Interpersonal relationships always generate very complex bonds, sometimes difficult to manage. Sometimes our interests and needs do not coincide with those of others, so to achieve our goals we must resort to manipulative behaviors that could be classified as emotional blackmail.
Likewise, there may be people who adopt emotional blackmail as their preferred relationship strategy, always putting our backs to the wall or making us feel bad because we are the "bad guys".
In some cases it is easy to recognize the emotional blackmailer because he uses rather crude techniques, more typical of a commercial transaction than of an interpersonal relationship. The typical mercantilist blackmail is a perfect example of this, because before giving the person asks for something in return or decides not to give anything because we have defrauded him, and so he punishes us emotionally.
However, there are other forms of emotional blackmail that are much more subtle and difficult to recognize that can lead us into a dead end or, even worse, deeply affect our self-esteem.
The subtlest types of emotional blackmail
1. The elephant in the room
The concept of "elephant in the room" is a metaphorical expression used to refer to an important idea or fact that persists in the thinking of all involved, but no one mentions it and everyone avoids it. In these cases, the people involved pretend to live an absurd normality, but since it is impossible to "ignore an elephant in the room", everything is so forced and unnatural that it is clear that there is something wrong, there is a conflict base which is repressed
This phenomenon can become a kind of emotional blackmail when a person refuses to face an important issue to be solved, but with his attitude he continually weighs down the atmosphere, leaving the question pending, as if it were a cloud above us that does not abandon us. never.
Basically, this person is trying to make us feel guilty because he makes clear, without using words, his discomfort and disagreement. Indeed, by refusing to address the issue, it only prolongs and aggravates the conflict.
Gaslighting is a frequent type of manipulation in abusive situations, but it's so subtle that many people don't notice it. It consists in making the other doubt his mental abilities, distorting reality, so that he cannot really understand what is happening and get rid of the emotional blackmail.
In these cases the emotional blackmailer can invent false memories with which to blame the victim so that the victim feels bad about himself, or he can even persuade the person to do something by telling him that he promised it, when in reality it is not true.
Said in this way we can think that it is impossible to fall into his net. But the problem is that this blackmailer builds his network little by little, without us realizing it. First of all, he wins our trust and becomes indispensable, only then does he begin to undermine our self-confidence by offering us his distorted vision of reality.
3. Blackmail out of "need"
Some people try to emotionally blackmail others by leveraging their needs. These blackmailers do not hesitate to point out their needs by making them appear so obvious and "basic" that they end up making us feel bad if we don't help them meet them.
They prepare their speech in such a way that their requests seem very reasonable, and if we do not help meet those "imperative" needs we feel guilty. They are people who "always cry for misery", even though their situation is likely to be much less dramatic than ours.
In fact, the problem is that neither these needs are so basic, nor is this the only way to satisfy them and, above all, their needs are usually a bottomless pit. These people will ask for more and more regardless of our needs, until they can completely empty us.
Punishing others is one of the most common forms of emotional blackmail, because it is a simple manipulation strategy that has a strong emotional impact. But it's also very easy to spot, so it's harder for us to fall into its net.
Conversely, self-punishment is a much more subtle type of emotional blackmail. Basically, the person takes on the role of martyr or victim, to make the other feel bad. She will not punish us, but she will punish herself and also feign suffering and pain.
A common example of self-punishment is when someone pretends that they are sacrificing themselves for us, but in reality they are only making a medium- or long-term "investment" because they already have in mind to ask us to return the sacrifice with the interse.
5. Protective control
This type of emotional blackmail is common in some relationships and in the relationship that some parents establish with their children. In practice, one of the people becomes the "protector" of the other. The problem is that this protection turns into total control.
We do not realize this emotional blackmail because the other person disguises himself as good intentions, and it is also likely that this is the case, but with his attitude he tries to create an emotional dependence to dominate the other.
The problem is that any attempt to question this protective and controlling attitude runs counter to the alleged well-being of the relationship. In that moment, the blackmailer will make us pass as an ungrateful person who does not recognize everything he has done for us.
Find out how to defend yourself from manipulators by learning to recognize and manage them by reading this book.