible.

5. Buying Time to Think before Responding

When faced with demands, take a moment to think before responding.

Delaying your response gives you time to think things over, make an informed decision, and ensures that the decision made is not influenced by any emotional blackmailing. 6.

Setting Clear and Strong Boundaries

Create clear and strong boundaries that protect your values, wellbeing and needs. Be firm and consistent when enforcing them.

The emotional blackmailer will attempt to push you beyond these boundaries repeatedly, but it is up to you to ensure that they dont. 7.

Ensuring Personal Safety

Your safety should always be a priority in any situation. If you feel physically or mentally threatened or unsafe, reach out to local helplines or seek assistance from professional organizations.

8. Considering Counseling to Work on Changing Beliefs

Changing long-held beliefs and identifying embedded negative patterns can be difficult to do, and seeking the help of a professional counselor is advised to help change your negative beliefs into positive ones.

9. Inviting Partner for Change and Compromise

Initiate a conversation about how both parties can make a compromise that respects the boundaries of each person.

Making an effort to understand each other’s needs will help reduce emotional blackmailing. 10.

Considering Leaving if Partner Refuses to Change

If all else fails, and the other person continues to be unresponsive, and their behavior becomes increasingly harmful, then consider leaving. Remember to put your safety and wellbeing first.


Handling emotional blackmail requires a lot of patience, self-awareness, and discipline. The best way to do so is by consistently setting boundaries, identifying triggers, and seeking help from professionals.

Once you understand how emotional blackmail works and how to respond to it, you’re on your way to building healthy relationships, self-respect, and well-being. In conclusion, emotional blackmail is a manipulative tactic where someone threatens or intimidates another person to control them.

It can take many forms, including withholding affection, making unreasonable demands, and threatening harm. However, recognizing the signs and stages of emotional blackmail can help individuals learn how to protect themselves and establish clear boundaries.

By setting these boundaries and understanding how to handle emotional blackmail, individuals can eradicate it from their lives and achieve healthier relationships. It’s essential to remember that emotional blackmail is not acceptable in any form and being able to identify it and respond to it can help facilitate positive change and growth.

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