What is emotional blackmail? Here’s how to spot toxic behavior. | Today Headlines

What is emotional blackmail? Here’s how to spot toxic behavior.

| Today Headlines | Yahoo news

Let’s say you are in a romantic relationship. You’ve shared a dog with your partner for five years, but the dog is technically your partner’s dog; he adopted it six months before your union. You love this dog, and in a particularly heated argument with your partner, he says, “If you leave me, you will never see the dog again.”

This is just one example of emotional blackmail, according to Karla Ivankovich, a Chicago-based clinical counselor, when “someone close to them uses things they know about us against us as a means of harm or manipulation.” Usually the manipulator uses fear, guilt, or obligation to get what he wants.

The concept of emotional blackmail was popularized by psychotherapist Susan Forward in the late 1990s. It can exist in a romantic relationship or in any relationship where the bonds are close. This isn’t always a sign that the relationship is doomed, but it can indicate a very unhealthy dynamic if it persists.

What emotional blackmail looks like

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Some forms of emotional blackmail can be overt and shocking, according to Darlene Lancer, Certified Marriage and Family Therapist and author of “Conquering Shame and Codependency.”

“Easy examples of emotional blackmail are blatant or implied threats, such as’ I will tell the children that you had an affair” or ambiguous threats, such as “You will be sorry if you …” or “How you like it.” let your parents, friends, boss, etc. know that you did XYZ? ‘ Threats are meant to invoke fear.

On the other hand, some of them can be very subtle or cavalier, like blaming yourself. For example, Lancer said something like, “A friend would lend me money. How can you say you’re my friend and not help me when I’m in a bind like this? Or, “What about the time you borrowed money from me in college?” ”

Putting pressure on someone or reminding them of their homework can be another low-key emotional blackmail tactic. Let’s say your mom wants you to come home to visit and help your family, but you don’t think it’s smart to travel. “But it’s family. It’s what you’re supposed to do for each other, ”she might say. This tactic aims to invoke a sense of obligation.

Emotional blackmail isn’t always malicious, although it can be used as a conscious means of strategic control – a means to get what they want. Maybe your friend knows that you have tendencies to please people, so they get sullen when you say you can’t do something for them.

“Gas lighting is another example of this, where the manipulator consciously plants seeds of doubt in the victim,” Lancer said. For example, you notice that your partner is flirting with their coworker and then drives you crazy to think that they might one day love someone they work with.

However, it is not always done with ulterior motives; sometimes the manipulator really feels justified in their request or statement. “Emotional blackmail can arise from insecurity or a lack of understanding of how to communicate feelings, so it’s not always toxic,” Ivankovich said.

Maybe your partner just doesn’t understand how to say that he feels like you’ve been distant and is afraid that you are planning to break up with him, so he makes a threat.

Lancer said that narcissists, people with borderline personality disorder or other related psychological disorders may use emotional blackmail more frequently and often without realizing it, but this is certainly not always the case.

“It usually stems from a fear of abandonment or a feeling of shame,” Lander said. “Either way, the manipulator feels a serious threat to their ego and self-esteem. ”

How to deal with emotional blackmail

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It is not your responsibility to “fix” someone who treats you badly. “Remember that the manipulator has a choice about their behavior and dilemmas, and they’re trying to shift that responsibility onto you,” Lancer said. “Don’t let them. ”

With that said, there are ways to share your concerns with a loved one if you think this unhealthy behavior is something they are not aware of.

For example, if your partner is threatening to leave or to tell the world about your indiscretion, Lancer said, you should directly and firmly state a limit by telling them to stop.

Lander said it might sound scary, but it generally works. “Threats often don’t materialize, as they’re usually a plea for more attention,” she explained. “You can also assure the manipulator that you love them and want the relationship to stay intact, but don’t want to do what they want.”

If you’re dealing with a repeat offender, Ivankovich said, all good solutions start with communication.

“You should talk to your partner to express your concern,” she said. “If their goal is to deflect your emotions, then you first need to be clear with yourself what you are willing to accept. Express it to them and stay with it. You can clearly say that you will not be manipulated.

“If this person doesn’t stop despite your requests and keep going, then it’s time to consider moving away,” she said. Emotional blackmail is an abusive dynamic, especially if it continues after the boundaries have been clearly set. You deserve to feel loved and supported, not threatened.

But beyond that, says Ivankovich, explain to the manipulator why this is happening.

“If insecurities exist, ask what you can do to make them feel more secure,” she said. Maybe your mom needs more phone calls every month. Maybe your partner needs more regular romantic gestures. Maybe your friend doesn’t realize the guilt and discomfort it causes by repeatedly asking for something when you’ve already said no.

“Communication leads to success,” said Ivankovich.

Need help? In the US, call 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” at 22522 for National Dating Abuse Hotline.

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